Categories
Authentic Deal-Making

Referable Brands Help Grow Deals

This week’s guest, Michael Roderick, shares so much valuable information about the power of creating a referable brand. When you can get people talking about you when you’re not in the room, more folks will come your way. Some of you may think this only relates to growing organically, but that’s not true. People who have brand value beyond just sales are that much more attractive as acquisition targets. They’re also set up better for possible joint ventures, strategic alliances, and more. Referable brands and deals were made for each other!

Organic Growth & Unique Selling Propositions

As a deal maker, Michael differentiated himself with a unique selling proposition. He appealed to the people with whom he was dealing. He points out that every industry has vulnerabilities. If there’s a normal doorway that everyone is trying to use to get into the space, where are the windows? What other model can you use? How can you be different?

As humans, we are wired to look for contrast. And when you take an approach that is high-contrast to what others around you are doing, you’ll draw attention naturally.

People will talk about what you’re doing, and they’ll remember that you were different.

In Michael’s case, he combined his creative and business interests in the realm of Broadway. Rather than taking the fundraising approach that he saw everyone around him taking – rasing money in exchange for a producer credit, he looked for the proverbial “window”. In his industry, that looked like initially raising money without asking for any credit. This gave him access to more shows. He could then present a portfolio of potential shows to investors and setting up events for theatre companies and actors as a way to raise money.

In the course of putting these events together, Michael started meeting people and getting known. From off-Broadway producers to Broadway producers, he built a reputation that served as the basis for his growth.

And as he grew, he got questions —

People wanted to know how he was meeting these big names, how he was hosting these events, and how he was raising money so effectively. Part of his answer revolved around understanding who was on the other side of the table.

The Benefit Doesn’t Have to Be Financial

Broadway isn’t usually about investing to make money, which means the selling point isn’t going to focus on financial gains. Even though a large part of his role was based on financials and raising capital, Michael understood that what mattered to the people he was making deals with wasn’t just dollars and cents.

On Broadway, there’s an old saying:

You can’t make a living, but you can make a killing.
By its nature, Broadway is high risk, high reward. And the reward people most wanted wasn’t about the money. Rather than try to force a financial focus that wasn’t there, he had the awareness to consider what mattered most to the people who were doing the investing.

In this case, it was often experiential. Often Broadway investors have theatre backgrounds, and their investment exchange is attached to outcomes. They’re interested in learning more of the process, connecting with producers or actors, or otherwise gaining enjoyable experiences in the theatre community.

Michael shared that he often felt out how exciting a project opportunity may seem to a potential client. If they didn’t have an intrinsic desire for a certain project, he never pushed it on them.

Most investing scenarios are similar. You can share the value behind a deal. You can also share why you think it makes sense, but you shouldn’t want to force it. The right person will see the value in what you’re offering, and they’ll step up to the plate.

Negotiating with the “Halo Effect”

Using simulated networking experience, Michael was able to identify common behavior patterns that cropped up during social and networking interactions. He was also able to build a framework to help people do better.

He recognized that many of us don’t consider how to package ourselves in order to get others to talk about us. But when other people DO share about us with their friends and acquaintances, we can start to harvest the power of a referrable brand.

When your name is frequently getting dropped in positive, powerful ways, you walk into the room, the conversation, or the negotiation with the “halo effect”. The positive regard and social clout you’ve garnered pave the way for any sort of deal or interaction you may encounter. It also brings you into contact with more people and connections, which means collaboration opportunities abound.

This packaging of ourselves is something we have to be intentional about. All of us have unconscious competence; things we do that we are good at, but that we hardly recognize. You may find it worthwhile to work with someone who has a bigger picture view of who you are and what you’re doing, because it’s quite likely that you’re missing some of your own points of genius!

(You can go all the way back to an earlier episode to listen in to how Ramon Ray garners affiliate deals using this type of approach as well!)

To learn more about income ceilings, re-positioning, deal-driven strategies, and more, listen in to the full episode!

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

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

Categories
Deal-Driven Growth

Applying The Power Of Deals For Social Justice

Regular listeners may have noticed we didn’t put out a new episode last week. That wasn’t part of our original plan, but in light of George Floyd (Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others) and the protests, we felt it was much more important to make room for voices speaking around those important social justice issues. As we were also taking part in the #melanatedvoices campaign on our social platforms, we chose to forgo our regular podcast as well.

Our hope was to create more space for conversations about race relations, police brutality, and white privilege.

Those are the conversations we’ve been engaging with, and we plan to continue. Being back this week doesn’t mean we are no longer committed to the cause! I’ve been part of this work for over 20 years, and will continue on.

And since this is a deals podcast…let’s talk about how it all relates!

Biggest Mistakes (In Negotiations AND in Hard Conversations)

If it’s new to you – a new concept, a new conversation, a new way of seeing – definitely start learning and engaging! But please start by remembering that Black people have been living this for hundreds of years. It’s been part of their lives and experiences, and it’s something they’ve been talking about forever and could talk about all the time. There are hundreds of resources you can use to learn more; books, podcasts, educators, social accounts.

So start by investing in educating yourself with resources that already exist (rather than asking a Black person to walk you through it all yet again!). As you do that, you can be thinking about this conversation in the same way you think about a deal:

How do you align?
What’s the best way to support somebody?
How do you understand what the needs are?

