The Nuts and Bolts of Selling your Business: Due Diligence

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In this episode of In Process Podcast: Conversations about Business in the 21st Century, Trusted Counsel’s John Monahon and Valerie Barton (filling in for Evelyn Ashley) speak to Dan Bradbary, Founder and Managing Partner of PMI Advisors. An accomplished entrepreneur, speaker and author, Bradbary has extensive experience with founding and selling various businesses. He founded PMI Advisors in 2017 upon recognizing the under-served needs of mid-market companies regarding post-merger integration. Since its founding, PMI Advisors has expanded practice to other phases of business management and operations, ranging from business continuity planning, sale preparation, business process optimization and divestiture and carve out.  

According to Bradbary and PMI Advisors, when preparing a business for sale, the Owner/CEO needs to approach the exit strategy with the same focus and drive that helped to build the business. Hence, an Owner/CEO who is “ready” with an attractive business will greatly improve their probability of a successful business exit.

PMI Advisors recommends the following key steps for a successful exit:

Hire a consultant who specializes in M&A
Selling a business is a complex process. A consultant will guide business owners through the steps that often include some sort of readiness assessment, plan development, implementation and value optimization.

Have a transition team
Having a transition team is favorable because they will work alongside you to address all issues involved with selling a business. There will be tax planning needs, legal compliance and succession plans that might need to be put into place. Once you have your transition team in place, schedule an introduction “kick off” meeting. 

Structure your advisory board
An advisory board does not have the legal tethering like a board of directors has – it’s more informal and easier to assemble. It’s comprised of qualified subject matter experts that have knowledge of your industry and specialties in areas such as technology, marketing, sales, operations or human resources. They offer suggestions and non-binding recommendations about key elements to make sure your business is attractive to buyers.

If you receive an unsolicited offer - engage with your legal counsel right away
It is very exciting to receive an offer, but Bradbary warns, “you don’t need to rush into signing a letter of intent.” The main area of concern is that once the letter of intent is signed, the business is taken off the market for several months. You need to be prepared to be locked in during that time period.

By taking these key steps you will be well on your way to drastically improve your probability of a successful exit. Be sure to listen to the entire interview below.

During the course of the podcast CEOs, business owners, and C-level executives will learn:

  • The PMI Advisors process when assisting business owners looking to sell

  • What is meant by having an emergency operations plan

  • The difference between an advisory board versus a board of directors

  • Post-sale final thoughts

Don’t miss a single episode of our podcast show. Subscribe to our show “In Process Podcast” on Apple iTunes and on Google Play to receive this episode as well as future episodes to your smartphone.

New Podcast Series: Episode Four

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In this fourth episode of our podcast series titled “Pithy Conversations with CEOs,” Trusted Counsel’s Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon speak to Erik Bush, CEO and Founder of Demand Driven Technologies (DD Tech). Founded in 2011, DD Tech specializes in cloud-based supply chain software solutions. With over 80 enterprises, today DD Tech has a global presence and a deep channel partner network.

Bush attributes his company success to be the first in the industry to adopt Demand Driven Material Requirements Planning (MRP) when it was introduced to the marketplace in 2011. The new methodology goes into their replenishment solution. With the new MRP model, the logic addresses the needs of manufacturers to plan both their inventories and materials out in a time phased manner. The old MRP model was much more dependent on forecasts. Bush said, “This Demand Driven MRP movement has really taken the market by storm. Clients get real value out of it and they find that they’re far less dependent on things like Microsoft Excel, which believe it or not a lot of the big companies around the world are still using as their inventory planning tool. So as a result, we’re giving clients much better results.” Today, DD Tech is the leading provider of the compliant supply chain solutions. Last year, the company was selected as a Venture Atlanta Presenting Company, the Southeast’s premier event for connecting technology innovation and investment capital.

Prior to founding DD Tech, Bush retired from IBM (2010) after 31 years with the company, the majority in executive management roles. He told us during the podcast, “When I retired, I thought I might do something entrepreneurial, because I’ve always had the itch to go out and try my luck at that.” A year later, he started DD Tech. Bush stressed over and over in the interview that the company really takes a lot of pride in delivering real value to the customer and that they solve problems for the customer.

During the course of the podcast CEOs, business owners, and C-level executives will learn:

  • What led Bush to form DD Tech after he retired from IBM

  • DD Techs process for raising venture capital

  • Bush’s sales lessons

  • KPI’s Bush follows closely every month

  • Pithy advice to new CEOs

    Don’t miss a single episode of our podcast show. Subscribe to our show “In Process Podcast” on Apple iTunes and on Google Play to receive this episode as well as future episodes to your smartphone.

