Steve Wells: [00:00:00] This is Steve Wells.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:00:01] And I'm Jeffrey Feldberg. Welcome to The Sell My Business Podcast.
Steve Wells: [00:00:06] This podcast is brought to you by Deep Wealth. Are you a business owner who is wondering how to either grow your business, sell it, or both?
Or maybe in today's environment, you're wondering how to make your business pandemic proof. Visit deepwealth.com to find out how you can master the strategies to grow and extract the deep wealth from your business. Visit www.deepwealth.com.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:00:26] Welcome to another episode of The Sell My Business Podcast. And on this one, we're going to change things up where myself and Steve talk about some of the most common mistakes that business owners make before they exit their company.
And as with any mistake the less mistakes that you make, the better off you're going to be. And we're pulling this information from the Deep Wealth Experience. This is a six-week online experience where you're put into a mastermind group with other business owners, you get access to our playbook. You have a live success coach and access to myself and Steve, where we help you step by step, figure out what you need to do.
So, number one, you don't get ripped off when you sell your business. And number two, you maximize the value of your business. Now, speaking of the value of your business, the most common question that business owners ask is what's my business worth? And Steve if I know you'll agree with me when I say that's the wrong question to be asking.
So, we're going to talk with you right now about five strategies that will increase the value of your business. How do we know that the strategies and what are they all about? Well, these are the same strategies that we used for our 9-figure exit. And we spoke to investment bankers, to buyers, to sellers, people who had a huge win on their exit. People who had a huge loss on their exit, anyone and everyone involved in mergers and acquisitions.
But one of the things that we heard time and time again from buyers of what they look for, that one of the first questions that the buyer asks when they look at your company is does this business have a diverse customer base?
So, why is that important? And why should you care as a business owner? You know, most business owners, they thump their chest and they're so proud. And they say, look at this, I have this one customer, or these two or three customers. I've been with them for a decade. And they're 80% of my business.
Well, I have to tell you something. If you want to make a buyer run as fast as the buyer possibly can in the other direction. That is a, is what you're going to tell them. A buyer wants to know that a business has many, many customers and as a smart business owner, you're going to want to do this anyways. Why, why does that matter? Well, it goes back to that old saying you don't want to have all of your eggs in one basket.
Today with the global marketplace, with the internet, it's all too easy to have just a few customers and some behemoths of customers that are driving your business. But let's stop for a moment and think about that. What if one of your customers leaves you, what do if a customer starts dictating to you, how they want you to do things which are going to lower your profitability. If you're relying on a handful of customers or only one or two, you have some real issues with that.
So, be smart, not just for your exit, but for your business day in and day out. And what any business owner must be doing is to grow the business by having a lot of customers. The more customers, the better, you know, in our e-learning company, we didn't rely on just one customer. We had multiple customers and thank goodness because life happens.
Sometimes a particular decision maker happened to leave or went elsewhere or somebody else came in, you have a whole new business relationship that you need to build up. What, what are you going to do? What are you going to do if things don't work out? Thankfully, our insurance was to have a. lot of different customers, many customers along the way that we weren't dependent on any one of them that not only helped us sleep at night, but it gave us autonomy that we could run the business as we saw fit. It gave us the ability to fire customers. And yes, we did fire customers. If they didn't fit into our overall game plan of what we're doing, and it gives you choices and choice is such an important thing.
So, as we wrap up strategy, number one, know that to maximize the value of your business, you want to have as many customers as you possibly can. So, Steve, with strategy number one in the bag wants to talk about strategy number two, of what we need to increase the value of a company.
Steve Wells: [00:04:43] So, the second point was crucial when we exited our business to create huge value, it may have been one of the most important points that we can tell you about value from our experience. And it's this you want to create reoccurring revenue in your business model. Now, what does that mean?
I mean, reoccurring revenue obviously is when the revenue is coming in, methodically and in a very planned way. Well, how can that happen? And what does that mean? In our case, we had multiple universities and these universities had contracts that were very long, 10 years up to 10 years. And so what that tells an investor who's buying you is that when they look at your business, they have a lot of security in that they know how much money your business is going to make if you can prove that the revenue is going to reoccur at a certain rate.
