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Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

Deal-Making Like a Producer

From Broadway to broadcasting, Dean McFlicker’s unique trajectory gives him a one-of-a-kind perspective, as he combines his creative prowess with business acumen. Dean has produced for NBC, HBO, CNN, E! NewsDaily, Good Morning America and more. As you might imagine, he’s been involved with a lot of phenomenal shows! Dean helped launch countless hits as Senior Vice President of Promotional Programming at NBC as well.  Those include This Is Us, The Voice, America’s Got Talent, The Biggest Loser, Friday Night Lights, and all of NBC’s live musicals. What a resume! (And this is just a glimpse of the work he has done.) If you want to learn about deal-making like a producer, listen in now.

I always love talking with folks who are coming from creative backgrounds. They often offer a new perspective on deal-making. (Also, shout out to former guest Li Hayes for connecting Dean and I!)

The Curved Path to Success

Dean notes that, like most people, he’s been on a curving path to success. 

As his ambitions and opportunities have ebbed and flowed, he’s gotten to experience many elements of the performing and entertaining world. It all started, however, with Dean being what he described as a “ham”. He was one of those kids who just always loved to put on a good show!

Early on Dean would create a script, produce it, and sell tickets. He’d also round up all the neighbor kids to be performers. Apparently he’s always been a director and producer at heart! In addition, he did his own performing. From his backyard start he moved on to Hollywood, singing, dancing, and acting. (He was an original cast member in the Disney musical Newsies. Apparently it’s actually more popular now than it was when he did it!)

Although his early days were in front of the camera, he was eventually happy to make the move to being behind them. It was a slow transition, moving from choreography to directing and working his way up. Part of his success came from being open to many opportunities. Dean often said “yes” to joining new projects and trying new things, including being an assistant writer, director, and producer for various shows.

Early Deal-Making

Dean considers his early backyard theater productions to be his first deal-making experiences. From wrangling neighbor kids and getting them to do what he wanted them to do, including getting them to take on parts and show up for rehearsals, to getting supplies for sets and costumes, Dean was practicing his deal-making savvy early on.

So much of what Dean was doing in his backyard required him to bring together key people and form relationships. In fact, it required many of the same skills that would eventually make him an excellent creative director. 

Now, Dean notes that what he does is really the art of bringing together all of the different disciplines to make one cohesive entertainment package. That’s just like business, where you bring together many disciplines (budgeting, marketing, sales, HR) to move your business forward. For that reason, Dean thinks a good producer is a lot like a CEO, as both are responsible for bringing together all of the different elements of an organization.

The Art of the Creative Deal

Dean notes that deals are definitely an art, and they can come together in many different ways. For example, last year he produced the world’s first Minion’s Holiday Special. This brought together multiple large entities (Universal Pictures, Illumination Studios, and NBC Television). As you can imagine, with that many players involved, deal-making is automatically involved.

Now, Dean also has his own production company, McFlicker Media, where he also produces for businesses. After all, great story telling isn’t limited to entertainment. At the end of the day, it’s also the heart of marketing. When producing for businesses, marketing related deals might include bringing in the perfect celebrity endorsement, or involving the star salesman for a particular division and making them part of what’s happening.

As an example of another sort of marketing deal, Dean shared that when you’re watching a movie, you’ll often see many different “vanity cards” denoting various film and production companies. In exchange for what they’re offering behind the scenes of a film, they’ve made deals that guarantee they’re getting seen and acknowledged as well. All of those sorts of industry norms are based on deal-making, including alliances and endorsements.

Not Just Features and Benefits

Part of marketing and experiencing organic growth revolves around telling the story. It’s not enough to just list features and benefits and expect to make a sale, or to close on a deal. 

Dean says that he sees the act of storytelling in a business capacity as being another form of producing. In business, as in life, you get to produce the story that you want to see unfold. Much like in the movies, this can be done really well, to great success….or really poorly, for a complete flop.

A natural fit that matches the product and audience while tapping into something true and relatable is the most powerful way to experience organic success. When you do this right, you’re able to build meaningful relationships. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I strongly believe in relationships as being an integral part of deal-making!

