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

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!

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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!