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

A Deal-Maker’s Paradigm Shift

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.

Creative Problem Solving as an Entrepreneur in Residence

Jeff shares that, early on, he expected to take over the family business. After circumstances changed, however, he had to reinvent himself. This reinvention is what ultimately brought Jeff into the entrepreneurial space. 

Now, Jeff is an “Entrepreneur in Residence” with Fasken Law, one of Canada’s largest law firms. He helps them answer the question: How does a big law firm do business with these new tech companies?

These startups often have vast legal needs, but often few resources early in. Although some of them turn out to be unicorns that achieve wild success, many don’t. It’s clear, however, that they have legal needs. Part of Jeff’s role is to enable Fasken Law to meet those needs creatively. He considers himself to be part intreprenuer, as he’s building a small business inside of an institution. He’s part business advisor, as he does quite a bit of coaching and consulting within his work. And he’s part lawyer too, as a licensed legal professional! His journey certainly has been a “typical” lawyer’s journey, but he’s enjoyed his alternate career path.

Some of Jeff’s creative ability comes from a unique deal he crafted early in his professional life. It involved his family’s restaurant business, a massive theater complex raining debris on their patio, and a revenue guarantee that enabled them to sell at a profit. (Curious about the details? Listen HERE to get the whole story!)

Discovering a Deal-Maker’s Paradigm Shift

Prior to Fasken Law, Jeff went through multiple iterations of business. First, he thought of himself as a real estate guy. He was registered with the Ontario Securities Commission as a limited market dealer, and was syndicating real estate.

And then the market crashed. It seemed like everything Jeff was involved with was connected to real estate, and suddenly that was nothing but bad news. Rather than throw in the towel, Jeff set to work reenvisioning himself.

His realization? He was a deal-maker. This paradigm shift allowed him to see that real estate had been a commodity that he was making deals around. Rather than fixate on the commodity (real estate), his world opened up when he realized he could create deals in any sector, with any commodity.

Jeff has since done deals in mining, cosmetics, insurance, stocks & bonds, TV productions, franchises, and more.

If you’d like to hear more about Jeff’s thoughts on the “pound of flesh” required to take investor money in these types of deals, listen to the full episode here!

Always Growing

As he branched into deals, Jeff also worked hard to network and grow professionally. He joined EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization) and worked his way from local leadership to the international board. He wrote Lessons From the Edge, which became a bestseller and launched his speaking career. And he’s since traveled the world, speaking globally.

By using his deal-making skills as a springboard, Jeff has advanced personally and professionally throughout his career.

As he was writing and speaking, he also transitioned into angel investing. During this stage, he worked with early stage companies on commercialization and capital raising. Later, this experience would assist Jeff as he began crafting fixed-fee deals aligned with startup values and needs.

Creating Services & Products That Work

When Jeff talked about how a big law firm tends to deal with tech companies, the only word that came to my mind was “poorly”. Ultimately, law firms expected to operate with large hourly fees. And startups and entrepreneurs that were building tech companies couldn’t afford that.

There was an entire underserved market that was having to forgo legal representation, or deal with minimal legal counsel because it was out of range of their budgets. Jeff brought his deal-making experience to bear. Working within Fasken Law, he developed a concept for a fixed fee model that he knew would attract tech companies.

This creative solution required a great deal of negotiation. As a traditional law firm, they had to let go of “how it was always done” in order to try something innovative and new. From incorporating the company to creating shareholder agreements, creating employee contracts, and building employee stock option plans; Fasken Law became startup friendly.

Jeff shares that hundreds of companies from every sector came through these programs. Because they were structured as fixed-fee offerings that could be customized as needed, they were highly attractive to the startup market.

Ultimately, the deal-maker’s paradigm shift Jeff encountered early in his career has shaped his professional life ever since. There is power in making deals!

Listen to the full episode here!

 

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

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

 

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

Pitching Deals As Your Authentic Self

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

Who is Precious Williams?

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

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

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

Pitching Deals For Sport

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

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

The Shark Tank Experience

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

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

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

Benefits of Pitching (Thinking Beyond the Deal)

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

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

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

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

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

Change Your Language and Change the Game

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

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

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

Pitching With Passion

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

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

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

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 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 Conversations About Difference Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating

A Different View of Deals & Negotiations

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

More About Transhumanism

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

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

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

Deals & Negotiating in Politics & Journalism

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

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

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

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

Building Trust as Part of Deal-Making

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

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

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

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

Existential Risk & Transhumansim

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

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

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

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

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!