We are Conscious Creators

Although there are things that happen outside of our control, I very much believe that we are conscious creators in our own lives. We have an exceptional amount of power to consciously create in our own lives.

About 10 years ago I was at a business event and one of the sessions I went to was about living your ideal life now. It was encouragement to stop working so hard now and putting off all these things we are going to enjoy till “later”. Instead, we can find a way to create and live our ideal life now. That was a huge mentality shift for me, and it’s altered my life over the last decade.

Dean’s TED talk, How to Get What you Want: The Producer’s Perspective is very similar! In it, he shares that you can consciously take charge of opportunities and make decisions that allow you to create your best life and business now. One way that Dean does this is by using the narrative perspective, as well as other key film and television points that can be helpful in any situation.

(Listen in for two of his top tips now; you’ll find them around minute 20!)

Integrity is Key

One important note on using narrative and story is that they must be real and authentic. Anyone can create a story….but if that story is used to fool or deceive someone into making a decision or entering into a deal, they won’t want to work with you again.

As he’s moved into working with more corporate clients, Dean has found that assisting them in creating truthful, compelling stories has been a key part of his work with them. In order to have customers return again and again, they need to know that you’re being honest.

If it comes to light that the story you told was really just a story, and that it doesn’t align with the sort of culture or values that you had been presenting, you’re going to have problems! Whether that means losing customers or seeing a deal slip through your fingers, you’ll definitely experience fallout.

Dean has such an amazing background, and his episode is so interesting!

Listen in to the full show to learn more about his work in advertising, and the tips he has for using deals to decrease overhead and uplevel opportunities.

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. He is deeply 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!

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Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

Deal Preparation: 5 Steps Towards Success

When I do whiteboard sessions with my deal-making clients, I frequently cover 10 specific steps that help us move towards success. This process is especially key for those who want to be part of ongoing deals. As I’ve seen, the more deals you have going on, the more important it becomes to be strategic and follow a process that works for you. Ready to uplevel your own deal preparation? Listen in to the whole episode, or read on below!

(I’ll cover the first 5 steps today. Stay tuned for my next solocast to get the other 5!)

1. Know Why You’re Making the Deal

Before you get in too deep with any deal, it’s essential that you have a fundamental understanding of why you want to pursue this deal. Is this about growth? Diversification? Furthering your purpose? Positioning yourself for further acquisitions?

The reality is, some of us are motivated to enter into deals for all the wrong reasons. I’ve watched people make deals that increase revenue while actually reducing profit. Some deals are driven by ego rather than anything truly meaningful. As much as I love deals and am a huge proponent of them, I think we have to understand that they aren’t always the best idea.

Finally, when you understand your why, you can communicate that with your partners and other stakeholders. That includes lawyers or negotiators, like me, that are involved in the deal.

2. Who Are You Targeting?

If you’re doing multiple deals, you need to have a target in mind. A haphazard search or method for connecting just won’t cut it, especially if you’re serious about making deals a sustainable part of your future.

Who are you looking for? What are your criteria for your potential targets? What are you trying to add to your business?

Whether you’re looking for acquisitions or affiliates (or something else altogether), it’s key that you take the initiative to understand who they are. In addition, you should understand how that pertains to your why.

3. Build Your Value Proposition

We’re all used to differentiating ourselves from the competition in order to generate sales or gain traction. However, we don’t always think about creating a value proposition for our deals. Doing so makes sense, though!

If you know your why, and you know who you’re targeting, you should be able to communicate why doing the deal holds value for them. What makes it worth their time? Why is this going to be in their best interest?

Just being “nice” people, or having a great company, doesn’t cut it here! Also, the deal structure or model is not the value proposition. (Those things are what you create to deliver on the value prop itself.)

So, what’s the value? Why is this deal, be it an acquisition, affiliation, joint venture, or something else, worth bringing these particular parties to the table? When you’re clear about this, you’re able to both qualify amazing partnerships and disqualify those who won’t be a great fit.

4. Get the Right Resources in Place

Before you create your deal model and choose a structure, you need to identify and get in place the correct resources. This can include internal resources, human talent or skills, capital, systems or processes, information needed, and relationships with 3rd parties. I encourage clients to do a resource map to tangible write down what is already in place as well as what is needed.

