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

Providing Value as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence

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

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

Bit By the Entrepreneurial Bug

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

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

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

Entrepreneur-in-Residence: New Opportunities Emerging

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

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

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

Building the Trust Factor

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

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

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

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

Structuring the Deal

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

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

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

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

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

Listen in to the full episode to hear more!

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

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

 

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Repeatable Processes For Organizational Success

As CEO, Martin Hershberger has scaled two companies to 8-figures and beyond. As a small business owner, he’s sold to Apple, HP, and American Express, to name just a few. He has spent the last fifteen years of his career consulting for businesses in the 5-50 million dollar range. Today, he helps business owners and CEO’s prepare for successful transitions by developing and executing strategies for repeatable processes that lead to profitable growth.

Martin believes that many change initiatives fail because they only offer partial solutions. He’s developed a framework that allows every element of an organization to get into sync and support strategies, leading to success. As Martin knows, all too often people underestimate the profitability you can grow with repeatable processes and solid systems. (A few weeks back, DealQuest guest Joel Block talked about the move towards subscriptions. This is a classic form of repeatable processes that lead to profit!)

Early Deal-Making 

Martin shares that being a business consultant wasn’t on his radar as a kid. In fact, he wanted to be a baseball player for the Red Socks. Although that never came to be, he’s pretty happy with how things turned out.

Martin was part of a team of three that shut down a supercomputer division of an organization. As part of that experience, he negotiated settlements for over 300 members. He notes he learned a lot about negotiating there! 

Upon starting his own company, he started signing major deals quickly while experiencing rapid growth. (Their first deal was with American Express!) Of course that feels amazing, but that kind of expansion early on can also lead to all sorts of struggles as well. Martin notes that there were often logistically difficult clients and a lot of specific needs that had to be met as part of these deals. Learning to navigate those was a major deal-making feat that required ongoing strategic planning.

Early Partnership Mistakes

Now, Martin works with industrial manufacturers and supply chain strategies. He notes that he transitioned from corporate to consulting as part of having experienced downsizing in the 4 billion dollar company he was working with. As part of his services for them, he had brainstormed solutions to major problems; problems he realized that everybody was having. He put together his own business plan, based on his prowess at solving systems problems, found a partner, raised funds, and launched his first company.

Building a partnership and raising funds were two major deal experiences he had early on. Martin notes he was incredibly naive when it came to raising capital, and that ultimately it would have been difficult to choose worse partners! Because of how he structured those early deals, Martin ended up with negative net equity almost immediately. Although he was able to sell to major corporations (like Apple and HP), he found he was having to do major “explaining” when it came to his balance sheets. 

Martin’s strategy was always to cash out of that business within 5-10 years. Unfortunately, with five offers on the table, his early investors wouldn’t accept any of the proposed deals. Having come out of the mainframe business, Martin knew that electronics prices were going to fall. As a result, he wanted to be able to get out of the business while it was at a peak, rather than waiting for prices to lower. Eventually, he ended up cashing out; his investors stayed in and ended up losing ground with failing internet sales.

Navigating Those Dotcom Bubbles

I remember the days of the dotcom bubbles and crazy inflation as well! Martin noted that the investors passed on a 20 million dollar deal for the business, because they just *knew* the company would be worth over a hundred in another 5 years. 

In my own 30+ law career, I saw clients navigate huge amounts of money, and put major deals on the table. I also remember how inflation rates were such that you could generate huge revenues but never make any profits. A client of mine was in exactly that position; even though there was a massive amount of money involved, he wasn’t taking anything home. Since then, he’s been able to create businesses that actually create more profit; on the flip side, he’ll never be able to sell them for the kinds of money that his early business went for.

Martin notes that he was seeing those same things, which is what motivated him to sell his shares and move on when he did. His original partner was able to do all right as well, and they left the investors behind to wait for those phantom larger numbers.

Building Partnerships

Although his investment partners didn’t work out, Martin notes that his early business partner was a great fit. Their skill sets and abilities complemented each other well, and they were able to work together to create success. Between them, they had a strong understanding of what they were looking for in a business.

Looking back, however, Martin also notes that they had a verbal understanding rather than a written one. Even though things ended well, that was more luck than anything. If there had been problems, it would have been really difficult to navigate them since nothing was in writing. Now, Martin would never do that again!

Finding That First Deal

When Martin was getting his business started, he knew that everyone was going to be worried about working with them. After all, no one wants to be the first to work with a new company, no matter how innovative their ideas are. (Or maybe especially if their ideas are innovative!)

