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Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Dealing With the Potential Risk of Negotiations

This week’s guest, Henry Daas, is a serial entrepreneur, business and financial coach, screenwriter, avid traveler, golfer and tennis player. He also actively trades the financial markets and is the author of FQ, which is all about financial intelligence. Despite his current success, he also knows what it’s like to see everything fall apart. He’s learned how to assess deals from a standpoint of both ROI and potential risk as a result.

Rough Beginnings

Henry shares that around 2003 he bought a fixer upper and started interviewing contractors. He found one he liked (“Bob”), and they started doing real estate together. Their first deal? They bought a house for over a million dollars, knocked it down, and built a three million dollar house in its place.

Things were going well, and they started doing a lot of deals. However, things went south. The housing market crashed when Henry and Bob were knee deep in a multi-million dollar deal. Huge firms started collapsing, and Bob found himself crumbling. Sadly, he committed suicide and Henry was the last principle investor left holding the bag alone.

Multiple lawsuits ensued, and it wasn’t clear how things would end. Somehow, amidst all the financial turmoil of the time, the property was foreclosed on and Henry was released from his obligations as part of the proceedings. By the time he’d gone through three years of sleepless nights, and had endured extreme stress.

Potential Risk? Don’t Ignore Red Flags!

Henry realized he had deluded himself into thinking he had eliminated risk. In hindsight, he hadn’t put proper controls in place. His partner had controlled the books, and Henry had never asked to audit or review them. There was a lot of potential risk he had been blind too!

Things had been moving fast, and when loan officers and banks were sloppy with their paperwork, he didn’t identify that as a red flag. Now, he looks under every rock to identify risks on every deal. He doesn’t just want to know ROI, he wants to know risk and be able to balance the two.

After his lawsuit ended, Henry was told that one reason the judge had relieved him was because the other side had been slow to respond. They had frequently given the runaround, or made basic communication difficult. Their failure to communicate responsively cost them millions of dollars. If you’re ever in the midst of a deal (whether it’s going well or not), don’t forget how impactful small details are. 

Reach out! Follow up! Be responsive!

You never know what a difference it could make.

Deal-Driven Growth

In order to have a business, you need a product or service you can sell. Sales growth sometimes can be hard! So many companies are banging their heads against the wall as they try to grow their customer and client base organically. What they’re failing to look at, however, is the opportunity for strategic alliances and other forms of deal-driven growth.

Henry works with many remote companies. He’s found that people will spend huge amounts of money trying to build organic sales channels, even if they’re not that great at it. Sometimes they’ll pivot towards a fulfilled-by-Amazon or other drop shipping service. Although that can seem like a good plan, there are challenges when you don’t control the terms or have much power within the relationship.

Another option is to find someone with whom to enter into a joint venture or strategic alliance. Regardless of what you pursue, the multiplier effect is key. If there isn’t something that’s going to synergistically enhance your sales or client base, there isn’t any purpose. Be sure to consider the potential ROI as possible risks prior to entering into one of these relationships.

No matter how you go about your business, always be open to the lessons available to you. When you pay attention, you can always find something to learn that will help take you to the next level. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, invest in coaching, or join a mastermind group. 

True deal-driven growth isn’t something you have to do the hard way by forging your own path. Why not rely on others who have gone before? There are so many resources available for you! 

Protection Within Partnerships

One of Henry’s first partners started as part of a college friendship. He shares their first business ran for about 10 years, and it went great…until it didn’t. In fact, he initially joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization and hired his first business coach because he needed to navigate how to end the relationship. He hadn’t full recognized the potential risk beforehand!

By the time the business was successful, it was operating at the four million dollar mark. However, because their arrangements were verbal and there were no clear buy/sell agreements or other contractual deals, there was a great deal of conflict. Ultimately, Henry left the partnership with nothing.

After things ended poorly with his second partner (earlier referred to as Bob), Henry decided to be a solo-act. Although there are both pros and cons, he’s satisfied with his current position. If he were to enter back into a partnership, he would insist on much greater clarity on partnership terms and obligations.

Again — prepare for risk and take precautions to protect yourself from unnecessary problems.

Regardless of hardships and struggles, Henry is pleased with his outcomes. He’s overcome great losses, and he’s also had huge wins. By believing in himself, investing in coaching and assistance, learning from his experience and mistakes and persevering through hardships, he’s been able to have significant entrepreneurial success despite and, in part, because of the challenges he has faced.

Listen to the full episode here!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

 

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Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

Deal-Ready Foundations: The Power of Team Building

In our last solo-cast, I talked about a few things related to creating a scalable business that you work ON, not IN. Although those concepts might not connect to all deals, the more you can do to create a business that doesn’t depend entirely on you, the more you’re setting yourself up for powerful deals. From new collaborations, joint ventures, or even preparing your exit plan: you can employ a variety of strategies to make your business deal-ready. One powerful area to consider is team building.

Team Building Expectations

Most businesses have some sort of team. Whether the team is all on sight or is working remotely, successful businesses that intend to scale are going to have to consider team building at some point. Often, we start to run into default ways of thinking here. We have expectations about oversight, presence, and even micromanaging that seep into our team building decisions. 

Our ego also starts to pipe in. We may have a tendency towards being controlling, or choosing not to trust our employees. When that occurs, we often use the excuse that “they” just don’t care about the company as much as we do!

On one hand, you’re right. When you own a company, you’re going to be invested in a way that an employee just will not be. And why should you expect them to have the same drive and commitment for your business as you? After all, it’s YOURS!

On the other hand, there are ways to build a team that is passionate, motivated, and connected to your business. A few ways to create that sort of team? Being flexible, building trust, and empowering every team member to contribute in the way the best taps into their skills. After all, isn’t that why you brought them on in the first place?

When you make deals, you show up at the negotiating table with the understanding that both parties are bringing something of value. Approach your team in the same way. This isn’t just an exchange of your money and their time. They have the ability to make a powerful difference in your business, but only if you allow them to do so.

My Own Team Building Experience

I have a dedicated, loyal team that I’m proud to work with. I’ve offered all of them flexible options that work for their lives and families.

You can find phenomenal employees who work hard and love what they do — and they might ALSO prefer flexible work schedules that give them opportunities to prioritize their families, hobbies, or other needs. That’s not a reflection on their ability to perform within your company. In fact, it only enhances it.

I’ve also noticed that sometimes amazing talents will bypass higher salaries from larger companies in order to work for a smaller company that offers them openness and flexibility. It’s simply not true that remote workers are less capable or talented, or that the “best” employees are working 9-5+ from a desk inside your building.

Another benefit? Diversity! Hiring remotely significantly increases the talent pool you’re able to hire from. Even if your local talent pool feels relatively homogenous, you don’t have to be limited to that. When you offer flexibility and remote options, the pool is global. You may find that your business can attract great employees, teammates, and leaders who bring powerful new ideas into your business when you open yourself up to their presence.

My flexibility and openness has enabled me to find excellent candidates and bring them into my business time after time. By being less rigid, I’ve been able to offer positions to excellent candidates that I would have otherwise had to pass by (or not even be aware of).

