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

Strategy for Intellectual Property

David Kalow is a University of Chicago law graduate, and now focuses exclusively on intellectual property. According to David, most companies – both large and small – need help to improve their strategy for intellectual property (IP). This includes making it even more valuable, cost-effective, and revenue-enhancing. IP strategy leverages a company’s most critical assets in the 21st century global economy: ideas and creativity.

Ultimately, he helps you to create and implement an effective, long-term strategy to manage your valuable intellectual property assets, including assets you may not even realize that you have! 

Was Intellectual Property Strategizing Always in the Cards?

David shares that his earliest goal was to be a space pirate. These dreams were based on his interest in sci-fi, and he was sure they’d come together at some point. As he grew up, he assumed he’d find himself working in science, or some other “nerdy” field. He never visualized business!

Once he completed law school and entered the field, David found that he learned deal-making slowly and academically. Starting his own law firm, and later his own solo practice, was his own way of being an entrepreneur. It may not have been what he planned, but he’s excelled!

Now, David’s objective is to make it easier to expand and accelerate business development while reducing legal fees. Your improved IP strategy can strengthen market positions, increase valuation, assist with funding and VC, energize deal making and strategic partnerships. It can even improve hiring, marketing and sales. It benefits early stage startups as much as small, medium and Fortune 100 enterprises, as well as those who finance them, such as VC’s and private equity.

Strategy for Intellectual Property

Any business has intellectual property, and David believes most business owners and entrepreneurs aren’t taking full advantage of it. He does see pharma, medical device creators, and biotech companies tending to appreciate IP and use best practices to strategize it the most. However, even there he tends to see many mistakes made.

According to David, most of these mistakes are common and avoidable when you know what you’re doing and understand the field.

For example, a strong strategy for intellectual property looks at all of an organization’s potential intellectual assets. It then uses every possible IP tool: legal and procedural, formal and informal. The first things people think of, like filing patents, trademarks, and copyrights, are really just foundational basics in what should be a much more comprehensive strategy.

Assuming that doing those basic tasks is enough is a huge mistake (and a very common one)!

Intellectual Property Isn’t Just for the “Big Guys”

David finds that strategizing their intellectual property is most important for startups and small businesses. Why? Because in the beginning, that can be all you have.

There are three major property types: land, personal property, intangible. Most of today’s companies aren’t based on owning large amounts of land or unique personal property (like factories, et). Rather, they are based on intangible assets.

If you don’t know how to use, understand, and appreciate IP, you won’t last. Missing opportunities to strategize your intellectual property will injure your revenue making capacity and potentially ruin your business. On the show, David and I discuss a few options for entrepreneurs and business owners to leverage their IP. One important option?

Use an appropriate blend of patent, trademark, and copyrighting.

There are so many ways to leverage your IP! You have to think about how you can leverage them in order to accelerate and strengthen your business. This includes deal-making with those intangible assets, as well as getting protection to ensure that you’ll retain downstream usage of your IP.

The worst use of your IP? Getting it wrapped up in litigation! Think through the fight if you want to avoid the fight, and get the protection you need to confidently strategize for using your IP on the market and within your business.

Think Creatively & Build Your Long Game

For 20 years, David had a client who collected hefty royalties from well-protected IP. By using patents and trademarks across multiple dimensions (software, chemicals, engineering, etc), they were able to bring to market a product that was necessary…and that simply couldn’t be provided without their input.

Rather than only protect their output, they found ways to protect their valuable processes, systems, and tools that made that output possible in the long run.

For years it was standard for computers to have CD-ROM players. Of course CD’s were patented, and the IP involved in their creation and use allowed the creators to benefit for years. It wouldn’t have been market-friendly to have every system use a completely different tool, and the best-positioned one was able to earn the whole market (and the financial gains that came with it).

Cartier watches were able to use trade dress (appearance of goods as the trademark) in a powerful way that enabled them to stand out in the luxury watch market. There are so many ways to leverage intellectual property, especially when you’re familiar with how the field works and what your options are. (This part of the episode reminded me of Bill Cates interview on leveraging IP!)

Make Sure You Protect Your IP Rights

Make sure you have the right agreements with employees and contractors to ensure that IP is flowing into the company. You must own your own rights, and sometimes when you work with freelancers or others on the work-for-hire market you don’t always have the ownership you think you have.

Rather than open yourself up for disputes down the road, you’ll want to do your due diligence on the front end to ensure that you’re protected!

Another note: IP doesn’t mean you have to become greedy and Scrooge-like! Strategy for intellectual property can be good for you, your business, and the world. David notes that research has shown that open federal patents are rarely utilized. Why? There is no ownership incentive, so it’s hard to generate funding or find people willing to invest time and energy to build them out. After all, whatever they create isn’t really theirs.

When you protect your work and have ownership, there can be a positive incentive towards building and investing.

The real reason behind patents is to reward owners and investors. After all, if there is no chance in a return, there is likely no one who will invest. Whenever money gets put into an idea, there is no guarantee that it will work out as planned. Having that idea protected and invested in gives it a chance to take its shape and change the world!

Patents also allow us to maintain and share ideas, without losing our rights. There are so many technologies of old, based on trade secrets, that are simply gone forever. Why? Because the inventors kept them secret, and no one knows how they worked! We diminish the power (and losses) inherent in trade secrets when we make it safe to share our discoveries and work.

Listen in to learn more about how to best create strategy for your intellectual property!

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 Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth Podcast Guest

Curating Quality Investment Opportunities

Marcia Nelson is the Managing Director at ShareNett. This is a members only global network of professional investors offering curated, quality investment opportunities. In addition, Marcia is the founding partner of Triple C Advisory. She’s spent a great part of her career working with family offices as a Family Office Advisor. Also, Marcia has been a board member for multiple boards, including VentureCapital.org. She is the president of ACG-NY.  Marcia is also a speaker with a great passion for impact investing. She was recently named one of the 2020 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A by Mergers & Acquisitions magazine.