Their first deal was based on a combination of solid systems, great salesmanship, and strategy. Martin knew that the client wasn’t going to be able to find anyone else who could offer what they could in terms of shipping. In fact, he sent them to FedEx to ask about their options so they could hear it from them themselves! He’d have them go there first, then he’d get them at the table and present his own value proposition.

Martin notes that he had some advantages here. He deeply understood the problem, and he had an excellent value proposition. Because he understood the larger picture that the industry operated within, as well as the more specific picture of how he could shrink a particular company’s pipeline, he was well positioned to make deals. 

Not many people can say that, as a competitive advantage, they actually sent people to the competition to learn exactly what their options were!

Repeatable Processes & Systems

Creating repeatable processes and systems makes a major difference when it comes to selling out or making deals! Martin’s philosophy is that any company should always be ready to sell if needed, and part of that means having systems in place.

An early client had commented to Martin, “You know, when I want to sell my company, no one wants to buy it.” Why? Because he wanted to sell in a downturn. By having systems and processes in place, as well as a transition plan in the back of their minds, business owners can actually position themselves to sell when they have the most leverage. (Which is much better than having to settle for what you can get in a buyer’s market!)

This is achieved by preparing yourself personally and your business organizationally to be ready to sell. Too many owners have a vague idea that of course they’ll want to get out at some point….but when they feel ready to sell they are so enmeshed in the business that it’s not clear what would happen if they left it.

Repeatable processes, clear systems, and the understanding that you will have to leave at some point can help remediate this. Martin recommends that business owners focus on repeatable success, which comes from systems and processes!

Listen in to the full episode here to hear more insights about repeatable processes and systems. They are the force that will enable you to exit when the time comes!

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

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

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

Breakthroughs In Health & Deals

For over three decades Dr. Patricia Boulogne has helped thousands of people solve their lifestyle medicine problems & have health breakthroughs. She helps her clients who are sick, overweight, and tired finally release lifelong weight problems, chronic diseases and genetic disposition to restore energy and vitality! Dr. Boulogne accomplishes this by making sense of complex and challenging problems and situations quickly and with measurable results. She’s also the author of the bestselling book, Why Are You Sick, Fat, and Tired?.

Her services are truly unique, as she uses Functional Medicine to target the root of a problem and doesn’t chase symptoms or ignore important signs that may become a disease that will kill you. Genes can’t be changed. However, you can change the message genes receive from the environment. Diet and lifestyle medicine solutions tailored to what counts: Results.

Early Dreams & Deals

For a whole lot of people, what they’re doing is not what they expected to be doing when they were kids. Pat is no exception! Although she often played doctor (and was never a nurse or a patient), she doesn’t remember ever exactly saying or thinking that she would be a doctor one day. She did, however, always enjoy science and running little experiments.

Now, Pat has her MA in Oriental Medicine. She is passionate about working with patients to help them heal lifestyle related problems.  (Listen in to learn why drinking hot tea can help cool you down!)

The earliest deal Pat remembers was running a lemonade stand near her house. She’d purchase the lemonade and supplies, and even put up signs directing traffic from a nearby shopping mall. Later, she moved into shoveling snow and babysitting, both classic early entrepreneur adventures.

Stronger Than Medicine (And Adversity)

 Pat shared that, at the moment, she’s busy rewriting and upgrading her existing course, Stronger than Medicine. This is geared towards busy female executives who want to increase their ability to be present and connected rather than overtired and stressed.

This connects to a lot of Pat’s work; she started in chiropractic care and loves helping people heal without relying on traditional medications or approaches.

One of the things I talk about is how anyone in any kind of business can make deals. Pat’s early chiropractic experience is a great example of this. She started out working with someone who had a great model for an office. After about a year, Pat had her husband start looking for potential practices coming on the market.

Initially, they attempted to get a conventional loan, but they didn’t have enough credit. Finding out they couldn’t qualify for a $25,000 loan was extremely demoralizing! It felt like such a small amount of capital, with a clear conversion into a business — but the answer from the bank was no.

As a result, they pivoted towards an SBA loan. They were able to piece the proposal together and fill in gaps, and the money came through. (Listen in to hear how the bank still tried to withhold funds, and why silence can be so powerful!) By the end of the year, the business had revenues 6x what Pat and her husband had purchased it for. In fact, she was able to purchase needed high ticket equipment with cash.

Selling Out & Moving Up

For the first 4-5 months after buying the business, Pat and her husband were on their own with the business. When they had made the purchase, the office was seeing about 30 patients per week. By the end of the year, they were seeing 125.