In order to be fully prepared for a deal, you need to know what you have and what you need.

5. Choose a Deal Model

First off, deal models and deal structure are not the same. (I’ll kick off the next solocast with more on the distinctions between the two!) 

Your deal model is how you’re going to do these deals. For example, in a licensing deal, you may have an exclusive or a non-exclusive model. Within those categories, there are more you can break the deal down into. From expectations around the number of deals sold, to clarifications on geographical boundaries, these factors are part of the deal’s model. 

The goal here is not to create a “menu” with a bunch of listings. Rather, the goal is to develop a model that keeps things consistent, scalable, and usable as you grow. The more deals you do, the more important it becomes to have clarity around your own deal models.

As you build your model, you can take into account your why, who you’re targeting, and what your value proposition is. In addition, it will be based on what resources you have in place. The model ties all of these elements together and sets you up for deal-making success!

If you just do 1-5, you’re on your way towards becoming an excellent deal-maker! Stay tuned for 6-10, where I’ll deliver more on structure.

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. He is deeply 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!

 

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Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Emotional Intelligence & Deal-Making

Dr. Patricia (Pat) Baxter is a corporate veteran and femtrepreneur, as well as an award-winning, certified emotional intelligence (EI) coach. She’s also a professional NSA speaker and recognized workshop/retreat leader. Dr. Pat equips women leaders to lead boldly and intelligently. This is done using the undeniable power of emotions. She works with women leaders at all levels who want to use emotional intelligence to build stronger, SMARTER work environments and connections that more fully engage their teams, partners and clients.

With 25+ years of corporate/entrepreneurial knowledge and know-how, a doctorate in business leadership, and multiple published books, Dr. Pat is a deal-making force to be reckoned with!

Early Career Aspirations

Early on, Pat knew she wanted to be rich. Beyond that, she wasn’t quite sure what direction her career would take her!

She did remember an uncle who lived with her family when she was young who. He frequently told her she was too emotional and cautioned her to calm down. At the time, she found it frustrating. Having learned so much more about emotional intelligence now, however, she looks back and laughs. She realized that, in some ways, he was right. Calming down truly does make a difference!

As she has continued to learn more about the brain, emotional intelligence, and human responses, Pat has continued to grow her ability to help others use the power of emotion to lead well.

The earliest deal-related exchange that Pat remembered was related to helpfulness. She realized that, by engaging in chores and doing things that were being asked of her, she could alleviate stress from others. In doing so, she positioned herself to take advantage of the implicit trade-offs present in taking care of business. Even as a kid, she could see the benefits of being viewed favorably by others and building relationships before it came time to make an “ask” at the proverbial deal-making table.

Emotional Intelligence and Deal-Making

When making deals, Pat notes that emotional intelligence practice and awareness is very useful. She’s realized that she’s able to quickly tap into the other person or business’s interests, and to understand what they may be seeking.

Another useful skill? Picking up on the language being used and incorporating that into how you’re communicating. However, she notes that the key to this working is to ensure that you understand the full meaning of that language!

Pat encourages deep listening, which includes watching expressions and body language in addition to listening to words. It also requires that you manage yourself! You should know how your own tone sounds, and be aware of what you’re communicating with your own body language. After all, communication is a two-way street.

True deal-makers need to do the hard inner work of knowing why we react the way we do, why we think the way we do, and how our own tendencies may impact our deal-making success. This sort of self-knowledge can also prevent us from sabotaging our own deals.

Mission Critical Skills

  1. Self-Awareness

Headed to the deal-making table? It’s essential that you have enough awareness to know what you actually want. You also need to know how you come off.

2. Self-Management

You have triggers that may derail you, spiral you into limiting beliefs, or cause you to shut down or lash out. We all do. It’s your responsibility to know what yours are and learn to manage them in order to best equip yourself for deal-making success, no matter what comes up.

3. Empathy

Empathy opens the door to understanding both others and ourselves. It is what allows us to express ourselves with vulnerability and to make connections that make powerful deals possible.