You can listen to the full interview HERE.

Marcia Nelson’s Early Deal-Making Experiences

While growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, Marcia would have never guessed she was going to end up in the deal-making world! Her initial degree was in education, and she did teach for a few years. When she moved to New York with her fiance she fell in love with the city. She hasn’t looked back since!

After an initial experience with Conde Naste and the fashion industry publishing, Marcia switched gears when the dot com boom appeared. At that point she went back to graduate school, where she earned her MBA. Returning to the business world after completing her degree kicked off her deal-making career. She’s stayed in the industry ever since!

Most of Marcia’s early deals were in the ESOP ring. She enjoyed learning more about how employee stocks worked, as well as how complicated they could be. This opened a whole new world to her, and she was able to work on many related deals during this time. Early on, she was intensely fascinated by UPS’s use of ESOPs in their business.

Boutique Investment Banking

ShareNett is a boutique investment bank. They do traditional investing, but their niche is finding deals from family offices. Once found, they then partner or club with other families. ShareNett sifts through a lot of “noise” so they can filter the best quality investment opportunities for their clients.

Marcia shares their deals typically start around 10 million. She finds ShareNett can be extremely helpful in the 10-100 million dollar range. She really enjoys working in the family office space, and most often finds herself working in the mid-market arena.

One commonality Marcia is seeing with family offices is having a second or third generation who are actively pushing hard for impact investing. This falls in many spheres, including green energy, sustainability, and other ethically-based fields. She also sees many family offices who have made their mark within a specific field or area; she finds they often prefer to continue working within those same spaces with investments moving forward. If branching out, it often occurs in conjunction with another family office that is more familiar with the space.

Outside of all the political wrangling, there seems to be a demographic shift in which younger generations are inheriting wealth and being given more control over where the money is going.

Marcia believes that investments and philanthropy are beginning to be less mismatched. Younger generations are seeking to decrease the mismatch between where the family office is investing and where they are donating. Quality investments that do good are of great interest.

Making money AND doing good, all without having to rely on investment cycles that tend to fluctuate, is a powerful direction that many businesses may be going. Rather than seeking to become a non-profit, it might become more popular to stay for-profit, but use a percentage of proceeds to fuel social movements.

You no longer have to accept lower returns in order to do good! In fact, you can do good and expect comparable returns.

Other Marketplace Trends & Investment Opportunities

Marcia also notes there seems to be an increased interest in bringing manufacturing back to the US. She attributes this to supply chain disruptions as a result of the pandemic. Covid-19 highlighted just how many products we rely on are being manufactured elsewhere and shipped in.

Many businesses are using repurposing to make this work. They’re finding with small shifts, they can manufacture more of what they need here. Although supply chain issues will never fully go away, adaptations can be made to decrease disruptions.

However, there may be a difference between various types of technology. For instance, there’s a huge difference between bringing steel back, versus producing technological components here. Marcia agrees, noting that manufacturing trends are more manufacturing focused. As a result, many quality investments will likely be made in the US manufacturing markets.

Game makers and recreational manufacturers are also seeing a boom right now, as a result of the pandemic. That might be a short term change, but could also be part of driving deals at the moment. Because people are looking for more ways to spend time outside or engage in private recreation, it won’t be surprising to see continued growth in this area. At least for the time being, recreation is growing!

I noted that Rha and I are in the process of looking around for non-metro-based housing for the future. Based on how things have been going, it seems like it might be a quality investment! We typically split our time between major metros in New York and California, and we’re starting to think somewhere in the mountains might be a better bet. Although that’s not something everyone can do, it may start to become more common in the future. This is especially true for those who are looking at purchasing new properties.

Multi-Generational Investing Families

Older generations may have a desire to make quality investments in businesses that have a solid track history and have been around for awhile. Most technology companies, however, have less of a long term history. Younger generations may often be more excited about making investments with new tech, especially as they often feel more comfortable with the tools. 

However, Marcia notes that if you’ve seen one family office….you’ve seen one family office. They tend to be very unique, and are always composed of individuals with their own interests, desires, and comfort with risk.

One of Marcia’s clients made a lot of money in the gas and oil industry. Although they are glad to have made their money, they are excited to pivot forward by turning their attention to green energy. Tthey recognize that gas and oil were brand new, generations ago, and that they did have many positive impacts in terms of growth and expansion. However, attitudes evolve and shift. Families do to, which is a key point to remember if working with a family office!

As families evolve in their thinking, Marcia also notes that it is vital to remain open to their growth and development. Giving them space to change, and working through what that means for their portfolios, is essential.

Marcia’s interview was incredible. To learn more about her role, including a note on ways in which her job sometimes makes her feel like a therapist, listen in today!

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

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

 

Categories
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.

.
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

Create and Transfer Business Value

Laurie Barkman is the CEO of SmallDotBig, where she works with entrepreneurs, private companies, and family businesses on innovation, transition, and growth strategies. All this is to help clients achieve their long-term goals. She also works with closely-held companies to grow the value of their business and prepare to transition ownership in 7-10 years. As the Host of the Succession Stories Podcast, Laurie speaks with CEOs and experts about how to create and transfer business value. Altogether, Laurie has more than 20 years of digital transformation, entrepreneurship, and intrapreneurship in tech, retail, logistics, and service industries — from startups to corporates. 

Laurie’s Early Start

As a young person, Laurie had no idea she’d go on to be a CEO. She did start to recognize pretty early, however, that she was a leader. As a student she was often in situations where she had a chance to make an impact, create change, and coordinate with other students. In fact, her mom thought she’d go into politics and be a diplomat!

