Buying a Small Business

Buying a Small Business

Program Dates and Fee

There are no scheduled offerings of this program at this time.

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Small business ownership presents extraordinary opportunities for individuals who seek to build wealth, change careers, or become their own managers.

Buying a Small Business is a hands-on, applied one-day program that delves deeply into the challenges, process, and peculiarities of buying a small business. Participants explore the intricacies of planning, evaluating and negotiating to buy a small business from a family-controlled or privately owned enterprise. Key aspects of financing and equity structure alternatives are explored, in addition to the industry peculiarities of acquiring a small business. “Small Business” can be defined many ways but our definition encompasses all enterprises with revenue or enterprise value of less than $3 million to $5 million. The program is practical in approach and covers a range of critical issues in one day.

Program Objectives

The goal of this program is to provide participants with the knowledge and tools to tackle small business acquisitions and investment opportunities. Through an exploration of the key dynamics associated with buying a small business, entrepreneurs gain an understanding of the reality of information gathering, negotiations, capital plan negotiations, and dealing with the potential challenges born out of the process or lack of a process.


The program features a carefully structured blend of lectures, case studies, discussions, and an action learning assignment. The curriculum moves quickly through the phases and components of the small business acquisition process and the tactics needed to be successful. Mini-cases and deal books will be used throughout the program to allow participants to practice the process of buying a small business in a realistic and market-oriented way.

Specific program topic areas include:

  • Self-Analysis—is buying a small business right for me?
  • The M&A process for a small business buy
  • Sourcing business opportunities
  • Peculiarities of the small business and links to the “buy”
  • Valuation processes and alternatives
  • Deal structure alternatives
  • Seller objectives and psychology
  • Financing alternatives
  • “The Info Game” and links to due diligence
  • Negotiating a small business purchase
  • Purchase and sale agreements
  • Running a small business
  • Passive income purchases

Participant Mix

Ninety percent of small business buyers are first-time buyers, who are not sure what type of business to buy and have less than $100,000 in capital. Buying a Small Business is designed for entrepreneurs who seek investment opportunities through small business acquisition. Because the program encourages personal evaluation, it also is appropriate for aspiring entrepreneurs who are exploring the idea of buying a small business in order to build wealth or for a career change and to be their own managers.

Program Faculty

Kevin Mulvaney

Professor Kevin Mulvaney teaches in the MBA program at Babson College in courses including M&A for Entrepreneurs and Buying a Small Business. He also mentors students in live consulting projects and serves as Executive in Residence in the Entrepreneurial Studies Program. Mulvaney has bought and sold several businesses himself, so he approaches the topic from an expert practitioner perspective, rather than an academic viewpoint. Many of his students have bought companies before graduation.

Additionally, Mulvaney is the president of Strategic Advisors Group, a specialty consulting firm which advises CEOs and business owners facing important strategic challenges and M&A decisions. Mulvaney has served as an expert witness in Federal Court cases, conducted governance review projects, and mentored management teams and business owners to achieve improved teamwork and results.

Before forming his consulting practice in July 1997, Mulvaney served as president of DRI/McGraw-Hill, the world’s largest econometric publishing, data, and consulting firm with offices in 10 countries. In April 1994, he was hired by McGraw-Hill to lead a successful major financial and strategic makeover of DRI. Mulvaney was recognized for his achievements with the prestigious McGraw-Hill Management Excellence Award. Prior to DRI/McGraw-Hill, he spent 23 years at Bank of Boston where he held a number of executive management positions. From 1992-1993, he led the resurgence of Bank of Boston’s most profitable group, National Banking, achieving strong growth after years of declining asset and profit levels.

Mulvaney has contributed to the success of many enterprises as a member of their boards of directors. His experience includes manufacturing, numerous financial services firms and many nonprofit organizations. He has served as chair of the board, led board committees, and managed strategic planning reviews.