Happy New Year! Your Business Guide to Speed up Innovation and Dump the Junk

This podcast originally aired in July 2017

This podcast originally aired in July 2017

In this episode of In Process: Conversations about Business in the 21st Century, hosts Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon of Trusted Counsel speak with strategist Susan Reed about innovation. Reed is the founder and CEO of EdgeDweller, which for 30 years has transformed organizations and individuals through front-end innovation practices that are powerful, practical and proven. She and the team at EdgeDweller have helped launch more than 150 products and services for 122 brands representing more than 25 industries. EdgeDweller specializes in creating high impact programs for corporations, strategic business units, nonprofits, individuals and small groups. Reed is passionately committed to driving up profitability while sustaining high growth through insightful analytics and intentional creativity.

Disruptive thinking and making it safe
According to Reed, there is a love-hate relationship about disruptive innovation. She believes the key is actually about learning how to make the planning process and the ultimate launch safe. Businesses can reduce the risks and better develop the ideas by working within the organization, or with consultants such as EdgeDweller, to better formulate those ideas and develop very incremental paths to get to the launch. Reed says, “We create those ideas but show organizations a very incremental path to get there from where they are today. So if you can prove it in step one, you move to step two. That’s the only way, until you see it through.”

In one of our most popular podcasts to date, Reed discusses how to reach innovation faster. In essence, one needs to get rid of bad innovation habits. Check out her guide for innovation don’ts to effectively speed up your innovation success.

Innovation Don’ts (according to Susan Reed):

1. Never, ever start with ideation
Starting with ideation is the least effective path to implementation of innovation. And this is very often where we start. “Really?” you ask. Unfortunately, most organizations don’t have success decision metrics in place, hence, there is no agreement on what equals true innovation if you start off with ideation. As a result, little if anything will get implemented.

2. No more one offs
As we all know, things move very quickly in this day and age. So if you believe that you can create an innovation and then give it an incremental upgrade, it’s going to be out of date before it even launches. It’s important to realize that you’ve got to have that long-term plan that requires a series of actions that need to happen behind the first innovation.

3. Forget skills-based or cross-function based teams
The idea behind this statement is that if you use these types of teams, you will only receive incremental ideas, versus real innovative ideas. These teams are working in this space daily; hence they know the rules and boundaries.

4. No more fun fest creative extravaganzas
While clearly not intentional, you are setting up your organization for failure if you don’t have a way to capture ideas and implement the really good ones that are suggested. Having an idea party or meeting will lead to frustration. You’ll end up in a worse place than you were when you started. Reed also refers to this don’t as “the rise and fall of excitement” - it is just that.

5. Never tell people that the innovation project starts with R&D or customer insights
Companies are beginning to realize this. A recent study showed that these practices are actually limiting growth and innovation. So while experts agree that organizations need R&D and customer insights, they recommend that you wait until future states are created, then use it for the feasibility of those ideas, to support them.

So are you ready to innovate or do more of it? Susan Reed recommends the following: Have a serious conversation on how you define innovation, what you’re willing to do and really understand that and communicate it very clearly to your team. Everything is based on that. When you articulate what it is you’re going to do, make sure that it’s going to work. Also remember that most initiatives don’t have a chance of working. “That’s crazy too.”

Want to get the full conversation on “Speed up Innovation. Dump the Junk?” Stream this episode in the player below. You can also subscribe on iTunes to receive new episodes of In Process Podcast directly on your smartphone.

Trusted Counsel Celebrates 15 Year Anniversary with Exciting Move!

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After several years at Colony Square in midtown Atlanta, we are moving effective Friday, January 11th, 2019 to a larger space to accommodate our law firm growth! The new office is located a few blocks away in Two Midtown Plaza.

Overseeing the office move is Chief Operating Officer Jon Lassiter. He states, "Over the past eighteen months Trusted Counsel has grown significantly and we have been looking for the right space for some time now. In order to accommodate our current and future growth we are going to the 15th floor of Two Midtown Plaza on our 15th Anniversary! We are most excited about the office design because there will be several conference rooms and collaborative spaces. It’s more like an agency space than a typical law firm design. We feel this will help with recruitment and have a big impact on our projects.” Our telephone number will remain the same, 404.898.2900.