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Authentic Conversations About Difference Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

DealQuest’s BEST OF Leading Women in the RIA Industry

This week we bring to you a BEST OF episode. You’ll get to hear from some of the leading women in the RIA industry! Lisa Rapuano, Mindy Diamond, and Mary Ann Buchanon shared a wealth of knowledge. Listen in, and prepare to take notes!

Meet Lisa Rapuano

When Lisa Rapuano was twenty-five years old, she managed to talk her way into an investment management position. A startup in Chapel Hill, NC hired her, and her interest in investments grew. The experience she gained at FSP unearthed a new passion for investment research, which quickly became her focus and paved the way for her future as a business leader.

A Market-Cooperative Business Model

Today, Lisa serves as the CFO of Facet Wealth. This is an RIA that focuses on people with less than a million dollars in investable assets. Their niche encompasses thirty-three million American households that have between $100k-$1M in investable financial assets.

She describes Facet Wealth’s business model as market-cooperative. That’s because they are driven by highly efficient, back-end technology that enables their financial advisors to provide a holistic customer experience to lower net worth clients. As a result, peripheral partnerships are developed with other RIAs that focus on more complex investment strategies.

Deals are a driving force behind Facet Wealth’s success. There are two primary types that they use to generate growth. The first is a referral partnership, where Facet pays for referrals if the prospective RIA partner signs a solicitation agreement with them. This offers Facet’s RIA partners a way to continually serve the segmented clients, while also freeing up capacity and resources to focus on their niche.

The second way is a revenue replacement opportunity. This is also a sequential deal where Facet signs an asset purchase agreement with an RIA to acquire certain of their client relationship. In these deals, Facet will agree to terms for how long the RIA’s revenue will be replaced after the client transitions to Facet. This provides a great home for their smaller clients as the RIA seller focuses on their larger clients.

Learn more about Facet Wealth, Lisa Rapuano, and RIA deals here.

Meet Mindy Diamond

Mindy Diamond is the CEO and founder of Diamond Consultants. She specializes in recruiting and placing financial advisors. Through Mindy’s work in the wealth management field, she has helped facilitate numerous deals between buyers and sellers. She is a true expert at identifying potential deals for her clients. In addition, she is excellent at identifying weak points when the deal partners aren’t a good match.

The Best Deals Require the Best Partners

In our interview, Mindy and I talked about what differentiates a good deal from a bad one. Mindy shares her strategies for identifying when a buyer is ready to buy. She also shares her thoughts on the ever-evolving financial advisor field. A facilitator like Mindy can simplify the sometimes confusing process of finding and closing a deal. She’s a powerful asset to have in your corner!

One of the major changes Mindy has identified in recent years is the industry’s move toward independence. Although this creates more possibilities and avenues for deal-making, it has also served to complicate the process. There are many more things to consider when structuring a deal now than there were ten years ago. Finding the right partner is critical. It’s a growing challenge with the ever-wider buffet of options available.

It is also important to look at the bigger picture. A deal can have immediate benefits, but sour over time. By looking past the instant gratification, you can get a better sense of how your deal will affect you in the long term. That long-term approach is an important aspect of the evaluation process; an experienced consultant like Mindy can help you with that process.

Learn more about Diamond Consultants, Mindy Diamond, and RIA deals here.

Meet Mary Ann Buchanan

Mary Ann is the CEO and co-founder of RIA Match. This is a service that helps pair RIA firm and practice buyers and sellers. Her company has more than five thousand clients all over the nation. Mary Ann is experienced in connecting her clients with the right deal partners. She truly understands why the numbers don’t always tell the full story. Mary Ann helps her client firms look past the financial appeal of a deal in order to see the many other important key factors that need to be considered.

RIA Matchmaking

During our interview, I spoke with Mary Ann about the role culture plays in making a good match between deal partners. We discuss some of the deals Mary Ann has made in her own business that have helped RIA Match accelerate its growth. She also shares some surprising statistics about the RIA industry. We were able to discuss the work her company does for its clients in areas like succession planning, mergers and acquisitions. She is truly an expert in the art and science of matching the right deal partners.