Another tip? Be aware of how your team is motivated. Some people want to be praised, especially in front of others. Some want to be challenged, and always have something new. Everyone wants to be trusted and empowered to do their best work in their own way.

Tap into your individual employee’s needs so you can focus on your highest and best use areas. As you do so, you’ll find yourself with the capacity to look for and close new deals of all kinds.

By building an entrepreneurial culture that values all team members, you may find yourself positioned for deals you might have never expected. 

Delegating Up

Sometimes you give a task to an employee, and they end up circling back to you. They have questions, or they’re looking for you to finish something off.

And although I want to be a resource to my team, I also want to discourage “delegating up”, in which they use me as a crutch. Sometimes team members don’t want to take responsibility for a decision (so they bring it back to you). Or they lack confidence or trust in themselves, so they’re looking for validation.

One trick I use: when I have employees ask me to look something over for them, I’ll ask them, “Do you really need me to do that?”. If they actually do, then I’ll look it over. Oftentimes, however, when they reflect they realize they don’t need me. I trust them to do their jobs, and it’s my intention to remove myself and have faith in them to do their work independently while being a resource to them when they really need me.

And honestly…

When you hire a team, you should be hiring people who are talented in areas that you are not. They are the content creators, site developers, ad creators, or admin professionals that you’ve brought in for a specific purpose. Trust them to do it. Let them know that they have the power and autonomy to complete the work assigned to them. If you give the ability to do this, you may find that they are even better at it than you!

Don’t be afraid of being “surpassed” by a talented employee who is really good at their role. Offer training opportunities. Help people become their absolute best, not only for your business, but for their own growth as people. Will that mean they leave your organization one day? Maybe! But wouldn’t you rather have a phenomenal team member who one day leaves for bigger and better things, than a mediocre team member who sticks around because they aren’t passionate about growing and improving?

Team Building Requires Trust Building

In deals, trust is essential. You have to be able to trust yourself, your partners, and the clarity of your objectives when putting together a deal.

Your team requires trust as well.

There is no way to truly scale and grow if you cannot trust and empower people. Your team members need your trust to do their best work. And you need to give your trust to be able to take things to the next level.

Encouraging creativity and building an empowered team is vital for successful positioning. If you’re hoping for organic growth, improved marketing, new joint ventures, scaling, or preparing for an eventual exit: you’ll benefit from creating a team you can trust!

In the trade off of a deal, it has to work for BOTH parties. If one side feels that they’re not getting their fair share, they won’t engage.

Team building is the same. Trust, respect, training, empowerment, autonomy, flexibility – these are all aspects of the employee deal-making process. When you bring a valuable package to the table that includes so much more than just a paycheck, you can build a team that truly takes your business to the next level.

When you do that, you increase your firm’s capacity to do deals, build enterprise value and better position the company to monetize that enterprise value upon exit.

In the future, I plan to talk more about how internal succession is an incredible deal option that only makes sense if you’ve built a team that can run your company without you. The foundation? Team building!

Listen to the full episode here!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Pitching Deals As Your Authentic Self

Have you ever met the full-figured diva who has taken the business world by storm and won BIG? Well now you have! Precious L. Williams, also affectionately known as the #KillerPitchMaster, can help you #slayallcompetition. She does so with her “killer” elevator pitches, media pitches, and investor pitches. I’m really excited to share our conversation, especially as it pertains to pitching deals as your authentic self.

Who is Precious Williams?

As a child, Precious wanted to be a talk show host. Even then she knew that her future was going to include using her voice and commanding the attention of an audience. She could not have been more right!

Today, Precious is a world class master communicator. She works with successful entrepreneurs and speakers around the world. Her main role is to help them take their professional pitching and speaking skills to the next level. Williams has over 25 years of experience in creating unique speaking and public speaking techniques. In addition, she is known for her innovative training programs and services to her clients. This includes sales teams at Fortune 100 companies, including Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, eBay, and more.

Prior to her rise, she shares that her first real deal was getting her job back. She had been fired from a grocery store, and she went back and laid out the reasons she should be rehired. (Once she got it back, she realized she didn’t want it anymore and resigned!)

Pitching Deals For Sport

As a 13-time national business elevator pitch champion, Williams has been on top television shows and publications. She’s widely known for her pitching, branding, and professional speaking skills. Here in the US she has been featured on Season 8 of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Forbes Magazine, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, Wall Street Journal, and the movie “LEAP,”. She’s also been featured in other outlets around the world. Precious is also the author of a #1 bestselling business book and has been featured on top podcasts and stages globally.

The philosophy of her “killer” pitch is evident in the strategic and personalized creative communications and presentations solutions Williams puts forth. She is a quintessential serial entrepreneur, international professional speaker, and corporate trainer. As such, Williams is equipped to bring life, authenticity, strategy, and boldness to all your oral and written communication needs. Her ability to pitch herself, and to help others pitch themselves, has been a key element of her success!

The Shark Tank Experience

By the time Precious made it to Shark Tank, she had already coached multiple clients on their own presentations. She felt like the best kept secret. Getting her own chance to pitch a business she cared deeply about was an exhilarating experience.

She listened to her music, then said GAME ON. Walking down that hall, seeing the doors open, and facing the Sharks was like nothing else. Precious shares that she felt spellbound during her experience. At the end Mark Cuban said “You are a master at your craft.” Every question they asked, she had an answer for. During our interview, she shared multiple times that she felt she had been born for that moment.

Regardless of all the prior feedback Precious had received about how her gender, race, and background were going to prevent her from success, she rose to the occasion. Not only that, but she blew it out of the water. Most impressively, she wasn’t even there for a deal! She was there to prove that it could be done. If you’ve seen her episode, you know she achieved her goal.

Benefits of Pitching (Thinking Beyond the Deal)

Precious shares that her first ever pitch was getting onto the Your Business with JJ Ramberg show. At the time, she didn’t even consciously know she was pitching. Her second ever pitch was on the elevator segment of the show. It resulted in a $500,000 win! She had been told it could never happen for her, but it did.

Too many people think about the money first and foremost when they pitch. Precious shares that you need to think beyond that. Consider who else is in the room. Possible partners, mentors, collaborators, or future investors are all around you. You’re constantly making connections and contacts. Pay attention to who else is in the room!

Because of these secondary opportunities, you can think of pitching itself as a gift. Regardless of the immediate outcome, just the chance itself to pitch as the ability to create traction and transformation in your business.

As a business person, you never know who you’ll be sitting next to on a plane, in a restaurant, or anywhere else. You should be able to share what your business is, what pain points it addresses, and how people can get involved in a succinct and compelling way. Too many people can’t do that! Your elevator pitch shouldn’t be dry and boring. You should be sharing about your business with passion and intensity.

What is going to let your listeners know that YOU are the right person for them to work with and invest in? Share that!

Change Your Language and Change the Game

When Precious pitched her lingerie company, she didn’t get up and say “Here’s lingerie for plus sized women.” Why? No one cares. That’s not interesting or compelling. Instead, she changed the language to make it compelling. You have the power to consider each and every word you use to present your product or company. Choose powerful options!

