How do you typically do to find acquisition targets? One way is of course through your network of co-workers and M&A advisors, but beyond that to find privately owned companies that are not officially for sale?
Go through a list of competitors, suppliers, and customers and perform market analysis, product analysis, and using industry data such as using industry databases like SP Global IQ, stock market data..etc.
I am just starting, so I can not speak from experience, but I am listening to podcasts in my field of search (ex. machinery, SME, logistics) and it is a starting point to hear about interesting targets.
You could contact a data broker and ask them to compile a list of companies in a particular sector, at a required revenue size and location. Once you have that list, write to the owner or make a call. Good post question, thank you.
The best way to approach the list of targets is to know your industry very well. This should provide a handful of target buyers, who are either in your space or are in a parallel space.
You can then consult with a paid advisor, who is working mainly with organisations in your sector. This will provide a fresh approach, with ideas for potential acquirers outside of your immediate vicinity.