The days between November 10–20 were some of the most fulfilling — AND the most challenging — of 2020.
It truly reinforced the number one skill in dealmaking for me… and how you can use this skill not only in deals, but in life.
Let me explain…
On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Adam and I closed a deal in the U.K. It’s a fantastic business. It manufactures signs and displays (particularly COVID-related) for the hospitality, education and business sectors.
The company is called BHMA. It’s based in Cambridge, a very long and winding, four-hour drive from my home in Lancashire.
Wednesday was closing day. Everything was good to go… or so I thought.
The legal documents were ready, the bank financing was ready. All we needed was the small amount of financing to close the deal from PROX Capital, the U.S.-based private equity company Adam and I own.
The funds were transferred Monday.I wire funds back and forth across the pond all the time and usually a 48-hour window is more than sufficient. My personal record is 34 minutes, so I wasn’t worried about the timing.
However, as I’m driving down through the beautiful countryside at 11 a.m. Wednesday, my lawyer calls me.
“Carl, the funds haven’t arrived from the U.S. We can’t close until they land. Please chase and advise.”
It was only 6 a.m. on the East Coast — nobody was working yet.
So I continued driving, my brain hatching plan B, plan C and beyond.
I arrived at the business and parked on the company lot in full view of the reception area.
The seller was nervously pacing back and forth like an expectant father.
He was texting me every five minutes, asking if we were ready to close.
We HAD to close the deal that day. We needed to inform all the employees that ownership had been transferred as most of them didn’t even know the business was for sale…
Then I had to immediately get grips on the growth plans because I had to make a 32-hour trip to Cancun, Mexico to meet with the Dealmaker Wealth Society team for 2021 planning.
So I’m in the car, sweating. The funds had not cleared and I had less than one hour to fix it.
I called my lawyer. “What can we do?” The bank was not cooperating. The money was stuck in U.K. clearing.
My lawyer said “Carl, if you wire the money personally, it will take five minutes. We close the deal and then we’ll repay you from the U.S. funds when they clear.”
I logged into my banking app and tried to wire the funds. But because I was on my phone, I was limited to only £5,000. Not enough.
The transfer had to be done on a computer with all the proper token password authentication.
So I called Mrs. Allen. “Honey, I need you to wire some funds for this deal out of our personal bank account, and I need you to do it NOW.”
Unfortunately, my wife likes asking questions.
“Where’s the U.S. cash? Why hasn’t it cleared? Will we get it back and if so, when?”
My wife HATES to spend our own money when buying businesses. It’s actually one of the reasons I designed Dealmaker CEO.
But she nevertheless wired the money (it took five minutes) and we closed the deal soon thereafter.
The deal was saved, thanks to Mrs. Allen.
It took grit and determination to solve the issue, no matter what.
My outcome was to close the deal that day. How I did it did not matter.
The result is all that matters.
The lesson? Stay committed to your outcome, but be flexible in your approach.
I needed to put the same principle to practice in order to get to Mexico, too.
My team and I planned the trip weeks ago.
I booked the flight in October. Two weeks later, Delta cancelled it due to COVID. Flights are crazy weird right now — some airlines are even cancelling flights on the same day they’re supposed to leave.
My travel agent booked me on a second flight with British Airways connecting via Dallas. But less than 10 minutes later, she called back.
“It’s been cancelled”. The U.S. was not permitting non-citizens or non-residents to even CONNECT through the U.S.
My travel agent booked me a third flight, direct (nice!) from Manchester to Cancun, Mexico.
Less than a week later, the U.K. went into its second lockdown. Travel was permitted ONLY for work, education and emergencies.
I figured I was good — this is a legitimate work trip!
Unfortunately, Tui primarily operates as a vacation travel company, so 99% of people on that plane would be holiday-bound passengers.
I was already dreading the call when it came in. Flight CANCELLED.
Three flights down. But my grit and determination were too strong. I would not waiver.
I booked a fourth flight with Lufthansa through Germany to Mexico City then Cancun.
Luckily for me, the flight went ahead.
I got to Cancun 32 hours later and FINALLY meet with my partners and team.
Here we are on the rooftop of our hotel…
Outcome achieved. I stayed committed to the result (get to Cancun) but flexible in my approach (four flight changes).
The same applies to doing deals.
You’re unlikely to close the very first deal you find. It’s normal to have to pursue multiple deals.
Will it be the fourth deal? The tenth deal?
No one can say… but you should absolutely NEVER quit. If you are truly committed to your outcome of owning a profitable, small business using other people’s money…
Keep at it. Stay flexible. Look at multiple deals. Don’t take “No” for an answer.
Has financing fallen through? Look for other options.
Does the seller want to abort the day before closing (this actually happened to me this year), remind them why they are selling. Reinforce the relationship and save the day.
If that doesn’t work, move onto another deal. You might be walking away from one opportunity, but NEVER give up on your ultimate outcome of owning a business.
There’s no failure in dealmaking. Only feedback.
You only fail if you outright quit.
So don’t. EVER.
I’m back in the U.K. now. It’s been eight months since I was on a plane and I’m learning how to master jet lag all over again.
Until next time, bye for now.