For example, when making deals I often point out that the biggest negotiation mistake people make is not listening enough. We tune out, we assume we know, or we spend our “listening” time thinking about what we’re going to say next.

However, this is NOT the time to make that mistake. This is a time to listen – fully listen.

When we are talking too much, it’s often because our ego is engaged. We certainly see that happening in many online conversations right now. We all have opinions. But in the same way that your ego can derail a negotiation, it can derail you right now.

Stop trying to be “right”, and focus on being effective. Rather than jumping in with your own opinion, try listening to others. It will serve you in business and negotiations, and it will also serve you when you engage with hard conversations and realities.

(The other big problem? FEAR. Listen in to the full episode to hear my take on the role fear is playing right now.)

Put Yourself on the Social Justice Court

You absolutely have to be willing to make mistakes.

This isn’t an invitation to be reckless and just and do anything. However, you can’t just refuse to speak up or engage because you’re afraid of messing up. If you want to make something happen, you have to put yourself out there.

In business, you can plan, and plan, and plan….and never get anything done. That’s just as harmful as jumping in too fast and taking action when you’re unprepared. So yes – educate yourself. Make an effort to learn more. Listen well.

But don’t forget to take action as well. Speak up. Engage. Be willing to admit to mistakes you might make as you do so.

In deals, we often make strategic alliances. You can do that here too. Whether that means being an ally to, or better yet, an advocate for friends or colleagues, aligning yourself with a movement like Black Lives Matters, or connecting more fully with your community.

As you do this, it’s vital that your focus is on their needs. As a strategic partner, do you need to share? Listen? Support? Comfort? Rally with?

When it comes to engaging with other white people, consider what will be effective and efficient.

  • Where is your energy going?
  • Who are you elevating?
  • Who do you need to move on from?

When you’re trying to negotiate a deal and it’s clear it’s not going to happen, you move on. You want to go where you can make a difference, where progress can be made. It’s okay to stop sinking your time into a person or conversation that clearly isn’t open to learning and changing right now.

Gain Clarity & Identify Disconnects

Do the work to make sure you understand what is acceptable to you, and what’s not.

When I work with clients, we get super clear on the purpose of any possible deal. We question why we’re pursuing it, what impact we hope it will make, and why it matters to us.

You can do that with this work as well. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions, and to dig deeper into what matters to you, and why.

Your deepest why can bring you greater clarity about your principles, your vision, and your values. We are absolutely called to figure out what we truly stand for, who we are, and what we are committed to now more than ever.

Identify disconnects between what you say you are….and who you really are.

It’s easy to post online, but not as easy to take action.
It’s easy to learn the “right” things to say, but not as easy to truly hold those beliefs in your core.

This is the time to question what you are aligned with, and how you can better align with the things you say matter most to you.

Alignment Truly Matters

In every aspect of your life, alignment matters.

Friends, relationship, business, deals, social justice.

When something is out of alignment, it does impact you.

You may find yourself needing to make decisions about people and things that you want in your life, or that you need to remove from your life. Don’t be afraid to take a good long look around and determine what actually aligns with your values, and what doesn’t.

For many years, at the end of every year, I have a practice of evaluating my relationships and determining who I need to eliminate or reduce the time I spend with in my life. It’s become such a habit that I now naturally take care of cutting ties, as needed, throughout the year and there is usually nobody on that list at the end of the year anymore. I’m aware of what aligns and what doesn’t, and I don’t hesitate to make changes in order to amplify what is actually aligned.

You can do the same.

If you say you’re committed to change and growth, you need to make sure your clients, your vendors, your business partners, and your practices are aligned with that value.

More and more, people have the understanding that who you are as a person and who you are as a brand or company is important. If they sense a disconnect, you’re going to have problems. (If you HAVE a disconnect, you have problems!) That’s why paying lip service to an idea without truly aligning yourself and your values is not a solution.

Please take the time to get educated, to explore your deepest values, and to fully listen to the voices of our Black brothers and sisters who are speaking out. Change starts with each of us. You can listen in to the full episode if you’d like to hear the rest of my thoughts on authentic alignment, making a difference in these times and how many of the principles of authentic negotiating and deal-driven growth apply to current challenges and opportunities as well!

As a white person who has been on this journey for over 20 years, I’m here to be a resource to you as well. If you’re serious about growing and learning, feel free to reach out. I would love to be able to provide you with resources and tangible ideas about how you can move forward to truly make a difference in transforming racism and white privilege.

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 Business Relationships Authentic Conversations About Difference Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Finding Valuable Deals that are Worth Pursuing

I am so excited to share this DealQuest episode with you! Stephanie Scheller is the founder of Grow Disrupt, a San Antonio-based training organization for small businesses, and an accomplished speaker who has been behind-the-scenes with more than 2500 companies in the past five years to analyze & address their sales, marketing & systems! Her wealth of knowledge is especially useful when it comes to finding valuable deals that are worth pursuing!

Stephanie is a TEDx speaker, a Forbes 30 under 30 nominee, a 2019 New York Life Woman of the year Nominee, a two-time best-selling author, an entrepreneur, a coach and a trainer and dedicated to teaching the same skills that allowed her to build her business from scratch and walk away from her corporate job in less than five months. It is abundantly clear why I’m so excited to have her as a guest!