For Curvy Girls Lingerie, she pitched the company as being “The ultimate shopping experience for full figured divas and plus sized fashionistas!” People wanted to know more about these women, this market, the product. It didn’t feel boring, it felt exciting. It also helped her tap into a market of over 30 million women who are size 14 or larger who want to wear beautiful undergarments.

In addition to your language, you need to think about your mindset. Do YOU believe in this product? Can you prove that you are behind your product 100%? Can you show up and bring your pitch with passion and intensity time and time again? If not, why would anyone else be interested? You owe it to yourself and your dream to pitch with passion every time.

Pitching With Passion

Precious believes that part of her purpose here on earth is to use the power of language to pitch your brilliance and passion. For anyone who has been told that they can’t because of some perceived stereotype or barrier, she is here to say that you can.

There is a brilliance inside of you that deserves to be seen. Precious loves to come alongside these people and kick through doors together. How? It’s all done with the power of the pitch!

Wan to learn more about the power of pitching? Interested in an example of how to break-through implicit bias within the deal making industry? Listen in to the full episode here!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Conversations About Difference Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating

A Different View of Deals & Negotiations

My guest today is Zoltan Istvan, who is a world leader in the field of Transhumanism. He’s also a vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2020. I’m excited to have Zoltan on. He brings a different view of deals and negotiations, and how that plays out in the political realm.

More About Transhumanism

Transhumanism is a social movement. It contains many millions of people around the world that want to use science and technology to radically modify humans and the human experience. This can include anything from exoskeleton suits that will allow elderly or disabled people who have lost mobility to walk again, or chips implanted in either your brain or in your hand.

It can also include things like genetic editing, where we try to eliminate cancer through radical types of genetic therapies. Transhumanism is always about radical science applied to human beings and our lives here.

In 2016, Zoltan was nominated as a presidential candidate to run for as a Transhumansim candidate. Zoltan believes that America actually received a science-based candidate really well. Although he acknowledges that the party never had a chance to win, they did get their message out, with over 100 million views of their content, 6th best of all candidates.

Deals & Negotiating in Politics & Journalism

Zoltan shares that he has several businesses and has been an entrepreneur for years. However, politics takes the cake in terms of deal-making. There are constant divisions, factions, and differences in opinion. If you want to be nominated as a candidate, you have to be able to combine factions, make deals, and bring people together.

The complexity of political deal-making in today’s divisive social atmosphere is intense. Zoltan noted that political deals often differ from business deals in that they tend to be less directly about money. Instead, they are about positioning and leverage.

The person who best masters compromise often ends up the winner.

Zoltan’s work in journalism required similar negotiation skills. When a journalist wants to create a story based on a certain person or group, it’s necessary to find ways to help people feel safe in revealing their truest selves. It really comes down to trust, and your ability to build trust with the other person as part of creating a deal together.

Building Trust as Part of Deal-Making

Because deals always involve people at some level, the power of trust cannot be overstated. No matter how amazing a deal might seem, it’s incredibly hard to get someone to put their signature on something if they don’t trust you.

In journalism, you have to be able to show someone that opening up to you and sharing their story is going to be better for them and their lives in the long run. And that can be a hard sell if trust has not been established.

So, politics and business share the same truth: Without some level of trust, it’s really hard to get a deal done.

Zoltan’s background includes reporting in a lot of war zones. As a result, he’s seen that generals and military commanders are very hesitant to speak with reporters. He had to prove that he would report the facts and create stories that were accurate. The modern, “click-bait” style reports that are common on social sites today do the exact opposite. They may be entertaining and compelling — but they do not build the sort of trust necessary to get to a deeper, bigger story.

Existential Risk & Transhumansim

Zoltan shares that transhumanism focuses quite strongly on the reality of existential risks in the world. There are plagues, health problems, and nuclear threats. He believes that reallocating government money into researching and addressing these existential threats is vital. In addition, it would be a foundational role for transhumanist political leaders in the future. This would clearly require a great deal of political deal-making. This would also involve the boundary-pushing science transhumanism is known for. Because of this, there are likely going to be conflicts with more conservative or traditional religious leaders.

For example, artificial wombs are reaching a place of viability that means they will be an option in the upcoming years. The Catholic Church has long held a position against abortion. Their perspective here will be interesting. What if they could see artificial wombs as an abortion alternative that allows a woman to opt-out of pregnancy while also protecting the babies life and making it possible for the child to be born full term and adopted?

Zoltan points out that innovations in science and technology almost always signal new deals on the horizon. From what will be accepted, to how something will be funded, produced, marketed, and used: deals are a necessity.

Building trust will continue to be a key element of allowing various sectors and factions to come together. This is necessary in order to create the best world for us all.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

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Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

Stand Out, Get Noticed, and Make Better Deals

Jesse Cole is the owner of Savannah Bananas, founder of Fans First Entertainment, author of Find Your Yellow Tux, and a keynote speaker. He’s a huge believer in helping businesses stand out, as he uses the power of being different as a way to gain leverage and make deals!

Using Experience to Stand Out (and Sell Out Stadiums)

In lower level baseball, it’s not unusual to see empty seats in the stands…unless you’re at a home game for the Savannah Bananas. As a college summer team, they have reason to NOT sell out. However, Jesse is known for having a team that sells out constantly. They do deals, create promotions, and find ways to stand out, get seen, and sell tickets all the time!

In fact, they’ve sold out every single game for the last two seasons, and have thousands of fans on their waiting list.

He shares that they built a brand that has transcended past Savannah, having received global attention. People are tuning into their games, and eagerly watching what they do. Jesse sees it as a crazy brand story connected to building something with a very clear purpose. His vision was to change the game of baseball, and to do it by putting fans first and entertaining always.

Goal: To give fans the most fun they have ever had at a baseball game.

This includes a professional high fiver, a role that Jesse held auditions for (hear more about that on the full episode)! It also points to how necessary it is to invest in experience. It’s not “just” a baseball game; it’s a full blown experience, from beginning to end.

A GM with $268 in the Bank

Jesse’s first General Manager position in baseball had a salary of $27,000, and placed him as the GM of the worst team in the league. He got the offer with no experience, because no one else wanted the position. Since he was an unpaid intern at the time, what did he have to lose? So, he went for it.

His first week in, he realized there were three full time employees…and $268 in the team’s bank account. For the first three months on the job, he wasn’t able to pay himself. But he saw potential, and he made a deal:

If he could hit a ridiculously high revenue and fan goal, he wanted a $2,500 bonus. He got a joking “yes”, and proceeded to double revenue and triple the fan base. How? Well, he shares that they started being dramatically different. They focused on the fun, and the entertainment aspects of the game. They had dancing players, and grandma beauty pageants.

The next year, the owner came to his office to say that He’d never seen anything like it. Jesse attributed it to being empowered to making changes and doing whatever he thought needed to be done. He believed in the power of standing out and getting noticed, and he leveraged that power to transform his team.

The Power of Ownership

Jesse believes that being empowered to make decisions, make deals, and even name his own salary is what equipped him to be successful. Today, he feels that giving people ownership is the most powerful way to increase success.

