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 Deal-Making Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Specialized Asset Management Firms

Brett Hickey is the Founder & CEO of Star Mountain Capital, a specialized U.S. lower middle-market investment firm with approximately $1.5 billion in assets under management that has completed over 100 investments to date. Star Mountain employs a data-driven approach to provide value-added debt and equity capital to established small and medium-sized private companies leveraging its scale-driven resources and longstanding relationships. Star Mountain also has a secondary investment business providing early liquidity for investors in U.S. lower middle-market private credit and private equity funds or direct assets. Brett has over 20 years of investment and advisory experience, with over 15 years specifically focused on investing in the U.S. private small and medium-sized business marketplace.

Throughout his career, Brett has been structuring, analyzing and managing private equity, mezzanine and U.S. Government sponsored investment funds for nearly 20 years. He also has extensive experience performing due diligence on, selecting and building small business fund managers. Brett has helped structure over a dozen larger funds representing a few billion dollars in assets.

Early Ambitions

Growing up in small-town Canada, Brett was very involved in the local community and sports scene. He admits he didn’t think too far ahead about the future; mostly, he enjoyed competing, practicing, and having fun. In hindsight, he figures those early interests helped him build grit.

The first business activity Brett initiated involved a small, empty classroom at his highschool. He approached the principal and asked if he could use the classroom. Thankfully, he also had the foresight to note that being able to use the classroom was going to support the curriculum of the entrepreneurship class he was taking at the time. The principal said yes!

From there, Brett approached a clothing company and convinced them to give him clothing on consignment. He didn’t have the money to pay up front, so he needed to be able to sell the items first. They agreed, it turned into his first business!

Around the same time, Brett started a roof shoveling company. He would garner business (and in snow-heavy Canada, many roofs needed to be shoveled!), and then take a cut from his labor team. All this was happening around 15-16 years old; Brett had an early start to business and deal-making!

Star Mountain Capital

Brett built Star Mountain Capital primarily to bring large market expertise down into the private lower middle market. Upon moving to the US, Brett had seen the sort of buying and selling that was occuring, and where there were opportunities for growth. He found he loved working with the access and resources of big firms…but also noted the many inefficiencies of the lower middle market. With Star Mountain, he wanted to build a specialised firm that focused exclusively on the lower middle market and its challenges and opportunities. To do this, they pursue two primary approaches:

  1. Star Mountain provides flexible capital solutions. This includes having both debt and equity investing capabilities. They can sit down with business owners, gain clarity on their desires, needs, and goals, and then come up with the structure and expertise needed to grow.
  2. With a separate division for that same market, Star Mountain uses a secondary funds business to purchase limited partnerships interests from those looking for liquidity. Across that platform, the company has closed over 100 separate investments.

Although exact definitions may vary slightly, Star Mountain thinks of lower middle market companies as not being start-ups, but also not yet a highly efficient market. This often applies to companies with over 15 million in annual revenue, and under 30 million in annual EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization). 

Star Mountain focuses on industries that have positive macroeconomic tailwinds and in which they have competitive advantages.

They tend to stay away from real estate (highly competitive) and gas & oil (highly volatile), and focus more towards technology companies, business services, transportation and logistics, education, and healthcare. Because they have deep expertise in those sectors, they can most confidently command the best deals for their clients.

Overall Market Trends

Recently, I did a solo-cast on the SPAC explosion, which has been a major trend in 2020 and moving forward. Brett noted that this seems to him to be an indicator that there are a lot of bubbles in the market right now. As you see abnormal dynamics and valuations, you’re also seeing higher risks, reminiscent of the late 90’s. This might signal a number of “black swans”, and there may be some bubble bursting. 

Some people are going to make a lot of money, but others will lose a lot. 

Based on current valuations, there is a lot that could happen. That’s going to probably include some hard drops.

Conversely, however, the valuation arbitrage between smaller companies and larger businesses is larger than it’s ever been. (SPACs are a great example!) Essentially, you’re taking private companies and reverse merging them into a public shell, with private owners giving up about 20% of their company. This allows them to move much more quickly to the public marketplace, often at higher valuations. If you can find 2-3 good quality smaller businesses, each with about 5 million in annual EBITDA, and effectively combine them and bring them to market, you can set yourself up quite well.