Grow Disrupt: Decreasing Overwhelm with Connections

Stephanie notes that when it comes to business, there are so many experts and self-proclaimed “gurus” out there. It’s very challenging to find people who actually give good information that is currently working.

A lot of small businesses get stuck. They get bad information, and then they get so overwhelmed with trying to either use that information, or find a new person with better information, that eventually they just kind of give up on follow through. We all know that doesn’t work if you’re going to run a business. You’ve got to have business skills as well as technical skills and you know like

So my goal was to be a gatekeeper so people could come to me and get connected with solid industry leaders that could really provide the guidance they needed. Eventually, Grow Disrupt turned to events as their medium of choice; they would bring in the people who not only know what they’re doing, but also know how to break it down in a way that makes sense. It’s vital that these guests can provide strategies and information that will work inside multiple businesses; global application is key!

Finding Valuable Deals

This may not seem like the ideal time to be knee-deep in the events industry! Stephanie shares that Grow Disrupt adapts as needed.

Right now, for example, they’re doing a lot of events online. Because they’ve positioned themselves as a brand that people can connect with, they’ve been able to make the pivot and continue serving their ideal clientele. This has been made simpler because Stephanie is a connector; she isn’t just signing contracts and creating growth for herself. Instead, she’s making deals that are based on trust and that grow from relationships.

As a connector myself, I know what a great skill this is when it comes to making deals. Before a transaction can occur, a relationship has to be made!

(Speaking of the event industry, you can go all the way back to episode three of the DealQuest Podcast to hear my interview with Ramon Ray if you want more information about deals and events!)

When Stephanie creates events and brings in experts, she tends to focus first and foremost on what her audience needs. They’re looking to accelerate their growth, shorten the learning curve, and uncover problems they don’t even know they have. By connecting with the experts that Stephanie brings them into contact with, they are able to identify what they most need to work on next. Often, these are problems that they have been unable to identify themselves, which means they’ve often put time and resources into trying to fix the wrong things!

Stephanie shares a great example she recently discovered in a violin lesson (I’d invite you to listen in to the full episode to hear about that real life example of fixing all the wrong things!)

Desperate Deals

Stephanie shares that one of the keys to deal-making is that you can’t be negotiating from a place of desperation.

When you’re just trying to get sales going,you tend to be desperate for the deal to go through. But here’s the thing: this deal is not going to save your business.

When you’re making deals from a desperate place, what you’re going to end up getting is a deal that’s not in your best interest. Stabilizing your sales funnel and using marketing to drive leads into that funnel will allow you the space you need to really negotiate and make deals from a place of power.

I love that Stephanie talked about this; something I talk about in my negotiating book is that if you’re in a place of scarcity, desperation, or fear, you’re going to be making wrong decisions. Great deals don’t come from a bad place!

Stephanie also mentioned some big ideas about taking a paycheck and getting a profit distribution from your business.

That ties in so well with last week’s episode, where Mike Michalowicz shared about his work with Profit First and Fix This Next.

Leverage Organic Growth With Deals

If you’re doing it right, you have organic growth from your sales and marketing as the base. And then you leverage that growth with deals. You’re able to use your organic success to enhance your negotiating position, which enables you to release the desperation of “needing” the deal.

Making deals from a place of strength also makes it more likely that you’ll be able to create ongoing relationships. The best way to do this is to start with a continuation of each relationship in mind. This requires honesty. Ideally you’re entering into deals that further your business without threatening to overwhelm it. Ideally, you don’t want a single deal to comprise more than 25% of your business, because you have to recognize that there are hundreds of reasons that that deal could end. Things change, clients’ needs change, the economy changes, your connection leaves the company. Too many companies become complacent and overly reliant upon one or two really large clients. Then if you lose them, you risk losing your business.

I completely agree with Stephanie’s thinking here. I’ve been in business for 35 years, and I feel like we do great work for people. We rarely have any issues with clients. However, we still lose clients for other reasons; by reducing our reliance on a small handful of clients, we strengthen our overall business and approach.

Stephanie shared about a contact that was making $250,000 a year from three clients. With no warning, she lost two of them overnight. It wasn’t anything she did “wrong”; they were bringing it in house because they got acquired by a larger company. Her business had relied on three contracts; they were good deals, but she could have lost everything by over relying on them and ignoring organic sales and marketing that would have enabled her to have more diversity within her business.

To learn more about leveraging deals while organically growing your business, listen in to the whole episode here! You can also learn more about Stephanie over on her site, www.growdisrupt.com.

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 Leadership Deal-Driven Growth

Fix This Next and Get Ready for Deal-Driven Growth

I’m honored to share this week’s interview with DealQuest guest and Profit First creator Mike Michaelowicz with you. Over the years he has traveled the globe, speaking to thousands of entrepreneurs. On the show, he distilled that down into some of the absolute best wisdom that he’s learned. (Including lessons from his new book, Fix This Next!)

Mike is a natural fit for the DealQuest Podcast. So much of what he teaches helps companies build enterprise value that sets their owners up for an eventual exit. He is the author of multiple books, including Profit First, Surge, Clockwork, The Pumpkin Plan, and his latest release: Fix This Next. Today he is running his third multi-million dollar company, Profit First.

Foundations of Being Deal Ready

In my work, I talk a lot about being deal ready.