Big questions he asks himself in terms of creating sustainable growth:

How do I empower others to make their own deals?

How do I give opportunity to all my employees?

One way he practices empowerment is by profit sharing with his employees. It’s a way of giving everyone ownership within the organization, which uplevels their personal investment and agency.

He also believes in his dreams and goals, and he demonstrates what it is to be ALL IN. In fact, when the Savannah Bananas were getting started, they ran out of money early on. Jesse and his wife made the choice to fund the team by selling their own house; they believed so firmly in their ability to succeed that they literally put in everything they had.

They also brokered deals on many fronts. From their stadium lease, to an expensive expansion deal, they looked for ways to build their audience, engage with their community, and create a foundation for success.

One important aspect of these deals was to consider their community impact. Short term dollars could not override long term community concerns and needs. Using the concept of Fans First, Entertainment Always, Jesse ensured that every deal made had a positive impact on their fans. It’s a core part of what they do, and he stands by it 100%.

The promise you make to your people and your fans with your brand is vital.
Jesse understands that fans don’t want ads – so their stadium doesn’t have them. They gave up hundreds of thousands of dollars and potential income in order to stand behind their mission – Fans First. Their tickets are all inclusive, because fans aren’t served by being nickel and dimed every time they come to a game.

It’s a philosophy of caring for customers that goes far beyond lip service, and it impacts every deal that Jesse makes with his entertainment company and ball team.

Lessons on Pivoting

Jesse shares that when they tried to do what everyone else was doing, they got the results everyone else got. Now, he believes in doing the exact opposite.

At their start, the team didn’t have many resources. There was no massive budget for marketing. So instead of having a marketing plan and throwing dollars into ad spend, they looked for ways to garner attention.

To this day, Jesse encourages people to stop creating “marketing” plans, and start creating “attention” plans. Think about what a reporter would find compelling. Think about your fans most desire. Create experiences. Experiment to see what works, what draws your audience, and what gets people attention.

To tie in baseball metaphor: the player with the most hits in MLB history is also the player who had the most at bats.

If you’re a business that is constantly “planning” and never actually swings…you don’t have enough at bats to achieve extraordinary success.
Identify your core vision, then find ways to take action. Have a brainstorming session with your team, but then go out and DO something about. How many experiments can you do this week? This month? This year?

How can you release the need for everything to be perfected and polished, and instead choose to fail forward fast?

Jesse brings so much energy to this interview, and he dives deep on culture and growth as well! Listen to the full episode to learn more!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

Categories
Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

Building Interpersonal Skills to Make Better Deals

Steven Herz is the author of Don’t Take Yes For an Answer, as well the founder of IF Management and the president of The Montag Group. He also believes that anything is possible, which in his own life has included losing weight in order to compete in the treacherous Gulf Coast Triathlon. During this time he also raised thousands of dollars for the Leukemia Society. Steven is also a huge proponent of leveraging interpersonal skills in order to make better deals.

Negotiating Television and Radio Deals

Steve started out by founding a sports media management firm. He represented sportscasters, retired athletes, and coaches, and found himself doing deals for and with those wanting to break into sports broadcasting. About 6 months in, he realized that local stations were looking for more than just sports broadcasters. They were looking for weathermen, anchors, and reporters.

Recognizing that he was limiting himself with his niche, he decided to expand the scope of what If Management did. More recently, he merged If Management into The Montag Group and now serves over 250 clients from all walks of life. From sportscasters to medical correspondents, they’ve helped develop the careers and opportunities of hundreds of professionals.

A huge part of Steven’s role is to prepare clients to negotiate deals with networks and other media outlets. You absolutely have to create leverage at all times, and consider the totality of every possible deal.

One barrier can be limitations related to location. For example, a family man in Miami who doesn’t want to relocate may be limited to only 2-3 major outlets. Depending on the location, there may also be non-compete clauses that limit transitioning to a competitor. Because of this, some negotiations have to focus on individual strengths, and what value a person can add to their network. That’s why skill building and growth are such vital parts of preparing for a solid negotiation.

Indemnification – Thinking Beyond Salary

In a public-facing career like broadcasting, there’s more to think about than just salary + benefits. One major potential issue that may arise for on-air personalities is a legal battle connected to libel or slander. It’s vital that indemnification is covered during negotiations, in order to protect each client.

Steven shares that one of their clients (Dan Shulman) is an ESPN broadcaster. During one game that Dan was announcing, a sleeping fan who had been eating a lot of food fell asleep in his chair. A picture was taken, and a blogger made a joke of it. The fan was angry, and sued the network. Dan was included in the suit (even though he hadn’t made any direct comments about the fan).

Because Steven’s had negotiated indemnification into the contract, Dan was able to have the legal battle covered by the network. In addition, he would have been fully reimbursed for any damages that might have resulted from the ordeal.

The Power of Personal Change

Steven is a great example of the power of personal change. He’s leveraged his own unique communication gifts and interpersonal skills in order to build a small start-up company into an industry powerhouse, where part of what he does is to coach and motivate others to help them become the absolute best version of themselves. His clientele includes CEO’s, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and young professionals.

He realizes that many people who come to them are looking to go further in life. Often, they think that procuring an agent will be a way of elevating their potential. Steven points out, however, that agents are not magic genies. Who you are as a person is absolutely key. Having someone like an agent vouch for you means nothing if the narrative going through the grapevine is that you’re unethical or have a bad reputation.

That’s why personal growth and taking personal responsibility for your own change is so key. Over the years, Steven has identified two major differences between those you rise to the next level, and those who don’t. Here’s what he learned about those who succeed:

They WANT to look within to identify the internal factors holding them back.
They analyze and grow their communication skills, especially their small group and 1-1 ability.
These two areas are the basis of Steven’s new book, Don’t Take Yes for an Answer, where he digs into these concepts.

Interpersonal Skills & Communication

Steven believes that AWE is the acronym that best represents the skills needed for skillful interpersonal communication.

A – Authority, presence, substance

W – Warmth, trust, connection

E – Energy (your own, and how you energize others)

He also believes that these skills CAN be taught. And once you’ve really started to understand and use them, you’ll see a difference in who you attract, how you sell, what you build, and what your outcomes are.

No matter what deals you’re doing, you can absolutely create more success by developing these interpersonal skills. To learn more about Steven’s book (including the bidding war four major publishers engage in to get it!), his work, and how you can improve your own negotiating skills, listen to the full episode!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

Categories
Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Conversations About Difference Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Finding Valuable Deals that are Worth Pursuing

I am so excited to share this DealQuest episode with you! Stephanie Scheller is the founder of Grow Disrupt, a San Antonio-based training organization for small businesses, and an accomplished speaker who has been behind-the-scenes with more than 2500 companies in the past five years to analyze & address their sales, marketing & systems! Her wealth of knowledge is especially useful when it comes to finding valuable deals that are worth pursuing!

Stephanie is a TEDx speaker, a Forbes 30 under 30 nominee, a 2019 New York Life Woman of the year Nominee, a two-time best-selling author, an entrepreneur, a coach and a trainer and dedicated to teaching the same skills that allowed her to build her business from scratch and walk away from her corporate job in less than five months. It is abundantly clear why I’m so excited to have her as a guest!