Why Deals Die

After years of making deals, I’ve found firsthand that personal client triggers can be a major reason deals die. The sensation of immediate dislike, distaste, or frustration that can rise up within us when we encounter certain triggers are powerful deal-making hurdles, even if there is nothing explicitly wrong with the deal’s terms or logistics. 

Deals die when we cannot overcome these triggers.

Even if you’re technically “in the right” or your frustration is legitimate, you can choose to manage yourself and your emotions if you’d like to close on the deal you’re making.

The reality is, our behavior is guided by all sorts of deep, unseen emotional triggers and responses. Often, these triggers come from the most unexpected things, which means that our own lack of awareness can cause us to cycle into unintended responses without even realizing it’s happening. 

In fact, Pat shares that our emotional triggers actually set off a chemical reaction in the brain. This can trigger fight or flight responses, which can take over our more rational responses. Once we learn to realize that this is happening, and that we’re feeling out of control, we can learn to create more space for ourselves and to respond in a way that will enable us to pursue the outcomes we’re desiring, even if we encounter an unexpected trigger.

Listen in to learn more about Pat’s tips for handling triggers!

Raising Your Awareness

Pat recommends that being aware of your body can help you begin to more easily recognize your own triggers. From sweaty palms to a lurching stomach, tingling ears to a foot that won’t stop tapping, you absolutely get physical clues about what’s going on emotionally. Learning to be more aware of what’s happening in your body when you’re getting triggered can help you  begin to prepare for the self-management aspect of being triggered.

Obviously we can see that being over-reactive can blow a deal. However, how emotional triggers can also cause us to go through with deals that we shouldn’t have gone through with.

Pat notes that our bodies give us signals about bad situations as well. Learning to watch our bodies, to get in tune with what they’re telling us, and to respond with compassion and intelligence can help us avoid going off the rails in either direction.

People who find themselves in an “endless loop” of failing or not getting what they want often have something, somewhere “disconnected”. At some point, it’s time to hold up the mirror and start to examine what internal work can be done to help you break through and begin to reach the next level. This is especially important for deal-making!

To learn more about the specific tools I use to get myself back into the right place, and to learn about Pat’s suggestions, 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. He is deeply 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

Overcoming Negativity for Deal-Making Success

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Deal-making success and mindset go hand in hand. You truly can’t have ongoing success as a deal-maker if you aren’t cultivating the mindset to sustain it. This week, I dive into how you can overcome negativity for even more deal-making success!

Listen HERE.

Why My Trolls Make Me Think of Mindset

I’ve started putting out more online content, working with a marketing team, and engaging in advertising over the past few years. As a result…I realized I have trolls now! The team will put out a post and get a couple hundred likes, plus a person or two who starts commenting nasty stuff. Sometimes they even start throwing around threats. (“We’ll report you to FB!” seems ever popular.)

The question is, of course: Why don’t you just skip it and scroll on by? 

Why am I indulging in this little rant? Because it brings us back to mindset

People who are successful, who have built well rounded lives, and who are happy with their work don’t spend time trolling other people on Facebook. It’s just a reality. They don’t have time to waste on social media. Especially not if they’re just there to complain about other people’s work, trash their free resources, or critique their social posts. (Note: I’m not saying there is never anything worth criticizing online. There is a place for voicing concern! Here, I’m just talking about trolls who want to stir up trouble.)

The idea that they will sit online and critique every step someone else is making tells me they aren’t really out in the real world taking action themselves. Rather than let myself get consumed with their opinions, I find myself shaking my head at where their mindset is. Beyond that, I don’t spend much time thinking about them. Instead, I just go back to my own business.

I don’t envy their mindset, I don’t respect their approach, and I won’t allow myself to be derailed by them. Why? Because they clearly aren’t operating at the level of success I desire. I’d rather think about my own vision, or my own mentors. 

Other People’s Opinions Don’t Need to Hold that Much Weight

If you’re going to take someone’s advice to account, make sure they are people you actually respect and whose opinion matters to you.

You have the capacity to filter out what information is important to you, and what actually helps you. And the reality is, online trolls, critiques, and naysayers have very little to add in terms of value.

As the most powerful influence in your own life, you can choose to look beyond these temporary voices and focus on what matters to you.