(Listen in to the full episode to hear more about Brett’s thoughts on this!)

Pressure to Deploy Capital

People who deploy funds don’t want their money to just sit in a bank account collecting interest. They are looking to get it invested in quality companies that will yield good returns. In overheated markets, however, this can create a pressure to deploy fundcapital in order to get things moving. That can result in entering into less-than-perfect deals.

Brett notes there are a few angles here.

For one thing, if you’re a wealth manager for a lot of people, it’s really hard to time the markets. History shows, in fact, that you really shouldn’t try to time them. As a result, a lot of the capital in the world will continue to stay invested. However, when people do pull out, the market can drop fast — last year we saw it go down about 35% over just a few weeks. We’ve seen that in 2008 and in other recessions as well. Even if things are frothy, however, a lot of money will stay on the market with the assumption that things will turn around and go back up again.

In the alternative investment market there is less obligation to stay invested. However, it’s worth remembering that zero investments equal zero chance of profits. 

Star Mountain focuses on simple premises and alignment of interests. 100% of the senior team has personal capital invested in all of Star Mountain’s deals, and every employee owns part of the company, making them completely employee owned. They find it essential to structure their funds appropriately relative to capital, market, and time. If you have many years to put your money to work, you can be more selective and identify better deals. Having your team fully aligned also allows for better deal alignment. Rather than seeking aggressive deals, or feeling pressured to deploy capital, you can then enter into opportunities that are best suited to your investment and return needs.

They also ask questions like:

What if there is a problem? How would I solve it? Could I lose my own money?

That sort of mentality is critical to ongoing growth and sustainable results. Brett also notes it’s a harder mentality to maintain in larger firms where employees are only employees and don’t tend to have the same level of skin in the game.

Specialized Asset Management & Investment Decisions

Every investor talks about management and the importance of the team behind a possible company to invest in. 

Brett and I wanted to talk about a few other factors related to making investment decisions. Last year, Brett notes that his firm looked at around 1,500 investment opportunities. They invested in about 30 of them. Some of the options just didn’t fit their focus at all, which is always a possibility.

For those companies that did fit the general picture of what Star Mountain was looking for, however, Brett noted a few distinguishing factors. 

Start with a business plan that has the highest probability of success as possible. This means considering the industry, sector, competitiveness, what the product or service actually is, and other factors. If that doesn’t make sense, the rest of it doesn’t matter.

If the probability of success looks good, Brett’s team turns to looking at competitive positioning within the business. What dynamics are at play? How does the business fit into the market, and in what ways can it set itself apart?

From there, the current diversity and quality of the customer base is key. This includes what relationships and contracts already exist, how sustainable the base is, and how long-term the relationships have been.

As those areas are clarified, then Brett notes you’ll start to get into the alignment and makeup of the team as whole.

Ultimately, you’re looking at the predictability of revenue occurring, as well as what can put revenue at risk. Brett states that revenue can solve a lot of problems, in that it gives you the time to work through issues and work through challenges.

You can listen to our 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!


The information provided in this podcast should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell any particular security. There is no assurance that any securities discussed herein will remain in an account’s portfolio at the time you receive this podcast or that securities sold have not been repurchased. The securities discussed do not represent an account’s entire portfolio and in the aggregate may represent only a small percentage of an account’s portfolio holdings. It should not be assumed that any of the securities, transactions, or holdings discussed were or will be profitable, or that the recommendations or decisions made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities, transactions, or holdings discussed herein.

 

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Your Primal Brain & Deal-Making

Tim Ash is an international keynote speaker on evolutionary psychology and digital marketing. He’s also a thought leader, marketing trainer, and founder of strategic conversion rate optimization agency SiteTuners. Tim has written multiple books, and is the bestselling author of Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions. As an industry leader he’s created over a billion dollars in value for massive brands like Google, Expedia, Nestle, Semantic, Costco, and more. He’s the founder and former chair of the worldwide Digital Growth Unleashed conference series. His work has helped him learn how our primal brain impacts businesses and lives.

His latest book is titled Unleash Your Primal Brain: Demystifying How We Think and Why We Act.

