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

Coaches, Deal-Making, and Buyouts

Remy Blumenfeld is one of the world’s leading business coaches and advisors. He’s contributed more than 50 articles to Forbes. Remy was also listed by an independent newspaper as one of the Top 20 Most Influential LGBTQ People in the United Kingdom. He’s been featured in Forbes, Inc., The New York Times, and more!

Listen to our full interview here.

Getting His Start

Remy shares that, as a kid, he knew he wanted to be in the communication business. He had a little cassette recorder, and he would go around interviewing his friends. (He even found the old tapes from it recently!) His first real job was actually as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal television show in New York City. He didn’t stick with it for his full career, but it was an enjoyable start!

His first deal-making experience was at a school fundraiser. There were all sorts of little booths, and people were selling things to raise money for the school. Remy spent 5 pounds and purchased a set of prints that had been connected to a puppet show theatre. He then resold them for a few hundred! Ebay wasn’t in existence yet, but he was still flipping goods.

Remy and I also discussed the difference between looking 4 years into the future versus a hundred or more years into the future — you can listen in to hear about that!

Later, Remy transitioned into what he’s known for now: coaching and advising. While running multiple businesses, he had found that he was naturally fulfilling a sort of coaching relationship with his employees. (The only difference, he joked, was that he had no coaching training and they hadn’t actually hired him for his input!) 

Now, however, Remy coaches leaders, primarily in the creation sectors. He finds they are usually looking for a combination of coaching and business advice. As a result, he provides a hybrid model based on their needs. 

Early Deal-Making Experiences

Some of Remy’s largest deals include the businesses he’s sold. He started his first production company out of his bedroom in Brixton because he was out of a job. Remy decided he wanted to sell ideas to broadcasters. However, he realized that he couldn’t get companies to invest money into him as an individual person. As a result, he rebranded as a company and kept on trying. Looking back, he notes he was doing many things he now advises his clients to do. At the time, though, he was doing it by accident. In essence, he was making programs about where he lived and what he knew best. At the time, Remy was living in a rough area as a young, gay Jewish man. The shows he was making were often about the edges of society. (Those edges have since become the middle in many ways).

The production company that started in his bedroom made the first Black music show on Terrestrial TV in the UK, the first Asian pop culture show on the BBC, the first gay dating show, and more. He notes they did quite well by doing what they knew best. They understood it, they loved it, and they did it the best.

That lesson holds true in any sort of business and sales endeavor: you’ll do best by doing what you know best. It truly helps to be an expert in whatever you’re doing, as the buyer realizes that you are truly the best choice for them.

Years later, Remy sold his bedroom-started company for a high-multiple figure to a larger production company. Later, they became the company that produced Big Brother!

Leaning Into the End Game

Remy notes that, at a certain point, he understood that the production company had a saleable value that he hadn’t initially recognized. When he had started it, there wasn’t really a true market in the field. 

About 6-7 years into running things, however, independent production companies became something that investors were interested in. Big companies started buying up smaller companies, and he realized he was ready to sell. This required facing many realities about the business that their team had never really thought about before. For instance, Remy and his team realized that if you don’t have processes in place, big companies aren’t interested in buying you. Strangely run companies with weird or lacking systems get overlooked in buyout opportunities. Remy suggests running your small company as if it’s a big company in terms of utilizing systems, procedures, and watching the bottom line. (Watch your growth line!)

Now, Remy always advises people to imagine, from day one, that they are going to sell. He notes that you should be attempting to create a story with numbers — a story of growth, consistency, and profitability.

Remy now works with founders to implement checklists early on so they can create something others would actually want to buy from the beginning. (Rather than trying to “dress the bride on the way to the altar”!)

I noted that it’s possible to get deals done with a last minute scramble, but it’s surely not ideal. Preparing in advance is the best!

The Psychology of Buying a Company

Beyond the numbers, Remy thinks psychology is the most important aspect of the sale of a business. (In fact, he notes that ego tends to get in the way of the best and truest job quite often!)

In the creative sector, Remy notes that people often want to show they’ve done the best possible job tapping into every possible revenue stream and protecting their rights. You won’t feel very proud of yourself if you’ve just “forgotten” to access a revenue stream or market. There is a level of pride involved that can make owners want to emphasize that they’ve done everything.

However, a buyer wants to feel there is room for growth and improvement. If everything has been done that can be done, and growth can’t occur, it will be less attractive to them. A buyer wants to believe they can run the company better than you, or at least that there is room for them to do something bigger and better!

Remy does note, however, that sometimes in show business people forget the business and run the show! In a business deal, it’s key to be able to show that the business elements have been well handled so they can be moved through.

(Listen in to learn more about Remy’s thoughts on how the buyers will be approaching your business just like a home they recently purchased; there will be changes!)

The Power of Coaches & Coaching

I noted that I’ve worked with coaches myself, and asked Remy to share a bit more about the power of coaching. 

Remy noted that one of the things he finds to be most powerful is helping people commit to their own goals and standards, independent of anybody else. It’s key to be able to hold these apart from your partner, parents, clients, or anyone else in your life. As a coach, Remy also finds it useful that he’s not involved in his client’s lives or goals in a personal way. He’s able to provide feedback and accountability that is received differently than that of a friend or colleague would be.

I see that as the deal clients and coaches make between one another, in terms of how they will hold one another accountable and show up.

Listen to our full interview here.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 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 how deal-ready you are, take the Deal-Ready Assessment today!

 

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

Breakthroughs In Health & Deals

For over three decades Dr. Patricia Boulogne has helped thousands of people solve their lifestyle medicine problems & have health breakthroughs. She helps her clients who are sick, overweight, and tired finally release lifelong weight problems, chronic diseases and genetic disposition to restore energy and vitality! Dr. Boulogne accomplishes this by making sense of complex and challenging problems and situations quickly and with measurable results. She’s also the author of the bestselling book, Why Are You Sick, Fat, and Tired?.

Her services are truly unique, as she uses Functional Medicine to target the root of a problem and doesn’t chase symptoms or ignore important signs that may become a disease that will kill you. Genes can’t be changed. However, you can change the message genes receive from the environment. Diet and lifestyle medicine solutions tailored to what counts: Results.

Early Dreams & Deals

For a whole lot of people, what they’re doing is not what they expected to be doing when they were kids. Pat is no exception! Although she often played doctor (and was never a nurse or a patient), she doesn’t remember ever exactly saying or thinking that she would be a doctor one day. She did, however, always enjoy science and running little experiments.

Now, Pat has her MA in Oriental Medicine. She is passionate about working with patients to help them heal lifestyle related problems.  (Listen in to learn why drinking hot tea can help cool you down!)

The earliest deal Pat remembers was running a lemonade stand near her house. She’d purchase the lemonade and supplies, and even put up signs directing traffic from a nearby shopping mall. Later, she moved into shoveling snow and babysitting, both classic early entrepreneur adventures.

Stronger Than Medicine (And Adversity)

 Pat shared that, at the moment, she’s busy rewriting and upgrading her existing course, Stronger than Medicine. This is geared towards busy female executives who want to increase their ability to be present and connected rather than overtired and stressed.