When it came time to pick a school and major, however, Laurie still didn’t know what she wanted to do. As a result, she chose a school and area of study that she felt would serve her no matter what direction she ultimately went. Her first career move after graduation? HR!

Laurie considers her first deal-making experience to be selling Hickory Farms meat and cheese as part of a fundraising campaign. She sold so much she earned a prize, and she considers this her first confidence boost in the sales arena. 

As her career has evolved, Laurie notes she has been in a variety of different industries and companies. From startups to billion dollar traded companies, Laurie has found ways to be innovative and creative. Now, she looks back and sees that her journey is what brought her to where she is today.

Healthy Succession Planning

Laurie loves working with entrepreneurial families, in which the founding entrepreneur created something and future generations have grown it into something even larger. She shares about a 3rd generation family business she worked in during her career. The family had moved from horse and buggy delivery to larger transportation to reverse logistics.

Eventually, Laurie was involved in the company’s succession plan. This required understanding the potential of long-term strategy with multigenerational impact. Stakeholders mattered, but so did employees and customers. 

Companies who have this sort of long-term vision inspire Laurie, and she loves partnering with them to help them see the potential for healthy succession possibilities.

As we were talking, I realized that we haven’t had much podcast content focused on family businesses. I’d love to dig into this area even more because there is so much that can be said about family members running a long term business together. There are major partnership dynamics at play, as well as other factors. (Would you be the perfect guest for this? I’d love to hear from you!)

Family Businesses, Family Values

Laurie notes that family businesses are incredibly unique. Each one is a sort of “snowflake”, in that you’ll never find another exactly like it. That’s one of the things that makes them so much fun to work with!

She shared the concept of shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations. Essentially, the first generation invests and innovates to build something successful, but the second generation is fearful of “sinking the ship”. They are more likely to play things safe and fail to creatively expand and grow. The third generation may be able to turn things around, but it may also be too late. There may also be family conflict, or a family that has grown so quickly that the business cannot sustain them.

Other issues in family succession can be connected to lack of fit or ability to take a business on, or a lack of a successor because there are no family members left.

Building skill sets and creating a pipeline for next generation talent is a key part of succession, whether you want to keep your business in the family or not!

On her podcast, Succession Stories: Insights for Next Generation Entrepreneurs, Laurie has interviewed multiple CEO’s of family run businesses. She has noticed that family run companies tend to be incredibly value heavy. They understand where the values have come from, and how they play out in day to day life. These values are also attached to the history of the company, and it’s essential that they are written down.

She emphasizes that any business can benefit from having value clarity. Another of Laurie’s clients, not a family business, recently came to her without clearly established values. The start of their work together was to figure those out.

Top Down or Bottom Up

Laurie notes that a family board can be a really helpful method for families running a company together. This might be considered a “top down” system. She notes that these boards can include owners or higher level executives within the company in addition to family, but it is comprised heavily of family members. This board is in addition to an executive board, or advisory board. Family boards can help diffuse family tension and provide a forum for conversation.

On the other end, a “bottom up” approach may mean that family members start at the bottom of the business and work their way up. When it comes to family members working within the business, Laurie notes that it can’t be forced. If a family member doesn’t want a role or position, then it will never work.

Strengths, motivation, and fit are absolutely key “buckets”, in Laurie’s point of view.

A healthy succession means that a potential family member needs to have the necessary strengths, they need personal motivation and desire, and they must fit into the role that needs to be filled, which includes personality, organizational dynamics, and more.

Although any of those three buckets might not be 100% at the start, time can change and grow all things. Listen to the full episode to hear Laurie share about a family member who originally didn’t have great fit or motivation, but who later came to realize that running the business was his calling!

Family business or otherwise, healthy succession relies on the ability to create and transfer business value across time. Sometimes there is unnecessary drama and chaos because a business’s leaders don’t know who they would be outside of their company.Rather than let go and learn who they really are, they cling on in an attempt to retain a sense of self. This can be especially problematic in family run businesses, because there are the added pressures of the family name being attached to a certain way of being.

Create and Transfer Business Value

In the technology world, things move fast and the larger successful tech companies are comparatively new. There aren’t many multi-generational families who have been involved in the tech space, and even less with the ability to transfer business value!

Laurie notes that she got into digital marketing as a personal career pivot herself; it wasn’t her first path, as it wasn’t for many. As a result, she had an early look at what it means to have technology or tools, but no market. She also saw that start ups can appear really glossy from the outside, but can be really messy on the inside.

Because her role was connected to succession and going to market, she could see that internal mess was problematic. In another shift, Laurie moved into apparel retail at the start of the ecommerce boom. She considers that a corporate start up, in that it was an established company doing something brand new. Again, she was involved in structure, scaling, and marketing. Her career has allowed her to work with budgets of a hundred dollars, and a hundred million dollars.

As a result, Laurie knows how to assess a business and get to the root of what’s working and what is not. She has an eye for understanding fit, operational needs, and market, all while building value.

She also knows what it means to create and transfer business value. Rather than leave money on the table, Laurie helps businesses think through healthy succession based on the transfer of accrued value.

Now, Laurie loves working with small to medium privately owned companies in order to bring together a strategic planning process that creates momentum to move forward. When a team understands where they are going, they are aligned and empowered to grow. This brings a business to life; it’s creating the plan AND executing, which is key. (90% of strategies don’t get implemented….which renders them worthless!)

Listen in to Episode 93 to hear the full interview!

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-Making During The Covid Era

This week, let’s talk about deal-driven growth and Covid! In the past on the show we’ve talked about some of the opportunities that arise during challenging times. We’ve also discussed things to watch out for! Now that we’re over six months into this pandemic, let’s talk specifically about deal-making during the Covid era. 