Early Experiences

Keynote speaking and becoming a primal brain and marketing expert were not on the list of what Tim imagined for himself as a child! After immigrating from Moscow to the US around age 8, Tim set his sights on becoming a cowboy. (Listen in to hear about the deal this made me think of — it was one of the few cash deals from Russia at the time.)

As Russia opened up in the 90’s, all sorts of creative maneuvers were part of making deals!

When Tim reflects on his earliest deals, he remembers shoveling snow in driveways in New Jersey. Rather than charging by the job, however, he created a subscription model. He would charge $5 per week for the three months of winter, and pledge to shovel all the snow during that time. Even as a teen he was a hustler! This reminded me of Joel Block’s advice on subscription models, which he sees as a current business trend.

Brain Evolution & Deal-Making

Tim notes that marketing subscription models makes sense from an evolutionary psychology perspective. Because the sale goes on auto-pilot and minimizes your need to think about something, it’s much easier to get people to continue paying once you’ve drawn them in.

When I used to do deals in the health industry, I saw the shift away from an annual membership that you had to choose to renew, to a month-by-month subscription that had no hard end date. Even though people “could” cancel anytime, they often didn’t. It’s easier not to; plus, canceling sends a message to yourself that you’re going to do the thing you signed up for. 

Tim shared about a subscription he kept for years without using it — even with all he knows about the brain, the same tricks work on him sometimes.

Neuromarketing and Evolutionary Psychology

Eventually Tim came to believe that the best and highest use of his time was not in providing a service. Now, he focuses on keynote speaking and writing. He also offers some consulting for senior marketing executives looking for a backup CMO who will be on their side and make them look good.

When he started his first agency, Tim’s group focused on performance-based deals. Rather than putting the risk on the client, Tim decided to share it. Client’s paid him when he created results for them. However, this created complex contract issues and other issues. For the first time, Tim fully realized how much human nature played into deal-making!

Eventually he opted to sell his shares of that business to his partners, who have experienced continued growth.

As he’s grown, Tim has also explored various options with distributing stocks in the companies he owns. What he’s found from that is that you need clear guidelines if you’re planning to do this! From becoming joined at the hip, to facing confusion about who gets to make what decisions, Tim has found that clarity  is essential when distributing stocks!

Working With Your Nature

Tim notes that we play many roles in life: you can be a parent, a spouse, a CEO, a speaker all at once. Sometimes those roles will overlap, and sometimes they will conflict with one another.

If he could go back, Tim would focus much earlier on his personality and the things that energized him. He shared his DISC, Enneagram, and Meyers-Briggs all helped him understand important parts of himself. In addition, he’s seen how working with his strengths and nature works much better than fighting against it.

In terms of his personal career transitions, Tim breaks them down into three major phases:

  1. Being someone’s employee. Tim had seen soul-killing enterprises from the inside, and he knew he didn’t want to take that path! He knew he could better himself.
  2. Work for yourself. Once he started an agency, Tim felt like now he was basically hiring his own bosses. Yes, he had more control….but at the end of they day, he was still working for clients and answering to them.
  3. Jettison both of those! Tim was ready to be done being an employee…AND done hiring bosses. 

After transitioning into Phase 3, Tim found that he felt a bit naked. He was so used to being an agency head, and realized that he had been defined by that in many ways. One thing he’s really enjoyed is being able to shift from constantly thinking about what would best for his business, into being able to genuinely think about how he can serve others.

I love this way of thinking, and have done quite a few exercises myself pertaining to establishing personal identity outside of my titles and roles. Certain roles can truly become entwined with who you are as a person!

Unleash Your Primal Brain

Tims’ newest book, Unleash Your Primal Brain: Demystifying How We Think and Why We Act, is a crash course on being human. He covers everything from sleep, chemicals in the brian, storytelling, and more. It’s not dumbed down, but it’s not just a bunch of jargon either. Tim thinks of it as a fast-paced detective story about what makes us tick.

Although I’m not the expert Tim is, I have done some reading on neuroscience and brains. My biggest takeaway: this field is constantly evolving because there is so much to learn about this! Tim is working to unify fields like neuroscience, behavioral economics, anthropology and more by breaking down silos and finding the red thread of evolutionary psychology.

He sees this topic as being what all 8 billion people on the planet have in common!

My question to Tim: from an evolutionary psychology perspective, what makes some people “deal-makers” and others not so much?