This connects to a lot of Pat’s work; she started in chiropractic care and loves helping people heal without relying on traditional medications or approaches.

One of the things I talk about is how anyone in any kind of business can make deals. Pat’s early chiropractic experience is a great example of this. She started out working with someone who had a great model for an office. After about a year, Pat had her husband start looking for potential practices coming on the market.

Initially, they attempted to get a conventional loan, but they didn’t have enough credit. Finding out they couldn’t qualify for a $25,000 loan was extremely demoralizing! It felt like such a small amount of capital, with a clear conversion into a business — but the answer from the bank was no.

As a result, they pivoted towards an SBA loan. They were able to piece the proposal together and fill in gaps, and the money came through. (Listen in to hear how the bank still tried to withhold funds, and why silence can be so powerful!) By the end of the year, the business had revenues 6x what Pat and her husband had purchased it for. In fact, she was able to purchase needed high ticket equipment with cash.

Selling Out & Moving Up

For the first 4-5 months after buying the business, Pat and her husband were on their own with the business. When they had made the purchase, the office was seeing about 30 patients per week. By the end of the year, they were seeing 125.

Their growth came from networking and doing in-office talks. They made growth goals, and Pat managed the practice by statistics. She knew what their goal was for the week, and she always kept at least 20 cards on hand. From canvassing the local health food stores to visiting area college campuses, Pat was motivated and determined. The practice continues to grow, at an average of 15-20% per year.

Eventually, they hit the cap of how much they were able to take on. This also coincided with Pat’s divorce, leaving her to run the practice solo after buying her ex-husband out. She shifted into hiring the right people that would allow her to continue running the office. (Including her handy Post-It note CRM system.)

Pat also started doing interviews and engaging with media and other groups. She spoke to her local Rotary and Lions Club, and visited any club or organizations that would have her. This organic growth sustained her practice and enabled her to flourish. It also set her up for a very successful deal when it came time to sell the practice.

When it came time to sell, Pat started looking for the right person to handle the marketing of the practice. She had a full assessment done, and was able to sell within 3 months, which was incredibly fast for the industry. (Plus, she got the full price she was asking for.)

Organic Growth & Final Sales

Although Pat grew the practice with the intention of keeping it, it was a huge relief to be able to sell it when the time came.

A powerful lesson illustrated here is that there are no downsides to organic growth. While Pat was actively working, organic strategies increased her revenue streams and success. Those increases greatly impacted her assessed value, and likely contributed to the quick, full-priced turn around when it came time to sell.

Being able to leave her business (at profit), allowed Pat to step into the next part of her journey. Her writing, courses, and consulting work are driven by her passions, and she’s so glad that she did not tie herself to a private practice that she was never able to leave. Too many business owners tie themselves to businesses that no longer bring them joy or profit; properly preparing to exit can help you avoid that!

Overall, the deal came together quite well. One note: Pat shared that there had been no clause to prevent the buyer from pre-paying. He made a final large payment unexpectedly on Dec. 27, which wreaked havoc on Pat’s taxes that year. If she could go back, she would definitely have addressed that contingency!

To learn more about deal-making in the healthcare industry, listen in to the full episode!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 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 how deal-ready you are, take the Deal-Ready Assessment today!

 

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

Angel Investing & Startups with Dom Einhorn

Dom Einhorn is a French-American social entrepreneur and founder and CEO of UNIQORN, the largest rural incubator-accelerator of its kind in the world. Located in southwestern France (Sarlat-la-Canéda), its mission is to give entrepreneurs and their families their lives back while helping them build game-changing technology startups. Dom has a long history of working with startups and in angel investing, and he shares so much wisdom in our interview!

He is also the founder of multiple other successful startups and businesses, including the Startup Supercup. This is a leading tech conference that unites 1000 carefully vetted angel investors, VCs, private equity funds, technology startups and leading media outlets from around the world. The three-day conference takes place in medieval Sarlat France.

Listen in today to hear all about Dom’s work!

Young Dreams

As a kid, Dom wanted to be like his dad, who worked for the French railway as an engineer. Clearly he ended up going down a different route!

The first deal-making experience he remembers was with his magazine route. Students could get a commission for every issue they sold, and Dom outsold everyone else. It was his first time getting compensated, and it sparked his entrepreneurial dreams.

Now, Dom has several major focuses. One major one is UNIQORN, which he returned to France to launch in 2018 (in German Dom’s last name means “unicorn”!). UNIQORN startups are provided with a complete ecosystem for success. This includes direct access to proven funding sources, top-notch legal and accounting representation, access to the world’s most generous business incentives and, most importantly, a dedicated sales and marketing accelerator. All that combined puts a startup’s product or service on the fast track to success.

Art Auction Adventures

In 1996 Dom created the first online art auction company. It quickly became one of the largest in the world, and he was able to turn around and sell it 5 months later.

At that time, Dom happened to have a lot of artists as clients. They were all “starving artists”, including himself! He decided to build the online art auction in order to solve a problem he saw his clients facing. Selling art on a one-off basis was difficult, and didn’t scale well. His solution? An online auction house.

The first few months saw little activity, but one day a major magazine came in and did a report. They skyrocketed from 150 bidders to 20,000+. Overnight, they were in the art business….which they realized they knew nothing about. They were shipping art uninsured, with glass, and found themselves in a logistics nightmare.

One day they got an email from a buyer willing to buy them out; Dom was ready to move on and do something else! The new buyer had infrastructure to handle logistics and shipping, but were lacking on the technical side. Their weaknesses were Dom’s strengths, and they arranged a 6 month transition period. Once their team had the platform knowledge they needed, Dom was fully out of the business.

The fundamental lesson he learned from the online art auction house was that whatever you launch you should serve a legitimate purpose and respond to a problem in the market.

Vanity Business Models

Dom has noticed there are a lot of companies popping up that don’t solve a new problem or reach a new market. He referred to these as “vanity business models”, and noted that they simply aren’t sustainable.

If you want to become a billionaire, help a billion people. The rest will happen by itself.

Early on, Dom noted that if you wanted to be in e-commerce, you needed an Oracle license that cost $32,000. Raising cash was key, because barriers to entries were extremely high. By 2015, if you had a couple hundred dollars worth of technology you could launch an entire business. That’s both a blessing and a curse; there isn’t a natural economic gatekeeper. That means more opportunity for more people, but can also mean there is no real vetting process pushing people to only bring the best ideas to the table.

Back in the 90’s, you had to be in Silicon Valley if you wanted to get backing or support. Now, however, you can be anywhere. Dom shares that when he’s visited Vietnam with his wife they’ve seen co-working spaces the size of Walmart, with teeneagers building out online games that are worth billions now. The market is expanding, and decentralization has really democratized the process.

Dom foresees that we’re heading “back to the garage”, where things first started for technology.

Moving Away from Cities

Prior to Covid, Dom’s UNIQORN team did a study and found that 12% of young entrepreneurs wanted to move away from large urban centers to launch their businesses. Today, 38% say they want to operate outside of large cities.

