Successful Entrepreneurs Can Be The Doer And The Deal Maker
Where do you sit on the doer vs. deal maker continuum? On one hand, you have business owners who are really good operators. They have a plan, know their numbers and work their plan. They look for small improvements every day and hesitate to entertain new strategies because they know what works.
On the other end of the spectrum you have the deal makers. They quickly bore of the doing and are constantly on the prowl for the next big idea. They are always on the lookout for a business they can buy, a new concept they can negotiate the rights for, or a partnership they can forge.
I think we all have a little bit of both personalities in us, but most of us tilt in one direction or the other. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed for Built to Sell Radio are able be equally good as both Doer and Deal Maker.
The problems occur when you lean too far in one direction.
For example, I recently interviewed U.K.-based Jonathan Jay, a twenty-year veteran of the start-up world. Jay got his start publishing magazines, but quickly wanted out, so he sold his publishing company by the age of 27. He then started a coach-training business where he competed with one other provider. His competitor ran into trouble and Jay decided to buy his business after less than a week of diligence. Jay then sold the combined entity for a seven-figure payday.
Bored after a week or two of retirement, Jay started a digital marketing company. He found client acquisition a challenge, so he partnered with a marketing guru who had a pre-existing following of customers. Jay gave his new partner 50% of his company in exchange for access to the marketing guru’s list, but he skimped on writing the partnership agreement because he was resentful of the legal bills he was paying to defend an unrelated claim.
Soon after merging, the partners fell out and Jay had to wrestle his shares back without the help of a formal partnership agreement. Unbowed by partnerships, he then found another distressed marketing agency to buy, which he did by assuming its debt and putting virtually nothing down. He put the business into bankruptcy after carving out the one piece that had value and merging it with his marketing company. Within a year of buying the business, he sold the combined entity for another seven-figure exit.
Just listening to Jay’s story is exhausting. It’s a high-wire act of high-stakes negotiation, success, mistakes and eventual triumph. A little part of me couldn’t help but wonder if he would have been even more successful—and a lot less stressed—if he had been a little more of a doer and little less of a deal maker.
Just as you can have too much of a deal maker in you, we all know owners who stifle their growth because they cling to their plan with blinders on.
Whether you are more deal maker or doer, I think it’s worth asking yourself whether you’ve tilted in too much in one direction.