Their growth came from networking and doing in-office talks. They made growth goals, and Pat managed the practice by statistics. She knew what their goal was for the week, and she always kept at least 20 cards on hand. From canvassing the local health food stores to visiting area college campuses, Pat was motivated and determined. The practice continues to grow, at an average of 15-20% per year.

Eventually, they hit the cap of how much they were able to take on. This also coincided with Pat’s divorce, leaving her to run the practice solo after buying her ex-husband out. She shifted into hiring the right people that would allow her to continue running the office. (Including her handy Post-It note CRM system.)

Pat also started doing interviews and engaging with media and other groups. She spoke to her local Rotary and Lions Club, and visited any club or organizations that would have her. This organic growth sustained her practice and enabled her to flourish. It also set her up for a very successful deal when it came time to sell the practice.

When it came time to sell, Pat started looking for the right person to handle the marketing of the practice. She had a full assessment done, and was able to sell within 3 months, which was incredibly fast for the industry. (Plus, she got the full price she was asking for.)

Organic Growth & Final Sales

Although Pat grew the practice with the intention of keeping it, it was a huge relief to be able to sell it when the time came.

A powerful lesson illustrated here is that there are no downsides to organic growth. While Pat was actively working, organic strategies increased her revenue streams and success. Those increases greatly impacted her assessed value, and likely contributed to the quick, full-priced turn around when it came time to sell.

Being able to leave her business (at profit), allowed Pat to step into the next part of her journey. Her writing, courses, and consulting work are driven by her passions, and she’s so glad that she did not tie herself to a private practice that she was never able to leave. Too many business owners tie themselves to businesses that no longer bring them joy or profit; properly preparing to exit can help you avoid that!

Overall, the deal came together quite well. One note: Pat shared that there had been no clause to prevent the buyer from pre-paying. He made a final large payment unexpectedly on Dec. 27, which wreaked havoc on Pat’s taxes that year. If she could go back, she would definitely have addressed that contingency!

To learn more about deal-making in the healthcare industry, listen in to the full episode!

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

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

 

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

Deals For Small Businesses

In this week’s solo-cast, I wanted to spend some time talking about deals for small businesses. If you’ve been a listener for a while, you know that one of our premises is that businesses of any size can do deals, whether you have capital or not. It’s a myth that deals can only be done by big companies with big money. While I do have guests who share about large deals involving large amounts of capital, it doesn’t mean that those are the only deals out there. I’ve also featured many guests who own or work with small businesses, and they are leveraging the power of deals (and experiencing great success!) as well. 

Ep. 3: Ramon Ray, with influencer and sponsorship deals.

Ramon is an influencer who has key connections with businesses and entrepreneurs. He doesn’t have millions of followers, but he has quality followers. He capitalizes on that quality following by creating deals between them and other companies.

Ep. 7: John Bly, with acquisition deals, including deals done without significant capital.

John has been able to attract deals by bringing things other than capital (like partnerships) to the table. Within his first 18 months of business he was leveraging his deal-making power to create growth for his business. Gradually he built up to bigger and bigger deals, eventually moving into a succession deal.

Ep. 34: Julia Pimsleur, with an early deal with PBS that she created out of nothing.

When Julia was first getting started with her children’s language learning company, she was looking for gaps in the market. At a trade show event she happened to realize that PBS had a lot of learning related programming, but nothing in her niche. With some planning, she crafted a pitch and signed a deal with them – no major capital needed!

Ep. 41: Ralph Peterson and I ended up having a brainstorming session on small business growth.

Ralph provides management training and other services. On our episode, we ended up having a full blown brainstorm session on the kind of deals he could potentially create. If you want to get your own small business deal creativity flowing, check this one out!

Ep. 42: Gary Kane, with deals in the lower-middle market.

As a founder, Gary knows all about starting with nothing and building up. He’s also an amazing deal creator. In our interview, we especially talked about the kinds of deals that can be done in the lower-middle market.

Ep. 43: Bill Cates, with leveraging intellectual property and licensing deals.

Bill is a speaker, but rather than depend solely on speaking fees, he’s proactively found other ways to make deals and create revenue. One lucrative (and often underutilized option) includes leveraging his intellectual property to create a successful business. From books to videos to workshops, entrepreneurs can look beyond a fee-for-services model and create deals around licensing!

Ep. 75: Jesse Cole, on using creativity to stand out and grow.

Jesse has built many amazing deals based on partnerships. He’s experienced an incredible amount of success in an industry that is often struggling to get by. More recently he’s been working on online subscriptions and followings as a result of pivoting due to Covid.

