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 for more informative episodes on growing your business inorganically through deals.

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.

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.

Authentic Deal-Making

Strategies for Business Growth in a Good Market

The U.S. economy is still rising, and business leaders across the country have experienced a decade of increased confidence and optimism. The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in half a century, and the GDP has seen a steady increase for the last ten years as well. During periods of expansion, a myriad of new business opportunities arise, but the majority of entrepreneurs who focus only on organic growth can only take full advantage if they are willing to step outside of their comfort zones and devise a new plan the includes learning how to do good deals in strong markets.

In this week’s episode of Fueling Deals, I lay out a strategy for using inorganic growth to rapidly expand your business in an up-economy. Inorganic growth requires foresight and planning because even with a strong market, there can be major hurdles to finding the right opportunity. Without knowing what to look for, you may fall victim to the pitfalls and challenges – like losing deal discipline – of doing business in a strong economy. That is why I am discussing the special indicators and gaps that I look for when identifying the most lucrative deals under these circumstances.

Identifying Opportunity in a Strong Economy

Consumer confidence, unemployment, availability of capital, and the stock market are all great indicators of where you stand in the business cycle. But, it is difficult to bet on the market, which is why I want you to look to do deals in every phase of the economy. In a previous blog and my last Fueling Deals solocast, I laid out thing to consider for doing deals in a down economy, so this time we take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum in this week’s episode of Fueling Deals.

In an up-market, the availability of capital, cost of capital, and relaxation of investment criteria provide a strong base for crafting a deal-based growth strategy. These circumstances shift the balance toward the entrepreneur and businesses getting the investment due to fundamental supply and demand but also due to the pressure investors often have to deploy capital and get returns.

More money with fewer restrictions can be extremely lucrative, but I must stress the importance of defining strict criteria for your deals to avoid getting into trouble. If you identify opportunities that allow for shortened pathways to fruition, a good economy will only accelerate that process whether it is M&A, joint-venture, strategic alliance or anything else. If, however, you unconsciously bath in the available capital without considering its contingencies and requirements or you take too much money too soon, you can easily make a bad deal.

Deals rooted in synergy and recognizing additional efficiencies and opportunities in a target company will play out faster when the market is up, but if you overpay in any market, it is a bad deal. You need to know your objectives and the upsides going into it, and if the deal is fundamentally sound, you will have enough cushion to ride it out even when a recession hits. I hope the insights in this episode will help you compose a plan of attack for business growth in a strong economy.

For more informative episodes of Fueling Deals that can help you grow your business rapidly and inorganically through deals, please visit

Authentic Deal-Making

The Changing Face of Wealth Management

The business world has changed in some dramatic ways due to the emergence of modern technologies. The old ways of doing deals are giving way to modern sensibilities, expectations and strategies. How do you make sense of it all?

Meet Dan Seivert, founder and CEO of ECHELON Partners, a leading investment bank and consulting firm in the wealth management and investment management industries. Dan is an expert at dealmaking and helping his clients navigate, strategize and complete deals.

On this week’s episode of Fueling Deals, Dan discusses some of the major changes that have taken place in the wealth management industry in recent years, and he shares his thoughts on the modern face of dealmaking. He shares how the emergence of wealth tech and the prominence of venture capital and private equity are reshaping wealth management as an industry. I hope his wisdom offers you valuable insights that you can apply to your own deals.

Equity Compensation and Wealth Tech

One of the topics Dan discussed during our conversation was equity compensation and its role in an overall compensation package. He shared how his firm, ECHELON, helps organizations strategize and develop equity compensation plans. In Dan’s view, equity compensation can be a wonderful offering for the most valuable talent within a firm, but the offering should be tailored to each firm’s unique circumstances.

Dan also discussed the increasingly important role of wealth technology to the industry at large. As technology has disrupted modern life in general, wealth management technologies have disrupted the wealth management industry. There are key firms who have led the charge, and it is important for any wealth management firm to stay current on the latest tech and trends to remain competitive.