We Are Always Negotiating

First off, Tim notes that, as humans, we are always doing deals because we are always negotiating. Being able to engage with negotiating is a useful skill to have across the board.

Tim shares that when things are black and white, we automatically evaluate and accept them for what they are. If something is a sure thing, or is definitely going to fail, we know where we stand. However, once we start bringing in probability, statistics, and chance, things feel much riskier. People pay a premium when risk is reduced.

In fact, Tim notes that guarantees (such as a lifetime guarantee) have a huge impact on sales. All sorts of packaging uses this now; it gives immediate peace of mind that makes the consumer feel good, and the percentage of people who actually exercise it is tiny. 

Creating certainty and minimizing risk is a major deal-making plus!

Next, Tim notes that we all tend to aversive to threats more than we are open to rewards. We’re tuned in to loss and pain avoidance much more than we are to pleasure seeking. Pain is more motivating! For that reason, the way we frame offers in our deals is key. For instance, if a doctor tells you that you have to have a procedure, they could present it in one of two ways: there is a 95% chance you’ll make it through OR there is a 5% chance you’ll die. The former orients you towards the positive, the latter orients you towards the negative.

Most deal-makers can find ways to frame their deals that emphasize the positive and decrease the focus on pain and loss. It makes a difference!

Due Diligence as a Deal-Maker

I always tell people that doing a major due diligence process to prepare for a deal is a key part of preparation. Why? Because the people walking into the deal are highly risk averse. They stand to lose a lot if things go wrong, and they want to avoid any problems.

As such, if they smell smoke during a deal they assume there is a fire.

Rather than letting that happen, you must do your due diligence and ensure that you have your ducks lined up. Tim also noted that, as a deal-maker, you don’t want to let the party you’re deal-making with get too far into their analytical brains. He suggests you diffuse that mindset and refocus on the bigger picture if you want to avoid death by a thousand cuts.

(During the interview, Tim recommends two books: Never Split the Difference and Pitch Anything.)

To learn more about deal-making and the primal brain, listen in to the full episode! Tim shared more amazing thoughts on cold cognition, the role of emotion, and more in this powerful 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 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 Deal-Making Deal-Driven Growth

Licensing Deals

This week, we’re talking about licensing deals! Personally, I think licensing deals are underutilized. I’d love to see more of them happening, as there is so much that can be leveraged in this form of deal-making.

What Can You License?

Anything that is created by you or your team (physical or intangible), is potentially licensible. Who will license it? Someone who will want access because they know they can leverage it in their own life, business, or community. 

Licensing Deals & Inventions

First off, we have things that are patentable. This includes inventions and products; something you’ve created you can put a patent on. Chemical, mechanical, systemic, software; all of these types of inventions are things you can license. Bigger companies are especially interested in paying for tools that will enable them to manufacture, market, or otherwise use what you’ve built. Now, a large company would probably prefer to outright purchase what you’ve created — but don’t let them make you believe that that is your only option! 

Even if you make a worldwide, exclusive, into perpetuity license that states only they can use it (and you won’t sell it to anyone else), you can still create a licensing deal rather than outright sale. 

Of course you can also be thinking about ways in which to license your invention out to many companies, including competitors! By licensing the rights to what you’ve created, you can make a lot of money. It’s worth considering!

Also, think beyond physical items for this one. Training programs, keynotes addresses, workbooks, and so on; all of that can be licensed and sold to organizations who would love to use your content, curriculum, handouts, and frameworks. In the full episode I dive further into how you can make this desirable for your clients as well!

Listen here to catch my full interview on leveraging intellectual property rights with Bill Cates.

Structuring a Licensing Deal

A major early question that always comes is what the licensing fee or royalty is going to be. Every industry is a little different here; for instance, there could be a lump sum of money up front in order to get the rights to the license. In other cases, that isn’t an expectation.

In any industry, however, the idea of an ongoing royalty paid out to the owner is pretty standard. Monthly, quarterly, annually or other iterations are common. Total percentage varies greatly by industry; as a deal-maker, you’ll want to take a look at the norms within your industry as you consider this option.

The licensor will want to ensure that the base for setting the commission is top-line revenue, or a percentage of gross revenue. Why? Because once you get below that gross revenue line with a licensing deal, there is a lot of ability to manipulate and control what the number being used. Gross revenue is very clearly defined and diminishes game-playing.