It's a huge value maker for the investor when they see that the revenue and their investment is, is almost proven to increase over time. So, recurring revenue, how do you do this? Well, different businesses have different ways. I mean, the contract with it's your customers and tied to the first point of having multiple customers, creates a very secure environment for the investor.
There are also, particularly in many digital companies, they can create, a reoccurring revenue by having the customer, re-up or renew or create renewal strategies, for whatever the business model is for your company. So, this reoccurring revenue is something that you really want to think about and look toward.
The recurring revenue model is crucial for getting the maximum value for your company. Now, Jeffrey, what about the third point?
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:06:38] Steve you, thanks for some terrific points on recurring revenue. So, let's talk about point number three, but before we do so I'm going to let you in on a little-known secret that we share in the Deep Wealth Experience.
The strategies that you're going to use to exit your business are identical to the strategies that you'll use to grow your business. They're one in the same. And when you do it right, you get a business that not only thrives and is profitable, but it gives you choices because you're prepared and you can choose, keep your business forever or sell it tomorrow.
You choose. Whatever makes most sense for you and whatever is the best for you. So, strategy number three, to increase your company value has to do with creating a high barrier to entry. So, what's a high barrier to entry, and why is that important? Well, let's put ourselves in the shoes of your future buyer.
Your future buyer comes along and is prepared to spend a lot of money, time, resources, and expertise in your company. And one of the questions that runs through every buyer's mind is once I buy this company, is it going to be here tomorrow and the tomorrow after that, and for many, many tomorrows? In other words, is your business built to last for many, many years?
Because as we all know, when you're successful, you're now in the crosshairs of your competition, whose goal is to knock you out, put you out of business and take all of your customers and profits. So, let's go back to our particular experience with our e-learning company. What's a high barrier to entry?
Well, for us in our, even in company, one of the things that we did that many said was impossible to do was we had two specific things. For starters, we created an end to end service. So, in the case of bar e-learning company, we not only helped fill the seats for the universities that we worked with.
We did all of the marketing. We did all of the course enrollments for them. We also kept the seats filled. By creating the courses, helping the instructors to run those courses, doing technical support and hosting. So, we were an end to end solution. So, for a university, they didn't have to go and hire five, six, seven, eight different companies.
We did it all. So, that was one thing for some of our competitors they just didn't have the resources, the skills, or the ability to create that end to end resource. And that was one barrier to entry. Now you could be saying, well, Jeffrey, you know, that's fine, but a competitor could figure that out and do that.
And yes, they certainly could. The other thing that we did though, and this was a real deal clincher and this one barrier to entry added so much to our EBITDA and it was this because of our unique offering and because we figure it out how to solve a painful problem so, well, we were able to get 10 year contracts with our clients.
So, the 10-year contracts did a few things, the barrier to entry for the competition was number one, we had that particular program with that client locked up for a decade. As hard as the competition would try that client wasn't don't go anywhere. But the other thing that that barrier entry did for the buyer was that it gave them reassurance that when they bought the company, they had many, many years left in that agreement. And one of the things that we did before we sold the company, once we knew we were going to exit, we made it a point to renew all of the contracts. So, now the buyer had confidence in us because we had other barriers to entry, but these two barriers to entry were significant.
By having an end to end solution and having long-term contracts for the buyer, it gave confidence. And when a buyer has confidence, they have hope. And when a buyer has hope, it translates into putting a higher value on the company. Now, a barrier to entry, isn't the easiest thing to do for most business owners.
But you have to remember that what's right isn't always easy. And one of the things that we do in the Deep Wealth Experience is we work with you. And especially through your mastermind group, it's a spend some time to think about in your own specific industry, what could be some barriers to entry that you can put into place that you either haven't done, or you haven't thought of. The time and the effort it is well worth it because it translates into a much higher value.
So, Steve, now that we've talked about strategy number one, which is having diversified customers for your customer base. Strategy, number two, based on recurring revenue on why that's so important and strategy, number three of the power of having a high barrier to entry. Why don't you talk about strategy number four and what it does to increase the value of your business?