In fact, I have a theory that any company of any size can do some sort of deal. The truth is, however, that to be able to confidently benefit from consistent deal-driven growth, you absolutely have to put in the work! You can just suddenly take on new sales without having the right infrastructure. And you certainly can’t truly benefit from deals if you haven’t built a strong foundation to handle that growth.

Part of that foundation is exactly what Mike teaches in his Profit First work. Personally, it’s rare for me to say I’m devoted to much. Profit First principles, however, would make the list of tools and concepts that I am proud to stand behind. In fact, I’ve shared Mike’s book with over a hundred people. I can attest to the difference it has made in not only my life, but the lives of so many other entrepreneurs!

Fix This Next

If you’ve read any of Mike’s previous books, you know how powerful his work is! That’s one reason I was so thrilled to learn his new book, Fix This Next, was published recently.

As an entrepreneur himself, Mike shares that he is constantly curious about the challenges being faced by other business owners. So he asked!

And his readers responded with all sorts of answers that were all over the board. (Listen in to hear about the fluke double send that resulted in a really interesting find!) After distilling everything down, Mike’s big takeaway was that business leaders were struggling to know exactly what their own biggest challenges even were.

How could that be?
Well, it partly related to the fact that too many entrepreneurs were consumed with putting out fires. And that constant hustle from one issue to the next…to the next….to the next….

It was creating an issue with being able to step outside of the business and really SEE what the actual challenges were.

I really resonated with what Mike shared about this. It absolutely matches what I’m seeing. There’s this conversation about the constant need for “hustle” if you’re an entrepreneur. That results in a business (and leader) that is in reaction to everything that’s going on. Fix This Next is all about helping people stop running a million miles an hour. Once you’re able to focus on real priorities, you can transform your business!

Mike shares that entrepreneurs grinding and hustling in their businesses have proven that that model does not work for growth. Instead, leaders attempting to grow in this way get stuck in a self-defeating cycle.

Thoughtful Design

Mike shares that we have to be very thoughtful with designing the outcomes we want. We also need to have clarity on where the business needs to go, and then organize our resources to get there. That’s our job.

When you peel back the outer skin of a business, they’re almost all identical. Essentially, there are five foundational levels. Similar to Maslow’s hierarchy, if the foundational level is not being addressed, we cannot grow in other ways. You don’t build the fifth story of a building up in thin air, because you know it will all collapse to the ground. You have to build the foundation first.

Once you have that, Fix This Next identifies the 5 essential levels of a solid business:

Sales and the creation of cash are the foundational level of a business. Without cash flow, you can’t do anything.
Profits provide stability for an organization; with no profit, your business is on extremely shaky ground.

Order is a creation of efficiency, and the ultimate acid test is whether a business can run without the owner themselves. If I know I can leave my business and it will continue to grow without me being there, then I am on my way to true business success.
Impact is the creation of transformation. NOT transactions. Transformations. How are you serving people’s lives? How are you changing people’s lives?

Legacy is the fifth and highest level. When the business starts focusing on legacy, the business owner has a realization, and that realization is profound. I am not an owner but instead a steward of my business.

When a business owner is able to release their business into time and space in order for it to continue on to be of service in their absence, it’s at the legacy stage.

It’s Not All Linear

Those five levels don’t always happen in one neat line. It’s normal to bounce around a bit! For example, as we’re recording there’s mass economic turmoil. For many of us in business, what we were selling before isn’t selling anymore. So even if we were working at transformational levels of impact and legacy, we may need to refocus on our businesses and reinvent ourselves. That can mean going all the way back to level one. You may need to create new products or services that are relevant to the current times.

All businesses of all sizes will live in this hierarchy. As a result, we’re always moving around at different times, based upon what’s going on around us. There’s no shame in reaching back and making changes to fundamental parts of your business!

Building a Deal-Ready Business

Mike already talked a little bit how these levels impact deals. The ability to build a company that runs without the owner while building enterprise value apart from the efforts of the owner makes a company much more lucrative. Profit First/Fix This Next businesses that can run and profit without direct owner intervention are much more attractive to potential buyers.

Everything that Mike shared in terms of building out the 5 levels of a company are directly related to creating a company that is truly set up to be successful at deal-driven growth. And not just acquisitions! Any type of deal will be positively impacted by building your company on a strong foundation. You need to consider sales, profit, order, impact, and legacy.

Mike also notes that if you want your company to be in the position of acquiring new businesses, reputation is key. If you acquire or partner with a business for its excellent tools, assets, systems, or products, you can bring those to market in a powerful way. This requires your own company brand to be strong and trusted. Even if the acquired brand is relatively small or unknown, partnering it with your own solid, trusted brand can bring exposure that creates a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Your own brand’s reputation can allow an acquisition to quickly become a value multiplier from day one.

This kind of growth also enhances a new brand’s ability to grow organically due to brand recognition.

Speaking of brands, Mike shares that the brands of yesteryear were built around awareness (via repetition of messaging). Now, however, brands are built through reputation. Messaging has to be backed by people’s experience. This requires you to have a reputation for excellence within your client base. Your reputation truly precedes you as a brand today.

The Best Work of My Life

What a statement! Mike shared that he considers Fix This Next to be the best work of his life. If you feel your business has hit a ceiling, if you’re constantly putting out fires, if it seems like working your business is some sort of recurring groundhogs day…

This book is for you!