Relationships with people I care about, growing my business, making deals, creating something of value, building a legacy — these are the things I want to spend my time and energy on.

Other people’s judgment? It just doesn’t hold weight with me.

What’s Limiting You?

As a deal-maker, it’s essential that you’re able to identify who is in your head, and what messages they are sharing. You get to make that choice, and you get to give a platform to the voices that matter most to you.

If you have a lot of doubt and insecurities, or if your inner voice is filled with negativity, it’s impacting your confidence at the deal-making table! 

After years of doing deals and interaction with deal-makers, I’ve seen firsthand that successful people are very aware of what’s going on in their minds, and they don’t allow voices of fear, doubt, or shame to creep in and overwhelm them. Instead, they actively grow positive mindsets that allow them to see the bigger picture, respond rather than react, and stay out of drama (including the online kind) that would weigh them down.

You can do that too; by engaging in mindset work and getting clear about what you want your inner messaging to be, you can disengage from the negative and drama-filled and choose to uplevel your own mindset. As you do so, you’ll find that deal-making, collaborations, and opportunities begin to flow more easily.

Additionally, business deals rely on relationships. If you’re constantly in a negative frame of mind, you’re probably not as open to relationships as you could be. In addition, you may not be equipping yourself to respond to opportunities for growth and deal-making.

What Resonates?

You may not be an online troll….but you may find yourself having a tendency to be judgmental, think negatively, or otherwise engage in parts of these behaviors. So I’d encourage you to think about anything in your life that could use a bit of a mindset uplevel.

Maybe you have a business relationship, a client, or a program that brings out some of these negative tendencies in yourself. Maybe you have biases or judgments you don’t realize you have.

Think about it, and if something resonates, take the time to work through it! Only you get to determine what voices have power in your life, and that includes the ones in your head.

Listen to the whole 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. He is deeply 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

DealQuest’s Best Of: Deal-Maker Mindsets

This week’s episode features DealQuest’s Best Of Deal-Maker Mindsets. Tune in to learn about interpersonal skills from Steven Herz; deal-maker mindsets from Daryle L. Johnson; and how to not end up resenting your investors with Jeff Dennis. If you hear a “best of” snippet and want to dive into the full interview, you’ll find links to the guest’s feature-length appearance in the show notes below. 

Listen in to the “best of” interviews.

Meet Steven Herz 

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

What Sets You Apart?

Why does one person rise and the other doesn’t? Well, you might think there are many variables that contribute to this. However, Steven found that, even with variables like age, work ethic, natural talent, and so on accounted for, there are two major factors that seem to play pivotal roles in whether someone is playing at full capacity.

  1. Internal Awareness & Self-Responsibility
  2. Communication Skills

No matter what deals you’re doing, you can absolutely create more success by developing your interpersonal skills. This includes practicing personal awareness, upleveling self-responsibility, and practicing your communication skills (both public and private speaking skills). Steven believes that AWE is the acronym that best represents these major skills.

A — Authority, presence, substance

W — Warmth, trust, connection

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

He also believes that these skills CAN be taught. And once you’ve really started to understand and use them, you’ll see a difference in who you attract, how you sell, what you build, and what your outcomes are. To learn more about Steven’s book (including the bidding war four major publishers engage in to get it!), his work, and how you can improve your own negotiating skills, listen to the full episode!

Tune In to the Full Episode For:

  • Negotiating Deals with television and radio stations and networks
  • Other Key Deal Terms – Thinking Beyond Salary
  • The Power of Personal Change
  • Interpersonal Communication Skills
  • And more!

Meet Daryle L. Johnson

Daryle L. Johnson is the president and co-founder of SmartIT Mobility. He’s also the owner of Ideation to Valuation. Daryle is responsible for setting overall sales, partner, and supplier alliance strategies. He’s also empowered to leverage corporate assets to deliver value with integrity and quality. With the mindset of a deal-maker, he is an innovative, energetic, creative, and very charismatic intrepreneur AND entrepreneur. 

