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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!

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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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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!

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

Five Ways to Accelerate Growth

After one year and more than sixty episodes, we have gathered countless insights from the most talented negotiators, speakers, and dealmakers across industries. And with so much ground covered, we decided to introduce a series of ‘best of’ episodes. Here we’ve distilled the main talking points from our Fueling Deals guests. Today we’ll focus on how to accelerate growth as we learn from our deal-driven experts.

The Experts Take: How to Accelerate Growth

Each quarter will bring a new theme that combines different topics from each interview. This time, the theme is “accelerating growth”. We explore some of the major talking points from my interviews with Carl Gould, Bruce Eckfeldt, Phil Buchanan, and Matt Wavro.

Carl Gould dives into the growth and sale of his two businesses. His creation of monthly recurring revenue, as well as his branding and networking accomplishments, enabled him not only to sell the companies, but also to affiliate with the company and earn an income post-sale.

Next, Bruce Eckfeldt and I had a conversation about how to scale a company. We highlight points from Les Mckeown’s book, “Predictable Success.”

After that, Phil Buchanan shares advice for small onboarding deals and acquisitions. Our focus was on geographical expansion.

And lastly, Matt Wavro explains how he has utilized strategic alliances to accelerate growth. This includes partnering with minority and women-owned business enterprises.

Get the Full Experience

The excerpts from these conversations only represent a small part of the invaluable information from each episode, so make sure to go back and give them a listen if you didn’t get a chance.

Carl Gould, Bruce Eckfeldt, Phil Buchanan, and Matt Wavro each have unique perspectives on accelerating growth in their own companies, or by working with other companies. Make sure to check out the latest episode of Fueling Deals, and keep an eye out for a new ‘best of’ installment every quarter.

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

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

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

Deal-Driven Growth

Stephen Woessner is the founder and CEO of Predictive ROI, host of the Onward Nation podcast, a digital marketing authority, speaker, educator, and bestselling author of two books. He comes from a long lineage of business owners, and the early exposure to entrepreneurship primed him to follow a similar path. After serving in the Air Force for four years, Stephen landed a job with an advertising agency in La Crosse, WI where he became a partner in just three years. There, he honed his craft in digital marketing and devoted his energy to understanding how business owners think, act, and achieve.

Predictive ROI

Predictive ROI has always operated as a digital marketing agency, but over the last ten years, it has transformed into something entirely unique. Predictive’s core services were built to help business owners identify financial opportunities and hemorrhages in the digital space. But recently, Stephen and his team have added podcasting to their service line. Now, Predictive ROI helps business owners build their thought leadership through podcasting and supplementary content, so they can monetize that content with courses, workshops, events, sponsorships, and a variety of other opportunities.

Inorganic Growth in the Agency World

While Predictive ROI’s client base continues to grow organically, the agency is finally at a point where the world of strategic partnerships and acquisitions is finally opening up to them. It means Stephen and the leadership team at Predictive can look into different plays such as acquiring a software company that will increase their analytics capabilities; possibly even absorbing smaller agencies in different verticals with client rosters that are strategically advantageous. But if you are considering inorganic growth as an option, there are a lot of indicators you should be watching to determine if it is the right move.

Will it help you hit your revenue goals within your current timeline?

Are you making the right acquisition or is there a better alternative?

Stephen shares advice for navigating this process in the latest episode of Fueling Deals.

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

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

Categories
Authentic Business Relationships Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Negotiating

Deals in a New Industry

Although Neil Rosen started his career as a teacher, he would later be driven to serial entrepreneurship by fate. Neil’s passions culminated in his first business, a children’s furniture store, which grew into five locations that were immensely successful.

The chain of stores provided Neil with the financial means to pursue his next great endeavor, which he ultimately achieved by selling the store to his employees. That was the first major deal Neil did, and it laid the foundation for his next businesses, while also teaching him the fundamentals of dealmaking.

Neil was able to keep the skilled management team on staff while receiving payouts over time, and it was a great deal for every party involved. But nothing would prepare him for doing deals as a pioneer of internet companies.

The School Report

Neil’s next business, The School Report, designed a program to gather 3rd party data about public school districts. That information was then sold to real estate brokerages and shared with potential homebuyers for a win-win-win. Although Neil started the business with his wife in their basement, it grew rapidly and brought a lot of new deals to the table.

He had technical experts providing services for equity. He used a participation interest vehicle to raise more capital without losing equity. He then raised venture capital. There were many different types of deals that Neil had to navigate throughout the lifespan of the business. But the difficulty of doing deals as an early-stage internet company prepared him for every challenge he would face moving forward.

Raising Capital

From the early days of commercial internet, through the boom and bust of the late 90’s and early 2000’s the landscape was changing and the learning curve was getting much steeper. When you are working with venture capitalists, there is an expectation of rapid growth. However, it is much more difficult to sell your ability to deliver in an industry that is just getting on its feet.