The Age of Private Equity and Venture Capital

Another primary trend Dan has recognized is the growing prominence of wealth management firms being backed by private equity and venture capital investors. This infusion of investment money into the space has certainly altered the way many firms do business.

However, many private equity firms are now competing with one another to enter the space. This increased competition is great for wealth management firms and is exerting force from the other direction, and it is beginning to raise the bar of entry into the space.

As a key player in the wealth management industry and as someone truly experienced in deal-making, succession planning and equity capital, Dan Seivert’s wisdom is invaluable for anyone working in this industry. If you’d like to learn more about Dan Seivert and ECHELON Partners, you can visit their website at To find out more about ECHELON Partners’ Deals and Dealmakers Summit, please visit For more informative episodes of the Fueling Deals podcast like this one, please visit us at

Authentic Deal-Making

Finding Funding Sources for Your Business

One of the major challenges many entrepreneurs and new business owners face is in finding the needed funding to invest in their business and help it grow. Not everyone qualifies for a bank loan, but finding alternative sources of financing can be a challenge, especially if you don’t know where to look.

That’s where Kedma Ough comes in. Kedma is a “small business superhero”, author, fifth-generation entrepreneur, and an expert in helping small business leaders and entrepreneurs locate funding for their businesses. Kedma has helped more than ten thousand such business leaders deal with the challenges of entrepreneurship, and she specializes in connecting them with creative funding solutions tailored to their needs and situations.

On this episode of Fueling Deals, Kedma discusses how she first got involved in her work after a divorce and a bankruptcy left her struggling to find funding for her own entrepreneurial endeavor, and she shares the kinds of innovative funding solutions she helps her clients pursue. I know that Kedma’s words of wisdom will be immensely helpful for your business.

The Catch-22 of Getting Credit When You Have None

As a fifth-generation entrepreneur, it was no surprise when Kedma decided she wanted to start a business of her own. The challenge came when she needed to raise start-up funding for her bed and breakfast spa idea. Without current employment or credit to lean on, the bank unsurprisingly denied her request. However, Kedma’s tenacity was a tremendous asset, and she learned how to work around her limitations.

Today, Kedma works as a “small business superhero”, to help other entrepreneurs access critically needed funding through highly targeted sources. The seemingly inescapable trap of needing to have money to get money is one that Kedma is very experienced in helping her clients navigate. Her Target Funding methods help entrepreneurs find multiple funding sources that are tailor-made for their businesses.

Target Funding

As an example, during our conversation Kedma shared the story of a recent, highly targeted funding source looking for new, African American-owned for-profit legalized marijuana businesses in Portland, Oregon. This kind of very specific targeting means that there is reduced competition and businesses that apply have a high chance of being approved. The specific “variables” that make your business unique are also the ones that can help you access business funding from surprising sources, if you know where to look.

One type of funding Kedma touched on specifically during our conversation is called a “forgivable loan.” In this situation, a qualifying business can take out a loan and, should they meet the specific stipulations outlined in the loan agreement, the debt will be forgiven at the end of a specified period of time. Kedma gave the example of a $25,000 loan for a daycare, requiring the daycare to hire and employ five daycare attendants for a minimum of six months. By fulfilling the criteria, the loan would functionally turn into a grant with no repayment requirement.

These remarkable and innovative funding solutions are exactly the kind of superhero work Kedma does for her clients. If you’d like to learn more about Kedma Ough, please visit To learn more about her book, Target Funding, and the remarkable resources it contains, visit For more informative episodes of the Fueling Deals podcast like this one, please visit us at

Authentic Deal-Making

Being a Dominant Force in Your Industry

Mergers and acquisitions aren’t the only types of deals that can help your business grow inorganically, and sometimes it can be helpful to think outside the box. Creative deal-making can supercharge your growth, if you can identify and capitalize on opportunities.