Hard to Compare

First off, it’s hard to compare Covid with any other time in history. For one thing, there’s a dichotomy between industries that are doing incredibly well, and others that are failing and faltering. There are major questions about when things will turn around or come back. In addition, we’re all getting used to a “new normal”.

In the M&A market, in terms of bigger deals, most surveys have shown the market to be down about 30% in terms of deal volume. However, there are some exceptions. Transportation, food, and agriculture have started to come back up. In April/May most industries experienced a significant dip. But there has been a rebound in certain industries. On last week’s episode, David DeVoe noted that in the wealth management space there is a surge right now. As the stock market comes back up, deals continue to increase as well.

Honestly, 2020 has been a huge mixed bag. Technology, home exercise, delivery, and some others are seeing huge gains. As a result, they may be able to absorb some competitors or make other deals, while in verticals that are suffering, we are seeing fewer deals.

Deal-Making Isn’t Going Away

What I see is this: people are still optimistic about deals. There is capital available out there, and people don’t see the impact of Covid as a permanent situation. Deal-making isn’t going away, and there is an expectation that many industries will continue to grow, expand, and find ways to innovate.

Now, I recognize that there are many businesses, especially restaurants, gyms, and some retailers, that have gone bankrupt. However, even within that we’ll see reorganizations and reopenings, with many companies coming out with cleaner balance sheets and ready to do deals. 

Deal-making will continue, even as it may be done in new, creative ways we haven’t seen before. Even industries that are being hit hard now may find that they are better positioned for deal-making in the upcoming months than they ever have been before.

Creative Deal-Making Lessons and The Voice

There have also been someone-off, strange deals that have been fun to see. For example, I enjoy The Voice, and midway through last season they ended up going virtual. Honestly, it was clunky. Everyone was singing and judging from home, and there was no real audience.

This season, however, they’ve adjusted. They wanted to have the singers, hosts, and judges live, but also keep everyone safe. They created a “bubble” by renting out a Las Vegas hotel. This benefited the TV show, and I am sure also the hotel, which would have had decreased occupancy with Covid issues. The audience is shown on virtual screens to provide a greater sense of live engagement as well.

Now “The Voice bubble” is part of coming on the show, and enables quarantining and Covid safety measures that would be impossible with the old set up.

Sporting stadiums have also been working on creating bubbles and providing safe spaces for action! If you have real estate or a business with underutilized space, this is a great time to think about how you can use it creatively to engage in deal-making during the Covid era. How can you apply creativity to your business?

Back on Episode 25, Damon Gersh shared about the “choke point”. During 9/11 he controlled tons of contracts by locking up labor, which created opportunity. How can you create something similar in your business?

Covid Era Stats

In our law firm, we’re seeing the stats play out in the deals we’re making. Companies used to working and delivering results virtually are thriving overall. There is a lot of deal activity in that space! Financial services deals are very strong. As these are two significant industry segments for us, we have kept very busy.

Once you get into recession and values go down, there usually really are a lot of deal-making opportunities taking advantage of that downturn. So far, however, I haven’t seen much of that happening during Covid. Often, that stage happens 1-2 years into a recession, so it might still be headed our ways. However, we’re not in an across the board recession by any means at this time. This may still be somewhat temporary, in terms of overall impact. We just don’t know the full fall out yet.

As businesses adjust, people become more willing to get out there, and the government decreases their regulations as cases, hopefully, decrease over time, we may see an upward trend before we go too much deeper.

Of course some industries, like airlines and restaurants, may see much more long term impacts than some others. Bottom line, though: We’re not seeing mass scale fire sale deals yet!

Although those with capital may be a bit slower or more picky, the money certainly hasn’t dried up! About 88% of deals in M&A are strategic buyers, and during this time that makes sense. Shoring up your strengths and relationships are great things to focus on right now. The synergies that strategic buying creates are even more important in challenging times.

What Trends Have Impacted You?

I’d love to hear your experience within your own industry. What trends are you seeing? How have you been impacted? I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn or Twitter and get a read on what you’re experiencing. You’re also invited to our monthly Deal Den calls, where we dive deeper to discuss specific challenges, opportunities and needs during this trying time.

To learn more about deal-making during the Covid era, listen in to the full show!

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

DealQuest’s BEST OF: Company Founders

This week I’m pleased to bring you another round-up of the BEST OF DealQuest guests. Our category is Company Founders. You’ll hear from Niles Heron, Julia Pimsleur, Brian Smith, Damon Gersh, and Chris Wilkerson! If you’ve been a founder, are currently a founder, or would like to be a company founder one day, this one’s for you!

The Need for Organic Growth: Niles Heron

Niles Heron is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Popdog. This is a technology and services company focused on fixing core problems in the esports and live streaming industry. He firmly believes that entrepreneurship is about building good systems. For Niles, this means solving problems at scale. His work has taken him from Detroit to San Francisco and back to Detroit. He’s worked with companies in biotech, automotive, aerospace, technology, and entertainment.

Niles has an incredible perspective. He’s one of those guests who demonstrates that he truly understands what it takes to create a business that actually has traction. In addition, he truly gets how you can leverage that traction through deals. On the show, Niles really gets to the heart of what it means to show up fully in your business and engineer deals that take things to the next level.

You can listen to a snippet of his interview on this week’s Company Founders BEST OF episode. Or, you can listen to our full interview on Episode 33 of the DealQuest Podcast!

Million Dollar Women: Julia Pimsleur 

Julia Pimsleur is Founder & Chief Empowerista at the social venture Million Dollar Women (MDW). During her nine years as CEO, Pimsleur raised angel and venture capital to succeed. It was then that she discovered fewer than 3% of all women entrepreneurs reach $1M. Additionally, less than 4% of venture capital is invested in female founders. To help change those stats, she teaches women how to fundraise. This led to her authoring the best-seller, Million Dollar Women​: The Essential Guide for Female Founders Who Want to Go Big.