Mary Ann also gave a fantastic checklist of considerations and data points that RIA Match examines. This is a phenomenal list to keep in mind when you’re looking for your own deals. Consider things like geographic location, number of clients, what technology is being used, and what sort of growth trajectory you are looking for. Each of these come into play as things potential deal partner may want to know about your organization. That means these are things that you should consider to help evaluate if a deal is the right one for you.

Learn more about RIA Match, Mary Ann Buchanon, and RIA deals 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!

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Authentic Deal-Making

Referable Brands Help Grow Deals

This week’s guest, Michael Roderick, shares so much valuable information about the power of creating a referable brand. When you can get people talking about you when you’re not in the room, more folks will come your way. Some of you may think this only relates to growing organically, but that’s not true. People who have brand value beyond just sales are that much more attractive as acquisition targets. They’re also set up better for possible joint ventures, strategic alliances, and more. Referable brands and deals were made for each other!

Organic Growth & Unique Selling Propositions

As a deal maker, Michael differentiated himself with a unique selling proposition. He appealed to the people with whom he was dealing. He points out that every industry has vulnerabilities. If there’s a normal doorway that everyone is trying to use to get into the space, where are the windows? What other model can you use? How can you be different?

As humans, we are wired to look for contrast. And when you take an approach that is high-contrast to what others around you are doing, you’ll draw attention naturally.

People will talk about what you’re doing, and they’ll remember that you were different.

In Michael’s case, he combined his creative and business interests in the realm of Broadway. Rather than taking the fundraising approach that he saw everyone around him taking – rasing money in exchange for a producer credit, he looked for the proverbial “window”. In his industry, that looked like initially raising money without asking for any credit. This gave him access to more shows. He could then present a portfolio of potential shows to investors and setting up events for theatre companies and actors as a way to raise money.

In the course of putting these events together, Michael started meeting people and getting known. From off-Broadway producers to Broadway producers, he built a reputation that served as the basis for his growth.

And as he grew, he got questions —

People wanted to know how he was meeting these big names, how he was hosting these events, and how he was raising money so effectively. Part of his answer revolved around understanding who was on the other side of the table.

The Benefit Doesn’t Have to Be Financial

Broadway isn’t usually about investing to make money, which means the selling point isn’t going to focus on financial gains. Even though a large part of his role was based on financials and raising capital, Michael understood that what mattered to the people he was making deals with wasn’t just dollars and cents.

On Broadway, there’s an old saying:

You can’t make a living, but you can make a killing.
By its nature, Broadway is high risk, high reward. And the reward people most wanted wasn’t about the money. Rather than try to force a financial focus that wasn’t there, he had the awareness to consider what mattered most to the people who were doing the investing.

In this case, it was often experiential. Often Broadway investors have theatre backgrounds, and their investment exchange is attached to outcomes. They’re interested in learning more of the process, connecting with producers or actors, or otherwise gaining enjoyable experiences in the theatre community.

Michael shared that he often felt out how exciting a project opportunity may seem to a potential client. If they didn’t have an intrinsic desire for a certain project, he never pushed it on them.

Most investing scenarios are similar. You can share the value behind a deal. You can also share why you think it makes sense, but you shouldn’t want to force it. The right person will see the value in what you’re offering, and they’ll step up to the plate.

Negotiating with the “Halo Effect”

Using simulated networking experience, Michael was able to identify common behavior patterns that cropped up during social and networking interactions. He was also able to build a framework to help people do better.

He recognized that many of us don’t consider how to package ourselves in order to get others to talk about us. But when other people DO share about us with their friends and acquaintances, we can start to harvest the power of a referrable brand.

When your name is frequently getting dropped in positive, powerful ways, you walk into the room, the conversation, or the negotiation with the “halo effect”. The positive regard and social clout you’ve garnered pave the way for any sort of deal or interaction you may encounter. It also brings you into contact with more people and connections, which means collaboration opportunities abound.

This packaging of ourselves is something we have to be intentional about. All of us have unconscious competence; things we do that we are good at, but that we hardly recognize. You may find it worthwhile to work with someone who has a bigger picture view of who you are and what you’re doing, because it’s quite likely that you’re missing some of your own points of genius!