Damon Gersh is a master of recognizing and taking advantage of opportunities like this. Damon is the President and CEO of Maxons Restorations, Inc., an innovative leader in the property damage restoration industry. Damon is a winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Fast Company Award for Leadership, and Inc. 500 and Inc. 5000 awards. Damon is also a Past President of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization New York City Chapter, the co-founder of the Gathering of Titans annual entrepreneurial conclave, and the co-founder and Past President of Restoration Affiliates, LLC.

In this week’s episode of the Fueling Deals Podcast, Damon and I talk about some of the innovative and creative deal-making strategies he has employed to turn his business into a leader of the restoration industry. Damon shares how having a passion for his work and aligning his values to his business decisions have helped him create some unique and powerful alliances with competitors in the industry, as well. I hope you are able to learn much from our conversation.

Finding Your Choke Point

One of the keys of Maxons Restorations’ success was when Damon identified and capitalized on the “choke point” of his industry. For the restoration field, this choke point is found in the availability of experienced and capable people who know how to clean up after major disasters. When the 9/11 attacks rocked New York City, Damon recognized that there would need to be intense cleanup efforts for a long time, and he locked down as much of the experienced crews in the city as he could with exclusivity agreements.

Doing so allowed Damon to ensure that the available talent in his field were working for him during the cleanup process, and his army of 1,600 employees were major players in Manhattan’s restoration efforts. This gained his company a significant amount of brand awareness and national recognition. Damon strategically used deals to strengthen his company while shutting out competitors.

Partnering With the Competition

Following the 9/11 cleanup, Damon recognized another opportunity to use deals to help position his company. He formed Restoration Affiliates as a partnership with major competitors from diverse geographic regions as a way to refer clients to other organizations working in areas where Maxons does not operate. Damon realized that the industry is stronger together and was able to unify many players in the industry under one umbrella, despite earlier similar efforts that had failed in the past.

While it may sound counterintuitive, strategic alliances with competitors can often be highly beneficial to all parties involved. Maxons gives and gets referrals through Restoration Affiliates, and they are able to partner on projects too big for competitors to handle alone. As Damon demonstrates, there are many possibilities for deals that can strengthen your company outside of standard mergers and acquisitions. The key is to be flexible in your thinking and recognize opportunities for such deals when they appear.

If you’d like to learn more about Damon Gersh and his company, Maxons Restorations, please visit or call 1-800-3MAXONS. For more informative episodes of the Fueling Deals Podcast like this one, please visit us at

Authentic Deal-Making

Opportunities for Deals During a Recession

Our economy has been moving in a positive direction for around ten years now, ever since it began recovering from the dramatic 2008 recession. Since the economy tends to run in cycles, there’s a not-insignificant chance that we may be headed for another downturn in the near future. What does this mean for doing deals? Is there anything we as investors and business leaders can do to prepare for an economic downturn?

As a matter of fact, a weak economy is an ideal time to do deals. A bear market creates new opportunities for deal-making that aren’t always available during periods of strong growth. A recession exposes hidden weaknesses in business that aren’t apparent during a bull market, and weaker or less prepared companies are often available to purchase at steep discounts. Now, it’s important to remember that nobody can tell you what’s in the tea leaves with any certainty, and trying to time the market can be a risky prospect. I’m not saying that a recession in the near future is a certainty, but there are many statistics and other indicators circulating that could potentially be predictive of clouds on the horizon. Readying yourself and your business now, while the weather is still nice, can help you be more prepared for new opportunities if a storm should roll in whether that is 6 months or 6 years from now.

For this episode of the Fueling Deals podcast, I talk about what key events take place when a good economy starts to turn in the other direction, and I offer strategies for preparing your business interests and investments to survive and even thrive during a recession. The key takeaway from this episode is that it is important to begin thinking about the kinds of opportunities a recession creates before it actually hits, and I hope this episode offers you some insights into how to do so.