As the licensor, you’ll also want to clarify some form of reporting to accompany your scheduled payments. This gives you a framework to ensure that the payments are appropriate to your deal. Keep in mind, however, that a report doesn’t mean that much if you can’t verify that it is accurate. The only way you can ensure accuracy is to retain some form of audit rights. You’ll want to know that you, or a third party provider, can double check to ensure that everything is above board. 

Exclusive vs. Non-exclusive Deals

Depending on your industry and product, this may go either way. What should you do? 

First of all, the licensor will want to lean towards non-exclusive deals. It makes sense that you stand to generate the most income by being able to create licensing deals with multiple parties for the same invention or intellectual property. However, that isn’t always an option.

For example, some organizations may need to know that they have exclusive rights to use a certain tool or framework. Now, this may extend to only certain industry competitors or geographic areas that you agree not to create deals within, or this could be complete exclusivity across all sectors. If you license it to one company in healthcare, for instance, you may agree that you will not license it to other healthcare groups, but that you can license it to a group outside of their domain, such as an automotive group.

Worldwide exclusivity that disallows you from licensing the group to anyone ought to be tied to minimum returns. This can at least ensure that you will make a return, even though you are limited to a single licensee. Now, if the minimum is not met, there are a few options.

For instance, the licensee may be allowed to maintain the license, but lose exclusivity. Or, the licensee may lose access to the product altogether. All of this needs to be included in the agreements!

Areas to Be Aware Of

Each state has variations on their rules about licensing. Something to be very aware of is the difference between a license and a franchise, which will differ in each state, and also has federal law attached.

For instance, McDonalds is a large franchise. You can’t start introducing your own food products into McDonalds, even if you are running your own location, because it is a franchise. There are expectations around how things have to look, how food is cooked, and what decisions you get to make. In a licensing deal, however, this level of restriction doesn’t usually apply. Does this mean that licensing is a free for all?

Well, as a licensor you do want and need standards! After all, your property and the elements of your brand or name that are being utilized are things you still want to reflect positively on yourself. If a licensee is using your product or performing in a way you no longer desire to be connected to, you may want to allow yourself an escape hatch. 

Creating these standards can begin to cross line between licensing and franchising, which is why it’s so essential you understand the differences in your state. I highly recommend working with a professional for that part!

To learn more about finding licensees and getting started with licensing deals, listen in to the whole 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 Deal-Making Deal-Driven Growth

Business Trends with Joel Block

Joel Block is CEO of the Bullseye Capital Fund and founder of the National Association of Syndicators. He has taught thousands of real estate brokers, CPAs, attorneys, and investors about raising capital and best practices for structuring group investments. Joel is also a nationally recognized expert in Private Placements, Reg D Offerings, Operating Agreements, deal structure, valuations, tax issues and capital raising approaches with both accredited and non-accredited Investors. He has his finger on the pulse of many of today’s business trends — the episode is worth a full listen!

(You can also listen back to DealQuest Ep. 4, when Joel was a guest almost two years ago!)

Joel’s Entrepreneurial Beginnings

At age 9, Joel and a friend bought a broken down mini-bike and got it working. (With the help of the friend’s dad!) Then they resold it, doubling their money. Joel says he didn’t fully understand how it happened at the time, but he got “bit” by the entrepreneurial spirit with that exchange.

Since then, he went on to begin his career as a CPA with the prestigious firm of Price Waterhouse. During his time with the company’s Entrepreneurial Services Group, Joel immersed himself in the real estate syndication business, and went on to launch his own syndication, raising several million dollars in three short years. By 1990, he had built a property management firm with a portfolio exceeding $100 million. Joel continues to syndicate real estate and other assets, as well as counseling other promoters on successful syndication strategies. He is also involved in many other types of deals!

As a real world, 25+ year veteran of the venture capital, private equity, and hedge fund world, Joel also gets to address global audiences on matters including capital formation and Investment CrowdFunding. Twice each year, he hosts and headlines the standard-setting  Real Estate Syndication and Hedge Fund Symposium program, educating and advising CPAs, attorneys, investment bankers and asset class specialists on organizing and running investment pools.