(You can go all the way back to an earlier episode to listen in to how Ramon Ray garners affiliate deals using this type of approach as well!)

To learn more about income ceilings, re-positioning, deal-driven strategies, and more, 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 Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

Fix This Next and Get Ready for Deal-Driven Growth

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

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

Foundations of Being Deal Ready

In my work, I talk a lot about being deal ready.

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

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

Fix This Next

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughtful Design

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

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

Once you have that, Fix This Next identifies the 5 essential levels of a solid business:

Sales and the creation of cash are the foundational level of a business. Without cash flow, you can’t do anything.
Profits provide stability for an organization; with no profit, your business is on extremely shaky ground.

Order is a creation of efficiency, and the ultimate acid test is whether a business can run without the owner themselves. If I know I can leave my business and it will continue to grow without me being there, then I am on my way to true business success.
Impact is the creation of transformation. NOT transactions. Transformations. How are you serving people’s lives? How are you changing people’s lives?

Legacy is the fifth and highest level. When the business starts focusing on legacy, the business owner has a realization, and that realization is profound. I am not an owner but instead a steward of my business.

When a business owner is able to release their business into time and space in order for it to continue on to be of service in their absence, it’s at the legacy stage.

It’s Not All Linear

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

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

Building a Deal-Ready Business

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

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

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

Your own brand’s reputation can allow an acquisition to quickly become a value multiplier from day one.

This kind of growth also enhances a new brand’s ability to grow organically due to brand recognition.

Speaking of brands, Mike shares that the brands of yesteryear were built around awareness (via repetition of messaging). Now, however, brands are built through reputation. Messaging has to be backed by people’s experience. This requires you to have a reputation for excellence within your client base. Your reputation truly precedes you as a brand today.

The Best Work of My Life

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

This book is for you!

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

Fix This Next is a really simple tool that will help you move in the exact direction your business needs.

It absolutely helps you focus on the one thing you need to do within that business hierarchy of needs we talked about above.

In the book, you’ll find a simple series of questions that allows you to very rapidly evaluate where you are. Then you concentrate your efforts on resolving that one thing. When you concentrate your efforts on resolving foundational needs that really need to be fixed, you create a foundation that you can continue to build upon.

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

Listen in to the full episode to hear about the three trigger moments that Mike believes have impacted his own businesses!

And if you’re interested in reading Fix This Next, you can pick up your copy here (and let me know what you think…I’ll be reading it too!).

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 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 Conversations About Difference Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Key Decisions During Challenging Times

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

Leadership Opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

The Power of Positive Entrepreneurs

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

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

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

Because they are empowered to create changes and adapt.

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

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

Stand Strong

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

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

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

When you focus on positive ways to serve your clients, serve humanity, serve people, you empower yourself.

If you focus on making a difference, being there, and supporting others in these times — that will shine through. And you’ll make an impact on not only your own life, but the lives of others.

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

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

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

Key Decisions Include How You Will Serve Others

The second big decision that I want you all to think about is this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s Talk Deals

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

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

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

Be very sensitive about taking advantage of others in the business world; don’t be someone who leverages people’s misfortunes for your own gain.

Remember, most deals are either the start, or the continuation of, a business relationship.

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

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

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

Long Term Relationships

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

But it’s more than business.

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

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

Key Decisions Provide Both Opportunity and Challenge

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

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

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

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 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

Capital Structuring – Founders’ and Other Classes of Equity

Are you structuring an acquisition in which the seller’s want to participate in the same class of equity as the buying company’s founders? Or trying to figure out the proper class for retiring partners who are retaining equity? Whatever you’re doing, you’ll find that making the right equity and capital structuring decisions for your business is extremely important.

This week on the podcast episode we talk all about the sort of negotiation options you have. Take a deep dive with us and look into some of the big decisions you’re facing.

Capital Structuring & Founder’s Class of Equity

Acquiring another firm has its challenges. If you’ve done it before, you know how many nuances there are!

For example, bringing in people who want to be involved with the management team of the new entity. Structuring and negotiating this type of deal can pose a number of different challenges.

One scenario we discuss involves a client who is interested in acquiring a firm that offers additional products or services. This deal could potentially bring in 30-40% of the total revenue of the firm. The buyer has a capital structure with a founder’s class of equity. This means that they have certain voting and economic privileges.

