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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!

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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.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal-Ready Assessment today!

 

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

How to Hire the Best

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

Small Business Owners with Growth Opportunities

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

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

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

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

For Growth, You Need A-Players

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

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

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

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

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

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

Traditional Hiring Methods Don’t Work

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

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

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

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

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

A-Players Think Differently

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

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

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

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

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

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

Build Your Team to Create Your Desired Lifestyle

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

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

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

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

Gradually, your culture will shift!

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

 

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Market Upheaval & Continued Growth

Steven Mail was the founder of the largest single manager global macro hedge fund in Europe. His investments center around companies that deliver insights to hidden areas of the enterprise. He is an ambassador for business to Scotland and an advisor to the Endeavor organization. Throughout his career, Steven has experienced market upheaval and panic. He says those things have shaped him for the better as both a businessman and investor.

Steven is also the founder and managing partner of Mail Venture Partners. He got his start as a bond trader and hedge fund manager in London. After “retirement” at age 39, he moved to Florida, where he has continued to engage in investment and giving back. You can listen to our interview HERE.

Getting His Start

Steven runs Florida’s largest youth soccer club, but growing up, he was an aspiring boxer. Both of his parents were involved in athletics, and he had an early passion for them as well. Now, he’s thankful that didn’t work out!

At age 12, he started playing poker (he was quickly playing with kids 5+ years older than him!). At age 15 he started his first job, and at age 17 he started his first business. By 21, he was involved in business. Coming of age in the UK during the “big bang” era had a strong influence on Steven’s career path, as many doors in financial industries were open and there was a strong recruitment drive.

Unfortunately, the week that he started his bond trader trainer also happened to be the 1987 “Black Monday” crash. It was an unusual, emotional experience that shaped Steven’s entire career. He finds that he has always been able to survive and even thrive during the most difficult times in the market, which he connects to the humility and detachment he was able to learn from the volatile markets he experienced early in his career.

Steven also notes that the ability to reverse his positions has been a clear strength. He’s never held too tightly to a stance, and has been able to pivot and change as needed on a moment-by-moment basis. (This makes total sense! Detachment is part of the negotiating framework I provide in my book, Authentic Negotiating.)

Regardless of the difficult market, he started trading in 1987 as a bond trader and market maker. He thought it was a bit like boxing; you put out an offer (throw a punch) and they throw one back and it goes on like that. He loved the years he spent in that arena, and eventually shifted into proprietary trading. This coincided with the launch of the Euro and it’s trade being shifted from headquartering out of Paris and into London. Steven was named head trader, and had a fantastic first year as such.

Growth Through Upheaval

At the end of his first year as head trader, France wanted the Euro trade headquarters to return to Paris. After negotiations ensued it became clear operations were going to be moving. Steven felt uncomfortable about the language change, and eventually it was agreed  that if he made the move, everyone would speak to him in English if he would be willing to come, which got him to agree. Ultimately, he was able to make many connections in Paris, and greatly enjoyed his time there. 

After some time in Paris, Steven returned to London and continued to grow his career. He worked through another crisis in which the market dried up, and things got hard. The markets literally closed, and there was general panic.

Shortly after, Steven became aware of a Japanese pension fund that was desperate to sell half a billion of bonds. Despite the market havoc, Steven decided that everything has a price, and that there was an opportunity there. After evaluating the market, he made an offer they accepted — an offer that covered the losses from all the rest of the positions he’d held during the market upheaval.

His ability to continue engaging in the market and think strategically has enabled him to continue to experience success, regardless of whether the markets are up or down.

Investing in Mentorship & Advising

Steven shares he’s never been in the game to make the most money. Instead, he’s always wanted to have an interesting experience. He enjoys meeting people, traveling, and enjoying new things. As a result, it’s no surprise that his career has changed over the years.

He found hedge fund management to be much slower than bond trading, and when he moved into private company investments he found it to be yet another slow down. Now, he does fewer trades, and they take longer.

Whether you find yourself in trading or investing, Steven notes self-confidence is key. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else will? Beyond that, he also looks for humility and character. In the same way you want your friend group to be made up of great people, the people you invest in ought to be the same.

His investor role often comes with a great deal more advising than his time in trading did. Steven leverages his network for connections, advice, and insight — he enjoys mutually beneficial relationships that highlight giving back and growing. Mentorship has also been something he engages with, from his formal role with Endeavor to his work with the youth soccer league in Florida.

Making Investment Decisions

Steven enjoys finding ways to help companies by opening doors and making connections. One way to do this is to help companies piggyback off of each other in order to scale their growth to the next level. 

He pictures investing as a pyramid, and finds early-stage companies to be the most fun to get involved with. He also notes it’s key to look at and choose individuals when investing in early-stage businesses. After all, the business itself is going to pivot as things progress. Rather than getting too attached to the hoped for final outcome, he finds it helpful to choose founders who have the traits needed to really push through the difficulties and change as needed. To that end, Steven looks for problem solvers who have resilience. Evolution, growth, change, and problems are all part of starting a business, and a founder who can’t endure them won’t be able to build a business that can last.

His Most Important Interview Question

Thinking back 30 years or so ago, Steven notes that the best interview question he ever asked applicants was:

What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you, and how did you handle it?