Actionable Business Trends

Joel notes that he’s always been a bit of a futurist, even when he was younger. That also means he’s a bit of an academic, although he notes he prefers to take action on all his thinking. He realized that when he asked a group of other futurists how they can know when they’re getting things right. While detailing his own answer, it all came down to researching, making predictions, and then betting on those predictions with real money. Actually placing the money and taking action was important to Joel — but based on the group responses, many futurists prefer to stick to the thinking part!

In his opinion, that action taking is part of what sets him apart from others.

Now,  Joel’s organization puts that combination of thinking AND action together by creating business trends books. They dive into what is happening in the market, what questions you need to be thinking about, and what observations they’re making about the market. 

As someone with skin in the game, Joel is a futurist who is deeply invested in accurately understanding the trends. When you read his business trends information (which includes 29 trends he’s seeing now), you can tell he takes this seriously!

Joel’s Favorite Trends

Although Joel said that ALL 29 trends feel like his favorites, he often finds himself talking about two in particular. We dove into those on the full interview, but I’ll include a few highlights here.

Subscription Trends

First of all, Joel noted the ongoing trend towards subscription revenue. (Listen in to hear how this was distinguished from fee revenue.)

In the “old days”, Microsoft was in the business of selling software. Now, they still make software, but they don’t sell it. Instead, they “rent” it to you via cloud-based accounts. That’s because, in 2011, they had the opportunity to get off the transactional rollercoaster they were on and create a more stable revenue flow. With more predictable revenue, they had the opportunity to increase their stock market positioning. This is a classic example of using a subscription revenue model.

This model did take a few years to take off. However, from about 2015 and afterwards, they had shifted almost completely into subscription-based revenues.

Joel notes that, years ago, he would pay around $250 for a hardcopy of Microsoft software. (The discs you used to actually take home from the store!) He would install them on his devices (with up to 5 licenses, his kids devices usually went under this purchase as well). Then, it could easily be 5-10 years before he upgraded to the next set.

Now, he makes the purchase online, and pays $99 per year for access to the same thing. Microsoft can handle bugs and make updates in live time….and instead of collecting $250 over the course of 10 years, they’ll now collect almost $1000 from Joel in that same timespan. That’s the power of a subscription model. 

And that’s not all. In addition to increased revenue, Microsoft’s stock prices went up in excess of 500% after the change really took effect. (The rest of the market saw average growth closer to the 50% mark during that time.) That’s not a coincidence!

Joel recommends looking for just one product, one line, or one service in your existing business that you could convert to a subscription opportunity. 

Work-From-Home Trends

Next, we discussed the current work-from-home phenomenon, and the changes it is portending. He believes that many organizations, including governmental groups, are in for the shock of their lives when things don’t return to normal.

Overnight, the working world changed in fundamental ways. 

All signs indicate that we won’t be going back to the “old” normal. Joel predicts we’ll see many increases in flexibility with work location and time. From full-time working from home, to alternating office and home days, splitting employees into A/B teams (that have complimentary office/home days), or other creative solutions – changes like this will be here to stay!

A lot of people make friends, socialize, and find life partners at work. There are good reasons to physically go to the office! However, people are also caretakers for children and parents, and have many other life roles that make flexibility much more optimal. Employers are being forced to acknowledge that many roles CAN be done from home. Moving forward, it’s unlikely that spending 40+ hours per week inside a physical office location will be an assumed expectation or norm.

The Ripple Impact of Business Trends

This has ripple impacts! For example, fewer people driving to work means less traffic issues. It might also be positive for the environment overall. However, just as there are “winners”, there will be “losers”. Demand for gasoline (for all these cars we’re driving much less) may go down. Joel predicts that oil is going to be soft for upcoming years. 

He also expects cities and governments to see a massive decline in revenue that would normally be generated from things like parkings fees and taxes, traffic violations, and more. 

In addition, Joel notes businesses are going to be renting smaller spaces (decreasing rent costs and utilities costs). This means that the people who own facilities or manage water/utility companies are going to see losses as well. The shoe shiners will see a downturn. The restaurants that cater to business people who are eating on the run will take a hit.