Deal-Making Mindsets

Daryle shares about a deal he negotiated for schools that took all of their needs into account. From pricing to software, he covered every possible problem that could have created issues for the school board. He partnered with T-Mobile (for both software and sales teams). Then, he brought in a training company to work with teachers, and he leveraged long-term marketing strategies to bring up front costs to the school down to $1 per device.

He also anticipated parent issues, teacher frustrations, and student needs. The final deal was the result of dozens of smaller partnerships, leveraged resources, and connections. Also key? His mindset. Rather than seeing the problem as too big, the partnerships as too complicated, or the schools as too difficult to negotiate with, he chose to see the possibility. 

Every challenge was faced, and solutions were created. Why?  Because he believed that it could be done. Ultimately, the program provided technology to over 60,000 students. It also spawned other local deals for Daryle, as a result of ongoing negotiations and collaborations.

In theory, Daryle could have gone into the school and said he had a solution he was selling for X price. If he had, he wouldn’t have been successful. Instead, his deal-maker mindset enabled him to create a full package. He provided a comprehensive solution in a way that made sense for his audience, and they bought it. You can hear the full episode here.

Tune In to the Full Episode For:

  • Building the Mindset of a Deal-Maker
  • Innovative K-12 Deals
  • Following the Process
  • Crafting Strategic Deals
  • And More!

Meet Jeff Dennis

Jeff Dennis is the trusted advisor to the CEOs of fast growth companies, where he provides strategic and financial advice. He is a lawyer, serial entrepreneur, best selling author, and public speaker.His book, Lessons from the Edge, is a collection of stories by 50 entrepreneurs who share their biggest mistakes in business and the lessons that they have learned. He’s a sought after public speaker for audiences across the world. Here, he shares about the deal-maker’s paradigm shift that has helped him grow throughout his career.

Resenting Your Investors?

One think Jeff has noticed is that sometimes founders turn around and resent their investors. In the moment, they’re willing to give up larger percentages of their companies, or take on more unfavorable terms, because they’re desperate to get started. Down the road however, and with a bit of revisionist history, they forget the desperation and feel taken advantage of or frustrated with the terms they agreed to.

To Jeff, this sort of conflict is unnecessary. He encourages business owners to map the process early on, and to consider what they are willing to give up for investment capital. Once you’ve made the deals, it’s too late to go back and retrieve what you’ve given up!

As we note in the interview, every step of the way is based on decisions you are making. A clear head and vision make a world of difference! On the show, we also talk about Jeff’s family business, mindset growth, and deal-maker’s paradigm shifts.

Tune In to the Full Episode For:

  • Creative Problem Solving as an Entrepreneur in Residence
  • Discovering a Deal-Maker’s Paradigm Shift
  • Always Growing
  • Creating Services & Products That Work
  • And More!

 

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. He is deeply 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

Providing Value as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Ramon Ray is a leading expert on small business success. He inspires and educates thousands of business owners every year through his content, events and media interviews. He’s also a four-time entrepreneur who has sold two companies, and a best selling author. His latest and fourth book is Celebrity CEO, all about personal branding. Ramon has shared the stage with many leading business thought leaders, including Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, and Gary Vaynerchuk. Most recently, he’s been named as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Oracle NetSuite. Ramon has also been married for over 25 years and has two adult children. Listen to our full conversation now, or read the show notes below!

(He also shared about influencer and sponsorship deals back on Episode 3 of the podcast!)

Bit By the Entrepreneurial Bug

Ramon was born in the Midwest. From childhood he loved to tinker, play with electronics, and read books. As a young teen he moved to Brooklyn, New York. You can say Ramon’s part “well-mannered midwestern” and part “action-oriented” New Yorker. He studied business administration in college, and one of his first jobs was as a temp staff member doing clerical work at the United Nations. Ramon went on to serve at the United Nations for over 10 years, and was promoted to administrative officer. There, he managed the administrative functions of the NY Office of a UN Agency headquartered in Asia.

While at the UN, Ramon was bit by the “business bug” and started a few small companies. By day he worked hard at the United Nations and by night he worked on his side businesses. This included attending networking events and producing many of his own successful events. Eventually, he left the UN and became a full time entrepreneur. Although Ramon enjoyed rubbing shoulders with diplomats from around the world, his passion was entrepreneurship. His business education and thirst for entrepreneurship was nurtured through the pages of Inc Magazine, Black Enterprise, and Entrepreneur Magazine. Ramon credits much of his education and business influence to many New York area business owners, including Yacov Wrocherinsky. 