Julia shares that her current work is directly tied to her early experience as a founder. She had been exhausted and burnt out as a business owner and parent. After some time, she realized she desperately needed a new way of running things. She took what she learned, and turned it into an organization that empowers women to stop being solo octo-preneurs (with 8 arms going in every direction). Instead, she teaches them how to truly become empowered entrepreneurs. Her episode is a reminder you don’t need to be a huge company with large revenue numbers to make meaningful deals. Instead, you can grow your business from exactly where you are now!

You can listen to a snippet of her interview on this week’s Company Founders BEST OF episode to hear more, including an early deal Julia made with PBS that created a 6 figure sales difference! You can also listen to our full interview on Episode 34 of the DealQuest Podcast.

The Founder of UGG Boots: Brian Smith

Brian Smith has charted his own course to become one of the great entrepreneurial success stories of our time. In 1978, he imported six pairs of sheepskin boots from Australia. At the time, he had a dream to build a business where every American would eventually be wearing the product. And that’s how one of the world’s most recognizable brands began. Since then, sales of UGG products have exceeded a billion dollars in each of the past six years.

Brian shares how his own enthusiasm for his work garnered an early $20,000 investment (with no business plan or fancy pitch deck!). That early cash infusion is what helped the company get started. He also notes that UGG took years to take off. (For some reason, as many California retailers didn’t see the need for a sheepskin product!) Year one of sales only saw 28 pairs off the shelf, with retail buyers he had been counting on ultimately  turning the product down. 

By year three capital had run out, and sales were only at 20,000. After a beer with a friend, Brian recognized he had a messaging problem. By changing his marketing message, sales skyrocketed to 200,000 within a year. That marketing revamp turned everything around. (It also ran the company out of money — a whole new problem!)

You can listen to a snippet of his interview on this week’s Company Founders BEST OF episode. You can also choose to listen to our full interview on Episode 8 of the DealQuest Podcast!

Identifying Your Industry’s Choke Point: Damon Gersh

Damon Gersh 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.

He wants to know: do you know the “choke point” in your business? By identifying the restoration industry choke point, Damon was able to transform his market and take his business to the next level. He was also skilled at garnering loyalty and thinking BIG about how to lock up the labor market. As a result, he figured out how to make sure his firm got the job…even if they were technically the “second call” on new labor needs.

You can listen to a snippet of his interview on this week’s Company Founders BEST OF episode, or you can listen to our full interview on Episode 25 of the DealQuest Podcast!

Lifestyle By Design: Chris Wilkerson

Chris Wilkerson is the Founder and CEO of High Bar Capital, which specializes in funding, acquisition, and management of high-quality businesses in niche markets. It’s all done with the goal of growing businesses while also increasing their value. 

Chris shares important lessons he learned while doing deals of his own, and he offers specific scenarios and strategies that highlight why it is important to know who you’re dealing with and what they truly want. Part of this is understanding what the “other” side wants. It’s not enough to just know what works for you. You have to consider the desire on both sides of the aisle!

The ability to create a positive impact on everyone involved in a deal is his top priority when evaluating whether a deal is worthwhile. This also means considering his employees, his clients, and his family. Part of being an entrepreneur is creating the lifestyle that he desires. He shares his wife and himself call this their “lifestyle by design”, which involves considering long term deal impacts, which goes beyond just financial implications.

You can listen to a snippet of his interview on this week’s Company Founders BEST OF episode, or you can listen to our full interview on Episode 22 of the DealQuest Podcast!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.
If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

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

Business Partnerships Deals

Today we’re diving into business partnerships! Many businesses have more than one owner; you can spread the risk, add expertise, double your network, and share necessary tasks. It makes sense!  Adding a partner, however, isn’t as easy as just signing someone new on. From business issues to legal structuring, we’ll talk about the important things you need to know!

Fundamental Business Partnership Considerations

Business partnerships often arise when a new company starts. They might also arise when a new partner joins an existing business owner within their company, or when multiple businesses comes together.

However your partnership starts out, there are a few fundamental “buckets” you’ll want to consider.

Bucket #1 – Decision Making & Control

Who makes the decisions on what kind of things? Who has voting rights?

There are various levels of decisions that occur in any business. There will be distinctions within the partnership for who is in charge of what. For day to day decisions, there is often minimal documentation. Partners usually have tacit agreements about areas of oversight in order to keep things moving.

Once we branch into larger areas, however, clarity becomes key. Imagine one partner is a ⅔ owner and is a ⅓ owner. Does the larger majority holder automatically control all decisions? Do they have the final say? If no agreement has otherwise been made, this will be the default setting. (Possibly with a couple of exceptions under state law.) Alternatively, you may have a supermajority or unanimity requirement. That would impede a majority owner from making decisions without a minority owner’s approval.

Questions of selling equity, hiring/firing key employees, incurring debt or acquiring other companies?

You need to be aware if one partner has more decision making power than the other. All parties within the business partnership should have clarity around the level of decision making control they have.

I provide my clients with a list of extraordinary transactions for the business partners to review as they consider business partnerships. These transactions include large decisions like bringing on new partners, spending a certain amount of money, or otherwise making larger decisions. It’s crucial for business partners to get clarity on these matters from the get go!

Additionally, you’ll want to consider equity. Will everyone in the entity have the same class of equity? It’s not uncommon to create an A Class for founders, and a B Class for others buying in later. However, there are so many equity and capital structure variations that they need to be tailored to your specific needs and desires. Keep in mind that this is something that must be decided and created, not something that automatically happens.

Bucket #2 – Economics & Cash Flow

Who holds the purse strings? How does the money flow?

