Welcome to the “Show Me The Way” podcast with David Seitter
In this episode of “Show Me The Way,” Dave sits down with Matt Slawson to discuss his journey of moving from consultant, to employee, to owner of a business. They also talk about tips on how to grow a business, either organically or through acquisitions, and what is really involved in the buying or selling a business
Ep. 4 — Welcome to the 180: From Selling to Buying the Company with Matt Slawson
Matt Slawson’s Background
Dave opens by giving a bit of background on guest Matt Slawson, and then asks him to add some additional color.
- Matt discusses his shift from civil engineering to computer science, and yet still spent 90% of his career in the construction space.
- He talks about his previous role at a concrete contractor, and his switch to a generic role at Paradise Asphalt.
Dave notes how Matt also does a bit of consulting for construction companies, and asks whether the consulting helps the business or the other way around.
- Matt says that it’s a bit of both, noting that he takes lessons from clients and applies it to his own business, and lessons from his own business that he takes into consulting.
- He continues by saying that he has helped people grow their business, and helped others successfully exit their business as well.
From Consultant to Employee to Owner
Dave asks for more of Matt’s history with Paradise Asphalt.
- Matt regales the last few years and his history with Paradise.
- He then talks about the experience of helping the owner take that company to market to sell, but notes that COVID caused many deals to be put on hold.
- He opens up to the discussion about how purchasing the business himself had never occurred to him.
Dave clarifies that Matt moved from consultant, to employee, to owner of that very business, and questions how that transition also shifted his viewpoint on the company.
- Matt walks through how his mindset shifted through that process, and the different things he was looking at from each perspective.
- Dave asks how he held himself accountable to take care of the things he found from when he was consulting for the business.
- Matt then discusses how the information changed depending on his positions changed, and once he was acting as general manager, he really had all of the information.
Tips on How to Grow a Business
Dave asks Matt if now as the owner he is looking to grow the business, or looking to acquire more businesses.
- Matt talks high-level about the company saying that there are different ways a company can approach growth.
- He notes that while organic growth is great, in the current market people should not be overlooking growth through acquisition.
- He says that he is always looking at what can help Paradise grow the best, and from time to time that may include acquisition.
Dave notes that Matt has helped with a number of acquisitions and asks for Matt’s top three pieces of advice he would give others who are looking at buying or selling businesses.
- Matt says an important thing to keep in mind is that building a company for a successful exit is different than building a great lifestyle business, and details how those businesses look different.
- He then tells a story of when ego got in the way of a deal closing, and the owner hung onto the business for too long.
- He then begins discussing his top three tips, which are:
- Start earlier than you think
- Know what your number is, and stick to it – don’t get greedy
- Find a guide or trusted advisor
- Dave says that he wishes he had spoken to Matt before writing his book, Quiet Plans Exciting Results, and relates a few stories including one about the Oregon Trail.
The Process of Buying or Selling a Business
Dave then asks Matt to speak about ‘deal fatigue’ and how he deals with it.
- Matt goes into his personal experience with deal fatigue, and how even someone experienced in the art of negotiating will still go through it.
- He says that often times he sees it happening in the later stages of the deals once accountants and lawyers get involved.
- Matt then relays a personal story of once someone is “tipped over,” and what that looks like on certain people.
Dave says that he looks at deals very linearly, and then has Matt describe how he views the deal process, without using legal talk.
- Matt describes how he thinks most people view the process, and then notes that in his mind there are additional pieces on the beginning and end of that typical process.
- He then details those additional steps, including the importance of transitioning finances to the company culture.
Dave asks if Matt notices differences between someone that is a strategic buyer of a business, versus someone who is actually in the industry.
- He notes that there are pretty stark differences, stating that the strategic buyers tend to be very numbers and financially driven.
- After additional prompting from Dave, Matt talks about how private equity companies will hold businesses for only a couple years before turning them around for sale.
This podcast is provided for educational purposes. It does not constitute legal advice and is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. The recommendations contained in this podcast are not necessarily appropriate for every individual or business. In determining the best course of action, business owners should consult with an attorney on their distinct circumstances.