Between every action and reaction we need thoughtful contemplation. However, many business owners and leaders don’t do that. Something happens, and we end up reacting by our gut instinct. And that reaction isn’t serving entrepreneurs and business leaders well because we’re biologically wired into ourselves. When it comes to making gut decisions for our businesses, we’re not wired into it the way we are to our bodies. Yet when it comes to our businesses, many of us just simply trust our gut. That’s the wrong move!

Fix This Next is a really simple tool that will help you move in the exact direction your business needs.

It absolutely helps you focus on the one thing you need to do within that business hierarchy of needs we talked about above.

In the book, you’ll find a simple series of questions that allows you to very rapidly evaluate where you are. Then you concentrate your efforts on resolving that one thing. When you concentrate your efforts on resolving foundational needs that really need to be fixed, you create a foundation that you can continue to build upon.

Once you’ve done that, you can really maximize your own business in a way that makes sense for your own lifestyle. This allows you to achieve what Mike calls “lifestyle congruence.” Understanding what you want for yourself is a key piece of building a business that will support your life in the long run.

Listen in to the full episode to hear about the three trigger moments that Mike believes have impacted his own businesses!

And if you’re interested in reading Fix This Next, you can pick up your copy here (and let me know what you think…I’ll be reading it too!).

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 Deal-Driven Growth

Strategic Business Growth Leads to Deal Opportunities

Lately, you may have noticed that we’re having a wider variety of guests on the podcast. They are speaking about the variety of 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 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 from joint ventures and strategic alliances to licensing deals and affiliate deals online. We’ve also discussed 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 in the position where you are working in your business as the founder? Do you have to be there every single day to make sure that the sausage is getting made, so to speak, or the products are going out? Because if you’re the one actually delivering the services to the client — 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 and Salable

You’re probably familiar with the concept of scalable and salable. 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 and 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

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, who is also either producing revenue or helping get the work done, so not only are you going to have more time, but you’ll also be more successful.

And 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 the stuff that we need to learn as entrepreneurs so that we can 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. If you 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 and 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 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 to the full interview 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 Conversations About Difference Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating Deal-Driven Growth

Key Decisions During Challenging Times

In this week’s episode, I break down the key decisions that we all need to make in these challenging times. The insights I offer on this topic come out of my own experience in dealing with challenging times in the past. For instance, coming through previous recessions and Superstorm Sandy.

Leadership Opportunities

As entrepreneurs and business leaders, I think we all have an opportunity to really look closely at two key decision points. The first one is:

Are we going to let these challenging times of crises get us down and derail key decisions?
Will we allow them to adversely impact us in terms of our mental state, our spiritual state, or our emotional state? Or are we going to find a way to rally?

During difficult times, it’s imperative that we stay positive and look for opportunities to excel. That may mean we need to pivot in our businesses, or use this time to develop new offerings for our clients. At an absolute minimum, it means we need to find new ways to stay in contact with clients by finding our own space of attraction and service.

If we don’t do that, we can easily end up in a place of fear and scarcity.

I’m sure we’ve all seen examples of leaders who have rallied, and leaders who have floundered. In fact, both things are happening in the extremes right now. And of course you know certain people in between; treading water and getting by. You get decide what kind of leader you will be! You can make key decisions that will allow you to grow, even through difficulty.

The Power of Positive Entrepreneurs

What I love about entrepreneurs is that, in general, I find them to be generally more positive and optimistic than many other types of people.

They are used to being innovative and finding creative ways to make things happen! And it could be that optimism comes more easily in times of crisis because they’re in control to a greater degree than those who work for others. Being an entrepreneur is different because you have so much agency. Instead of wondering if you’re going to get laid off from a job, you’re able to gear up and create change. But you an only do so if you’re maintaining a positive mindset!

As a business owner, what you’re dealing with is your business. You have the power to make changes or pivot as you see fit. And entrepreneurs clearly take advantage of this ability! In every down time, there are always companies that come out of it stronger than before. Why?

Because they are empowered to create changes and adapt.

Some businesses will use the crisis to figure out how to become more efficient, how to make different offers, and how to produce products that are more appealing to their clients. Some of the most successful companies throughout history, going all the way back to the Great Depression and beyond, have been formed out of downtimes in the economy.

It all starts with whether you look at everything as an opportunity. You can choose to approach this challenge with an open mind, equipping yourself to not only survive, but to thrive.

Stand Strong

Are you constantly asking yourself how you’re going to put the best spin on this?

Are you searching for how you’re going to use this time most effectively?

You have to understand that if you’re in a place of fear or scarcity or lack, if you’re sort of shutting down and letting things affect you, it is going to impact your business. Mindset is everything. If you focus on scarcity, you are more likely to have that come into your life. Choosing to stay positive is one of the most key decisions you can make.

When you focus on positive ways to serve your clients, serve humanity, serve people, you empower yourself.

If you focus on making a difference, being there, and supporting others in these times — that will shine through. And you’ll make an impact on not only your own life, but the lives of others.

Because honestly, whether you worry about it or not, it’s going to be what it’s going to be. So much is outside of your control. When we can get to the point where we are only focusing on the things that we can actually do something about, and not worrying about those that are outside of our control, that’s when we have the opportunity to be in our best position.