Just because someone holds a certain percentage of a business does not mean they are entitled to that percentage of the split. (If three people own a company, it is not a given that compensation must be split into even thirds.)

For instance, within a business partnership there may be a consideration given for services or contributions in addition to ownership. Whether this is paid as a salary, as a guaranteed payment, or as an additional distribution, it is important to understand how each member of a business partnership will be compensated for their role in the company.

Will the compensation element be directly tied to ownership elements? Or are there other factors that may be just as important, if not more so?

It’s much better to gain cash flow and economic understandings from the outset, rather than assume that others are in agreement and find out later that there are resentments and confusion.

Bucket #3 – What ifs?

What if someone dies or becomes permanently disabled? If someone retires? What if someone wants to leave the business? 

One important decision you should make within your business partnership is what will happen if a partner passes during their time as an owner.

If a partner dies and there is no written agreement, their share of the company will pass to their next beneficiary from their will. This could be a spouse, child, or relative. In an instant, your business could have a new business partner who, very likely, knows nothing about the business. For this reason, buy/sell provisions should be included in the operating or shareholders’ agreement for the business partnership protect the other living partner/partners from being forced into a business partnership in which they did not intend to be.

A buy/sell gives partners the right and ability to retain equity by purchasing it from the deceased’s estate. This is a powerful form of protection that can prevent a company from moving into the hands of an unintended party. It’s also a gift to the family, who is able to monetize their ownership and be compensated for their family member’s role. Ideally the estate or family receives fair compensation, and it’s a win/win for both parties.

In terms of being able to buy those shares back, we most often recommend a term life insurance policy that has been set up as a cross purchase. As a funding vehicle it won’t hurt the company’s cash flow, and allows partners to quickly compensate the family and retain shares via a buyback.

To hear more about how disability insurance can come into play, listen to the full episode.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider retirement expectations. Along with retirement criteria, you should discuss potential non-compete/non-solicit agreements. These would come into play if a partner leaves without retiring.

If a partner were to leave, what would happen with their clients? Is there a way to divide the business if members want to dissolve the partnership at some point? Are there buyout provisions in place?

The truth is, there are a lot of decisions to make when it comes to business partnerships. There are too many nuances to just pull a pre-formatted agreement off the internet. You can’t just use the one your friend used for their company. Like with the old Fram oil filter commercial: you can pay your attorney and other professionals now, or you can pay them much more later. That’s what happens when things weren’t done right the first time around. You end up having to clean them up or deal with a dispute.

Listen to the full episode on business partnerships here!

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

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

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

Dealing With the Potential Risk of Negotiations

This week’s guest, Henry Daas, is a serial entrepreneur, business and financial coach, screenwriter, avid traveler, golfer and tennis player. He also actively trades the financial markets and is the author of FQ, which is all about financial intelligence. Despite his current success, he also knows what it’s like to see everything fall apart. He’s learned how to assess deals from a standpoint of both ROI and potential risk as a result.

Rough Beginnings

Henry shares that around 2003 he bought a fixer upper and started interviewing contractors. He found one he liked (“Bob”), and they started doing real estate together. Their first deal? They bought a house for over a million dollars, knocked it down, and built a three million dollar house in its place.

Things were going well, and they started doing a lot of deals. However, things went south. The housing market crashed when Henry and Bob were knee deep in a multi-million dollar deal. Huge firms started collapsing, and Bob found himself crumbling. Sadly, he committed suicide and Henry was the last principle investor left holding the bag alone.

Multiple lawsuits ensued, and it wasn’t clear how things would end. Somehow, amidst all the financial turmoil of the time, the property was foreclosed on and Henry was released from his obligations as part of the proceedings. By the time he’d gone through three years of sleepless nights, and had endured extreme stress.

Potential Risk? Don’t Ignore Red Flags!

Henry realized he had deluded himself into thinking he had eliminated risk. In hindsight, he hadn’t put proper controls in place. His partner had controlled the books, and Henry had never asked to audit or review them. There was a lot of potential risk he had been blind too!

Things had been moving fast, and when loan officers and banks were sloppy with their paperwork, he didn’t identify that as a red flag. Now, he looks under every rock to identify risks on every deal. He doesn’t just want to know ROI, he wants to know risk and be able to balance the two.

After his lawsuit ended, Henry was told that one reason the judge had relieved him was because the other side had been slow to respond. They had frequently given the runaround, or made basic communication difficult. Their failure to communicate responsively cost them millions of dollars. If you’re ever in the midst of a deal (whether it’s going well or not), don’t forget how impactful small details are. 

Reach out! Follow up! Be responsive!

You never know what a difference it could make.

Deal-Driven Growth

In order to have a business, you need a product or service you can sell. Sales growth sometimes can be hard! So many companies are banging their heads against the wall as they try to grow their customer and client base organically. What they’re failing to look at, however, is the opportunity for strategic alliances and other forms of deal-driven growth.

Henry works with many remote companies. He’s found that people will spend huge amounts of money trying to build organic sales channels, even if they’re not that great at it. Sometimes they’ll pivot towards a fulfilled-by-Amazon or other drop shipping service. Although that can seem like a good plan, there are challenges when you don’t control the terms or have much power within the relationship.

Another option is to find someone with whom to enter into a joint venture or strategic alliance. Regardless of what you pursue, the multiplier effect is key. If there isn’t something that’s going to synergistically enhance your sales or client base, there isn’t any purpose. Be sure to consider the potential ROI as possible risks prior to entering into one of these relationships.

No matter how you go about your business, always be open to the lessons available to you. When you pay attention, you can always find something to learn that will help take you to the next level. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, invest in coaching, or join a mastermind group. 