New Office Address:

1349 West Peachtree Street, NW
Suite 1525
Atlanta, GA 30309

A little bit about Two Midtown Plaza: It was constructed in 1986 and the architectural style is postmodernism. The building holds a gold certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). 

We look forward to seeing you at our new location! While our location may change, our high level of service will always stay the same.

Shark Fight! How I Survived, and My Product Thrived, after Shark Tank

The Christmas Tree Hugger

This month on Trusted Counsel’s podcast show In Process: Conversations About Business in the 21st Century, Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon spoke to Ryan Kenny, inventor of The Christmas Tree Hugger, a seasonal holiday product that he invented in 2016. Podcast co-host John Monahon happens to be the business partner of Ryan Kenny and has been involved with the product from the very beginning. The Christmas Tree Hugger makes artificial trees look more festive, fun and real. The product comes in several holiday-inspired designs and is simply wrapped around the bottom pole of any fake tree – instantly making it appear more realistic.

The idea came to Ryan after he and his wife decided to purchase their first artificial Christmas tree, simply for convenience factors. But when they sat down on the couch to admire the beautiful tree they had put up, Ryan was sorely disappointed when he looked down at the bottom of the tree. Ryan said to his wife, “there is this fuzzy, hairy, ugly green pole of an eyesore at the bottom” – the eyesore soured the holiday magic. Without more thought, he turned to the internet searching for a fix. Disappointment again - nothing available in the marketplace. So he decided to makeshift something in his basement. After receiving positive opinions from friends and family, he decided to sell the product on Etsy, the e-commerce website focused on handmade items. Soon thereafter, the product started selling and it received nothing but five-star reviews with buyers saying things such as “Why hasn’t anybody thought of this before?” It was at that point that Ryan decided to make his product more official. With a background in graphic design and advertising, it was second nature for Ryan to develop sketches that ultimately led to a solid prototype. He applied for a patent, sought out manufacturers, and launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. It wasn’t long before 100% of the goal was hit. From there, one thing led to another and he soon found himself on QVC (his television debut) during their “Christmas in July” promotion in 2017. John was impressed with Ryan’s ease during the taping by saying, “I’m glad Ryan was comfortable because I was sick to my stomach. His execution was perfect! The host even gave him a kiss on the cheek which Ryan accepted just like a professional TV personality.”

The Short Road to ABC’s Shark Tank

Ryan admits being on the cable network QVC opened doors for The Christmas Tree Hugger. It was not long after airing on QVC, that Ryan was interviewing to become a contestant on The Shark Tank. Fast forward a few months when the holiday product was featured in the ninth season, episode thirteen of The Shark Tank, airing December 3rd, 2017. Ryan sought $100,000 for 20% equity of his company, The Christmas Tree Hugger. He didn’t get a deal but was happy with the way the experience went – The Shark Tank was amazing.

The Christmas Tree Hugger in 2018

A year since Ryan appeared on Shark Tank, the product continues to receive top online ratings. He hopes his invention will turn into a standard Christmas product - a Christmas season iconography. During our podcast interview, he said “much like the top of the tree that has a star, I would love for the bottom of the tree to be equally important. People will say, what will we do with the fuzzy, hairy pole on our Christmas tree? The answer will be a no brainer, THE CHRISTMAS TREE HUGGER! The interview ended with these heartfelt words by Ryan. “It makes me so happy knowing I’ve made something from nothing, this simple product, and it’s now it’s in thousands of families homes.”

Click below to listen to the entire podcast. During the course of the podcast, CEOs, business owners, C-level executives and entrepreneurs will learn:

  • Ryan’s strategy for getting major retail buyers to talk to him on the phone

  • The various stages that contestants need to go through in order to get selected to appear on Shark Tank

  • How Ryan prepared for the actual filming of Shark Tank

  • The real reason why Ryan went on Shark Tank 

  • The after Shark Tank update, where you can find his product now!

Don’t miss a single episode of our podcast show. Subscribe to our show “In Process Podcast” on iTunes and now on Google Play to receive this episode as well as future episodes to your smartphone.

Intellectual property protection is critical in today’s business environment and Trusted Counsel has helped numerous clients with their intellectual property needs. In addition, our counsel extends beyond registering trademarks, copyrights and patents; we develop strategies that leverage your intellectual property into true competitive assets that create business value. If you have any questions or comments about patent protection for your invention, please contact John Monahon with Trusted Counsel. You may reach him at 404. 898.2900 or email him at jmonahon@trusted-counsel.com.