He feels that the world is coming to the realization that not only CAN that be done…it probably should be done.

Dom shared some great examples of employees who have new commutes of about 45 seconds on foot. He’s seen this new way of living and working lead to better quality of life, with employees who are fresher, less tired, and able to show up in a different way. Now, more than ever, people see what is possible when it comes to living and working outside of major metropolitan centers of business.

This trend isn’t just in entrepreneurship. Large companies are starting to realize that their people can be just as productive working remotely as from inside the office. Employees are also starting to show up to interviews with more confidence to request remote or flexible work options.

From No Cash to Major Deals

In the first 2-3 years of one of his early startups, Dom was ready to throw in the towel. By 1999, however, the company exploded. They had a leg up on the competition, they were gaining traction for clients, and things were taking off. From a handful of clients to 500+, they grew with amazing speed.

One day Dom realized they had run out of money. Because of their fast growth, they had been burning through cash at a much faster rate than he had thought. It was time for payroll, and the reality was: there wasn’t enough money to pay everyone.

Dom was sitting at his desk, trying to get creative with numbers, when he got a call with an offer: someone wanted to buy the company. Although he first held out on selling, the offer was too good to refuse. The seller was building a new technology, and they needed merchant relationships. When the check was put on the table, he took the offer — then rushed to the bank so he could deposit it and make payroll.

When clients are pouring in and business is booming, entrepreneurs often underestimate the need for cash flow and profit. What Dom learned the hard way was that revenue and profit are not the same thing, and profit margins are an absolute key.

Dom shares that when he looks at a new business now, he doesn’t pay any attention to top line revenue. All he wants to see is actual margin, because that’s where you can see how healthy and sustainable a business is.

Building Value

Dom’s had deal-making success throughout his life because he’s built value again and again. From the outside looking in, buyers were able to see that value, and they came to him. That’s a much different situation then being in a bad place with your business and desperately looking for someone who might be willing to buy.

If you focus on solving a fundamental problem, Dom believes that there will always be people out there looking for what you have. He’s never proactively gone out looking for a buyer, because the people who need the solution he’s created have always been able to find him.

To hear more about the ways in which Dom has leveraged strategy, connections, and deal-making, listen in to the full episode!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 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 how deal-ready you are, take the Deal-Ready Assessment today!

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

Family Business

This week I was honored to interview not one, but two amazing guests. Farida and Ramia El Agamy are sisters with phenomenal backgrounds in family business. They bring a global perspective to deal-making opportunities and family businesses. This episode is worth listening to in full.

LISTEN HERE

About Farida

Farida F. El Agamy is a social entrepreneur by conviction, and a lawyer by passion and profession. Since 2008, she’s been the General Manager of the Tharawat Family Business Forum, the first knowledge resource and networking hub for family-owned companies in the Middle East and North Africa. Farida’s main interests lie in the advancement of corporate and family governance systems, the economic impact of family firms on the economy, and the support of individual family members within the family business context.

About Ramia

Ramia Marielle El Agamy is the Editor-in-Chief of Tharawat Magazine, (@Tharawatmag), a global publication for family businesses that attracts over 3 million readers (online and print) per year. The magazine encompasses a library of over 1000 articles. She is also the host of two podcasts: The Family Business Voice and WiFB. Ramia is also a strategic advisor in the Tharawat Family Business Forum as well as a Director in her family business’ board. Since 2017, Ramia is also CEO of Orbis Terra Media, a content studio and an award-winning publisher that stands for the highest standards in content production and omnichannel strategies. With a data-driven approach to content marketing and distribution, OTM specialises in helping brands achieve a consistent narrative across multiple platforms and to reach their audience.

Early Starts for These Citizens of the World

When I asked the pair what they had wanted to be growing up, Ramia nominated Farida to share first, as the older sister. Laughingly, the sisters noted that family businesses require respect for the family hierarchy. 

Farida shared that, early on, she was interested in societal questions. Her father had studied archeology, and he would bring his children on hikes to old dig sites. In addition, they would visit extended family in Cairo and visit ancient sites. These early experiences grew Farida’s interest in archeology as a possible career when she was a girl.

Ramia noted that, even as a child, she could see herself working in the family business. Seeing her father traveling frequently, and missing his presence, she imagined being able to pack a calculator into a bag and travel with him. She also had a very entrepreneurial spirit, and remembers opening a detective agency, a travel agency, and several shops with her sisters.

(Ramia and Farida also noted that they have a third sister in the family business as well. They thought it might be too much to bring all three of them onto the show!)

The sister’s mother is from the Netherlands and their father is from Egypt; they were raised in rural Switzerland and consider it home. However, their international roots and extensive travel histories, including studying in the UK and living in the UAE, have made the world their oyster in many ways!

First Deal-Making Experiences

Culturally, deal-making is perceived differently in various parts of the world. Looking at their father’s generation and work in the business, the sister’s agreed there were fewer activities that may have been directly considered “deals”.

In fact, the first deal-experienced Farida recalled was assisting a family business in getting out of a deal. A nephew was finding himself in a very bad situation with a possible deal involving his uncle. They could see it going south, and needed to intervene.

Ramia notes that both her sisters are lawyers, and often see deals through the legal and business lens. As an entrepreneur herself, she feels she’s been making deals her whole life. When you start a business with nothing, everything is a barter, a trade, and exchange, or some other way of growing and deal-making. She remembers many skill exchanges that grew in size and significance as revenue grew.

She also shares that she thinks the first deal entrepreneurs make is with themselves. Deciding to go into business requires trading time and energy and capital. 

Negotiations in Family Business 

The family business, as a construct, is a constant negotiation. This is true both internally and externally. Every day you enter into your family business, you’re entering into an emotional negotiation with your family. There is a constant need to recalibrate, adjust behavior, and figure out how to incorporate your personal and professional lives.

Part of this is holding people accountable when they are part of your family. It is challenging to have a parent or sibling that you have to challenge, hold to high standards, and question. Handling these ongoing family business negotiations on a daily basis requires you to truly leave your ego (and childhood patterns) at the door.

(There was an amazing conversation about ego here that’s worth listening to!)

The sisters note that family businesses are often stable and thinking long term. In addition, they are perceived as having “skin in the game”, and are often quite regionally embedded. Attributes such as these make family businesses a popular choice for others looking to make a deal.

In addition, the whole family business as an entity is an ongoing deal.

A Major Myth About Family Business

There are many family businesses in the world….and just as many myths about them! Since I had the experts on the line, I decided to ask their thoughts on a major common myth I often hear.

If You’re Not First Generation, You’re Not an Entrepreneur

Some people question whether someone in a family business can truly consider themselves an “entrepreneur”. Many entrepreneurs in the US are first generation entrepreneurs. Even if their parents were also entrepreneurs, they are often not involved in the same business. Across other parts of the world, however, many entrepreneurs are working within multi-generational family businesses.

The sisters noted that there is a difference between a real family business, or enterprise, and an enterprising family. They consider entrepreneurship to be the force that compels any family business to keep growing. They also encourage each generation to think of themselves as founders of a startup, in terms of needing originality, adaptability, and other entrepreneurial skills.