Steve Wells: [00:11:40] Well strategy number four to increase the value of your business is you want to create massive scalability in what you're offering. Now, why would you want to do that? Well, think about it again from the investor's point of view, they're not buying you just to stay where you are right now, they're buying you because they see potential or you want to show them the potential that this business of yours can be much, much larger.
Now, if they see some, impediments to that, some limits to that, that's going to drastically affect the value they're putting on there. If they see your business as being virtually unlimited or great in its scalability, then of course your valuation is going to increase. So, you want to think about your business and what.
Areas of your business can be scaled and which ones cannot be scaled. And you want to fix those areas that cannot be scaled. Now back in our situation and when we had our e-learning company, I mean, we had, as Jeffrey said, multiple components controlled in the whole process from the marketing to the delivery of the courses, to the university.
But something that many universities had in many online programs had, was a scalability problem in how many instructors they had. And so without getting into the details of that, we solved that problem. We solved it by using what we call facilitators. The other scalability problem that many people had in the university situation was that they, they didn't know how to create courses very quickly.
Well, we solve that problem for them. So, we can create these courses very fast. the other issue was sometimes students would drop out and so their attrition rate was very high. We created what we call a carousel system where it didn't matter what courses were next. There were no prerequisites.
So, those are just examples that we had in our industry. If you are creative. And if you're sitting with your mastermind group or we're able to maybe help you to think about how. How do you change the way you deliver your product that maybe no one else has done before? Because if you can do that, you've unlocked the key to super hyper valuation by being able to scale and your, your potential buyer is going to look at you and go, well, we're going to put more money in here, so we're going to make your business even bigger.
And so, you've got them very, very excited at that point. So, think about how to scale your business. Jeffrey, what’s point number five?
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:14:20] Well, I want to get to point number five, but before we do, I see if I think this is just a great opportunity within this episode to take a quick step aside, because we've been getting emails from a number of listeners, as you know, who are asking what is Deep Wealth and this Deep Wealth experience that you keep on referencing?
So, I'll say, why don't we take just a quick few minutes out and, and talk a little bit about that. And one of the things that I'll share with you is after our 9-figure exit and those who know us and who know our story know that it almost wasn't a 9-figure accident, it actually started. If we wouldn't have done anything would have been a 7- figure exit. And that's when we said no to a 7-figure offer, that we said yes to mastering the art and science of selling the business that we immersed ourselves in the mergers and acquisitions world to figure out well, how do you actually sell the business? How do you become successful? Well you look to other successful people.
So, we spoke to buyers and sellers and investment bankers and lawyers and tax advisors, and strategists, you name it. We spoke to those people and what we learned was. Jaw-dropping because it became very apparent to us, and when I say us, I'm talking about the business owner, us entrepreneurs as business owners, we're really one small cog in a very large wheel.
And the system is set up against us. Naively, the two of us thought that when we received that first offer, which was from a, an incredibly savvy and sophisticated and experienced buyer, we thought that we were the exception and not the rule, but as it turns out, we were the rule in terms of that buyer literally and figuratively trying to rip us off.
So, we started Deep Wealth as a way to level the playing field to ensure that business owners we're the dreamers, we're the doers, we're the ones that have the sleepless nights that take the risks that add value to the community, to the marketplace and in whatever endeavor that we choose, we change the social fabric of society for the better.
And so why is it that we get ripped off right at the very end? So, Deep Wealth was created to level the playing field and ensure that you don't get ripped off. And we do that through the Deep Wealth experience, which also helps to ensure what we're talking about in this episode of how to increase your company value.
So, Steve, when we talk about the Deep Wealth Experience, I know that you and I spent a number of years figuring out how do we take everything that we did, and make that available to other business owners. Why don't you talk about one of the key components in the Deep Wealth Experience with the mastermind group?
I mean, what the heck is a mastermind group who's in it what's involved. And can you really share your secrets with other people, other strangers in the mastermind group? Why don't you share a little bit about that?