One key structuring decision is whether the principles of the acquired company are treated as founders, or if they’ll get a different class of equity. If the acquired company doesn’t represent a material portion of revenue and profit, the decision is easy. (Very likely no founders equity.) However, if they do and are founders of their own firm, then it is a tougher decision. The negotiation to follow might be a bit trickier as well.

Elements like these, as well as the related level of participation in decision-making, are two key factors. Expect to navigate through them in the process of getting more material acquisitions done. When handled correctly, you are much more likely to have them work long-term.

Negotiations like these are completely possible. In fact, both parties can walk away feeling really good about the deal they’ve struck. Prepare well, and try to enjoy the process.

Capital Structuring & Retiring Partner Equity

In many cases, when a partner/owner retires, there are provisions in the company’s operating or shareholders agreement. These provisions ensure a complete purchase of their equity.

There are times, however, when retiring partners may retain some equity. They may want to continue to have some benefit from the continued growth of what they founded or helped to build. It could also be because the company is not in a financial position to buy them out entirely.

There are many decisions regarding the proper class of equity and rights. There are also many preferences about that equity. These decisions are crucial in situations like these. In addition, there are many negotiation solutions.

Figuring out the balance is tricky! You must consider the retiring partners’ right to protect their equity value by maintaining some say over certain decisions. You must also consider the working partners’ needs and desire to be able to control decisions. This is vital for the benefit of the company moving forward. Often, this balance is not easy.

If the retiring partners are founders, they are likely used to controlling decisions. Often it is even more challenging for them to cede control to the next generation. Should you treat the retiring partners more like investors with typical investor controls, or like passive former partners who are just along for the ride?

Often, the practical solution lies somewhere in between. Get the full episode here!

Learn 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 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

Non-Traditional Tactics for Deal-Driven Growth

Andrew MacKinnon‘s early business experience was selling coupons on the streets of London. It wasn’t the ultimate dream, but it was a place to get started. Ultimately, he was determined to provide something different to the marketplace by encouraging brands to show their audience what they do. This is a different approach than simply telling them! Recognizing the need for this type of marketing service, Andrew set about developing non-traditional tactics to create participation between brands and their audiences.

Now 18 years on, Andrew and a carefully curated creative team have spurred Taboo to evolve into a full-scale creative agency. As such, they deliver campaigns for the country’s biggest brands: Telstra, TAC, Nike, NAB, General Mills, Mecca, Myer and CUB.

Andrew continues to have an insatiable appetite for creating. This appetite has helped him create a non-traditional career spanning marketing, hospitality, real estate and (just about) everything in between.

Using Guerrilla Marketing for Non-Traditional Deals
At the age of 20, Andrew created Taboo. Although he felt he had no idea what he was doing, he took the plunge and signed paperwork on a space. Shortly after, the agency became known for their street marketing.

This was pre-internet, and most small businesses were relying solely on word of mouth. Andrew’s approach was based on getting people IN to a business to experience a product or service. The businesses were confident that if they had that chance to interact, they could get the customer to return. At the time, this non-traditional approach provided a wide-open space for growth.

Taboo continued to evolve and was soon labelled one of Australia’s first guerrilla marketing agencies. They were approached by record labels, movie houses, and companies launching new products. Taboo was making deals with DVD sales, MP3 sales, credit card companies, and more. Their non-traditional approach relied on getting people to experience something or talk about something, and it worked!

A Variety of Deals
Andrew’s brother James was working at a large agency that had a top-down approach. They recognized that they had an opposite approach to marketing, and decided to join forces and combine the best of both worlds. They called it the “East-meets-West-philosophy” and started hiring the best possible people from the top agencies.

Their core beliefs are:

What a brand does is more important than what a brand says.
People are a brand’s most powerful medium.
The most important thing a brand can do is to get people to love, adopt, and share. That is more important than any advertising campaign or marketing spiel and enabled the brothers to grow Taboo to where it is today. Andrew has also expanded in other ways.

In 2011, he engaged in a few real estate deals in order to open the iconic Ponyfish Island, situated in Melbourne’s Yarra River. He did this deal with his partners, Grant Smillie and Jerome Borazio.