Being part of an entrepreneurial family doesn’t mean you’re not an entrepreneur. It does mean, however, that you have a heritage of entrepreneurship and usually the support of your family.

(Listen in to why they consider family business an “extreme sport” in the entrepreneurial world! This includes the weight of legacy, which can feel like a “backpack full of stones”, and the “ghosts around the table”.)

Layers of Governance

Imagine the most difficult professional situation you’ve ever been in, in your life. Then, imagine the most difficult family relationship you’re currently experiencing. Now, put those two together every day of your professional life.

That’s family business.

The emotional toll that family situations can take on you, and your business, are much greater than you may expect. That’s why governance in family firms is so vital (and so difficult). There are many, many layers to governance within a family business, and often the laws pertaining to family business are less clear than other legal statutes.

For example, there are rarely laws requiring a family business to utilize a family council to learn to regular their behavior as a family. Some families have waited for too long, growing more and more misaligned. Eventually, it can become too late for change.

Families who have aligned decision making as a result of internal deal-making have a much greater chance of making it in the long term. They are also better equipped to handle unexpected challenges, such as Covid-19.

Ramia and Farida share so much valuable insight on family businesses. Listen in today!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 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 how deal-ready you are, take the Deal-Ready Assessment today!

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

How to Hire the Best

Business psychologist, How to Hire the Best author, and Tap The Potential Founder Sabrina Starling is back with us again! This time she joined me for an amazing interview we conducted live on Facebook. Dr. Starling has coached thousands of entrepreneurs to overcome the day-to-day struggles of business growth by getting out of their own way and developing a success mindset that propels them to higher and higher levels of success (and profitability). Last time we talked we focused on transforming small businesses into highly profitable, great places to work. Today, we focused in on her latest book in her How to Hire the Best series.

Small Business Owners with Growth Opportunities

Years ago, Dr. Sabrina realized she was working with small business owners who were passing on growth opportunities because they didn’t have the capacity to take on anything new. They were stuck in that place so many entrepreneurs find familiar: running their business reports, ordering supplies at Staples, and wearing so many hats they were ending every day drained and exhausted.

Even though they were reaching the point where more and more opportunities were naturally coming their way….they had maxed themselves out and could no longer take advantage of their natural momentum and growth. If they did happen to have an employee or two, they were often what Dr. Sabrina calls “warm body” employees. That is, they were technically hired to work there, so they were there. They didn’t really have that A-Player, above-and-beyond, valuable asset energy of someone who could help you reach a new level.

Dr. Sabrina knew what they needed: to hire A-player employees and increase their capacity! However, she also knew that hiring is a huge commitment. From candidate searching and posting your job, to screening and interviewing, to onboarding and then releasing responsibilities to this new team member — the time, expense, and potential for things to go wrong make it feel prohibitive!

That’s why so many small business owners and entrepreneurs make the choice to put off hiring until “later”. The truth of the matter is, however, that you will never magically become less busy. If your business keeps growing (which is usually desirable!), you’ll actually have less time and capacity. You have to choose to either “cap out”….or find a way to expand!

For Growth, You Need A-Players

As a business psychologist, she tried coaching business owners on how to turn their “warm body” employees into something more…and it just didn’t work. The alternative, however, seemed to be hiring top-line employees. A lot of small business owners didn’t feel that was possible. After all, the more skills and experience someone has, the more they expect to be compensated. 

This felt like a true dilemma, and was one Dr. Sabrina herself believed for quite a while!

One morning, however, she woke up with this question: “What if it’s not true?”

That question resulted in the search for small business owners who already had employees they considered A-level. She started interviewing them, and kept asking how they had found them and hired them. Their answers, again and again, were “I don’t know!”. (They also requested she come back and tell them if she ever figured out, because they all wanted to do it again!)

I see that as “unconscious competence”, which Bob Proctor has done lots of work on! Somehow, some small business owners had hit the hiring jackpot. Since they weren’t clear on how they had done it, they weren’t able to truly profit from it.

Eventually, Dr. Sabrina found that networking and word of mouth seemed to be the key for success. (Very similar to the most proven marketing techniques for finding clients.) Because the small businesses employing these tactics weren’t aware WHY they were working, they hadn’t been able to consistently and methodically employ them for ongoing, repeated hiring success.

Traditional Hiring Methods Don’t Work

When you follow traditional hiring methods, you have a 1 in 4 chance of hiring an A-player. (And a 3 in 4 chance of ending up with another “warm body”.)

Traditionally, you decide you need to fill an opening. You make a job ad, and put that out into the world. As applicants respond, you complete interviews, then you pick someone. That’s how we tend to do it….and that’s the method that offers a 75% chance of missing the best fit for the role.

In How to Hire the Best, Dr. Sabrina teaches employees how to leverage her non-traditional method that’s been proven to work consistently.

Part of her approach includes starting with the end in mind, and employing best practices in a strategic way.

The first question I had is, “When does all this start?” I knew it probably wasn’t going to be “Once you realize you need someone.” – and I was right!

A-Players Think Differently

For one thing, Dr. Sabrina notes that traditional job postings tend to attract people who are unemployed. This can mean they’re willing to accept anything — even if they aren’t that excited about your company, mission, or values, they’ll position themselves as if they are because they need the job. 

A-Players, however, move from one opportunity to the next. They are looking for opportunities, and they transition when people in their networks let them know about promising positions. You should be networking for A-Players long before in the position of desperately needing to hire.

The best time to hire is when you are generating consistent business leads. As soon as you hit your rhythm here, you should be tapping into your networks and using them to look for your next A-Player. I appreciate Dr. Sabrina’s technique here, and see that it would fit into the bucket I call “entrepreneurial freedom”. 

It’s important to note that A-Players aren’t necessarily people who are superstars on every level. An A-Player might be a role player with a very specific ability or capacity — but in your business, that ability is what enables them to shine. You can’t be the best at every single thing, and your employees can’t be either. It’s not fair to expect that from them!

Hiring an A-Player is more about bringing on the people who have the gifts, talents, and personality strengths to do what you need them to do. They also need to resonate with your business’ values and culture. When you can get them plugged in, the change is powerful!

So who are these magical people? Well, they are go-getters, problem solvers, and autonomous agents who know how to use resources. A team full of people who think like that can change your business from the inside out!

Build Your Team to Create Your Desired Lifestyle

Regardless of what you do, building a team enables you to create a lifestyle business that will allow you to step away as needed and have your business continue to run without you. (Your A-players are there making it all happen!) 

This could mean you’re setting yourself up for a 4-week vacation, or that you’re working on a future transition plan. Dr. Sabrina notes that no one comes along and says, “I hear you work 70+ hours a week in your business. I’d love to buy it!” No one is looking to buy a job, they want to buy a business.

When you learn how to hire the best, you’re setting your business up for success, both now and in the future. The more A-Players you bring on to your team, the more value you are adding.

Dr. Sabrina notes that if you currently have many players who are more like D-Players, it can be overwhelming to know how to fix it. She encourages business owners in that position to focus on hiring up as they grow. That might mean you have the chance to replace someone, and you find an A- or B-Player for the open position. Once you hit a tipping point (say 3 out of 5 are strong employees), those who are lower performers will either choose to leave, or will rise to the challenge. 