VCs were hesitant to work with internet companies at the time and it posed a lot of problems for Neil and his team. They had to pivot numerous times and even renegotiated with their VC to reduce its stake in the company before selling it a short time later. But a lot of valuable lessons came out of the experience, which Neil brought forth into his future endeavors with eWayDirect and Certain Source.

If you want to learn more about Neil’s journey, listen to his episode here: https://www.coreykupfer.com/podcasts/neil-rosen/. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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

Overcome the Hand You’ve Been Dealt

Cindy Watson is the founder of Watson Labour Law and more recently, the creator of Women on Purpose and pioneer of the Art of Feminine Negotiation Program. She is keeping the momentum flowing with a scheduled book release this year where she will be launching The Art of Feminine Negotiation: How to Get What You Want From the Board Room to the Bedroom.

One of the things that prompted Watson to pursue this journey of Women on Purpose and the Art of Negotiation was her experience growing up in a rental apartment complex in a tough neighborhood. When she was young, Watson developed a strong passion for creativity and the arts. The only problem was since she came from a family of low financial status, there was a lot more pressure for Watson to capitalize on her strong academic performance and pursue a traditional career path that would guarantee a higher income.

Climbing the Ranks

Now she is based professionally in Toronto as a practicing lawyer, with her own firm close to the town she grew up in. Law is the first field she ever started a business in and Watson claims that “sometimes ‘not knowing’ is the greatest gift we can have.” Although she knew essentially nothing about running a company, her blissful ignorance allowed her to leave a job she was unhappy with to start her own firm. Looking back it seems like a preposterous idea, but that leap of faith ended up serving as a foundation for many great accomplishments to come.

Luckily, everything fell into place because Watson was able to own her value. A lot of people coming from the background she has are either really driven or feel like they’re not enough. Factors like, background, gender, class, race and other things can have a significant impact on what people can accomplish, but most people don’t realize that they can form a conscious decision to fight the circumstances. Women, and particularly women of color have so much more in terms of generations of conditioning, and they are set off with a distinct disadvantage even as early as kindergarten.

Step Into the Arena

When women step into their natural, feminine, intuitive negotiation styles, they can be more effective negotiators than professionals who use typical, masculine negotiation tactics. It can be a real advantage since most people don’t expect women to be good negotiators, especially when considering the expectation that negotiating is all about the bark and the bite. This connotation causes a lot of women to believe that they cannot be good negotiators because they lack the strength to be aggressive and assertive. But assertiveness is only one factor in negotiation among other key components like rapport building, empathy, flexibility, intuition, trustworthiness, and the list goes on.

It is not a question of capability, it is a question of mindset because most of the key successful negotiation attributes are traits that are traditionally considered to be feminine. There is no benefit to overcompensating so you can fit into a perceived “man’s world,” and luckily we are starting to see a generational shift in our society where this is changing. There are two types of negotiations: One will be the start of an ongoing relationship, and the other is a one-off situation that affects your reputation and karma because it is a small world. Real power is being able to use restraint when you don’t have to use it and that is the mark of a mature and experienced negotiator.

In this episode of the Fueling Deals podcast, Cindy Watson joins host Corey Kupfer to tell her story and talk about some of the negotiation wisdom she brings to female professionals through her conferences and book.

Click here to listen to the episode, and make sure to visit fuelingdeals.com for more informative episodes on growing your business inorganically through deals.

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

No Margin, No Mission

When Dennis Miller was growing up, he dreamt of coaching a college football team to The Rose Bowl, but you might say it’s because nonprofit consultation and training wasn’t necessarily a booming industry at the time. Fifteen years ago, he started a business doing exactly that and lives out his coaching dream in the medical field instead of on the turf.

Dennis wanted to do something new but he wasn’t sure what it was until he was approached by someone from the regional American Cancer Society who asked him a lot of ‘how-to’ questions about building his board and brand etc. Miller had twenty-five years of experience in the healthcare industry and eventually oversaw two large medical centers where he further developed this skill set. A light bulb went off after that conversation and his new endeavor as a consultant began.

The Nonprofit Search Group

Dennis Miller’s company, The Nonprofit Search Group, specializes in executive recruitment for nonprofit organizations that are seeking presidents, CEOs, and other candidates for high profile positions. Miller has a lot of experience as a CEO with his first title at only thirty-seven years old, so he acts as a coach for clients across a wide array of industries to help them facilitate and achieve their strategic vision. On Miller’s end, this is primarily accomplished by increasing performance on the board level and C-level so that they can have a bigger impact on their community.

