Unfortunately, there are other factors that tend to outweigh this logic. Most individuals who are sophisticated enough to be serious about acquiring a business, and who have the financial wherewithal to do a deal, are also able to earn high salaries working for someone else. Most of the acquirers that Codiligent has worked with would be able to command salaries of $100,000+ a year working for someone else (often far higher). So, the challenge is that if someone is able to earn $100,000+ a year working for someone else without the expense and risk of business ownership, it is hard to justify paying for a business in which they will earn a similar amount of money. For example, if an acquirer could make $100,000 working for someone else, but was looking at a business valued at $300,000 which was generating $110,000 of Seller Discretionary Earnings, their remaining cash flow beyond a market rate of compensation for their labor would be just $10,000. This would represent a meager 3% annual return on their $300,000 investment.
With companies that are looking to buy another business as a strategic acquisition, the challenge is often that after paying someone to run the business there will be too little cash flow remaining to justify devoting the time, attention, and resources to the acquisition unless they have a way to significantly increase cash flow, and even then it still may make more sense for them to leverage their time, energy, and resources on a larger alternate transaction.
There are reasons a buyer may still be interested in a smaller acquisition, for example: an individual may buy a company for lifestyle, opportunities for growth, because they are passionate about the type of business, or they desire to live in the location of the business. Perhaps a strategic buyer may be able to cross sell the target company's products or services, may gain a new technology or R&D, or might gain client relationships or some other advantage. However as a general rule, businesses with more than $150,000 in re-cast Seller Discretionary Earnings will be more marketable than those with lower Seller Discretionary Earnings.