It may be a popular question now (or at least some form of it), but when he first started using it it was quite uncommon. He was specifically looking for people who had lost money and been able to make it back. Ultimately, he was hoping to find the quality of the “bounce back” in new applicants. No matter how good the markets looked at the time of the interview, Steven knew how quickly things could change. He wanted to hire candidates who would have resilience and grit when things got hard, because it was inevitable that they would.

For longevity and sustainability, you must be able to endure the hard periods and be willing to push through. I remembered a seminar I was at years ago when a speaker who had undergone a great financial failure was asked what his mistake had been. His answer? “I mistook a bull market for brilliance!”

Doing well when everything is going well isn’t that hard. Showing up, putting in the work, and refusing to quit when everything is falling apart – that’s what sets successful people apart again and again.

Growth Mindset

At the end of the day, embracing challenges, showing you can grow through hardship, and making smart decisions are key indicators that Steven looks for when he considers investing. He sums this all up as having a growth mindset, and thinks it is a powerful key to success.

To learn more about how he makes his investment decisions, what values have driven him, and how his journey has continued to unfold, listen in to the whole episode!

 

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Special Purpose Acquisition Company: Here’s What You Need to Know

The concept of using a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) as a deal-making vehicle has been very hot in 2020. It’s popularity seems to be heading into this year as well! Essentially, this is a popularized approach to doing deals and raising capital. Are you using it? Should you be? Listen in to find out more!

What is a Special Purpose Acquisition Company?

A SPAC is a public company that has no operations whatsoever.

Essentially, a Special Purpose Acquisition Company raises money for the sole purpose of acquiring a company, or multiple companies, at some point in the future. When fundraising starts, no one knows what company is going to actually be acquired. The founder and promoters who put the SPAC together may have a target idea, but also may not. (Sometimes thought of as “blank check” companies because investors don’t know where their money will end up!)

Why would anyone take the risk? Well, it probably helps that Special Purpose Acquisition Companies raised 78 billion in the US in 2020. 45% of all companies that went public were classified as SPAC. This exceeds the former SPAC output from all former years combined! The industry is seeing massive growth, which seems to be a continuing trend.

SPAC Fundamentals

Most investors investing in private offerings (venture capital, angel investors, etc) will say that one of the biggest things they are investing in is management. Now, they do get to vet the company and get a fuller pitch, of course. But ultimately, they do understand that growth and change tend to go hand in hand.

Even though they know the company, management is key. With a SPAC, you know the owners/founders, and your investment is a vote of confidence in their ability to make the right acquisition decisions when the time comes.

Pre-acquisition, the SPAC usually has about two years to make an investment. If no investment is made, the money is typically paid back to investors with interest. (Each individual Special Purpose Acquisition Company has its own contract and legal language, of course, but this is what is typical in the industry.) This minimizes risk of loss, since if there is no company acquired you have at least earned interest. (There may be an opportunity cost since your money has been tied up, of course.)

Ideally, of course, you invest in a SPAC because you want them to make an acquisition. This is where your greatest reward, as well as your greatest risk, lie.

Risks, Rewards, and Special Purpose Acquisition Companies

Will the promoters of the SPAC make an acquisition? And will that acquisition be profitable? Because of their huge surge in popularity, the answers to both those questions might be a resounding YES.

Here are some reasons why SPACs are working so well right now.

  1. Investors are looking for higher returns. In the past, this is money that might have ended up in hedge funds. However, hedge funds aren’t performing as well as they have. Many investors are looking for other ways to leverage growth. SPACs offer that, and many investors are all too happy to take advantage! (Because of their success, competition is rising and we’ll start to see a bit of a squeeze on this.)
  2. There are a lot of big names in SPACs. Citi Group, Goldman Sachs, and other easily recognized names are heavily involved in Special Purpose Acquisition Companies. This has probably helped to increase their legitimacy and popularity. Evaluations are strong as well, so more money can be raised. If the market starts to cool, SPACs will likely become less popular. Rising interest rates might also make safer investments more attractive once again.
  3. Being acquired by a SPAC helps companies “skip” a step. Many companies that are looking to raise that last round of capital find SPAC acquisition very helpful. Going public solo as an operating company is highly complex. However, a SPAC is already public, and by getting acquired by them a company can go public without filing for their own IPO. This can be really helpful and speed things up.

The Future of SPACs

Special Purpose Acquisition Companies are “hot” right now. The level of volume is unprecedented, as noted above. Major players are being attracted to them as vehicles for capital raising.

This might continue into the long term. Or it might be a signal that the market is getting overheated, and we could see SPAC start to fade. The majority of SPAC acquired companies from 2015 and 2016 aren’t yet making money. That’s 4-5 years without bringing in a profit! Depending on industry, turn around times, and technology needs, that may not be a problem. However, it might also be a cautionary sign.

Smaller investors, or those with fewer investable assets, are likely not going to have SPAC access soon.

For the right people, however, a Special Purpose Acquisition Company is a vehicle worth checking out. Investing in one is an investment in the founder’s ability to acquire worthwhile companies. Moving forward in 2021, we’ll be monitoring the success of those unprecedented 2020 SPAC volumes. If we see huge changes, I’ll do my best to keep you updated. I’ll definitely be following along myself!

Listen in to learn more!