Deals in the Nonprofit Space

There are plenty of deals that go on in the nonprofit space, and Dennis Miller encounters these regularly. How you ask? One example would be Miller stepping outside of his label as a recruiter. If one of his clients is looking for a CEO because they are struggling financially, Dennis might recommend that they consider a merger to become an affiliate of another organization with a stronger financial standing. Then he helps facilitate this deal with the two organizations, and continues his search for a CEO. This puts all three parties in a stronger position to succeed, and it is a pure means of inorganic growth.

Mergers and Acquisitions, affiliate agreements, strategic alliances, and arrangements between for-profit and nonprofit organizations are some of the most common deals you see in this space. The reality is, “no margin, no mission.” A lot of nonprofits are starting to recognize the importance of operating more like a for-profit business, because although everyone means well you have to bill and collect to have the means to make a difference. There is a stereotype for nonprofits but it takes real business skills to make one of these organizations successful. Nonprofit is your tax status, not your business.

Down, Not Out

Take it from someone who went from being homeless to one of the youngest, top hospital executives. Dennis Miller was not a good student and he grew up with a lot of hardship and adversity in his household. He couldn’t get into a college and after facing a massive downward spiral, he eventually self-admitted himself to a psychiatric hospital. When he finally started to get on his feet, Dennis’s dad had a bad day and threw him out of the house where he ended up at a dead-end job, living in a boarding house.

After writing every college in the state, Dennis Miller committed to Rutgers, graduated top of his class in two years, then went to Columbia. Miller’s perseverance and determination to charge through obstacles are at the core of his business practices and clients have told him that “you can see our future before we can.” In this episode of Fueling Deals, Dennis Miller shares his story and talks about nonprofits as a business. Click here to listen to the 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!

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Authentic Deal-Making

The Inspiration Behind Launching More Than 50 Tech Startups

As a kid, Peter Dolch always wanted to be a Sci-Fi author. But, as summer approached and he prepared to start his first book, Peter’s father told him that he needed to make money instead. Dolch had no idea that starting his first business that summer would redirect his energy, and lay the foundation for a career of 25 years in managing and launching technology-based startups. Today, Peter Dolch still serves as the Managing Partner for one of his first endeavors—Thaumaturgix, Inc. (Tgix)— a boutique software development and infrastructure company that was twice ranked in the Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies List. But, more rewarding than growing Thaumaturgix was the opportunity to help others get on their feet.

During that twenty-five year period, Dolch found inspiration by helping launch over fifty startups, a couple of which were incubated in his office. This inspired him to step back from active engagement with large client projects so he could focus on early-stage startups as a mentor and strategist, sometimes playing a more active role. By offering all of these services, Peter was able to gain equity in the companies he worked with, but it took careful evaluation to put himself in a position where these equity deals were lucrative. Incubating companies was a way for them to try and monetize underused resources while creating new opportunities to grow Tgix inorganically.

Finding the Right Fit

CheetahMail was one of the deals that paid off, and once it was ready for sale they agreed to an exit plan of $36M. However, not all of Peter’s deals work out this way. Regardless of his efforts to critically vet startups based on what Tgix could offer and how the startup’s mission aligned with Dolch’s goals and resources, things happened that were beyond his control. Dolch learned a lot from those failures, but the biggest takeaway is that there are a lot of external factors out of your control that doesn’t necessarily reflect your business decisions. Nevertheless, Peter has defied the odds of startup success because when you are investing your own money and resources you have ultimate control over the deployment of your funds.

Now Peter Dolch is also the Managing Partner at AEON Foundry where he continues his work with budding entrepreneurs in New York City. This position brings new challenges since the outside funding brings more expectations for returns from investors and the dilemma of having capital deployed versus making good business decisions. Peter has a methodical approach to finding new business opportunities, and an open line of communication between him and his veteran investors maintains a productive dialogue where decisions can be made with more efficiency.

At AEON Foundry, Peter has very clear expectations set out with his investors and he is upfront about the fact that the money will be locked up longer than typical capital. But he explains the binary nature of these startup investments, where the business are either going to do really well or flame out. In the long run, with the right investment choices, you’re likely to benefit significantly more from the exit of one or two of the successes than what you lose on the ones that don’t make it.

Angel Investors

Peter also discusses the angel groups he works with and what they do. There are numerous ways for entrepreneurs to go out and get funding, but angel groups try to streamline this process by holding events like accelerators, incubators, pitch events, etc. With these opportunities popping up constantly in Manhattan, investors can focus on a specific vertical that fits their investment strategy. Dolch prefers to work with other people who he can depend upon to do their due diligence, which is why he joined the New York Angels. If an opportunity comes through New York Angels, there is a rigorous vetting process followed by a presentation to the broader angel community.

If you are thinking about investing in similar opportunities, it is important to identify whether or not the company is able to use the cash to achieve an inflection point that dramatically alters the valuation, or positions it to do so. Even if a company has a successful business, there might be an opportunity for them to grow faster – so do your due diligence, and find a deal that resonates with, and is authentic to, you.

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!