Grow Disrupt: Decreasing Overwhelm with Connections

Stephanie notes that when it comes to business, there are so many experts and self-proclaimed “gurus” out there. It’s very challenging to find people who actually give good information that is currently working.

A lot of small businesses get stuck. They get bad information, and then they get so overwhelmed with trying to either use that information, or find a new person with better information, that eventually they just kind of give up on follow through. We all know that doesn’t work if you’re going to run a business. You’ve got to have business skills as well as technical skills and you know like

So my goal was to be a gatekeeper so people could come to me and get connected with solid industry leaders that could really provide the guidance they needed. Eventually, Grow Disrupt turned to events as their medium of choice; they would bring in the people who not only know what they’re doing, but also know how to break it down in a way that makes sense. It’s vital that these guests can provide strategies and information that will work inside multiple businesses; global application is key!

Finding Valuable Deals

This may not seem like the ideal time to be knee-deep in the events industry! Stephanie shares that Grow Disrupt adapts as needed.

Right now, for example, they’re doing a lot of events online. Because they’ve positioned themselves as a brand that people can connect with, they’ve been able to make the pivot and continue serving their ideal clientele. This has been made simpler because Stephanie is a connector; she isn’t just signing contracts and creating growth for herself. Instead, she’s making deals that are based on trust and that grow from relationships.

As a connector myself, I know what a great skill this is when it comes to making deals. Before a transaction can occur, a relationship has to be made!

(Speaking of the event industry, you can go all the way back to episode three of the DealQuest Podcast to hear my interview with Ramon Ray if you want more information about deals and events!)

When Stephanie creates events and brings in experts, she tends to focus first and foremost on what her audience needs. They’re looking to accelerate their growth, shorten the learning curve, and uncover problems they don’t even know they have. By connecting with the experts that Stephanie brings them into contact with, they are able to identify what they most need to work on next. Often, these are problems that they have been unable to identify themselves, which means they’ve often put time and resources into trying to fix the wrong things!

Stephanie shares a great example she recently discovered in a violin lesson (I’d invite you to listen in to the full episode to hear about that real life example of fixing all the wrong things!)

Desperate Deals

Stephanie shares that one of the keys to deal-making is that you can’t be negotiating from a place of desperation.

When you’re just trying to get sales going,you tend to be desperate for the deal to go through. But here’s the thing: this deal is not going to save your business.

When you’re making deals from a desperate place, what you’re going to end up getting is a deal that’s not in your best interest. Stabilizing your sales funnel and using marketing to drive leads into that funnel will allow you the space you need to really negotiate and make deals from a place of power.

I love that Stephanie talked about this; something I talk about in my negotiating book is that if you’re in a place of scarcity, desperation, or fear, you’re going to be making wrong decisions. Great deals don’t come from a bad place!

Stephanie also mentioned some big ideas about taking a paycheck and getting a profit distribution from your business.

That ties in so well with last week’s episode, where Mike Michalowicz shared about his work with Profit First and Fix This Next.

Leverage Organic Growth With Deals

If you’re doing it right, you have organic growth from your sales and marketing as the base. And then you leverage that growth with deals. You’re able to use your organic success to enhance your negotiating position, which enables you to release the desperation of “needing” the deal.

Making deals from a place of strength also makes it more likely that you’ll be able to create ongoing relationships. The best way to do this is to start with a continuation of each relationship in mind. This requires honesty. Ideally you’re entering into deals that further your business without threatening to overwhelm it. Ideally, you don’t want a single deal to comprise more than 25% of your business, because you have to recognize that there are hundreds of reasons that that deal could end. Things change, clients’ needs change, the economy changes, your connection leaves the company. Too many companies become complacent and overly reliant upon one or two really large clients. Then if you lose them, you risk losing your business.

I completely agree with Stephanie’s thinking here. I’ve been in business for 35 years, and I feel like we do great work for people. We rarely have any issues with clients. However, we still lose clients for other reasons; by reducing our reliance on a small handful of clients, we strengthen our overall business and approach.

Stephanie shared about a contact that was making $250,000 a year from three clients. With no warning, she lost two of them overnight. It wasn’t anything she did “wrong”; they were bringing it in house because they got acquired by a larger company. Her business had relied on three contracts; they were good deals, but she could have lost everything by over relying on them and ignoring organic sales and marketing that would have enabled her to have more diversity within her business.

To learn more about leveraging deals while organically growing your business, listen in to the whole episode here! You can also learn more about Stephanie over on her site, www.growdisrupt.com.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

Categories
Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

Fix This Next and Get Ready for Deal-Driven Growth

I’m honored to share this week’s interview with DealQuest guest and Profit First creator Mike Michaelowicz with you. Over the years he has traveled the globe, speaking to thousands of entrepreneurs. On the show, he distilled that down into some of the absolute best wisdom that he’s learned. (Including lessons from his new book, Fix This Next!)

Mike is a natural fit for the DealQuest Podcast. So much of what he teaches helps companies build enterprise value that sets their owners up for an eventual exit. He is the author of multiple books, including Profit First, Surge, Clockwork, The Pumpkin Plan, and his latest release: Fix This Next. Today he is running his third multi-million dollar company, Profit First.

Foundations of Being Deal Ready
In my work, I talk a lot about being deal ready.

In fact, I have a theory that any company of any size can do some sort of deal. The truth is, however, that to be able to confidently benefit from consistent deal-driven growth, you absolutely have to put in the work! You can just suddenly take on new sales without having the right infrastructure. And you certainly can’t truly benefit from deals if you haven’t built a strong foundation to handle that growth.

Part of that foundation is exactly what Mike teaches in his Profit First work. Personally, it’s rare for me to say I’m devoted to much. Profit First principles, however, would make the list of tools and concepts that I am proud to stand behind. In fact, I’ve shared Mike’s book with over a hundred people. I can attest to the difference it has made in not only my life, but the lives of so many other entrepreneurs!

Fix This Next

If you’ve read any of Mike’s previous books, you know how powerful his work is! That’s one reason I was so thrilled to learn his new book, Fix This Next, was published recently.

As an entrepreneur himself, Mike shares that he is constantly curious about the challenges being faced by other business owners. So he asked!

And his readers responded with all sorts of answers that were all over the board. (Listen in to hear about the fluke double send that resulted in a really interesting find!) After distilling everything down, Mike’s big takeaway was that business leaders were struggling to know exactly what their own biggest challenges even were.

How could that be?
Well, it partly related to the fact that too many entrepreneurs were consumed with putting out fires. And that constant hustle from one issue to the next…to the next….to the next….

It was creating an issue with being able to step outside of the business and really SEE what the actual challenges were.

I really resonated with what Mike shared about this. It absolutely matches what I’m seeing. There’s this conversation about the constant need for “hustle” if you’re an entrepreneur. That results in a business (and leader) that is in reaction to everything that’s going on. Fix This Next is all about helping people stop running a million miles an hour. Once you’re able to focus on real priorities, you can transform your business!