Steve Wells: [00:17:12] Well, you know, most business owners are probably entrepreneurs and they probably are very independent. And, if you're like, I'll speak for myself, I'm not always, as eager to share my business and what I'm trying to do, and even look for, advice or mentorship. So, part of this might feel a little uncomfortable to you, but, you know, true transformation, true creativity happens many times in a group, the dynamics of getting other people to look at your problem, to have advice to maybe give you just a glimpse of maybe a weakness you have, or a strength that you don't recognize. So, the power of the mastermind group is just that it is to give you a group of likeminded individuals who are not competitors, but can help you look at your business, knowing that your objective is very similar to theirs in a year, they're looking to exit, you're looking to exit and you're all working and speaking the same language. That's an extremely powerful thing besides the tips and the knowledge and the specifics that we're going to give you in the learning experience is how to, how to communicate with people to share will, feel, not exposed and able to look for the advice of, of your fellow mastermind attendees.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:18:41] And, you know, around the mastermind, you have another component that we built in, and this is the online experience now. You have to remember; we are the e-learning guys. You are fortunate to be there at the beginning when the internet had just begun to take place. We built our eLearning company around that and with the wonderful team and talented team that we had; we were right at the forefront of really writing many of the best practices that the industry still uses today.
So, we leaned heavily on our experience to put all of this in the deep wealth online experience. And so, when you come online, you have access to these strategies and the playbook that we use for our 9-figure exit. Now a lot of people I speak to say, well, you know, Jeffrey, that that's nice, but I just don't have the time. It's nice that it's online. But you know, you have all these online meetings. I have to be at a certain time in a certain place and maybe the person is on the East coast and I'm on the West coast. And it just, the timing is difficult. I can't do it well. When online is done properly, it's called asynchronous learning.
And I don't want to get. All bogged down in details and technicalities, but it simply means this. We've developed the Deep Wealth Experience to be learning anywhere. At any time at your convenience, you can have somebody who is 24 hours ahead of 12 hours ahead to six hours behind. It. Doesn't make a difference. On your own time from wherever you are from your computer, from your phone, from your tablet, whatever your choice of technology is it doesn't make a difference. That's when you can come in online and access all of this information. The strategies. Our playbook, your mastermind group, it's all there for you at your time and at your convenience. And so, built into that is something that we call a success coach C you want to talk about the success coach and in terms of the role of the success coach and how that actually works within the Deep Wealth Experience.
Steve Wells: [00:20:52] Well sure. Jeffrey, you know what, it's maybe hard for people to understand is the asynchronous communication is like a Zoom call, but that's not, that's not a synchronous. It's like a zoom call that happens all the time. So, your success coach is in the middle of all this communication between what you're learning.
Between your communication with your mastermind group, with your communication with us and your success coach is looking at you individually to make sure that you're getting the maximum value out of what we're offering and to coach you and help you through this process. And again, this can be done anywhere. Any time. All this is built into the experience right there on your phone, you can click, you can talk to your success, coach, record your answers. It all happens right there. And this person has one objective in mind. They're there, they're there to help you to make you successful, to come up with the best exit that will you possibly can.
I know you're busy. Everyone is busy, but business owners particularly have an obstacle in their mind that stops many of them from realizing the great wealth that's out there for them. And they don't feel like they have the time to invest in, in this, that somehow, they don't think it's worth it.
Your success coach is going to show you and help you and can capitalize on all the things that we've already done to make sure that you're poised, and you're ready for that exit.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:22:24] And what's nice about the success coach is no question is a silly question. In fact, the only silly question is the question that isn't asked. When Steve and I began to plan the Deep Wealth Experience. We put together a system that is step-by-step-by-step of what you need to do to prepare your company.
These are the same steps that we went through, but I know business owners have reached out to us and said, guys, what can you tell me about my industry? And how can you help me access it specifically within my industry? And the honest answer is you're the expert in your industry. We're not naive enough to assume for a moment that we can tell you what to do within your industry.
What we do know though, is that best practices are best practices. And that's exactly what we put within the online experience itself. The steps that you need to take within your specific industry, you will add that customization. That will have you prepared so that when you're ready to exit, you've done all the steps that will set you up for success.