Gradually, your culture will shift!

If you’re looking to hire the best, you NEED to listen in to this interview!

 

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

HR Insider Knowledge


Ashley Paré
is a Leadership Coach, Negotiation Advocate, TEDx Speaker, and HR Change Maker. She holds a vast reserve of HR Insider Knowledge that she’s gathered over her career. She’s also the CEO & Founder of Own Your Worth, an organization dedicated to breaking glass ceilings. Her signature leadership program, The Activator®, takes clients on a journey within to uncover the hidden blocks that are holding them back from stepping into their power. This is so they can take action to negotiate the career, business, and life of their dreams!

You may have seen her on Good Morning America, TEDx, New York Times, CNN, and more!

Early HR Ambitions?

When she was younger, Ashley wanted to be an author, psychologist, and live in London. (Looking back, she feels like her HR work was a little like being a psychologist!)

The first deal that stands out to her was her first post-college job. At the time, she didn’t know the “rules” of applying for jobs. She did know she needed to be able to make enough to afford housing and student loans, and when she got offered $15 an hour she countered with $16. (They met her in the middle with $15.50!)

That early success enhanced her confidence and showed her that it was possible to ask for more! However, that was a lesson she’d have to continue to learn how to activate as her career continued to grow. Ashley has seen that many women have a similar need to learn how to speak up and negotiate for what they desire. 

[Note: Ashley specifically works with women, and we focus on women’s issues in this interview. I do want to be clear that we both recognize that “women” are not one monolithic group, and that each person is unique and faces unique challenges. In addition, not all humans identify on a binary spectrum. No matter who you are, I think you can find some gems in this episode!}

Avoiding Your Own Core Truth

Many times young girls have no problem asking for a bigger slice of cake, so to speak. As they get older, however, they often stop.

Some of that may be connected to socialization, which often encourages women to be people pleasers, or to play the “good girl” role. Ashley believes that it goes even deeper, however. Somewhere on the journey, many women begin to lose their sense of self. We abandon our truths to ensure that we are liked and to avoid potential negative consequences.

Because speaking up for ourselves can lead to negative responses….we have a tendency to stop. Our sense of worthiness and self becomes dependent upon external validation, which is never fulfilling in the long run. If we don’t build our own sense of self through self-awareness, of course our inner confidence takes a hit!

This can lead women to retreat into their “shell”. It doesn’t have to, however! By digging deeper, women can tap into their core truth and own their value and their voice. 

In my own work, I see how being disconnected from your own core truth and value significantly impacts your ability to be a deal maker.

HR Insider Knowledge

As a former HR leader and business partner, Ashley had access to salary data, leaders, policies, and the best training. Yet, she still struggled to grow her career. She realized she had stopped self-advocating out of fear of what others would think of her, and focused so much on proving herself until she finally burned out. 

She realized that having the tools to navigate a corporate career is important, but what matters most is having the confidence to speak up and use them. Now she’s dedicated her career to sharing her HR insider knowledge to help clients define and articulate their value and effectively ask for what they want. 

Ashley notes that, in her experience, a vast number of companies prefer to be seen and experienced and flexible and open, especially to incoming candidates! When they offer you a position and potential salary, it’s often expected that you may counter with areas that matter to you. In fact, it might even be encouraged! Negotiating should never be seen as problematic.

The worst thing that can happen is they’ll turn you down; that’s okay! Even if you don’t get everything you asked for, it’s likely you’ll learn more about what your options are and where there may be flexibility within the company. That’s a good thing! 

Confidence in Negotiating

Ashley notes that she offers a variety of packages and rates for clientele. As an early business owner, she was apt to negotiate with clients over those rates. Now, however, she rarely does. She is well established, she owns the proven value she has consistently created over the years, and she sets her rates annually.

When she first started as a speaker, her contracts with larger companies and organizations were more likely to involve negotiating. Now, however, she’s found that she has not only raised her rates, but she’s also started getting more “yes’s”. Her ownership of who she is and what she does, and her confidence in communication, has decreased the amount of negotiating involved in getting the rates she desired.

We both see this phenomenon happening for many of the people we work with and around in our careers. Those who own their value and communicate it with confidence are able to command better rates, broker better deals, and have more success at the deal-making table.

Listen in here for the full interview!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 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 how deal-ready you are, take the Deal-Ready Assessment today!

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

Deal-Making is About Relationships

Here we are at the end of 2020. What a year! Today, I’m offering up a solo-cast that leads back to the most basic truth about deals: deal-making is about relationships. As I share often, almost every business deal is either the start of a relationship, or the continuation of an existing relationship. There’s just no way around it, and it’s a key part of how I teach about the deal-making process.

Also, we just celebrated our 100th episode with guest Joe Apfelbaum! It was an incredible interview, and Joe shared awesome insights about his deal-making prowess and partnership experiences. 

Relationships are a Key Deal-Making Ingredient

Whether you’re in an acquisition or merger, or you’re creating deals with partners, vendors, or suppliers, relationships are a key element. You name the deal, there’s likely going to be a relationship being established, built, or leveraged. 

The journey towards a deal is usually paved by relationships as well. Your broker, your agent, your banker, your partner, your friend — these are the relationships that position us to know who we need to know, get people to the deal-making table, and start the deal-making process.

That’s what makes relationships such an important part of both business and deals, not to mention our day-to-day lives!

2020 Highlighted How Essential Relationships Are

In 2020, relationships played a key role in my life for even more reasons than usual. 

The support, guidance, connection, and opportunities that came from relationships during this hard, long year were key for me. Not just for growth, but for peace, strength, and stability. Now, more than ever, I know that connection with others fuels me, fuels my personal growth, and fuels my business.

I know that many of you have had to make major pivots this year, and I’ve seen again and again how relationships can truly pave the way to make those successful. Even as things have been hard, relationships with family, friends, and industry professionals often provided a key element that allowed us to turn things around, make the best of the options available to us, or otherwise find a way to navigate this year.

If you’ve been part of my relationship network this year as a client, a friend, a podcast listener or guest, a DealDen member, or otherwise: thank you. I truly appreciate you, and I hope to continue together with you into the new year!

Know, Like, Trust: Business Relationships Pave the Way for Deals

People want to do business with people they like. It’s just the truth! 

When it comes to deal-making, nothing much changes. When you’ve built that know, like, trust factor via real relationships, you’ll find opportunities seem to naturally appear. Why? Because when someone is thinking about who to offer a partnership to, who to strategize with, who to make a deal with, they feel best if they’re doing it with someone they know, like, and trust. 

Being in a relationship with someone builds confidence.

Worried that you’re not well positioned when it comes to relationships? Well, there is no magic pill that will develop them overnight! In fact, it can take a long time to build relationships. As the old Chinese proverb says, however:

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

Another note: Just because deals are technically transactions doesn’t mean that your relationships should be described that way! People sense when you’re only interested in them because you want or need something. If you only set about to build relationships because you’re trying to get something, it won’t work the way you hope.

