Entrepreneurs will never be happy as employees and employees are not happy as entrepreneurs.
When I speak to new clients and try to determine their level of seriousness, I don’t ask about their resources, financing plan, or industry experience.
That is secondary.
The only thing that truly matters is whether they have, what I have come to think of as, the Buyer’s Spirit. These skills can be learned and honed. If you feel weak on any of the below, you can build those parts of yourself.
My client (Gideon Asemnor), is a perfect example of someone with the Buyer’s Spirit. Gideon left a comfortable law firm job to buy a moving company this past week. We fought to get this deal done for months. We faced challenge after challenge and Gideon handled each one with creativity and grit. When there was no solution, we found solutions. When someone would not budge, we found a way around them.
Finally, Gideon acquired the business and closed earlier this week.
These are the characteristics I see in successful Buyers:
Desire for Self-Determination. In one of my first calls with Gideon, I asked him, you have a great job as a lawyer, why do you want to buy a moving company? Gideon said I want to determine my own success. I want my future to be based on my efforts, not on whether a law firm partner woke up in a bad mood. Each client of mine has tried to be an employee and hated it. Many have been fired from jobs or chased out. Most have come to conclude they are not cut out for corporate environments or they are the problem.
Problem Solver. An M&A transaction is a series of challenges. Once the business is acquired, running the business is a consistent flow of unpredictable challenges. A Buyer's ability to get a transaction closed is a direct reflection of their ability to run a small or medium-sized business. During the transaction with Gideon, it seemed like a new problem arose every day. At times, we got on the phone and just laughed at the unpredictability of it all. Expect unique problems to arise daily. Buyer's solve them without getting bent out of shape.
Not Afraid to Ask Questions. A Buyer does not need to know everything, but they need to locate the right experts who can guide them. Gideon did this perfectly. Buyers have to have the humility to know what they do not know and ask questions.
Risk. This is tough. There are known risks and unknown risks (unknown unknowns); unpredictable income, unknown issues, and the risk that a known issue will become detrimental. Each Buyer handles risk in their own way. It is critical that you have a system for assessing, quantifying, and living with risk.
Resilience, Grity, Tenacity, and Forward Vision. There will be bad decisions and losses. That is the reality of buying a business. Buyers must have the ability to move on. Every Buyer makes mistakes, but the successful Buyers move on from them quickly. Buyers are willing to work hard. Eventually, running a small business or HoldCo is not hard work, but at certain times, it is very demanding. Get comfortable with late nights, early mornings, and travel.
Congratulations to Gideon on his closing and all those other Searchers who are taking the more difficult path to control their destiny.