At least in the short term, traditional business centers are going to see downturns, reductions, and losses. Joel anticipates that this is eventually going to lead to money moving out of urban areas, and into suburban and then rural areas. We really dove into ripple effects, and it was so interesting. Listen in today to hear all about that!

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 Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

2021 M&A Outlook

This week on the solocast we’re checking out the 2021 M&A deals outlook. It’s been interesting to take a look at what people are seeing, and what might be around the corner. M&A deals tend to be especially easy to find information on, and often give indicators about other deal-based forecasts as well. 

As always, there are no guarantees in the deal-making industry!

2021 Industry Predictions

Many experts are predicting a robust year for 2021 M&A deals. This is in line with what I’ve been experiencing, and other statistics are bearing it out as well.

Big publications and industry newsletters for tech, insurance, pharmaceuticals, biotech, logistics, and more seem to be reporting that trends are looking positive. Why? What’s leading to such a robust 2021 M&A outlook when we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and other economic issues?

Well, in the economy overall we’re seeing few things happening.

  1. More Positive Deal-Making Outlook

We’re seeing our way towards the end of the pandemic. Vaccines are going out, and we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. That may trigger an expectation that the economy will be opening up more, and contribute to the positive M&A deal outlook for 2021.

Also, the second half of 2020 was unbelievably strong. That was mid-Covid, with no end in sight. Although the spring and summer of that year was rough, things really did recover and we were on an upswing prior to 2021. That means there must be other major factors at play here!

  1. Impact of the K Economy

A K-based recovery speaks to the idea of both upstrokes and downstrokes as part of the overall economic repair. This fits 2021 because we’re seeing that some industries, like retail and restaurants, are suffering. Other industries, however, are booming. 

The downstrokes speak to reasons that deals would likely slow down or struggle. The upstroke, however, denotes areas where deals would possibly be growing and seeing massive success. Logistics, tech, pharmaceuticals: these are businesses that have seen robust growth.

I’ve also seen that both the upstroke/downstroke of a K economy can lead to increases in deals. In a boom economy there are major amounts of capital available. In fact, there are trillions of dollars of private equity money available as investment capital right now. That’s significant when it comes to funding deals. On the flip side, in a down economy companies are looking for ways to survive. This can include sales, combining multiple businesses, and major pivots that result in deals. Companies need to consider how they can add more value, alter their business models, and reevaluate what they’re doing.

In a K economy, deals are available for a plethora of reasons, and that may be contributing to the positive 2021 M&A outlook. Regardless of the size of your company, you may find that you can benefit from deal-making in the upcoming months.

What Are the Trends?

Even if you aren’t large enough to be a trendsetter yourself, you can still benefit from looking at current trends. Where are large companies spending money? What deals are they making?

You may find yourself discovering trends within an industry, niche, technology, or platform that you can take advantage of in your own way. Perhaps growth, product/service development, or deals of your own will develop as you identify the trends impacting the market.

At the end of the day, there is no crystal ball. No one knows exactly what’s happening next. All you can do is remain aware, do your own homework, and make informed decisions for yourself and your business. I’m cautiously optimistic, especially as I’m operating in many sectors experiencing an upstroke in the current economy. I’ll continue to stay aware, examine trends, listen to insiders as I make more 2021 deals.

If you’re interested in the 2021 M&A outlook, check out 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 Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Post Merger Integration

Matt Sonnen is the founder and CEO of PFI Advisors. He provides strategic operational consulting in the RIA industry. In addition, he helps existing RIAs tackle various operational and strategic issues that they encounter as they grow. Matt emphasizes how important it is to think through post merger integration as part of deal-making. The work is not done when the deal has been made!

Early Deal-Making Experiences

At age 8, Matt wanted to be the third baseman for the CA Angels. By age 18 he wanted to be Eddy Van Halen. He certainly hadn’t considered being a strategic operational consultant in the RIA industry!

An early deal he remembers is baseball card trading during recess. His deal-making prowess has certainly grown since those days.

Now, Matt is deeply involved in the RIA industry. PFI Advisors first went to market as breakaway specialists helping advisors start RIA’s. Recently, Matt noted that they’ve been receiving a lot of traffic from buyers who have just closed their first large RIA deal, and who don’t know what to do next. Billion+ dollar firms are buying million+ dollar RIAs, and finding they don’t know how to integrate. Systems are difference, specializations are different, and there are many details that aren’t considered until after the deal is done!