Mike shares that entrepreneurs grinding and hustling in their businesses have proven that that model does not work for growth. Instead, leaders attempting to grow in this way get stuck in a self-defeating cycle.

Thoughtful Design

Mike shares that we have to be very thoughtful with designing the outcomes we want. We also need to have clarity on where the business needs to go, and then organize our resources to get there. That’s our job.

When you peel back the outer skin of a business, they’re almost all identical. Essentially, there are five foundational levels. Similar to Maslow’s hierarchy, if the foundational level is not being addressed, we cannot grow in other ways. You don’t build the fifth story of a building up in thin air, because you know it will all collapse to the ground. You have to build the foundation first.

Once you have that, Fix This Next identifies the 5 essential levels of a solid business:
Sales and the creation of cash are the foundational level of a business. Without cash flow, you can’t do anything.
Profits provide stability for an organization; with no profit, your business is on extremely shaky ground.
Order is a creation of efficiency, and the ultimate acid test is whether a business can run without the owner themselves. If I know I can leave my business and it will continue to grow without me being there, then I am on my way to true business success.
Impact is the creation of transformation. NOT transactions. Transformations. How are you serving people’s lives? How are you changing people’s lives?
Legacy is the fifth and highest level. When the business starts focusing on legacy, the business owner has a realization, and that realization is profound. I am not an owner but instead a steward of my business.
When a business owner is able to release their business into time and space in order for it to continue on to be of service in their absence, it’s at the legacy stage.

It’s Not All Linear

Those five levels don’t always happen in one neat line. It’s normal to bounce around a bit! For example, as we’re recording there’s mass economic turmoil. For many of us in business, what we were selling before isn’t selling anymore. So even if we were working at transformational levels of impact and legacy, we may need to refocus on our businesses and reinvent ourselves. That can mean going all the way back to level one. You may need to create new products or services that are relevant to the current times.

All businesses of all sizes will live in this hierarchy. As a result, we’re always moving around at different times, based upon what’s going on around us. There’s no shame in reaching back and making changes to fundamental parts of your business!

Building a Deal-Ready Business

Mike already talked a little bit how these levels impact deals. The ability to build a company that runs without the owner while building enterprise value apart from the efforts of the owner makes a company much more lucrative. Profit First/Fix This Next businesses that can run and profit without direct owner intervention are much more attractive to potential buyers.

Everything that Mike shared in terms of building out the 5 levels of a company are directly related to creating a company that is truly set up to be successful at deal-driven growth. And not just acquisitions! Any type of deal will be positively impacted by building your company on a strong foundation. You need to consider sales, profit, order, impact, and legacy.

Mike also notes that if you want your company to be in the position of acquiring new businesses, reputation is key. If you acquire or partner with a business for its excellent tools, assets, systems, or products, you can bring those to market in a powerful way. This requires your own company brand to be strong and trusted. Even if the acquired brand is relatively small or unknown, partnering it with your own solid, trusted brand can bring exposure that creates a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Your own brand’s reputation can allow an acquisition to quickly become a value multiplier from day one. This kind of growth also enhances a new brand’s ability to grow organically due to brand recognition.
Speaking of brands, Mike shares that the brands of yesteryear were built around awareness (via repetition of messaging). Now, however, brands are built through reputation. Messaging has to be backed by people’s experience. This requires you to have a reputation for excellence within your client base. Your reputation truly precedes you as a brand today.

The Best Work of My Life

What a statement! Mike shared that he considers Fix This Next to be the best work of his life. If you feel your business has hit a ceiling, if you’re constantly putting out fires, if it seems like working your business is some sort of recurring groundhogs day…

This book is for you!

Between every action and reaction we need thoughtful contemplation. However, many business owners and leaders don’t do that. Something happens, and we end up reacting by our gut instinct. And that reaction isn’t serving entrepreneurs and business leaders well because we’re biologically wired into ourselves. When it comes to making gut decisions for our businesses, we’re not wired into it the way we are to our bodies. Yet when it comes to our businesses, many of us just simply trust our gut. That’s the wrong move!

Fix This Next is a really simple tool that will help you move in the exact direction your business needs. It absolutely helps you focus on the one thing you need to do within that business hierarchy of needs we talked about above.
In the book, you’ll find a simple series of questions that allows you to very rapidly evaluate where you are. Then you concentrate your efforts on resolving that one thing. When you concentrate your efforts on resolving foundational needs that really need to be fixed, you create a foundation that you can continue to build upon.

Once you’ve done that, you can really maximize your own business in a way that makes sense for your own lifestyle. This allows you to achieve what Mike calls “lifestyle congruence.” Understanding what you want for yourself is a key piece of building a business that will support your life in the long run.

Listen in to the full episode to hear about the three trigger moments that Mike believes have impacted his own businesses! And if you’re interested in reading Fix This Next, you can pick up your copy here (and let me know what you think…I’ll be reading it too!).

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

Categories
Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Conversations About Difference Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Key Decisions During Challenging Times

In this week’s episode, I break down the key decisions that we all need to make in these challenging times. The insights I offer on this topic come out of my own experience in dealing with challenging times in the past. For instance, coming through previous recessions and Superstorm Sandy.

Leadership Opportunities

As entrepreneurs and business leaders, I think we all have an opportunity to really look closely at two key decision points. The first one is:

Are we going to let these challenging times of crises get us down and derail key decisions?
Will we allow them to adversely impact us in terms of our mental state, our spiritual state, or our emotional state? Or are we going to find a way to rally?

During difficult times, it’s imperative that we stay positive and look for opportunities to excel. That may mean we need to pivot in our businesses, or use this time to develop new offerings for our clients. At an absolute minimum, it means we need to find new ways to stay in contact with clients by finding our own space of attraction and service.

If we don’t do that, we can easily end up in a place of fear and scarcity.

I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of leaders who have rallied, and leaders who have floundered. In fact, both things are happening in the extremes right now. And of course you know certain people in between; treading water and getting by. You get decide what kind of leader you will be! You can make key decisions that will allow you to grow, even through difficulty.

The Power of Positive Entrepreneurs

What I love about entrepreneurs is that, in general, I find them to be generally more positive and optimistic than many other types of people.

They are used to being innovative and finding creative ways to make things happen! And it could be that optimism comes more easily in times of crisis because they’re in control to a greater degree than those who work for others. Being an entrepreneur is different because you have so much agency. Instead of wondering if you’re going to get laid off from a job, you’re able to gear up and create change. But you an only do so if you’re maintaining a positive mindset!

As a business owner, what you’re dealing with is your business. You have the power to make changes or pivot as you see fit. And entrepreneurs clearly take advantage of this ability! In every down time, there are always companies that come out of it stronger than before. Why? Because they are empowered to create changes and adapt.

Some businesses will use the crisis to figure out how to become more efficient, how to make different offers, and how to produce products that are more appealing to their clients. Some of the most successful companies throughout history, going all the way back to the Great Depression and beyond, have been formed out of downtimes in the economy.

It all starts with whether you look at everything as an opportunity. You can choose to approach this challenge with an open mind, equipping yourself to not only survive, but to thrive.