On the other end of the spectrum, Andrew’s latest venture is called Skymorials. This is a technology start-up targeted at the digital generation interested in commemorating loved ones via an online memorial platform. The site is now the fastest growing online memorial site in the world.

Andrew’s desire to build non-traditional creative projects continue to re-emerge. He’s now branching into property development through the establishment of Assembly House, a 1200m workspace in Cremorne. The building will be home to several of Melbournes leading agencies.

Bringing in Business Partners

Andrew’s partnership with his brother and another associate had its challenges. Taboo was already four years in the making when the brothers decided to merge together. Andrew didn’t want to just give away 25%, even to family or close friends. He also wanted to be sensitive about over-pricing it, however.

They engaged an independent 3rd party that they all respected. This party enabled them to put a fair evaluation of the business. Andrew also encouraged them to seek another independent evaluation, which they did.

In addition, Andrew negotiated a deal with James that enabled him to pay for his shares of Taboo using future profits, rather than an up-front cash payment. He shares that salaries, bonuses, and other incentives were also something that had to be carefully assessed. This whole negotiation took place over three years, during which time James came onboard and was already working in the business.

However, by the time their third member was ready to sign the paperwork, Taboo had begun to lose some of its profitability. The evaluation didn’t seem as strong, and ultimately, that party accepted another position with a different marketing agency on the day he was supposed to sign on with Taboo. 3 years of work blew up in their faces. At that point, Andrew and James recut their own deal. Andrew goes into those details (and Taboo’s renewed success) on the show!

Trial & Error

Andrew shares that failure is a huge part of how Taboo has grown over the years. He has found that his own ability to detach from being “right” makes it easier for him to allow other decision-makers in. From his brother and partner to Taboo employees, he is open to other perspectives and ways of thinking.

This comes down to trusting others and being willing to learn from what doesn’t work.

Rather than expecting perfection, he encourages that Taboo members learn from failure. This enables them to try new things and think in creative ways. This trademark open-mindedness, as well as the willingness to always learn, has paid off beyond the agency and its work.

Mackinnon was honored with the role of President of the Entrepreneurs Organisation Australia Victorian Chapter in 2017, after having served on the board for four years. In addition, Mackinnon’s engaging vivacity has made him a compelling asset both inside and outside the boardroom, with The Financial Review Magazine listing him as a must-have on any events Guest wish-list.

His genuine interest in others has led to both leadership opportunities and better deal-making skills. Listen in to the full interview 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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Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Acquisitions and Joint Ventures in Technology

Phil Gerbyshak is a speaker at heart. He provides branding, marketing, and sales insights to teams that are looking to grow. It is a skill that meshes perfectly with his current role as the VP of sales training for Vector Solutions. He oversees onboarding, sales training, quarterly tune-ups, product rollouts, international sales meetings, and integrations for three business units across five locations. His thoughts on acquisitions and joint ventures, especially as connected to technology, made for an excellent interview!

As a sales, leadership, and technology authority, Phil knows that organic growth is mandatory for any company to prosper. There is always room for improvement when it comes to marketing and selling your product. But he also acknowledges that organic growth alone will seldom drive the results you want.

Acquisitions and Joint Ventures

Inorganic growth expands your addressable market, your reach, and it increases your bottom line. You get paid more for solving bigger problems. That is why Vector Solutions has already done nine acquisition deals and counting.

As a technology company, Vector’s acquisitions have always been industry-driven, not geography-driven. The primary objective is to buy organizations and integrate their technology with Vector’s current solution. This is so that they can provide even greater services to their clients. You could try to build all of this in house, but it will take significantly more time and resources. The purchased companies are highly efficient and great at what they do. That’s why it makes sense to look for deals that are good for every party involved.

Do Your Due Diligence

Joint ventures and strategic alliances are extremely underutilized deals for smaller companies. That’s is partially because many business owners associate these terms only with large deals for big companies. And while they didn’t work for Phil at first, there was a seismic shift when he started pursuing complementary partners instead of partners who had similar strengths.

On top of this, Phil recommends setting up a trial period with your prospective partner. Things can go south fairly easily unless you trust-but-verify. Avoid being seduced by slick marketing. Even with all of the boxes checked, things might not work out. However, if you do your due diligence during the planning phase, your business will have the best shot at success. Listen to the full episode on the Fueling Deals Podcast.

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!