This is also the result of diversification. Large firms are looking to bring on RIAs that offer something different….but then find that almost everything is so different that integration becomes challenging. Matt sees this trend continuing into the future.

After The Fact Issues

Many firms report that just getting the deal done is often perceived as the challenge. Unfortunately, however, this means they are prioritizing the “yes” without considering the “how”. Once the deal is done, this leaves all sorts of issues on the table!

Matt notes that the actual work begins when it comes to fully integrating the new acquisitions. I see the integration conversation as being a fundamental part of due diligence, and encourage firms to be forward-thinking when considering possible deal opportunities.

After all, a successful outcome will mean you MUST successfully integrate. It makes sense to consider the logistics of that before you finalize a merger or deal.

Preparing for a Smooth Post Merger Integration

Matt suggests that firms can ask questions on the front end to help minimize back-end problems during a post merger acquisition process. Often, he notes that the buyers avoid in-depth questioning. This is often attributed to not wanting to “scare” the seller away by appearing bureaucratic or demanding.

However, forward thinking firms understand that the two sides do need to get on the same page. A mutual understanding of what changes might be coming around the bend, and what an integration may look like, create a foundation for a strong transition.

Operationally, things like branding, emails, tech stacks and more might all be on the table. Post merger integration really can come down to nitty gritty details. These are things that people hardly think about day-to-day. If asked to change, however, they may feel resistant, even after the deal is done.

Minimize Client Pain Points

Matt notes that core technology changes that are often connected to post merger integration include performance reporting tools, CRMs, financial planning tools, and client portals.

For efficiency’s sake, its preferable to choose a single platform/tool that each company will be using. That way employees and owner of each are familiar with the language and user experience, and are sharing a common experience.

Buyers who want to get in the M&A game really should be in relationship with the major custodians. That way the seller is able to keep their clients in the systems they are already using. (This applies in RIA-to-RIA deals). That prevents the need for the seller to repaper all their clients, which can be a huge sticking point.

Finding out during the post merger integration that repapering is going to be required is extremely frustrating. Ideally, this would be avoided!

Biggest Lessons Learned

Matt shares one major lesson he’s learned is that outsourcing is somewhat of a myth! What he’s found from experience is that, even when outsourcing, it is vital have someone in-house who understands what was outsourced and how it works. Your team needs to know how the data and systems work, and what options you have.

You can save yourself a lot of time by knowing how the major functions that you outsource actually work. Somebody (often the COO) needs to know how every system works! Ensure that an outside firm isn’t the only one who knows what you have going on.

Also, there are somethings that need to happen in-house or on-site. Practical, day-to-day implementation, monitoring, and application shouldn’t be so fully done be an external agency that the COO doesn’t have clarity around what is happening, and how. This is especially true when it comes to compliance and audits.

Strategy & Operations

If you want to get to the next level, your strategy and operations have to evolve. Matt notes that right after launching PFI Advisors, he read The Emyth Revisited. (He wished he had read it BEFORE he launched!) He recommends checking it out. You can listen in to some of his favorite examples from the book by listening to our full interview!

Owning an advisory business is a whole skill set onto its own. From tech stacks to workflows to management – Matt often sees that these areas get pushed to the side in new companies. This is partially because actual revenue generating activities are being prioritized. This is why, at some point, he often recommends bringing in a professional management company to ensure that all angles are covered. Matt finds this is especially key during times of growth.

Feel that administrative tasks are slowing things down, or that client needs are slipping through the cracks? It’s probably time to let your advisors focus solely on client services and business development. Obviously administration and management is still required! That’s where a professional management company comes in.

Sacrifices and Growth

In the RIA space, there is money to be made as a lifestyle business. If that’s your desire, you may not need to reevaluate your management needs. However, if you’re saying you want to grow and you’re serious about it…you may need to make some sacrifices. This is also something to consider if you’re looking to sell down the road.

Matt shares a great example of an owner who described the scrambling of the first year. That was followed by the up-leveled investments (using most of their profits) of the next years. Those were sacrifices that came into play before they finally started seeing huge growth. Short term sacrifices are often required before true, sustainable growth is achieved.

Listen in the full interview for more from Matt Sonnen!

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.

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