After you've done your diligence on the industry of search funds but before you decide to get started yourself, you should spend some time thinking about time. Is now the right time to start searching? Ask yourself, Why do I want to search?
Search is a deeply personal choice. Each of the different options available might be right for a different person, and only at a certain point in their life and career. A 27-year-old might be alright taking on a personal guarantee and living off of savings, whereas a 35-year-old with a family may not. Alternatively, a 27-year-old might have a harder time finding funding for a traditional search than the 35-year-old: they do not have nearly as much experience to show off to investors. It will not look great that the longest “job” you've held was getting your MBA!
If you have an industry focus, a geographic parameter, or any size filters, you may be forced into a certain style.
Another question to consider might be about timing the economy. Don't overthink it or you may never jump in! Still, are you modeling a downturn into your thesis? Can you de-risk by using different types of leverage? Are you fixating on lower multiples or expecting negative growth? Each of these should be done regardless—but certain industries might call for it in a bigger way.
Why do you want to search? Do you hate your current job enough to leave? Is it because you hate your job and need a slight change or that you hate having a jobby-job working for someone else and need more autonomy or control? Is it just a love of managing or a desire to be entrepreneurial? Have you saved enough to be able to leave? Even if you get funded or join an organization to search for, you won't be well compensated for many years, if ever. The SFA salary in Boston is barely enough to get by: you don't have to live in this zip code, but as an example, studio apartments in the zip code 02116 cost between $1,600 and $3,000 per month, which is fairly typical of the surrounding zip codes as well; that's a big chunk of your salary for less than one bedroom! But if you have more choice on location, then the salary should be enough to live off of. You just won't be saving much.
Are you really ready to take a leap into leadership? There's something to having significant experience behind you to answer any of these questions. Many of the Searchers with the highest returns had several years of experience in the industry in which they acquired their company. Or experience as managers in the past. On the other hand, several of the happiest Searchers had no experience whatsoever in the company they acquired and ended up doing fine financially! Is now the right time? Do you know where you want to base your Search? Have you done sufficient research to know which model or partner is right for you? Is your significant other ok with it and do they know what they are about to go through? A great deal of Searchers have gone through divorce or breakups and while the Search itself probably wasn't the sole cause, it couldn't have helped! There are numerous questions to ask yourself and those around you before committing to this risky and challenging venture. Ultimately, the choice to get involved in search is up to you. However, hopefully the information provided here and the questions posed will help you assess your situation and come to a wise decision.