So that’s the first fundamental decision you have to make. But you’re not in it alone!

To help leaders in maintaining this positive outlook, I’m bringing entrepreneurs and business leaders together on Zoom calls where we can support each other. The goal is to maintain a positive energy, keep a growth mindset, and share best practices and while in community. The previous calls have been really amazing, and I would encourage you to join us if you haven’t yet!

Key Decisions Include How You Will Serve Others

The second big decision that I want you all to think about is this:

Are you looking for positive ways to serve?
Really consider: are you finding ways of just being there as human beings for each other? How are you actively supporting others in ways that are unrelated to making money or building your business?

And how are you serving your clients and being a resource to them, while also continuing to get paid a fair value for your services?

We all want to be people who make a difference in other people’s lives. It’s vital that we do so in ways that are fair and in keeping with our morals,values, and highest ideals. In these times, especially if you’re facing scarcity, fear, or worry about money, your decisions can get clouded by need.

I know what it’s like to sleep on an air mattress in my office, because I gave up my apartment during the 2008 recession. I know what it’s like to go into $325,000 of debt trying to make it all happen. These are hard times for many businesses, and I understand all too well what that feels like.

But what I also knew in that time was that it was vital to handle my business with character and in alignment to my true values. This is vital; no matter how hard it is, you must act on principle and maintain your core values.

So, how are we going to carry ourselves in these challenging times?

If we have an opportunity to still be in business and sell services and products, are we going to be gouging prices?

Or are we going to charge a fair price, are we going to actively look for ways to be of service? Can we look for ways to still uphold our value for the services that we’re providing, but also accommodate our client’s needs?

Let’s Talk Deals

There are going to be a lot of deals to be had in any kind of down economy. And we each have a choice: you can leverage and take advantage of somebody, or choose to be fair with somebody.

Because yes, there are the “distressed assets” – whether it’s property or business valuations that are tanking – and people who are afraid and may even feel desperate. Some investors will jump on the chance to leverage short-term profit. But others will operate from a place of integrity, a place of character and balance an appropriate adjustment in price and terms with a longer term view that takes into account relationships, valuing talent and fairness under the circumstances.

If you’re entering into a deal, you must consider your legacy and reputation. Not from a place of ego, but from a place of building the kind of business that you can be proud of once this crisis has passed. Certain key decisions regarding deals can leave you worse off down the road if you don’t consider values and relationships.

Be very sensitive about taking advantage of others in the business world; don’t be someone who leverages people’s misfortunes for your own gain.

Remember, most deals are either the start, or the continuation of, a business relationship.

A company might take a deal in the short run, because they’re desperate. They need the money. But if you demoralize everyone involved, is that deal going to work out for you in the long run? Probably not. It’s not going to work out as well as if you had done it the right way.

There’s a difference between right-sizing a deal, and trying to leverage somebody’s misfortune just because you know they don’t have options.
There are ways to structure deals where you can respect both party’s risks. For example, you might commit to a purchase price based upon today’s valuation, which may be down from yesterday’s. But you could also give the ability of the seller to earn some upside if, over the next number of years, the business comes back to where it was.

Then you’re paying for revenue and profits that you will get, but only if you get them, and the deal works out fairly. This is far preferable to trying to leverage somebody at the bottom, and then keeping all the advantage of the upside for yourself.

Long Term Relationships

Doing an honorable deal in times of crisis increases the odds of the seller (and the seller’s team) becoming good employees or minority partners, depending upon how the deal is structured. It makes it more likely you’ll have a deal that will work in the long term. Just from a pure business point of view, it makes sense.

But it’s more than business.

I happen to believe that when we’re out of alignment, even if our actions initially make us more money in the short run, we create problems for ourselves in the long run. Don’t get me wrong: It’s absolutely the time to look for opportunities.

But you have to consider how you’re going to take advantage of those opportunities. Are you going to do so in a way that honors your values?

Key Decisions Provide Both Opportunity and Challenge

So this is our opportunity. This is our challenge. How are we going to stay in a positive mindset while we seek opportunities that are aligned, while also being mindful not to take advantage of people? How are we going to serve others? You can listen in to more of my thoughts on this over on the podcast.

I want to say I’m here as a resource. If anybody’s struggling, or anybody wants to talk through a few things, let’s connect. If you’re wondering: How do I take advantage of opportunities in this market without doing it in a way that’s not aligned? Reach out. I’m here for you.

Earlier I mentioned the Zoom calls, which are free; please join us there. They are going to bring the community together, help us stay aligned with our values, and help us make key decisions and stay positive in these challenging times.

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

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

Categories
Authentic Deal-Making Authentic Leadership Authentic Negotiating

Capital Structuring – Founders’ and Other Classes of Equity

Are you structuring an acquisition in which the seller’s want to participate in the same class of equity as the buying company’s founders? Or trying to figure out the proper class for retiring partners who are retaining equity? Whatever you’re doing, you’ll find that making the right equity and capital structuring decisions for your business is extremely important.

This week on the podcast episode we talk all about the sort of negotiation options you have. Take a deep dive with us and look into some of the big decisions you’re facing.

Capital Structuring & Founder’s Class of Equity

Acquiring another firm has its challenges. If you’ve done it before, you know how many nuances there are!