The companies Ramon started include a small tech consulting business, Small Business Summit (an event company co-founded with Marian Banker), and a well-known blog, SmallBizTechnology.com. Ramon eventually sold the Small Business Summit to another event company. In 2019, he sold SmallBizTechnology.com to a publisher. Smart Hustle Media, Ramon’s latest passion, allows Ramon to combine his love of entrepreneurship and small business success.

Entrepreneur-in-Residence: New Opportunities Emerging

Earlier this year, Ramon joined Oracle NetSuite as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. He notes that many business-related brands are looking for mini-influencers. In commercial spaces, there are a lot of major influencers for products like clothing, makeup, and more. But in the business space specifically, things begin to narrow. There are a few big names that tend to dominate the space, and then a much larger middle ground. That’s where Ramon sees himself; as a small business influencer in that middle ground.

That’s where Oracle comes in. They have a board, of course, and they spend marketing dollars. However, they realized they didn’t necessarily have that strong personal, or human, element. They needed someone who could be themselves and do their own work, while also adding to who they were and how they presented themselves. As they say: As part of our commitment to provide the resources and expert insights needed, we’re excited to partner with Ramon Ray, entrepreneur and founder of SmartHustle Media, as our first Entrepreneur in Residence. In his new role, Ramon will work closely with our team to help us inspire, educate and better serve business owners and entrepreneurs.”

Because Ramon had already built a relationship with Oracle, he was able to identify areas in which it would make sense for them to partner together. In fact, he was the one who proposed the Entrepreneur-in-Residence title as part of the shift in their relationship! There have been huge benefits for both sides — definitely listen in to hear more about these dynamics.

Building the Trust Factor

As Ramon shared about the ways in which his role with Oracle NetSuite had evolved, I was struck by how essential the trust factor had been. He had shown up as a speaker, gone live, offered feedback, and engaged with the organization on many fronts, over time, before taking on this larger, extended position.

Approaching the company and trying to start with where he is now probably wouldn’t have garnered much interest. By finding ways to engage while consistently providing value, Ramon set himself up to broker a larger deal when the opportunity arose.

He also had other strengths on the table, both tangible and intangible. Email lists, social followers, and a list of reputable connections, interviews, and appearances were key parts of demonstrating his value in the marketplace. Intangible components included his reputation, capacity to continue growing and expanding, and passion for entrepreneurship and small businesses.

That trust factor allowed Ramon to negotiate a profitable deal that allowed both sides of the table to feel excited about their future together. (Listen in to hear Ramon’s thoughts on the “perfect deal”. It includes a consideration of the payoff for BOTH sides.)

Structuring the Deal

Ramon’s deal with Oracle is structured annually. As such, it consists of a variety of “buckets”. For instance, he’s been leveraging relationships with other existing brand ambassadors and influencers. That includes actively identifying ways they can work together, collaborate, or otherwise bring something new to the table. Ramon is also actively involved in helping the organization work on utilizing their brand story. And, of course, he’s a major part of events as a speaker and influencer himself.

One major intangible benefit to Ramon is the credibility provided to him through a deal of this nature. He has been able to remain independent as an entrepreneur, while also receiving the backing and support of a larger organization that instantly adds authority to his name. Although he had done quite a bit of work with Oracle NetSuite in the past, becoming their Entrepreneur-in-Residence was a major shift in that relationship. 

At the end of the day, Ramon keeps coming back to the power of showing value. Value, value, value. You can’t beat showing up and providing value to anyone, at any time. 

No matter what negotiation you’re heading into, knowing that you’ve provided value and will continue to do so will set you up for success.

If you’d like to find out more about Ramon, head over to www.smarthustle.com OR check out www.ramonray.com.

Listen in to the full episode to hear more!

