To buy or not to buy? That's the question many small companies face in this era of consolidation. For fast-growth outfits, at least, acquisition is a hot strategy, notes a recent Coopers & Lybrand survey, which asked 425 small-company CEOs to rate how their own deals turned out. Recent acquisitions were called "extremely or very successful" by 65% and "somewhat successful" by 22%. But about 10% of CEOs admitted their deals had not gone so well, citing incompatible top managements and ego on one or both sides as key trouble spots. Asked what they would advise others to look out for, they warned against: succumbing to time pressures (63%), not doing enough homework (62%), impatience in negotiation (56%), and misreading one's own corporate strengths and weaknesses (56%).