True deal-driven growth isn’t something you have to do the hard way by forging your own path. Why not rely on others who have gone before? There are so many resources available for you! 

Protection Within Partnerships

One of Henry’s first partners started as part of a college friendship. He shares their first business ran for about 10 years, and it went great…until it didn’t. In fact, he initially joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization and hired his first business coach because he needed to navigate how to end the relationship. He hadn’t full recognized the potential risk beforehand!

By the time the business was successful, it was operating at the four million dollar mark. However, because their arrangements were verbal and there were no clear buy/sell agreements or other contractual deals, there was a great deal of conflict. Ultimately, Henry left the partnership with nothing.

After things ended poorly with his second partner (earlier referred to as Bob), Henry decided to be a solo-act. Although there are both pros and cons, he’s satisfied with his current position. If he were to enter back into a partnership, he would insist on much greater clarity on partnership terms and obligations.

Again — prepare for risk and take precautions to protect yourself from unnecessary problems.

Regardless of hardships and struggles, Henry is pleased with his outcomes. He’s overcome great losses, and he’s also had huge wins. By believing in himself, investing in coaching and assistance, learning from his experience and mistakes and persevering through hardships, he’s been able to have significant entrepreneurial success despite and, in part, because of the challenges he has faced.

Listen to the full episode here!

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

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

 

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

Strategic Business Growth Leads to Deals

Lately you may have noticed that we’re having some guests on the podcast that are speaking about things you need to do in your company to prepare yourself for deal-related opportunities. This includes strategic business growth decisions like building teams and putting processes in place. It also includes building a company that’s less dependent upon you as the founder.

Strategic Business Growth Positioning

It is a myth that you need to be a huge company with huge resources and major capital to do deals. Why? Because deals are not only about financing. We’ve covered everything on the show! From joint ventures and strategic alliances, licensing deals, affiliate deals online, sponsorships and business partnerships. Everybody at any size can do a deal.

However, it does take some level of resources. In the very least, you need somebody with the time and focus and energy to get deals done. Are you in a position where you are working in your business as the founder, and you have to be there every single day? Is your presence required to make sure that the sausage is getting made, so to speak, or the products are going out? Or are you the one actually delivering the services to the clients? If so, then you don’t have the time to work on any kind of deal!

If you’re not doing those things and you haven’t built a team and you haven’t put systems in place, your ability to do deals successfully is extremely limited.

Scalable & Saleable

You’re probably familiar with the concept of scalable and saleable. You know that those principles ring true whether you’re ever going to sell your business or not. But even if you don’t plan to sell, why not be in a position where you can monetize at the end? Too people get to retirement and their business just sort of goes away.

No matter what your business is, ultimately there is a way to monetize it in some way that lasts beyond your ability to run it. But you have to be sure that it’s not solely dependent upon you, and that you build it in such a way that it has value beyond you.

When you build processes and systems and shift your mindset to build a team, that’s when you truly build a brand and something that has value beyond your own efforts.

So many experts and entrepreneurs have experience in doing that, which has allowed them to not only be in a better position to do that ultimate exit deal at the end, but also freed them up and made the company more valuable with increased profits while they were running it.

It also ensured they had the power to do deals during their operations, not just at the end when they were phasing themselves out.

Working On Your Business

The fundamental level of this is the concept of working on the business and not in it. People have to figure out what their highest and best use areas are. That means what it is that you are great at, and what you love doing.

And too many people stop there. But just because you love it and you’re good at doesn’t mean it is highly leveraged. It may not even make a big difference in your organization.

You have to assess whether it moves the needle. If you’re not doing stuff at that level, then that’s your first problem.

Second of all, build a team. I’ve built this phenomenal team. They do a lot of the work in the areas that they’re more talented in than me, or that are not in my highest and best use areas. It’s their highest and best use areas, though, and that allows me to leverage the high level things that I do.

I’ve had entrepreneurs tell me that they can’t do that because they haven’t got the right people. Usually they say things like, “I’m kind of a perfectionist”, or “ I don’t think anybody’s going to do it as good as I do”. Well, those are problems. Both the perfectionist thing, and also the lack of trust in other people. Ultimately you can find the right people out there, but some of that is a mindset thing. When you believe they aren’t there, and that no one could ever do the job right, you’ll always have a reason to turn potential candidates away. Or a reason to critique and run off the people you do have.

Trust Me – 80% Works for Strategic Business Growth
So here’s something to keep in mind. Some people do it differently than you. And it doesn’t seem like it is as good, but you know what, maybe it is as good, sometimes even better. If they can do it 80% as good as you, let them do it. Even if that means you come in at the end and tweak that final 20%, you’ve saved a significant amount of time and started the process of training someone who will get better and better at understanding what 100% looks like.

When you’re in a position to have a successful business that’s grown organically and that scales in a way that’s not dependent upon you, you get to have a better lifestyle. You’re not working 20 hours a day, you’re not under extreme stress all the time, and you’re bringing in expertise and surrounding yourself with people who are better at certain things. If you have systemized things so that you’re acting in your highest and best use areas, you’re now leveraging what you’re best at. That means that you’re going to be producing more revenue. And then you start to build this team. They are either producing revenue, or helping get the work done. Not only are you going to have more time, but you’ll also be more successful.

And then of course that increases your enterprise value and valuation on the back end.

In your business, that can look like whatever makes the most sense for you. There is no one right way to scale or grow, or to run day to day operations. And you certainly shouldn’t feel obligated to grow past the point that you want your business to be at. What’s important is that you have clarity about what you’re seeking in your business.

I’m speaking from experience here and saying that it starts with us. It starts with addressing our own limiting beliefs and our own willingness to be open to learning and growth. All of that mindset work is stuff that we need to learn as entrepreneurs. This is especially true if we want to continue to develop in a way that will allow our businesses to scale.