Stand Strong

Are you constantly asking yourself how you’re going to put the best spin on this?

Are you searching for how you’re going to use this time most effectively?

You have to understand that if you’re in a place of fear or scarcity or lack, if you’re sort of shutting down and letting things affect you, it is going to impact your business. Mindset is everything. If you focus on scarcity, you are more likely to have that come into your life. Choosing to stay positive is one of the most key decisions you can make.

When you focus on positive ways to serve your clients, serve humanity, serve people, you empower yourself. If you focus on making a difference, being there, and supporting others in these times — that will shine through. And you’ll make an impact on not only your own life, but the lives of others.

Because honestly, whether you worry about it or not, it’s going to be what it’s going to be. So much is outside of your control. When we can get to the point where we are only focusing on the things that we can actually do something about, and not worrying about those that are outside of our control, that’s when we have the opportunity to be in our best position.

So that’s the first fundamental decision you have to make. But you’re not in it alone!

To help leaders in maintaining this positive outlook, I’m bringing entrepreneurs and business leaders together on Zoom calls where we can support each other. The goal is to maintain a positive energy, keep a growth mindset, and share best practices and while in community. The previous calls have been really amazing, and I would encourage you to join us if you haven’t yet!

Key Decisions Include How You Will Serve Others
The second big decision that I want you all to think about is this:

Are you looking for positive ways to serve?
Really consider: are you finding ways of just being there as human beings for each other? How are you actively supporting others in ways that are unrelated to making money or building your business?

And how are you serving your clients and being a resource to them, while also continuing to get paid a fair value for your services?

We all want to be people who make a difference in other people’s lives. It’s vital that we do so in ways that are fair and in keeping with our morals,values, and highest ideals. In these times, especially if you’re facing scarcity, fear, or worry about money, your decisions can get clouded by need.

I know what it’s like to sleep on an air mattress in my office, because I gave up my apartment during the 2008 recession. I know what it’s like to go into $325,000 of debt trying to make it all happen. These are hard times for many businesses, and I understand all too well what that feels like.

But what I also knew in that time was that it was vital to handle my business with character and in alignment to my true values. This is vital; no matter how hard it is, you must act on principle and maintain your core values.

So, how are we going to carry ourselves in these challenging times?

If we have an opportunity to still be in business and sell services and products, are we going to be gouging prices?

Or are we going to charge a fair price, are we going to actively look for ways to be of service? Can we look for ways to still uphold our value for the services that we’re providing, but also accommodate our client’s needs?

Let’s Talk Deals

There are going to be a lot of deals to be had in any kind of down economy. And we each have a choice: you can leverage and take advantage of somebody, or choose to be fair with somebody.

Because yes, there are the “distressed assets” – whether it’s property or business valuations that are tanking – and people who are afraid and may even feel desperate. Some investors will jump on the chance to leverage short-term profit. But others will operate from a place of integrity, a place of character and balance an appropriate adjustment in price and terms with a longer term view that takes into account relationships, valuing talent and fairness under the circumstances.

If you’re entering into a deal, you must consider your legacy and reputation. Not from a place of ego, but from a place of building the kind of business that you can be proud of once this crisis has passed. Certain key decisions regarding deals can leave you worse off down the road if you don’t consider values and relationships.

Be very sensitive about taking advantage of others in the business world; don’t be someone who leverages people’s misfortunes for your own gain. Remember, most deals are either the start, or the continuation of, a business relationship.

A company might take a deal in the short run, because they’re desperate. They need the money. But if you demoralize everyone involved, is that deal going to work out for you in the long run? Probably not. It’s not going to work out as well as if you had done it the right way.

There’s a difference between right-sizing a deal, and trying to leverage somebody’s misfortune just because you know they don’t have options.
There are ways to structure deals where you can respect both party’s risks. For example, you might commit to a purchase price based upon today’s valuation, which may be down from yesterday’s. But you could also give the ability of the seller to earn some upside if, over the next number of years, the business comes back to where it was.

Then you’re paying for revenue and profits that you will get, but only if you get them, and the deal works out fairly. This is far preferable to trying to leverage somebody at the bottom, and then keeping all the advantage of the upside for yourself.

Long Term Relationships

Doing an honorable deal in times of crisis increases the odds of the seller (and the seller’s team) becoming good employees or minority partners, depending upon how the deal is structured. It makes it more likely you’ll have a deal that will work in the long term. Just from a pure business point of view, it makes sense.

But it’s more than business.

I happen to believe that when we’re out of alignment, even if our actions initially make us more money in the short run, we create problems for ourselves in the long run. Don’t get me wrong: It’s absolutely the time to look for opportunities.

But you have to consider how you’re going to take advantage of those opportunities. Are you going to do so in a way that honors your values?

Key Decisions Provide Both Opportunity and Challenge

So this is our opportunity. This is our challenge. How are we going to stay in a positive mindset while we seek opportunities that are aligned, while also being mindful not to take advantage of people? How are we going to serve others? You can listen in to more of my thoughts on this over on the podcast.

I want to say I’m here as a resource. If anybody’s struggling, or anybody wants to talk through a few things, let’s connect. If you’re wondering: How do I take advantage of opportunities in this market without doing it in a way that’s not aligned? Reach out. I’m here for you.

Earlier I mentioned the Zoom calls, which are free; please join us there. They are going to bring the community together, help us stay aligned with our values, and help us make key decisions and stay positive in these challenging times.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!

Categories
Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Negotiating

Transforming Small Businesses Into Highly Profitable, Great Places to Work

This week I was honored to interview Dr. Sabrina Starling, The Business Psychologist™ and author of the How to Hire the Best series. She is also the founder of Tap the Potential, a business that specializes in transforming small businesses into highly profitable, Great Places to Work, then sending business owners on a 4 Week Vacation to celebrate that accomplishment.

How to Hire the Best
Dr. Sabrina has been coaching small business owners for over 15 years. She transitioned from her psychology practice because she wanted to work in a field with clear results. Small business coaching gave her that!

With her company, Tap Your Potential, she gets to work with top-tier small businesses and entrepreneurs. The business owners she works with are intent on building highly profitable places to work that do NOT depend on their constant present and oversight. This enables business owners to have more freedom and actually enjoy living their lives. When the business can run profitability on it’s own, it’s much more likely to be well-positioned for an eventual sale when the time comes.

Dr. Sabrina’s interest in authoring the How to Hire the Best series came about as a result of her desire to solve the toughest hiring challenges. She realized that these hiring challenges were constantly interfering with her clients’ growth and profitability.

Eventually, her work catapulted her into becoming the world’s leading expert in attracting top talent in small businesses. Regardless of what hiring challenges those businesses were facing, How to Hire the Best philosophies were able to make a difference and transform their businesses. This work also established Tap the Potential’s reputation as the go-to resource for entrepreneurs committed to creating Great Places to Work with thriving coaching cultures. Businesses who hire the best benefit from highly engaged team members working from their strengths.

The philosophy of Tap the Potential boils down to this: work should support life, not the other way around. This connects to my own belief that every business should be a lifestyle business. A healthy, profitable business should be supporting your life, not taking it over.