And so, in the Deep Wealth Experience, as we round things out here, what you do I have is the mastermind group. You have your success coach who's live. You have anytime, anywhere learning at your convenience from wherever you are. You have all of the strategies, the step-by-step process and system that walks you through our playbook.
And then to round things out within the Deep Wealth Experience itself. Are the two of us and we're there and we're popping in and out and we're answering questions and, or just adding value to your process all the way through. Look, why you want to spend the millions of dollars and the years of time that it takes to do this, when we've already done the heavy lifting for you.
And as we like to say at Deep Wealth, we help you find the deep wealth that's hidden in your company. That's always been there, but you never knew about that. So, that's a bit of a recap of what the Deep Wealth Experience is. And so, let's round things out here with strategy, number five of how you increase the value of your company.
And that's something that most business owners completely miss the boat on. And I put the two of us in that category. Steve, you'll remember before we decided to exit our company who ran our company, who was it?
Steve Wells: [00:24:54] Well, it was you and me. And we spent all our time and energy doing that. And while we are somewhat control freaks, that's why we do that. But we think we know the best. It actually hurt us. You know, we, we realized when we got ready to sell that. The company was too dependent on us and we needed a team that can run the company because if the company is dependent on us and I'm a buyer coming to buy our company, well, then you got to buy me and, you know, that's dangerous for someone. It affects the scalability that we've already talked about.
And it also puts handcuffs on you and it's going to maybe drastically affect the deal and, and, and the potential cash that you get out immediately. So, that was our story. As you remember, Jeffrey. So, what should people do? How should they address that issue?
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:25:46] Well, the first thing that you need to understand is if you want to massively and I mean, massively increase the value of your business, your business must run without you. So, in other words, you have to fire yourself. Now, I know what you're saying. Well, wait a minute. I'm the person that started the company I was there when it was just an idea.
And I figured out how to make things work. I got the first customer and as far as my company is concerned, the sun and the moon and the stars revolve around me. Well, I have to tell you that when a buyer hears that, it's game over for you.
Let's put yourself in the shoes of your buyer. Your buyer wants to know that there's going to be a company when you're no longer in the picture. Now I know what you're thinking, because we thought the same thing. Well, wait a minute. Even though I'm going to sell the company. I'm still going to be there and the company is going to have me immersed with everything that I'm doing in actuality. You're really not going to be there. And statistics would show that if you're there past a year, if you even make it to a year or two at the most, you're really one of the oddities in the mergers and acquisitions world, the buyer who wants to know that when you're not there.
That you have a management team who knows what to do, who can grow the business, who can take the company in different directions, who's going to continue to give the profits and the insights and the competitiveness to have the business continue to grow, thrive, and prosper. And the other thing that you're not thinking about is when you exit your business, if you do it well, and this is something that we work with you on in the Deep Wealth Experience.
You are going to have a lot of zeros in your bank account and having been on both sides, the side of building a business, not really having a lot, yeah. Was in the bank account and then exiting the business and having a lot of zeros in my personal bank account, I can tell you from experience that it's a game changer for you and that you may not want to be in the business. After all you created your business to give you a lifestyle.
And why not begin the process of enjoying the lifestyle even before you exit your company. This is going to sound counterintuitive. In my experience and the experience of business owners that we work with, when they fire themselves and they put in place a talented and capable management team, something interesting happens. For starters, you as a business owner, you get your life back.
You now have more time. That lifestyle that you've always dreamed about, well, boom. It's right there for you. You can do with it as you see fit. But what a lot of business owners do is that free time they go back to what they do best. They look within the industry, within the business, and they ask the one question that you asked that launched your business.
What is a painful problem that I am passionate to solve that is affecting many people who are in pain because they don't know how to solve this problem? And so, you now get to work on the business instead of in the business. When you're not running the company, you can find new markets, new problems to solve new services and products that you can offer.
You can even create a market disruption. And what does that do for you? That allows you to increase your customer base, increase your revenues, and increase your profits. And it creates a win-win-win all the way around
When your company runs without you, you're now able to attract better talent because talented people want to know that they have career path in front of them when you're out of the way. And with that talent, with that management team? You can now have that talent lead the company into different directions, into different markets to grow your enterprise and grow your profits.