Grow Your Mindset

Over on my website I have a whole list of mentors and leaders in the mindset and development space. Want to be able to grow more and experience more deal driven growth? It’s vital that you get your business running in such a way that it’s organically successful. That makes it less dependent upon you. That starts with a mindset shift and a willingness to do the personal growth work to make that shift. And that feeds back into your ability to continue to scale, build your team, and put new processes in place. Those components are key when you get to that next level.

What I am committed to is not only deals and growth, but really entrepreneurial freedom. I think you’ll see that in some of the stuff we’re doing with our upcoming Entrepreneurial Freedom course. If you have any questions about that, definitely reach out. At the end of the day, I love working with entrepreneurs. I love helping people achieve their dreams and visions. It can be some tough work, but it’s always easier when you have guidance and support.

Listen in to the full episode here!

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

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

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

Stand Out, Get Noticed, and Make Better Deals

Jesse Cole is the owner of Savannah Bananas, founder of Fans First Entertainment, author of Find Your Yellow Tux, and a keynote speaker. He’s a huge believer in helping businesses stand out, as he uses the power of being different as a way to gain leverage and make deals!

Using Experience to Stand Out (and Sell Out Stadiums)

In lower level baseball, it’s not unusual to see empty seats in the stands…unless you’re at a home game for the Savannah Bananas. As a college summer team, they have reason to NOT sell out. However, Jesse is known for having a team that sells out constantly. They do deals, create promotions, and find ways to stand out, get seen, and sell tickets all the time!

In fact, they’ve sold out every single game for the last two seasons, and have thousands of fans on their waiting list.

He shares that they built a brand that has transcended past Savannah, having received global attention. People are tuning into their games, and eagerly watching what they do. Jesse sees it as a crazy brand story connected to building something with a very clear purpose. His vision was to change the game of baseball, and to do it by putting fans first and entertaining always.

Goal: To give fans the most fun they have ever had at a baseball game.

This includes a professional high fiver, a role that Jesse held auditions for (hear more about that on the full episode)! It also points to how necessary it is to invest in experience. It’s not “just” a baseball game; it’s a full blown experience, from beginning to end.

A GM with $268 in the Bank

Jesse’s first General Manager position in baseball had a salary of $27,000, and placed him as the GM of the worst team in the league. He got the offer with no experience, because no one else wanted the position. Since he was an unpaid intern at the time, what did he have to lose? So, he went for it.

His first week in, he realized there were three full time employees…and $268 in the team’s bank account. For the first three months on the job, he wasn’t able to pay himself.

But he saw potential, and he made a deal:

If he could hit a ridiculously high revenue and fan goal, he wanted a $2,500 bonus. He got a joking “yes”, and proceeded to double revenue and triple the fan base. How? Well, he shares that they started being dramatically different. They focused on the fun, and the entertainment aspects of the game. They had dancing players, and grandma beauty pageants.

The next year, the owner came to his office to say that He’d never seen anything like it. Jesse attributed it to being empowered to making changes and doing whatever he thought needed to be done. He believed in the power of standing out and getting noticed, and he leveraged that power to transform his team.

The Power of Ownership

Jesse believes that being empowered to make decisions, make deals, and even name his own salary is what equipped him to be successful. Today, he feels that giving people ownership is the most powerful way to increase success.

Big questions he asks himself in terms of creating sustainable growth:

How do I empower others to make their own deals?

How do I give opportunity to all my employees?

One way he practices empowerment is by profit sharing with his employees. It’s a way of giving everyone ownership within the organization, which uplevels their personal investment and agency.

He also believes in his dreams and goals, and he demonstrates what it is to be ALL IN.

In fact, when the Savannah Bananas were getting started, they ran out of money early on. Jesse and his wife made the choice to fund the team by selling their own house; they believed so firmly in their ability to succeed that they literally put in everything they had.

They also brokered deals on many fronts. From their stadium lease, to an expensive expansion deal, they looked for ways to build their audience, engage with their community, and create a foundation for success.

One important aspect of these deals was to consider their community impact. Short term dollars could not override long term community concerns and needs. Using the concept of Fans First, Entertainment Always, Jesse ensured that every deal made had a positive impact on their fans. It’s a core part of what they do, and he stands by it 100%.

The promise you make to your people and your fans with your brand is vital.

Jesse understands that fans don’t want ads – so their stadium doesn’t have them. They gave up hundreds of thousands of dollars and potential income in order to stand behind their mission – Fans First. Their tickets are all inclusive, because fans aren’t served by being nickel and dimed every time they come to a game.

It’s a philosophy of caring for customers that goes far beyond lip service, and it impacts every deal that Jesse makes with his entertainment company and ball team.

Lessons on Pivoting

Jesse shares that when they tried to do what everyone else was doing, they got the results everyone else got. Now, he believes in doing the exact opposite.

At their start, the team didn’t have many resources. There was no massive budget for marketing. So instead of having a marketing plan and throwing dollars into ad spend, they looked for ways to garner attention.

To this day, Jesse encourages people to stop creating “marketing” plans, and start creating “attention” plans. Think about what a reporter would find compelling. Think about your fans most desire. Create experiences. Experiment to see what works, what draws your audience, and what gets people attention.

To tie in baseball metaphor: the player with the most hits in MLB history is also the player who had the most at bats.

If you’re a business that is constantly “planning” and never actually swings…you don’t have enough at bats to achieve extraordinary success.

Identify your core vision, then find ways to take action. Have a brainstorming session with your team, but then go out and DO something about. How many experiments can you do this week? This month? This year?

How can you release the need for everything to be perfected and polished, and instead choose to fail forward fast?

Jesse brings so much energy to this interview, and he dives deep on culture and growth as well! Listen to the full episode to learn more!

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

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