For example, bringing in people who want to be involved with the management team of the new entity. Structuring and negotiating this type of deal can pose a number of different challenges.

One scenario we discuss involves a client who is interested in acquiring a firm that offers additional products or services. This deal could potentially bring in 30-40% of the total revenue of the firm. The buyer has a capital structure with a founder’s class of equity. This means that they have certain voting and economic privileges.

One key structuring decision is whether the principles of the acquired company are treated as founders, or if they’ll get a different class of equity. If the acquired company doesn’t represent a material portion of revenue and profit, the decision is easy. (Very likely no founders equity.) However, if they do and are founders of their own firm, then it is a tougher decision. The negotiation to follow might be a bit trickier as well.

Elements like these, as well as the related level of participation in decision-making, are two key factors. Expect to navigate through them in the process of getting more material acquisitions done. When handled correctly, you are much more likely to have them work long-term.

Negotiations like these are completely possible. In fact, both parties can walk away feeling really good about the deal they’ve struck. Prepare well, and try to enjoy the process.

Capital Structuring & Retiring Partner Equity

In many cases, when a partner/owner retires, there are provisions in the company’s operating or shareholders agreement. These provisions ensure a complete purchase of their equity.

There are times, however, when retiring partners may retain some equity. They may want to continue to have some benefit from the continued growth of what they founded or helped to build. It could also be because the company is not in a financial position to buy them out entirely.

There are many decisions regarding the proper class of equity and rights. There are also many preferences about that equity. These decisions are crucial in situations like these. In addition, there are many negotiation solutions.

Figuring out the balance is tricky! You must consider the retiring partners’ right to protect their equity value by maintaining some say over certain decisions. You must also consider the working partners’ needs and desire to be able to control decisions. This is vital for the benefit of the company moving forward. Often, this balance is not easy.

If the retiring partners are founders, they are likely used to controlling decisions. Often it is even more challenging for them to cede control to the next generation. Should you treat the retiring partners more like investors with typical investor controls, or like passive former partners who are just along for the ride?

Often, the practical solution lies somewhere in between. Get the full episode here!

Learn More —

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

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

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

Non-Traditional Tactics for Deal-Driven Growth

Andrew MacKinnon‘s early business experience was selling coupons on the streets of London. It wasn’t the ultimate dream, but it was a place to get started. Ultimately, he was determined to provide something different to the marketplace by encouraging brands to show their audience what they do. This is a different approach than simply telling them! Recognizing the need for this type of marketing service, Andrew set about developing non-traditional tactics to create participation between brands and their audiences.

Now 18 years on, Andrew and a carefully curated creative team have spurred Taboo to evolve into a full-scale creative agency. As such, they deliver campaigns for the country’s biggest brands: Telstra, TAC, Nike, NAB, General Mills, Mecca, Myer and CUB.

Andrew continues to have an insatiable appetite for creating. This appetite has helped him create a non-traditional career spanning marketing, hospitality, real estate and (just about) everything in between.

Using Guerrilla Marketing for Non-Traditional Deals
At the age of 20, Andrew created Taboo. Although he felt he had no idea what he was doing, he took the plunge and signed paperwork on a space. Shortly after, the agency became known for their street marketing.

This was pre-internet, and most small businesses were relying solely on word of mouth. Andrew’s approach was based on getting people IN to a business to experience a product or service. The businesses were confident that if they had that chance to interact, they could get the customer to return. At the time, this non-traditional approach provided a wide-open space for growth.

Taboo continued to evolve and was soon labelled one of Australia’s first guerrilla marketing agencies. They were approached by record labels, movie houses, and companies launching new products. Taboo was making deals with DVD sales, MP3 sales, credit card companies, and more. Their non-traditional approach relied on getting people to experience something or talk about something, and it worked!

A Variety of Deals
Andrew’s brother James was working at a large agency that had a top-down approach. They recognized that they had an opposite approach to marketing, and decided to join forces and combine the best of both worlds. They called it the “East-meets-West-philosophy” and started hiring the best possible people from the top agencies.

Their core beliefs are:

What a brand does is more important than what a brand says.
People are a brand’s most powerful medium.
The most important thing a brand can do is to get people to love, adopt, and share. That is more important than any advertising campaign or marketing spiel and enabled the brothers to grow Taboo to where it is today. Andrew has also expanded in other ways.

In 2011, he engaged in a few real estate deals in order to open the iconic Ponyfish Island, situated in Melbourne’s Yarra River. He did this deal with his partners, Grant Smillie and Jerome Borazio.

On the other end of the spectrum, Andrew’s latest venture is called Skymorials. This is a technology start-up targeted at the digital generation interested in commemorating loved ones via an online memorial platform. The site is now the fastest growing online memorial site in the world.

Andrew’s desire to build non-traditional creative projects continue to re-emerge. He’s now branching into property development through the establishment of Assembly House, a 1200m workspace in Cremorne. The building will be home to several of Melbournes leading agencies.

Bringing in Business Partners

Andrew’s partnership with his brother and another associate had its challenges. Taboo was already four years in the making when the brothers decided to merge together. Andrew didn’t want to just give away 25%, even to family or close friends. He also wanted to be sensitive about over-pricing it, however.