Increasing Small Business Sales Through Partnerships

If you’re a small business owner who isn’t necessarily looking to acquire other companies or make deals that require large amounts of capital, you’re not excluded from deal-making! Here are a few things to ask yourself as you consider how you might be making more small business deals:

  • How can you increase sales/growth organically through deal-driven growth?
  • How can you make applications to other companies, industries, or verticals by connecting with those who have access to your market?
  • What opportunities might you have to create deals with those you perceive as your competitors?
  • Who is selling complementary products or services to a client base (or demographic) you’d like to break into?

When you consider the client acquisition cost in building a new customer base, it’s worth it to consider creative strategies beyond marketing. Even though partnering with another organization as an affiliate means giving up a percentage of sales, if they are connecting you with a broader customer base and increasing business, it might be worth it. There is always a cost to customer acquisition; why not pay part of that out through commissions rather than via an ads budget?

Depending how you structure your partnership or affiliate deals, you may be able to upsell and cross sell other products without having to share that revenue. 

Just a reminder: these deals aren’t substitutes for other growth methods. They are, however, additional opportunities for small businesses to pursue.

(I also referenced Damon Gersh’s episode on becoming a dominant force in your industry!)

Licensing & Small Businesses

Licensing is highly lucrative, but often underutilized. If you’ve uniquely created something, however, there are a lot of opportunities here! If you offer speaking, training, or online courses, you can consider additional opportunities to license the content to clients.

Rather than paying per use, or you being paid for each individual delivery, you can use licensing to scale your small business.

You can also consider the “train-the-trainer” model, where you retain control of the content but certify trainers who can use your intellectual property. Often, they pay a licensing fee to continue using your content and resources.

Many small businesses underestimate the amount of intellectual property they have available for potential licensing; take inventory of what you have available, and see if you could leverage it for deal-making!

(I also referenced David Bach’s episode, where we discussed licensing as well!)

Building Collaborative Relationships

Consider using this downtime to get into alignment with other local businesses. 

You could create an association and use it as a platform for networking. You can also build either informal or formal strategies for creating collaborative relationships. Many deals can spring out of these kinds of groups!

I remember an area of New York in which related businesses in the home building/renovation space chose to work together to create a district for customers in need of their services. Even though some of these businesses were in competition with one another, by working together to become the “go to” place for their ideal clients, they increased traffic and business for every member.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners too often think they have to be a lone wolf to succeed. In reality, there are many lucrative opportunities to connect, collaborate, and build growth together. We need to get past our automatic assumptions that we can’t work with our competitors, because sometimes it really makes sense!

What Does it Take to Become a Deal Maker

For small businesses, becoming a deal-maker is about getting past the assumption that you’re too small for that to be a valid option. When your mindset is telling you that being a deal-maker isn’t on the table, you become blind to the options you have available!

Shifting your mentality and opening yourself to opportunities can really get your juices flowing and make you aware of what’s truly available.

Right now the economy has created a strong dichotomy; some businesses are flourishing, and others are really struggling. Take a look around; how might you tap into the markets and businesses seeing a lot of success right now? Or how might you bring extra talent into your organization right now as a result of some of the struggles we are facing today?

Covid has also been an invitation to get creative about deals. Contractual rights, ownership or partnership opportunities, and future profit shares are all on the table.

If you’re a smaller business looking to benefit from deal-making, you should take these three steps:

  1. Change your mindset and understand that you CAN be a deal-maker.
  2. Look at your business goals, and consider who you can partner with to achieve those objectives (don’t eliminate competitors).
  3. Focus on shared objectives, and go to a professional to help you sort out the actual structure and logistics of the actual deal.

To hear the full solo-cast, listen in 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.

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

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

Deal-Ready Foundations: The Power of Team Building

In our last solo-cast, I talked about a few things related to creating a scalable business that you work ON, not IN. Although those concepts might not connect to all deals, the more you can do to create a business that doesn’t depend entirely on you, the more you’re setting yourself up for powerful deals. From new collaborations, joint ventures, or even preparing your exit plan: you can employ a variety of strategies to make your business deal-ready. One powerful area to consider is team building.

Team Building Expectations

Most businesses have some sort of team. Whether the team is all on sight or is working remotely, successful businesses that intend to scale are going to have to consider team building at some point. Often, we start to run into default ways of thinking here. We have expectations about oversight, presence, and even micromanaging that seep into our team building decisions. 

Our ego also starts to pipe in. We may have a tendency towards being controlling, or choosing not to trust our employees. When that occurs, we often use the excuse that “they” just don’t care about the company as much as we do!

On one hand, you’re right. When you own a company, you’re going to be invested in a way that an employee just will not be. And why should you expect them to have the same drive and commitment for your business as you? After all, it’s YOURS!

