by | February 18, 2014

Blog written by Lisa Forrest, Union Bank

If you are like me, I just couldn’t get enough of the Seahawk’s this season.  Are you in withdrawal now like me?  I’ll eke out a little bit more Hawk’s talk with 4 similarities that I found between the successful 2013-2014 season of our Seahawk’s and a successful business acquisition transaction.

  1. Prepare Well.    Hawk’s example..Russell Wilson, the Seahawk’s QB, is famous for saying “the separation is in the preparation.”   From the offseason to training camp to the Superbowl, Wilson never stopped preparing himself or his team for victory.  If you are the seller, you need to plan ahead and prepare for the sale of your business to optimize your exit.  I.E. Do you know how much you need in retirement, have you delegated the dependencies in your company, are the operations of the business at a point where you can transition to a new owner, does the cashflow support a buyer’s loan.  If you are the buyer, you need to prepare yourself as well.  I.E. do you have the skill set and stamina necessary to run the particular business of interest; do you have the capital necessary for adequate downpayment; do you have adequate liquidity personally to withstand setbacks, can you articulate and then execute your transition and growth plan for the business.
  1. Surround yourself with individual professionals who are experts in their discipline and then build a strong advisory/deal team.   Hawk’s example…The Hawk’s have very strong individual players, but The Ring was won based on the play of the entire team.  NOW I’m NOT SUGGESTING WE Should ever consider this an US v THEM thing between the buy and sell side with winners and losers like you would in a football game.  Not at all.  The point is that the most successful transactions I’ve participate in have competent, organized teams on both sides of the transaction.  The Hawk’s have a terrific Special Teams, Defense, Offense and Leadership and then they all worked together to achieve their goal.  The best transactions I’ve seen are where both sides of the transaction are represented by professional advisory teams, good at what they do individually coming together to execute the exit/purchase strategy.  Competency, perspective, compromise, win/win by both teams.
  1. Emotions Will Run High.    Hawk’s example…Richard Sherman’s (arguably one of THE best corners in the NFL) now infamous speech….some call it a rant… at the finish of the Hawk’s/Niner’s final playoff game.  Sherman was caught by an interviewer right after one of the best “wins” of his football life and he expressed himself.  Some loved it….some felt it took away from the team…some could identify with his enthusiasm and raw emotion….some felt it showed badly on Sherman.    Lesson Learned.  Be respectful of what both buyer seller are experiencing.  And don’t be shocked if some strong emotions spill out along the way.  Don’t jump to conclusions; there needs to be room for the human element.  For the part that you play, be understanding along the way as people may react differently than you to a similar situation.  Reaction and/or overreaction may certainly harm an otherwise promising engagement.  And a little “checking” of your own emotions will be in order at points during the process.
  1. Perseverance.  There are ups and downs with the acquisition process.  Not that you blindly trudge on if there are truly alarming red-flags, but there are going to be ebbs/flows and you need to keep the end zone in mind.  Hawk’s Example. QB, Russell Wilson fumbles the ball and turns it over on the first snap of the NFC Championship game against the Niners.  Wilson AND THE ENTIRE TEAM remained confident.   It wasn’t a pretty game or an easy game to watch but the Hawks played THEIR game and stuck to the plan.  (Believe me…I was in the stands with my hands over my eyes at certain times.)  Wilson and the TEAM went on to victory in that game and the chance to play in the Superbowl.   Lesson Learned….Remain poised and execute your plan.  As challenges arise, talk openly about them with your Advisory Team and the other side of the transaction as appropriate.  Lean on your team for motivation along the way.

And Go Hawk’s in 2014!