They engaged an independent 3rd party that they all respected. This party enabled them to put a fair evaluation of the business. Andrew also encouraged them to seek another independent evaluation, which they did.

In addition, Andrew negotiated a deal with James that enabled him to pay for his shares of Taboo using future profits, rather than an up-front cash payment. He shares that salaries, bonuses, and other incentives were also something that had to be carefully assessed. This whole negotiation took place over three years, during which time James came onboard and was already working in the business.

However, by the time their third member was ready to sign the paperwork, Taboo had begun to lose some of its profitability. The evaluation didn’t seem as strong, and ultimately, that party accepted another position with a different marketing agency on the day he was supposed to sign on with Taboo. 3 years of work blew up in their faces. At that point, Andrew and James recut their own deal. Andrew goes into those details (and Taboo’s renewed success) on the show!

Trial & Error

Andrew shares that failure is a huge part of how Taboo has grown over the years. He has found that his own ability to detach from being “right” makes it easier for him to allow other decision-makers in. From his brother and partner to Taboo employees, he is open to other perspectives and ways of thinking.

This comes down to trusting others and being willing to learn from what doesn’t work.

Rather than expecting perfection, he encourages that Taboo members learn from failure. This enables them to try new things and think in creative ways. This trademark open-mindedness, as well as the willingness to always learn, has paid off beyond the agency and its work.

Mackinnon was honored with the role of President of the Entrepreneurs Organisation Australia Victorian Chapter in 2017, after having served on the board for four years. In addition, Mackinnon’s engaging vivacity has made him a compelling asset both inside and outside the boardroom, with The Financial Review Magazine listing him as a must-have on any events Guest wish-list.

His genuine interest in others has led to both leadership opportunities and better deal-making skills. Listen in to the full interview today!

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

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

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

Going Virtual in the COVID-19 Crisis

From an early age, Manuel Pistner dreamt of becoming an independent entrepreneur. He started his first company in 2006. It has since grown to over 150 freelancers worldwide. As you can imagine, it was not an easy road to get there. Manuel’s unique business model, however, streamlined the process. His company, Bright Solutions, is a virtual team of freelancers. As a result, they each bring unique skills to complex projects. Consequently, this eliminates barriers that many static organizations cannot breach. Of course hiring freelancers often poses many of the same talent acquisition challenges as hiring full-time employees. Manuel utilizes different business management systems to maintain control and transparency within his organization. This ensures that everything gets done. It’s also means he has a clear understanding of how to best go virtual in the COVID-19 crisis.

Three Steps to Managing a Virtual Team

Managing over 150 people in 67 different countries might seem like a nightmare for many entrepreneurs. Manuel’s system, however, is tried and true. According to him, there are three things that need to be in alignment if your virtual team is to operate at maximum capacity.

One

Provide each team member with a detailed description of their role to hold them accountable.

Two

Ensure clarity around how each team member should collaborate.

Three

Provide each team member with the necessary tools to support your workflows.

This simple process has enabled Manuel to scale his business successfully. He did so while working remotely with people he has never met! You can apply these same methods in your own company as well. This is vital, especially during this COVID-19 crisis.

Working Remote in the COVID-19 Crisis
As the COVID-19 crisis takes hold, more and more teams are forced to go virtual. However, these teams are not hired or trained to operate on their own accord. As a result, there are a lot of challenges posed by this large scale transition.

Manuel provides some tips that might help ease the tension as things fall into place. First, make a designated work area where you won’t be interrupted or distracted. Next, you should structure your workday to avoid over-communication or panic. In addition, leaders must lead by output and not by availability.

All of these best practices will help your team manage their time, output, and communication. This is essential as they adjust to their new work environments. These tools will help you push through these difficult times and weather the COVID-19 crisis with success. 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!

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

The C.P.R. Framework

So far, we have covered a good portion of the main topics from my book, Authentic Negotiating: Clarity, Detachment, & Equilibrium the Three Keys to True Negotiating Success & How to Achieve Them. On the show we have discussed the fundamental framework of clarity, detachment, and equilibrium, as well as the six reasons negotiations fail. We’ve also talked about the top five steps to becoming a great negotiator, and how to deal with inauthentic negotiating tactics. In the latest solocast episode of Fueling Deals, we cover the final topic from Authentic Negotiating: the C.P.R. Framework. The three elements of the framework are context, purpose, and results.

What is the C.P.R. Framework?

The C.P.R. Framework consists of three main elements.

Context: The context of a negotiation determines the person we need to show up as in the negotiation. It pertains to our state of being, and how that ties into our purpose and our results.

Purpose: What is the underlying ‘why’ of this negotiation? The purpose must be something positive that speaks to you because it will be your primary driver at the negotiating table.

Results: Any time you go into a negotiation, you want to be clear about the results you want to get out of it.

Effective Frameworks

Many of us know our results before we ever enter a negotiation. The context and purpose, however, are things we need to memorize. If both of these components are no more than a sentence long, you will be able to remember them no matter what factors are thrown into the mix.

You will also benefit from distilling these ideas into short sentences. This practice will help you get to the essence of your context and purpose. The C.P.R. Framework is the single-most effective framework for applying my negotiation tactics, but it is also extremely effective beyond negotiating. To learn more and hear examples of the C.P.R. Framework being used, listen to the latest solocast of Fueling Deals.

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

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