Why a Bad Economy is Good for Deals

Here’s the thing, a strong, healthy economy full of growth can “artificially” prop up businesses and make them look healthier than they actually are. The real test of the health of a business comes when the market recedes. To use a metaphor, as the tide rolls out what’s underneath the water is exposed, and many businesses find that they aren’t on the stable foundation they thought they were. This can dramatically devalue weaker businesses, which in turn can create fantastic deal opportunities to purchase these businesses at a steep discount.

It’s said that there is a lot of money to be made in a recession. Ultimately, most of this money comes from deals, which is why some investors begin raising and saving capital during the tail end of a healthy economy so that they enter a recession fully prepared to take advantage of these new opportunities. It’s a viable strategy, although as I’ve said before it can be risky to try to time the market. Regardless, your first step should be to look to your own business and investments and ensure that they’re as healthy and stable as possible before you begin preparing for new opportunities.

Deals are Always Available, No Matter What the Economy Does

Even in a good economy, there are ample opportunities for great deals to be done, so I don’t want you to get the idea that you should wait for the market to begin turning before you look into deals. This episode of the Fueling Deals podcast is about getting you to stop and consider, to really think about the kinds of opportunities that may come open during a recession so that you can fully prepare to take advantage of them.

The fact of the matter is that the start of a recession is a very unstable time with lots of risk and lots of opportunities, and the only thing you can’t do during this turbulent period is trying to do business as usual. Build up your economic strengths so that you can weather the chaos, and then take advantage of other businesses’ weaknesses by doing deals at steep discounts. That’s the secret to making money during a recession and, while it’s easier said than done, careful preparation and planning can open up new opportunities for you to grow your wealth and the success of your business.

For more informative episodes of Fueling Deals that can help you grow your business rapidly and inorganically through deals, please visit

Authentic Deal-Making

Exiting Your Business the Right Way

Statistics say that around 70% of small business owners intend to eventually sell their business and use that money to fund retirement, lifestyle or next business. The scary fact is that somewhere around 90-95% of small businesses are “unsellable” in their current state, and so too many business owners have built a trap for themselves where they are never able to pull out and exit the business

That’s where Mike Finger comes in. Mike is the founder of Exit Oasis, a firm that specializes in helping business owners prepare their businesses to be more attractive to potential buyers. Mike is an expert in helping business owners extract themselves from the day-to-day operations of their companies. Mike has been there himself; after founding a business with his wife and growing it over the course of years, he was ready to make major changes in his life. But no buyer was interested in buying Mike out of the company he’d built, because he was too integral to its successful operation. Mike had to learn how to make his business more attractive and independent to make it more appealing to buyers, and now he teaches other business owners those same hard-won skills he learned.

For this episode of the Fueling Deals podcast, Mike and I discuss these important skills and the fact that the market does little to teach business owners how to exit. Mike shares strategies and tools that can help business owners turn their “unsellable” business into an irresistible one. Mike Finger is a true expert in developing exit strategies for business owners, and I hope you enjoy our informative and eye-opening conversation.

The Trap of Great Leadership

As Mike explains it, one of the biggest traps business owners can fall into is that the very same hard work, skills, long hours and dedication that can help them grow their business is the thing that makes the business less attractive to potential buyers. Think about it for a moment; can your business operate entirely without you? If you were to just stop going in, would your business continue to run at peak efficiency?

If a business cannot operate without its owner, why would another party be interested in buying that business from the owner? If the current owner is the business, there’s no real value to be found in the company after the deal is done. That’s the trap. The very things you’ve done for years to grow and strengthen your business are the things holding you back from being able to sell it. And, unfortunately, the market doesn’t do much to teach business owners how to extract themselves from the everyday operation of their business.

