The entrepreneurship management literature generally refers to internal growth. However, small, fast-growing companies also have the possibility of growing by acquisition. These opportunities have become even more frequent in recent years due to the increasing availability of venture capital, and of capital resources from initial public offerings (IPOs). An acquisition strategy for a fast-growing start-up can bring many advantages. First of all, just like large firms, small firms can try to obtain synergies by means of complementary resources from bought-out firms. Sales growth as a result of buying out firms in the same industry could be rendered more efficient by combined resources and the acquisition of competent employees. An acquisition strategy can also be pursued to enable growth in new geographic markets. Moreover, the opportunity for expansion via acquisition is particularly attractive in other countries, where it can be difficult to establish new businesses.
Such a strategy can also offer the opportunity to go into related diversification, i.e. a start-up firm can acquire other products or services which are related to its original ones. Synergy effects and reduced or shared overheads can also be gained here. Firms can also integrate vertically through acquisition, i.e. by buying out suppliers or customers to process more steps in the value chain in-house. Vertical integration can sometimes bring advantages of cost or differentiation. Cost advantages can arise either through buying or building up cheaper distribution channels (forward integration), or cheap inputs (backward integration). Advantages of differentiation can be obtained by distribution channels or inputs which stand out from those of competitors (cf. Porter 1992).
If the firm to be taken over is already successful, the take-over can provide additional financial resources. A further gain from an acquisition may be additional qualified personnel who might also be able to strengthen the original firm. More customers can be won, or acquired more cheaply than if they have to be found using conventional marketing methods. The acquisition of other firms can also be a chance to gain technological know-how, or even new technologies in the form of patents.