We have already explored a lot of different ways that you can grow your business inorganically through deals. This time, I want to look at deals on a more personal level. I have done many deals and negotiations for other people as an attorney. But I’ve also done them for myself as a dealmaker. Some have gone well, while others provided great lessons. However, every deal has increased my capability as an entrepreneur, investor, partner and attorney.
Lessons of Early Entrepreneurship
I was familiar with entrepreneurship by the age of fifteen when I started my first business and managed real cashflow. I built a book of accounts and a team of employees, and we distributed flyers and other marketing materials for local businesses. It yielded roughly $300 a week and provided my first lesson in doing deals. The experience didn’t sink in until later. I didn’t recognize the monetary value of the accounts themselves. I didn’t even think about selling them but, instead, just closed the business when I left for college – a lost opportunity and good learning lesson.
In college, I managed to strike a deal with Clare Rose that gave me one of two distributor’s slots for beer kegs on campus. That provided a variety of perks, as I’m sure you can imagine. But in undergrad, law school, and beyond, the enterprise mindset was always present. Whether I purchased equity in small businesses or pursued side projects like real estate, I was always looking for new ways to do deals.
Higher Stakes Deals
With great opportunities, you need to act quickly, and I lost a few of those when I was younger due to a lack of capital. Partnerships can be restrictive, but they can also be a solution. I went into a real estate partnership and raised a fund so we would have money available to be able to act quickly on good deals. However, in real estate deals, everyone is exuberant when things are going well and they run away when a down market hits. We had to pull out of those investments after the investors refused to double down during the recession – another huge opportunity lost.
There are significant challenges for dealmakers of any experience level, but they will always prepare you for the next opportunity. Whether you are doing deals for your business or on the side, there are lessons you can take away from my mistakes and successes alike. Those lessons have led me to a number of deals that have been very successful for me. If you are interested in hearing more about some of the deals I have been apart of, listen to my podcast episode, Growing as a Dealmaker, with Corey Kupfer.