Thursday, January 07, 2010

Getting Help with the Deal

Good post over at Venture Hacks from Scott Walker - 5 tips on getting deals closed. Here they are, with my thoughts on each:

1. Create a competitive environment. Absolutely. As I wrote about in documenting the sale of AT&T Wireless, a competitive environment drives price and terms in the seller's favor. The only thing better than telling one group that their legal ask is "no longer market" is getting a call from another that they are raising their offer. But - I would emphasize Scott's advice that this effort is one where you must have experienced help. It is a very delicate process to get an auction going and keep it alive, and not a place for any entrepreneur or business manager to learn on the job.

2. Leave your heart at home. Listen, listen, listen - and always check yourself for signs of deal fever.

3. Work your balls off. True for getting most businesses to succeed, and true in the crunch time of getting a deal done. Work 40 hours over a weekend to get a deal done while markets are closed? Spend a week in New York without eating a meal outside of a law firm conference room? You bet - everything needs to fall away when you're focused on getting the deal done.

4. Don't let your investors screw you. Doing diligence is always important - but requires focus. Pay attention to tone and priorities. Don't pay attention to things that don't make a material difference.

5. Get good legal help. God know I've spent a lot of time on this blog dealing with the failings of lawyers, and much of my deal experience has come as a principal rather than the lawyer on the deal. That said, you need to get someone who matches your energy and willingness to work your balls off, AND who knows your business and is aligned with your level of risk aversion. I've seen a lot of good lawyers blow (or nearly blow) deals by wasting time on marginal legal issues. Make sure your lawyer can tell the difference between what matters to you and what can be moved past.

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