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. He is deeply 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

Capital Gains Rates and Deals

In this solocast, I talk about how potential increases in capital gains rates can have an impact on deals. Last year we started seeing this, and it’s only continued to grow coming into this year. We don’t know if capital gains rates are going to continue going up. However, we do know the Biden administration is proposing increases. The marketplace, of course, is watching and waiting. Regardless of your politics, you’ll want to be thinking through the business and deal-making implications of capital gains rate increases.

Capital Gains Rates & Deal-Making

When we started seeing the potential significant increases in capital gains rates at the end of last year, many businesses pushed deals through quickly. They were able to get them done in November and December of 2020, just in case the rates did change. It was a very busy time for deal-makers, despite the pandemic.

That acceleration has continued into this year. Now, possible increases in capital gains rates now appear to have been pushed back to 2022. As a result, many deals are occurring, and many businesses are positioning themselves to pursue active deal-making. On the M&A side of things, that means we’re headed for a robust year. Pair that with the reopening economy and the increased gains in Covid vaccinations, and I believe we’ll see deals continuing to move ahead full force in the upcoming months.

Other market factors are driving deals as well, such as valuation trends. However, an awareness of potential increases in capital gains rates is certainly present on everyone’s minds.

Deal-Making Timelines 

If your timeline for selling was about 5 years out (or more), you likely don’t need to make any major adjustments. However, if you were hoping to sell within the next year or two, it would be wise to have some awareness of how things are changing, and how that could impact your plans. It’s wise to be aware of how tax rates will impact you as both a seller and buyer, and it makes sense to mitigate losses when you’re able to.

Something worth noting, however, is that the primary driver of decisions is not tax policy. There are so many other factors impacting deals, including strategic reasons to buy/sell/acquire/merge, that tax policy cannot be considered the primary driver of deals.

When capital gains rates go up, there can be a depression of capital available for people wanting to invest. The increased rate of taxation makes returns less attractive, which can change people’s actions on the market. However, results and trends do show that these rates are not the only factors on the deals and investments people are making. Many factors contribute to deal-making, and taxes are only a single factor.

Should You Accelerate?

If you’re in the position to sell your company and you have a short term horizon, it may make sense to look into accelerating and taking action this year. Although capital gains rates may not increase, we do feel pretty sure they will either stay the same or go higher. They aren’t going down!

I definitely don’t think there is any call for panic though! Just because capital gains rates might be going up, you don’t need to feel pressed into selling if the time isn’t right for you. It’s wisest to make a measured, wise decision that takes both short and long term considerations into mind.

Maximizing net returns on capital is key for investors, for example, and their ability to do so is a more compelling decision-making factor than capital gains rates alone. Again, there are so many complex factors in deal-making that surpass tax rates. Although capital gains rates can impact things, the reality is that investors will be looking to deploy capital and get back multiples on that capital, and they’ll do it via investing.

Now, they may also choose to take the higher tax rates into consideration when coming to the deal table. This may change deal structures and offers, and may be something worth considering. The opportunity for growth within the market, however, will still be the largest factor in whether deals get done.

Overall Impact

There is a knee-jerk logic that says raising capital gains rates will automatically depress investment. I don’t think that is necessarily true, an idea that historical rates supports. Now, if the rates stay high for an extended time, we may see more negative results.

At the end of the day, it may happen or may not happen. In business, we have to deal with what is and minimize adverse impacts as we’re able to. Ultimately, entrepreneurs will keep building companies, investors will keep investing, and deals will be made.

Short-term, deal-growth and acceleration are being spurred by the possibility of capital gain rate increases. In the long-term, we’ll have to see whether the rates increase even gets passed at all. If it happens, I believe most operational business owners will find that there are many other factors that have more primacy than these rates over whether deals happen or not. 

There is honestly so much money out there that is ready to be deployed; deals aren’t going to dry up overnight because of increases to these rates. However, if you are positioned to make a deal this year, it makes the most sense to close it out before the end of the year. This way, you can avoid potential losses as a result of capital gains rate increases. We’ll be ⅓ of the way through the year when this episode goes live. Because deals take time, you’ll want to get moving if you know that you want to complete yours this year. If not, there’s no need to rush into anything based on this one factor.

Those are my thoughts. I’d love to hear from you how you’re choosing to react to the possibility of capital gains rates increases!

Listen in 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 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 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!