Creating a Sustainable Business
Dr. Sabrina’s upcoming book is all about how work supports life, not the other way around. She is on a mission to end the hustle and grind mentality and disrupt the dominant discourse about what it means to be a business owner and entrepreneur. She believes there is too much focus placed on growing top-line revenue, and not enough on margins. At the end of the day, she points out that it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you keep!

The focus should be on how much of our revenue consists of profit, and how much life our business gives back to us and our team members. After all, if we are building businesses that are not sustainable, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Work sustainability is a huge concept to dig into. You can start by asking yourself:

Is it sustainable to work 90 hours a week?
How sustainable is it to sit at your desk behind a screen for hours and hours on end?
Is it sustainable to be the only person who can keep the business running?
At the end of the day, no!

Laying awake at night worrying about cash flow and payroll while chasing bigger deals just to keep it all afloat is NOT sustainable. The real focus should be on increasing profits and margin, not just pulling in high dollar deals.

Creating a sustainable business is also key to creating enterprise value for an eventual exit deal and being freed up to have the time, focus and creativity for deal-driven growth.

Transforming Small Businesses: Optimize Success and Focus Your Time
Dr. Sabrina has run her business on 20-25 hours a week for the last 15 years. Every single year she’s grown her business by 30% or more (other than the two years she took a step back). She had to be highly focused and productive in order to maximize those working hours.

She understands there are limits on her time, and she has to be highly selective about where she put her focus and energy. By letting go of the day-to-day distractions and focusing on the most valuable uses of her time, she has seen massive success in her life and business.

The flexibility to be highly focused and work-oriented while also raising her children and parenting, was key in Dr. Sabrina’s success. I realized during our conversation that some of my own most effective hires have come from giving employees the flexibility to work at the times that make sense for them.

One way to create flexibility? Focus on employee results, rather than hours behind a desk.

Dr. Sabrina shares that all of her team members are virtual, part-time workers. Everyone works flexibly, and she understands that work can get done alongside the other priorities that people have in their lives. She also creates clear work/life boundaries for her team. If she sends emails or Slack messages after 5pm or on weekends, her team knows that she’s doing so because those things were top of mind for her, not because she expects them to drop everything and respond.

So many entrepreneurs are currently running remote businesses, either by choice or due to the Coronavirus. A common question she keeps hearing?

How do we know our employees are getting things done?

Hours vs. Results

She recommends shifting the conversation to results. Know what results you need from each team member, and communicate them. If they are getting those results, then they are doing what needs to be done. The details of when and where they are working aren’t relevant if results are happening.

Hire great people. Trust them as professionals. Hold them accountable for results.
When that is your method, you don’t need to micromanage or hover over anyone’s shoulder.

Recently, a lot of managers have been forced to put aside their micromanaging ways. Will this last when employees return to the office?

Post-Coronavirus, Dr. Sabrina believes that there will be micromanaging leaders who simply return to their old ways. However, she suggests that thoughtful leaders who are paying attention will recognize the benefits of running virtually and releasing control. If they are wise, they will find ways to reevaluate what work has to happen in the office, how important it is (or is not) to clock in and out at rigid times, and how flexibility can enhance everyone’s performance. There is going to be a desire to maintain some elements of this new-found ability to accomplish at least some work from home!

In addition, we can consider trust, which really is the foundation of all of this.

When we can extend trust to our team members, we’ll get better results and behavior in return. If you’ve strategically hired the best, extending trust causes people to step up and work harder for you. When team members feel distrusted, they become fearful of making mistakes, and are unlikely to operate above bare-minimum baselines. Trust creates better interactions, more safety, and more support. And those are the conditions that are required for anyone to create their best work.

At the end of the day, your team members are your biggest investment. Treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve!

Profitability Vs. Revenue

About 5 years ago, I shared with Dr. Sabrina that I read the book Profit First. (I had no idea that Tap the Potential was a Profit First business!) This is a great resource because it has you break things down in a way that enables you to not only pay yourself, but also have profits within your business. Too often, we are operating under a self-created cycle of stress, debt, and uncertainty.

It doesn’t need to be this way! Every check that comes in needs to be segmented into taxes, operating expenses, owner’s pay and profits. This will lead to greater clarity about what your margins are, and allow you to operate with more breathing room. When you can stop accumulating debt in your business and finally gain clarity on your profit margins, you can focus on growth that truly matters.

Hiring in a Down Economy

As we’re experiencing a down market, hiring and profits are changing. Many organizations are scaling back in order to focus on the sweet spots in their businesses, and this may involve hiring decisions.

With a clearly defined sweet spot, businesses can let go of all the extraneous elements. Growing from this spot decreases overhead and “drag”. The resulting layoffs can mean the market is saturated with A-players who are looking for a new position.

Dr. Sabrina recommends that, as an entrepreneur, you have a “shopping list” handy. This list will help you consider your long term vision, and what you will need to fulfill that vision. From platforms, tools, and new hires, you shouldn’t be making decisions based on what you can get a great deal on. You need to consider your business’ long term impact and needs.

It’s also key at this time to position yourself as an employer of choice. You can interview amazing people all day, but if your organization isn’t set up to attract them, they won’t accept your offers. Work to build up a presence and communicate the sort of environment you provide for employees.

Another recommendation? Don’t use the “opportunities for advancement” line. It’s vague and meaningless. Set yourself apart from other organizations by creating a clear, results-based path towards growth. You can start an A-player around the 65th percentile of pay when you can show them the clear path to the 90th percentile.

Dr. Sabrina also recommends that, at the end of an interview, you give candidates you’d like to hire a sheet that breaks down their advancement path for the first 18 months. On the back of that map, include testimonials from current employees about why they love working for the organization.

Payment Structures

In structuring acquisitions, an earn out offer is a common way of increasing purchase costs while also protecting the buyer if profits don’t manifest as expected. Dr. Sabrina’s hiring plan for A-players essentially creates an “earn out offer” for new hires.

Employees who rise to the challenge and perform well are rewarded, and if the results don’t come through, the pay rate remains stable and payable for the business owner. Back-end upsides help mitigate risks for both parties, which is key in establishing trust and bringing in top candidates.

If you attempt to take advantage of the current down markets by hiring an A-player at a low rate of pay, they may accept your offer…but they will jump ship as soon as possible when the market turns! They will know that you took advantage of them when you had the chance, and they won’t remain loyal to you when the field clears and they have more options.

Another option in this market is to bring new employees on as part-time, remote employees. They can start learning the business and going through the training process, which is a great way to get them started without committing to a full time hire.

No matter how you go about it, be sure to consider how you can add value to both your organization AND your new hire.

Transforming Small Businesses Without Entrepreneurial Burnout
So many entrepreneurs are operating under a high-risk of burn out. Dr. Sabrina urges you to put your own oxygen mask on first, and don’t forget to take care of yourself!

You can take a free assessment to determine your level of burn out here: www.tapthepotential.com/assessment/. This assessment also serves as a screening tool for what you need to work on next. After all, you want to impact both the quality of your business AND your own life.

Listen in to our full interview here!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out if you’re an authentic negotiator, take the Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz today!