Instead, practice nurturing your current network. Add value. Seek to serve. Find a way to genuinely support someone else. Connect with people you’ve possibly just “not seen” in the past. If 2020 taught you anything, let it be that relationships matter and are always worth investing in.

Listen in to hear my full thoughts on the connection between deal-making and relationships!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 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 how deal-ready you are, take the Deal-Ready Assessment today!

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

High Energy Purpose

Joe Apfelbaum is the CEO of Ajax Union, a business-to-business digital marketing agency in Brooklyn, NY. He’s been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, The Wall Street Journal and more. His newest book, High Energy Purpose: How to Be All in On Your Life and Find Your Truth, is out now.

Before we dive in, I’d love to share that this is my 100th DealQuest episode! This is a huge mile marker for our show, and I’m proud to have consistently released episodes for over two years now. If you’ve been a long time listener, thank you! If you’re just joining us, welcome in!

Making a Living Helping Businesses 

As a young kid, Joe watched his mother try to make a living. He knew that one day, he wanted to be successful so his own kids and family wouldn’t have to struggle so much. At the time he didn’t know you could make a living helping businesses. Now, however, he’s thrilled to be the CEO of Ajax Union, where he gets to do that every day! It’s been part of his own journey to high energy purpose.

Joe’s company works with large companies to build marketing funnels. Typically they work with the in-house marketing director to make sure that there are marketing systems and processes that will yield results. Qualified leads that convert are key, and randomized acts of marketing won’t cut it!

As Tony Robbins says, the right strategy will save you a decade. Rather than wasting time, Ajax Union helps companies market smartly.

Joe’s other company, Evyrgreen, helps influencers, coaches, consultants, and businesses make strategic use of their online time. They have a course and coaching program to help people leverage LinkedIn so they can get in and use the platform to make a difference in their businesses. This is worth checking out if you’ve wanted to uplevel your online presence in the new year!

Deal-Making History

Joe’s mother always told him, growing up, that he could never trust anyone else in his business. Although his mother worked hard as an entrepreneur, she never surpassed the million dollar mark. Joe wanted to go further, and for him to do that, for his own business, he was going to need to bring in other talent. He needed support from others in order to focus and get things done!

Early on, Joe had a business partner who turned into a close friend. They started their business together without considering anything beyond a 50/50 structure. There was no real strategy, other than building a million dollar business. Unfortunately, however, it wasn’t gaining traction. At the end of 2008, they sat down together to brainstorm. At the end of the night, they decided to offer SEO to small businesses. Although they weren’t 100% sure if it would work yet, it seemed worth trying.

They used a prepaid, recurring model in order to grow a steady income. Soon enough, they were closing 10 deals a month. When Joe approached the CEO of the company he was working for full time, he was encouraged to strike out on his own and focus on growing his business. In fact, that company even ended up signing on as his biggest client! (You can hear more about that in our interview!)

We Have to Focus to Achieve Success

At the time, Joe had multiple side hustles going on: IT management, tech, eBay sales, and other services. He had to think seriously about whether it was worth it to scrap all those side hustles and grow only the main company. His partner, however, told him it was non-negotiable if they were going to grow together.

After contemplation, Joe decided to go all in and focus. With his partner, they quickly grew to one of the fastest growing companies in America. They were making millions in revenue, but didn’t have the cash they needed to grow even more.

They didn’t have cash flow, but they had relationships with people. (Although at the time Joe didn’t really know how to move beyond transactional relationships and build real relationships for deal-making.) His partner approached a friend, who offered a hundred thousand dollars in exchange for 50% equity in the company, and the guarantee of a full time, paid position within two years.

They turned him down, but they also realized that possible partners could be interested in exchanging cash for equity. This was news! Joe and his partner were in a strong place because they were a strong pair. Rather than flying solo and appearing to be a flaky entrepreneur (which Joe says he was!), their partnership added stability and credibility to their work.

Taking on Investors

Their first investors offered money for small portions of the business, and it was thrilling. It was also clear that they absolutely had to become a five million dollar plus company if those investors were going to make their money back.

Joe was loving the growth, and avoiding the paperwork. He let his partner handle all the contracts, legal paperwork, conversations with lawyers, and more. That was a mistake. He was completely out of the loop when it came to what was happening in the business. He also didn’t realize that his own sweat equity in the business was worth something.

The biggest problem ended up being that there were no exit clauses. There was nothing; no way out, no clear end point.

Looking back, Joe considers it a miracle that they grew the business to the level they did, because they had no idea what they were doing. He thought he was the smartest person in the room, and he lacked the awareness to see what he didn’t know.

Now, he knows disastrous things can happen within partnerships without clear agreements. He absolutely recommends that ALL parties are involved in the creation, understanding of, and implementation of these agreements. The language must be clear. Everyone involved must know what the company’s future is, and what the terms are.

If you have a partner and are growing a business, you cannot think things will just “come together”. Definitely don’t disregard elements that seem too future facing. Having clarity is life-giving and creates a foundation for everything in your future. Don’t take that lightly!

Living With Your High Energy Purpose

Expectations for growth can create pressure sometimes. And when you take in significant capital, you can seriously stress your business.

Joe noted that he had no idea how to deal with their investors. He didn’t know how to communicate with them, and he didn’t know what they were allowed to do, or not do. Now, he notes that if there is a specificity problem in your business, you are responsible for that.

You have to lay down what is expected, and how things work. If you don’t know, invest in resources that will help you! Joe notes that joining EO is what made him realize he didn’t have things like core values, team huddles, and processes. Creating those things helped him shift himself as an individual and build a business that serves a much larger role than anything he could have created just flying along and focusing on making money.

These lessons have also taught Joe the integrity he needs to not only be a CEO, but to be a husband and father. As he’s learned to embrace and embody his values and integrity, he’s found how he can live with his best, high energy purpose and create a life he is proud of.

Listen in to learn more about partnerships, integrity, high energy purpose, and building a business you can be proud of!

 

Categories
Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating

The Power of Feeling Worthy

Renee Reese is The Worthiness Queen. She helps leaders, entrepreneurs and professionals heal their relationship with money and success and finally experience the power of feeling worthy of their next-level dreams. She’s also a transformational writer, speaker, and teacher and an innovator in the personal development industry. 

In addition to all that, Renee is an attorney, certified success coach,  NLP practitioner, T.I.M.E. techniques practitioner and hypnotherapist. She speaks and teaches all around the world, focusing on mindset and personal development. She is a dynamic, in-demand speaker and audiences love her for her practical application and takeaways, transparency, and relatability. You can listen in to our full conversation here.

Childhood Joint Ventures

Growing up, Renee always wanted to write. Now, writing is a huge part of her platform and work (she has a book coming out soon)! She also had aspirations of being an actress, which didn’t materialize. Her speaking and teaching does put her on stage and in front of crowds frequently, however, which she enjoys.

The first deal Renee remembers was negotiating a sleep-over at a friend’s house. Her early strategy was to wait till her mom was in a great mood, and to then have her friend do the big ask, since her parents were less likely to say no to someone else! We might consider her a master of the strategic alliance, or even a joint venture!