How to Ready Your Business for Sale

If you are hoping to sell your business, it’s important to begin making your business more attractive to potential buyers. You need to truly consider what your business is worth without you there to run it. Try to look at your business from an outside perspective. Where is the value your business can offer to a potential buyer? What advantages and drawbacks would a buyer find when evaluating the worth of your business? It isn’t just a matter of whether your business is profitable, it’s a question of whether a potential buyer would keep that profitability after buying you out.

Mike and his team at Exit Oasis are experts at helping business owners answer these complex questions, and they can help simplify the process of readying a business for sale. Having a guide to help you through the process can certainly make things easier by eliminating much of the complexity for you. They can show you how to document and illustrate the value of your company, and they can help you see potential pain points that might frighten buyers away. No matter how many deals you do over the course of your time as a business owner, selling your interest in the business may be the most important deal of all.

If you’d like to learn more about Mike Finger and Exit Oasis, please visit where you can find free tools and resources as well as other valuable information on readying your business for sale. For more informative episodes of Fueling Deals like this one, please visit

Authentic Deal-Making

Focusing on Positive Outcomes for Everyone

As you know, not every deal is a good deal. Some deals fall apart during the negotiating process, while others go through but bring problems and challenges you weren’t expecting. How do you know which deals are worth doing for your business, and which you should avoid? How do you ensure that your company benefits from the deal without unexpected side effects?

On the most recent episode of the Fueling Deals podcast, my guest was Chris Wilkerson. Chris is the Founder and CEO of High Bar Capital, a group which specializes in funding, acquisition and management of high-quality businesses in niche markets. Their stated goal is to grow businesses while increasing their value. Chris has extensive experience with deals, having previously worked in business development at Ventro, a B2B marketplace. Throughout his career, Chris has seen and experienced both good deals and bad deals, and his firsthand experience has given him some valuable insights.

During our conversation, Chris shared his work at High Bar Capital and discussed how they typically control a majority stake in between three and five businesses at any given time, and he shared the important criteria he uses to evaluate a deal. He offered examples of some of the deals that didn’t go the way he wanted them to, and he highlighted the important lessons he learned along the way.

Understanding Your Deal Partner

One of the stories Chris shared during our conversation was about a deal that he had sunk plenty of time, attention and work into, only to have it fall apart and his deal partner walk away from the table. As it turns out, Chris didn’t understand his deal partner as well as he thought. He didn’t know who the actual decision-makers at the other company were and didn’t know what they ultimately hoped to gain from the deal, and as a result they backed out. It took months for Chris to repair the relationship and try again.

The lesson here is that it is important to understand who you are dealing with and what they are expecting from you. Chris learned this lesson, and it helped him in future deals. Do your research, make sure the person or people you are dealing with are empowered to make decisions on the other company’s behalf, and take the time to ask questions and truly understand what they hope to achieve from their deal with you. That way, you can offer products or services that are core to their operations and you can ensure that your offer proves irresistible, without any unexpected surprises.

White Label Deals

There are countless types of deals you can do with another company to inorganically fuel your growth, but during our conversation Chris brought up “white label” deals. These deals, also called “private label” deals, are when you offer a product or service to another company but allow them to package or rebrand it as their own work, and they can be beneficial for both parties.

You know how most grocery stores sell their own store brand of common products like peanut butter or soft drinks? These are private label deals in action. The grocery store chain probably isn’t in the business of manufacturing their own products, so they have worked out a deal with another company to manufacture products that the grocery store chain can sell under their own label. Often, the manufacturer of that rebranded product already has a product under their own name on the shelf right next to it, selling at a higher price point. These kinds of deals benefit both companies; the manufacturing company is selling a large quantity of product, and the other company is able to offer an “in house” brand option without having to go to the expense of setting up a manufacturing facility.

This is a great example of just one of the many types of deals you can use to fuel the growth of your business. The world of deals goes far beyond just mergers and acquisitions, as you can see, and I hope it opens your eyes to the limitless possibilities deals can bring your company. For more informative episodes of Fueling Deals like this one, please visit