Buyers love this. This is what they're looking for. I don't care if you have the best service with the best solution. If you are a one-person shop, you're not selling your company or you're not going to sell your company for a top dollar. So, whatever you do remember this: if you want to massively increase the value of your business, your business must run without you.
So, those are the five strategies, what you can do to increase the company value. And again, let's take it from the top. Strategy number one is to have a diversified customer base so that your profits aren't reliant on just a handful of customers. Number two is to ensure that you have recurring revenue with your business model to ensure that you have cash flow and profits. Number three, creating a high barrier to entry. Number four, having massive scalability and number five that your business runs without you.
So, Steve, as we wrap things up here and we looked at those five strategies and we now tie it into our 9-figure exit. And we look at. Before our exit of what we didn't know. You don't know what you don't know. And after the exit, do you have a few words that you want to share of the difference that it made both with our lives personally, as business owners, as well as once we had that and went through the exit.
Steve Wells: [00:31:07] Hopefully you will realize by just looking at these five areas, how important your actions are to affect the outcome. You know, many people in business think that the buyer's going to come along and. Yeah, I know they're intelligent. They're industrious. They have worked hard, but there's some disconnect between what they have done in the past.
And they think that success is going to translate exactly to a successful exit. And it almost looks like they're lazy. And I think it's because people don't realize the huge impact it can make by studying and practicing and implementing these five areas into your business.
So, if there's one thing I could say to a business owner. Look at what you're doing. Take the time we've created a system that's, I'm going to be the most, efficient use of your time possible. It's not going to be anything that is going to stop you from your lifestyle, running your business. You can do it while you're transitioning into this exit and you have to do it. I cannot think of a better way to get you started on the path. And I can't think of a better system that's going to guarantee you maximum results in your business.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:32:28] And, you know, Steve, one of the things that you and I are constantly asked, particularly now we're in a challenging time. The world is going through this pandemic. One of the things that we both hear is, well, you know, guys, that's wonderful that you had your own 0-figure exit and terrific that you created Deep Wealth and the Deep Wealth Experience.
But really why should I begin the process of preparing my company to sell right now during a pandemic. Why would I want to spend the time, which I don't have and try to just figure out the new, normal, the new economy. And is it really the best time to sell? You know, I know we didn't plan for this in this episode, but you and I are both believers in always going the extra mile and going above and beyond what we promise.
So, why don't we wrap up this episode of: is now the time. To really prepare your company to act and to sell? What do you think Steve is at? Just craziness or is there something to it?
Steve Wells: [00:33:22] Well, you know, we could do a whole episode on that. But just briefly, the research shows that in situations that we find ourselves in right now are great opportunities. Some of it is supply and demand. The amount of money that's out there that wants to buy companies is huge. But the supply of companies that are ready to sell.
In any situation where the supply is low and the demand is high. It's going to create more value and that's what historically we've seen. And we're in one of those situations. So, if you can get your company ready to position for a sale, I think you're, you're even going to be riding an upward curve. And that's one benefit of looking at the pandemic. There, there are many, many others, including having the opportunity to adjust and pivot and maybe change your model because everyone is changing. And, you know, that's just a couple that come to my mind, Jeffrey.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:34:18] Couldn't agree more, Steve. In every situation where there's a downside, there's also an upside. And if you look around you and you look at some of the headlines, there are businesses who have made their fortunes right now. The pandemic has been a game changer for them in a positive way.
And the truth is society needs us. As business owners we're the ones that make things happen and society needs us to figure things out and to get things going. So, you're helping your customers. And at the same time, you're helping yourself.
As we wrap things up, I'm going to ask for your help. We've made it our mission at Deep Wealth to stop business owners from getting ripped off on their exit. That starts right now.
Help us out in our mission. Come to deepwealth.com. Learn all about what we're doing, how it can benefit you, your business, your employees, your lifestyle, and become part of the Deep Wealth movement where we take the control back to us, the business owners. Where you learn how to position your company for growth and for an exit. Do that today, we'd love to see you at, have you become part of the community.
Thank you so much for listening and we'll look forward to seeing you on the next episode.