As an adult, Renee now works with leaders, entrepreneurs, and more. She got started as an attorney, but found herself burnt out and exhausted early in that career, despite financial success. Unfortunately, she was noticing that a lot of technically successful people were lacking confidence, passion, and positive relationships with their money too. In her heart she knew: there has to be another way, because this can’t be all that success is.

If you’re healthy, with friends you love and money in the bank, but you’re lacking a sense of worthiness….none of it will feel good. All too often, high-performers go from one thing to the next, hitting goals yet feeling empty. Renee helps people create alignment so they can experience success both internally and externally.

As an entrepreneur myself, I know how powerful alignment and personal money relationships are!

Owning Your Worth

I know that owning your own worth is a huge part of successful negotiations. When you’re dealing with fear, scarcity, and lack — it’s almost impossible to create strong negotiations you can confidently bring to the table.

Renee has noticed that when people are struggling with worthiness, they often struggle to come to the table with clarity on their non-negotiables. It’s not about being aggressive, it’s about matter-of-factly knowing what you need, what you’re willing to compromise on, and what you plan to take away from a deal. When you’re not coming from a place of worthiness, you tend to feel a strong sense of urgency around forcing deals to go through. Why?

Because your sense of success and worth are tied to the outcome of every deal. When you KNOW you’re coming from a place of worthiness, you don’t have to feel that your own reputation, worth, ability, or success are tied up in the deal. You are empowered to hold firm to your own non-negotiables, and you know you can walk away if the deal isn’t a good fit for you.

This is easier said than done! Owning your value and knowing our worth are powerful….but often they are concepts we only understand intellectually. Living it is a whole different ball game. Renee shares that owning your own value starts with your relationship with yourself.

You have to know your own desires, know your own strengths, and know the outcomes you want. Renee literally tells herself: “Self, you can tell me anything.”

She knows her boundaries, she knows what she craves, and she defines herself on her terms. Rather than trying to escape and avoid feeling bad feelings, awkwardness, loneliness, or scarcity, we often try to run (and force things to happen). Instead, you can actually allow yourself to sit with yourself, feel those hard things, and know that you can trust yourself to listen to yourself, be with yourself, and show up for yourself.

Trust Building With Ourselves

In a romantic relationship, you expect to build trust slowly. The relationship with ourselves is the same. We have to start slowly, communicate openly, and demonstrate acceptance and care.

One way of building self-trust is to keep the promises you make to you. If you said you were going to make your bed every day….ask for the promotion…write the book….you can build trust by actually showing up and doing those things. Pay attention to the ways you show up for yourself, and also take note of the ways that you don’t show up. Actually listen to yourself: what’s happening when you don’t show up? Why won’t you keep your word to you? Be willing to listen, learn, and make changes as needed.

When it comes to achievement and growth, Renee says we can build trust in our ability to experience success as well.

She recommends writing down three things you’ve already succeeded in, and three things you’d like to succeed in. Just like you’ve succeeded before, your mind starts to see your new list as things that are possible as well. Whether we believe it or not, we are constantly creating in our own lives. The best way to tap into that power is to be intentional about creating the vision we actually desire.

We all carry subconscious beliefs about topics like money, achievement, power, and success. Everything in our world starts with belief.

Self-Belief and Deal-Making

If you walk into a negotiation with the belief that the other person at the table is better and smarter, or that they deserve more, of course you’ll be dissatisfied with the deal you make. You’ll sell yourself short, and make compromises.

When you believe in yourself as someone who is intelligent, deserving, and successful, you’ll show up at the table differently. 

I teach that being crystal clear on your objectives and outcomes is an essential part of deal making. What Renee is saying here is so true: if you come to the table with a lot of internal blocks and haven’t done core level work, it does impact your negotiating.

Self-worth also impacts the deals you’re willing to attempt to make. If you can’t get by your fundamental self-worth struggles, you deeply limit the rest of your life.

Building the Life You Deserve

Renee’s work centers on helping people overcome these internal struggles and limitations so they can truly experience alignment and success.

One of her favorite clients was experiencing some level of success, but also dealing with massive amounts of doubt and fear. People on the outside wouldn’t have known, based on how she showed up, but she was unhappy.

From her business structure to the way she was showing up….she knew she wasn’t owning her work or her worth. When Renee started working with her, she was going through a dry spell, which was a repeating pattern in her life.

She would hit new income goals, then go into a complete slump and have no money again. It was the feast or famine cycle, which many entrepreneurs are familiar with!

Renee used strategies and tools from her NLP training that helped the client go straight to the root of her money beliefs. Internalized beliefs about being secondary, not deserving, and less than had impacted this client since childhood, and when she understood what they were based on she was able to blast through them and experience transformation.

Clearing past beliefs opened up so many new doors for her, and it all started with the root. Renee’s clients find that clearing these blocks changes their lives and their businesses.

Externalization + Personal Value

I noted that our society sends us so many messages about what we need to have and how we need to look in order to be valuable or worthy. That deeply impacts our confidence and self-worth, which bleeds over into our businesses and deals.

Renee agreed, sharing that consumerism is a huge driving force for many of us. It fuels a more, More, MORE mentality that makes it impossible to understand the abundance that is available to us in the present moment. And the reality is….there is never going to be enough in the external world.

There will always be something new, something different, something bigger and better that tells us we aren’t enough. We cannot understand our own personal value and worthiness when we are constantly looking at external measurements for validation. 

When we are building our relationship with ourselves and our own self-trust, we have to be able to detach from external messaging and gain clarity about our own values and desires. That’s the only way to maintain an internal sense of value and confidence, regardless of external circumstances.

Another way of coming at this is to clarify our WHY. If we are pushing ourselves to achieve because we are measuring ourselves against what we “should” be doing, it’s not going to work. Growing for growth’s sake to fuel vanity isn’t going to serve you in the long run. Get real with yourself about what you truly desire, and why it matters to you. Those are the goals that matter – that’s what you need to pursue.

To hear more about Renee’s take on negotiations and worth, listen to the full episode here!

 

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 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 how deal-ready you are, take the Deal-Ready Assessment today!

 

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

A Capital Raising Journey

Sherisse Hawkins is a multi-talented builder, learner, risk taker, motivator, rainmaker, and speaker. She has a strong engineering background. Beyond that, she is the creative minded CEO & founder of Pagedip. Sherisse also has a proven record of meeting impossible deadlines, delighting customers, and re-imagining how things can be done. She believes anything is possible in the digital world, and is passionate about driving innovative content. She’s appeared in Vanity Fair and on Shark Tank. In this interview she shares more about her capital raising journey and other business experiences.

Early Deal-Making Experiences

Sherisse notes that she didn’t think of deals or deal-making until she became an entrepreneur. In her earlier work experience she had thought of decisions and deals pertaining to technology usage as being more technical. You examined which systems were most sound and used those. Pretty clear cut!

Moving into the entrepreneurial world and becoming a founder & CEO revealed how many other factors come into play. There are so many factors beyond “by the book” choices. Even when dealing with the objective facts of technology and science, things weren’t as clear as they had once seemed.