On the other hand, there are ways to build a team that is passionate, motivated, and connected to your business. A few ways to create that sort of team? Being flexible, building trust, and empowering every team member to contribute in the way the best taps into their skills. After all, isn’t that why you brought them on in the first place?

When you make deals, you show up at the negotiating table with the understanding that both parties are bringing something of value. Approach your team in the same way. This isn’t just an exchange of your money and their time. They have the ability to make a powerful difference in your business, but only if you allow them to do so.

My Own Team Building Experience

I have a dedicated, loyal team that I’m proud to work with. I’ve offered all of them flexible options that work for their lives and families.

You can find phenomenal employees who work hard and love what they do — and they might ALSO prefer flexible work schedules that give them opportunities to prioritize their families, hobbies, or other needs. That’s not a reflection on their ability to perform within your company. In fact, it only enhances it.

I’ve also noticed that sometimes amazing talents will bypass higher salaries from larger companies in order to work for a smaller company that offers them openness and flexibility. It’s simply not true that remote workers are less capable or talented, or that the “best” employees are working 9-5+ from a desk inside your building.

Another benefit? Diversity! Hiring remotely significantly increases the talent pool you’re able to hire from. Even if your local talent pool feels relatively homogenous, you don’t have to be limited to that. When you offer flexibility and remote options, the pool is global. You may find that your business can attract great employees, teammates, and leaders who bring powerful new ideas into your business when you open yourself up to their presence.

My flexibility and openness has enabled me to find excellent candidates and bring them into my business time after time. By being less rigid, I’ve been able to offer positions to excellent candidates that I would have otherwise had to pass by (or not even be aware of).

Another tip? Be aware of how your team is motivated. Some people want to be praised, especially in front of others. Some want to be challenged, and always have something new. Everyone wants to be trusted and empowered to do their best work in their own way.

Tap into your individual employee’s needs so you can focus on your highest and best use areas. As you do so, you’ll find yourself with the capacity to look for and close new deals of all kinds.

By building an entrepreneurial culture that values all team members, you may find yourself positioned for deals you might have never expected. 

Delegating Up

Sometimes you give a task to an employee, and they end up circling back to you. They have questions, or they’re looking for you to finish something off.

And although I want to be a resource to my team, I also want to discourage “delegating up”, in which they use me as a crutch. Sometimes team members don’t want to take responsibility for a decision (so they bring it back to you). Or they lack confidence or trust in themselves, so they’re looking for validation.

One trick I use: when I have employees ask me to look something over for them, I’ll ask them, “Do you really need me to do that?”. If they actually do, then I’ll look it over. Oftentimes, however, when they reflect they realize they don’t need me. I trust them to do their jobs, and it’s my intention to remove myself and have faith in them to do their work independently while being a resource to them when they really need me.

And honestly…

When you hire a team, you should be hiring people who are talented in areas that you are not. They are the content creators, site developers, ad creators, or admin professionals that you’ve brought in for a specific purpose. Trust them to do it. Let them know that they have the power and autonomy to complete the work assigned to them. If you give the ability to do this, you may find that they are even better at it than you!

Don’t be afraid of being “surpassed” by a talented employee who is really good at their role. Offer training opportunities. Help people become their absolute best, not only for your business, but for their own growth as people. Will that mean they leave your organization one day? Maybe! But wouldn’t you rather have a phenomenal team member who one day leaves for bigger and better things, than a mediocre team member who sticks around because they aren’t passionate about growing and improving?

Team Building Requires Trust Building

In deals, trust is essential. You have to be able to trust yourself, your partners, and the clarity of your objectives when putting together a deal.

Your team requires trust as well.

There is no way to truly scale and grow if you cannot trust and empower people. Your team members need your trust to do their best work. And you need to give your trust to be able to take things to the next level.

Encouraging creativity and building an empowered team is vital for successful positioning. If you’re hoping for organic growth, improved marketing, new joint ventures, scaling, or preparing for an eventual exit: you’ll benefit from creating a team you can trust!

In the trade off of a deal, it has to work for BOTH parties. If one side feels that they’re not getting their fair share, they won’t engage.

Team building is the same. Trust, respect, training, empowerment, autonomy, flexibility – these are all aspects of the employee deal-making process. When you bring a valuable package to the table that includes so much more than just a paycheck, you can build a team that truly takes your business to the next level.

When you do that, you increase your firm’s capacity to do deals, build enterprise value and better position the company to monetize that enterprise value upon exit.

In the future, I plan to talk more about how internal succession is an incredible deal option that only makes sense if you’ve built a team that can run your company without you. The foundation? Team building!

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!