Becoming an Entrepreneur 

Not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship. This isn’t just about having the dream, or being financially set up for success. Instead, there is a necessary personal mindset shift that must be experienced. This shift is what allows some people to make entrepreneurship a reality. 

Having worked in very large organizations, such as Walt Disney Imagineers, Sherisse hadn’t had the experience of working in a small company prior to starting her own. She understood that there were going to be financial risks. But she also knew there were going to be risks of not following her dream. She recognized that she liked starting things, and enjoyed getting things into the state they needed to be. That might be connected to her engineering background.

Sherisse shared that, throughout her life, she’s found that it’s intensely satisfying to take things apart and put them back together. There is a sense of exhilaration when a set of code works, or something comes together for the first time.

She found that same exhilaration in entrepreneurship. Although she had a great title, a corner office, and a bonus system at her role, she had a pull within her heart. She knew she could not deny the call to entrepreneurship. The field of communication and the development of digital tools held huge potential, and Sherisse knew she could make an impact. Finally, she took the leap.

You often hear of people in their young 20’s and even late teens starting companies and becoming millionaires. However, the average entrepreneur starts their business in the 30’s, 40’s, and later. There is no real time in life that it’s too early OR too late to become an entrepreneur.

Seeking a Co-Founder 

With Pagedip, Sherisse shares that she feels they’ve created what Microsoft Word might have been if they had created a word processor in the time of the internet. Essentially, they’ve created an editor that allows the user to marry core content with other elements. This combination creates a narrative flow that compels the reader to actually use the content you create. (Unlike traditional documents or PowerPoints!) Additional information can be added into what you’re sharing, all while allowing readers to stay on one page. 

As a result, materials can be kept up to date. Analytics are possible, so you can see where readers spend the most time, and which addition information mattered to them. Best of all, everything can live in one place. Pagedips are interact-able, measurable, engaging, and secure documents that create experiences for their users.

In terms of raising capital, Sherisse shares that she initially started the company with her own money. She was hoping for a technical co-founder, but had a bit of trouble finding the perfect person. Many of her peers didn’t want to take the risk. Eventually, she found a new graduate who seemed like a good fit.

Shortly after, they headed to an accelerator in Australia to get things moving! (She learned of this from Jen Matthews, who she had connected with after hearing her speak.) With her co-founder, she was able to further incubate the idea and started to understand the role capital raising could play in getting the organization off the ground. Sherisse sees that bootstrapping likely makes sense in some instances. For Pagedip, however, it was clear that bringing in outside capital made the most sense.

Notes on Capital Raising

After their first pitch, there were a number of investors interested in their idea. Not surprisingly, since that initial pitch, Pagedips has pivoted, as most businesses do. That initial interest was a great early start!

Sherisse shares that if she had known everything she knew about how difficult fundraising can be, she might not have taken the leap. (So she’s glad she didn’t know!) Raising money can be really hard. It’s made even more difficult for women and people of color. When she looks back at those early experiences now, she sees that the data supports the experience she had.

The company has now had two rounds of seed investments. Sherisse notes that fundraising takes longer than you think. It really is a full time job. There is a tension between wanting to move the company forward and invest time there, and needing to devote a huge amount of time to actually fundraising.

Along the way she’s had feedback that the company is thinking too small. Some investors have said they should be aiming to be much bigger and larger. She’s also gotten feedback that the idea is too big. This advice is usually paired with a warning that they need to think more reasonably. Between the two, “too small” is most common. Investors want to invest in something that will earn them back the largest possible dividend. That means more income, more markets, and larger numbers. It means casting a bigger vision with more dollar signs.

Want to hear about Sherisse’s appearance on Shark Tank? Curious as to why many companies DON’T need to seek investors? Listen in to the full episode!

Capital Raising as a Woman, a Person of Color, and Engineer

Sherisse shares that she approached this journey as an entrepreneur, a woman, and a person of color. Those identities came into play throughout her business building and fundraising journey. Although you cannot know what your experience would be if you did not possess those identities, she did feel that there were still some stereotypes. This was especially true about what technologists and professionals in the space were expected to look like.

She knew that her company was changing how people would experience information sharing forevermore. That’s a bold statement and huge undertaking! In a five minute pitch for that level of technology, there’s not time to dig into your background, prowess, and ability to pull that off. (And still share about the actual idea you’re presenting).

You don’t have the opportunity to share about the relevant experience you’ve had throughout your 20+ year career. You don’t have time to combat stereotypes AND establish your ability to succeed with a new venture.

Somehow you have to find ways to convey that experience and expertise. You can do this through non-verbal communication to save time. In addition, Sherisse noted that it was essential to bring that background to the forefront. Sometimes that did mean spending a bit more time on those areas than others who more apparently fit the funded founder check-boxes might need to. (Which also means less time to spend on pitching the actual idea itself.)

Sherisse found it was vital that she was able to own the fact that she is a technologist and a visionary in her field. That ownership was a key element in her ability to create a compelling pitch with confidence.

Studies have shown that perceptions about gender and race create huge assumptions about a person’s ability and capability. Everything from music auditions (read about the impact of blind orchestra auditions here), being considered for a Ph.D. program  (read about the impact of name and gender here), to the weight that GPA, professional experience, race, and gender play in hiring (read about the impact of these and other factors here) can be impacted by a person’s perceived race and gender. Appearance can immediately play a role in whether you can even secure the opportunity to show what you’re capable of. (Not only “can”….studies show that it most definitely DOES.)

Personal Growth and the Internal Journey

Sherisse shares that she is tenacious to a fault. Something she’s grappled with in her journey is when (and if) there is a time to say, “This is enough.” She hasn’t found that place yet! Instead, she keeps on pushing forward and growing.

One thing that fuels her is the belief that if you can see it, you can be it. She knows that there aren’t a lot of women, or women of color, within her field. Years ago, Vanity Fair brought Sherisse, as well as other women of color who had raised over a million dollars in capital, together in one place. They all fit in a really small room. There just weren’t that many people in those categories to invite! As someone who knows what it is to be one of the first, Sherisse notes there can be a lot of doubt about what is possible.

She also shares that she would be remiss not to mention that there IS a little part of her brain always processing what is possible in our time and within her industry. There aren’t a lot of people who look like her who have experienced a large amount of success in her industry. That’s a big undertaking, and an interesting journey!

In general, founders raising capital are a small group of entrepreneurs. Capital raising and making over a million dollars, an even smaller group. Among these small groups, white men continue to make up a majority. This means we still have this picture of representation that validates that we belong in the space, and that we can succeed.

As someone who has benefited from some of those privileges and has been committed to use that privilege to promote equity, provide opportunities and stand for representation of people of all backgrounds, I appreciate Sherisse sharing her journey with authenticity. Her commitment and drive to overcome the challenges of not fitting the mold and breakthrough and reshape the mold for her own benefit and that of others inspires me. 

Learn More

To learn more about Sherisse, Pagedip, and the capital raising journey, listen in the full episode! You can connect with Sherisse directly by emailing [email protected].

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 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 how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!