In this podcast, John Bly, author of "Cracking the Code: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Growing Your Business Through Mergers and Acquisitions for Pennies on the Dollar," talks about:

  • The benefits of acquiring an existing company versus starting a business;
  • Biggest challenges encountered with acquisition integration;
  • Strategies when negotiating the purchase price in an M&A transaction;
  • Role of advisors during the acquisition process;
  • What is currently evolving in the M&A marketplace;
  • Important takeaways for owners that are thinking about exiting; and
  • His best advice to successfully execute an acquisition.

About the Guest

John Bly is the co-managing member of LBA Haynes Strand, PLLC, located in the Charlotte area. John’s entrepreneurial guidance as co-managing member has propelled the firm to rapid growth. He utilizes M&A to drive development—in nine years, LBA has grown from $0 to more than $4 million, through a series of eight acquisitions and two mergers. John is also seen by his peers as an expert on the topic and consults on 20 to 30 M&A transactions a year.

John's book serves as a guide to effectively find good deals for entrepreneurial businesses in the $1 to $30 million range. It provides a blueprint for how to tackle issues, such as determining whether it’s a good fit, due diligence, structuring the deal, valuation, tax issues and how to land the perfect catch.

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Read the Full Transcript Here:

Noah Rosenfarb: Hello everyone and welcome. It’s your host, Noah Rosenfarb, from Freedom Business Advisors here with John Bly. He’s the author of "Cracking the Code: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Growing Your Business Through Mergers and Acquisitions for Pennies On The Dollar." John, thanks so much for joining us today.

John Bly: Noah, looking forward to it. Thanks for having me and hopefully, can help your listeners with a few different ideas.

Noah Rosenfarb: Yes. You’re a CPA. We’re brethren in that respect. How did you get interested in cracking the code?

John Bly: Good question. It really started about 11 years ago just thinking about how growing a professional service firm was a struggle organically and so got really excited about growing it inorganically and so now in the last 11 years have done 11 acquisitions on the CPA side and have done three as of last week on the fitness business side, so I have two different core businesses and have done 14 acquisitions in the last 11 years, and also have done a bunch of exits. We’ve sold four divisions of our company over that period and so over that period, just getting really excited about helping entrepreneurs think about both buy side and sell side and adding value so that when they decide they want to get out, they have the right formula, the right buy out, and the right structure. That’s really how I got passionate about it.

Noah Rosenfarb: Perhaps it might be unfair to call an addiction to acquisition. What keeps you in this process of continuing to buy companies instead of grow organically or in addition to, I should say’?

John Bly: Well, it’s funny. I haven’t heard it called an addiction but I have heard people call me a junkie, so I don’t know. I think the thing that excites about acquiring as a strategy is it helps people grow faster. A lot of people are looking to grow and they look at hiring another sales person, starting a new niche area, opening a new market, different city. They look at those as exit strategies but really there are studies out there on starting new businesses are 80+% fail in five years but 90% of all businesses purchased in the US according to banking studies are still in business five years later.

Those two dynamics are radically different and so it’s a way that entrepreneurs can grow their company faster with less risk, in my opinion, and at the same time, the benefits of growing company for those people who have a company that has grown is it allows them to really focus on what they are really good at because as an entrepreneur when you’re a small company, you have to do 10 or 15 different things of which you may be passionate or good at three or four of those, and so when you’re a small company, you have to do that. If you can accelerate it and get bigger faster rather than organically at 5, 10, 20% a year, you can get there faster and do just the stuff you really love.

Noah Rosenfarb: What about appraising? I know people they say, “Well, it’s just cheaper for me to build it. I’m not going to buy it. I’ve already got my infrastructure and everybody wants crazy prices.” What do you have to say to them?

John Bly: It’s a great argument. I hear it all the time. I guess my argument to that is, “Okay, if you’re going to grow it organically, you’re going to go higher.” Let’s say $100,000 sales person just for easy math and you’re going to grow by hiring that next sales person and you’re going to invest $100,000 with them in the first year and if you’re lucky, they might generate $200,000 in the first year, maybe they will do really well and they will generate $300,000 or $400,000. What I would say is that with that same $100,000 investment in my experience, you could purchase a business between, well, it depends on the business but you could purchase a business between $700,000 and $1 million.

Now, if somebody bought a business that they paid $700,000 for as the down payment in bank financing and that sort of thing, that $100,000 instantly turns into between $200,000 and $300,000 a cash flow the first year. If you buy a business for $700,000, they are generating likely $200,000 a profit. If you’re going to invest $100,000, that’s not a bad return. Never mind the future growth of it. For me, it’s a trade off. It’s an alternative growth strategy.

Noah Rosenfarb: Tell me how you get to pennies on the dollar in the title of your book. Obviously you’re saying, “I’m going to buy a $700,000 business on my own. We’re going to use $100,000 of my cash.” Where is the rest of the money coming from?

John Bly: Yup, in most deals that I’ve done or that I advise on, because I have advised on over 300 transactions in the last 11 years, is if it’s under $5 million, the purchase price, a significant majority of the funding comes through the banks through the Small Business Administration. The SBA lending arm of the Federal Government lends through the banks, through commercial banks throughout the US and that is where a large chunk comes from. The SBA guarantees 75% of the debt so the banks don’t have nearly as much risk which is why there is a lot of funding for acquisitions but there is not much for startups. A lot of it comes through that.

If the deal is a little bit more risky or maybe it’s too owner driven, meaning the owner was really key person to the business, then there’s probably some owner financing to it but it’s usually not a huge percentage. It could be 5, 10, 25%, 30%, somewhere in there maximum probably in the deals that I normally see under that $5 million range.

Noah Rosenfarb: So there are 300 transactions that you’ve done. How many of them were for clients of yours that were looking to grow their business versus exit their business? Just to give us some perspective.

John Bly: Yeah absolutely. It’s probably about 225 that were looking to grow and 75 that were looking to sell.

Noah Rosenfarb: Let’s take the growing companies first. You and I were talking before we got on the call here about companies growing through acquisition prior to wanting to have their own exit. Do you have some clients that are doing, talking acquisitions before they are looking to sell their own company?

John Bly: Absolutely. We’re working through one right now on the exit where about five or six years ago, they said, “Hey, we want to sell in 2015-2018, somewhere in that timeframe but the multiples for our business gets significantly larger if we get above $10 million but we think we’re going to grow too slow to get to it organically. What do you think about doing it inorganically and doing a tuck-in?” That’s exactly what they did. They bought a smaller company with about $1.5-2 million in revenue.

Because they bought it, they bought it for about four times. It’s a recurring revenue model. They bought if for about four times recurring revenue and they are turning around right now and they are getting eight times on the sale because they added it to their core business. Their core business, they raised their revenue multiple because they got to where a public company now is actually interested in buying them and that transaction is going to close next week.

Noah Rosenfarb: Congratulations. It sounds like a smart move.

John Bly: Yeah, it’s that sort of thing where when you’re a decent-sized company acquisitions can make a lot of sense. They make more sense if you already own a company. If you’re starting from scratch and acquisition makes sense still in my opinion but it’s a little bit more risky. If already own a company, though, doing an acquisition to me is much less risky than starting a new division or growing, hiring that next sales person. The stats out there show you can basically flip a coin on whether the next hire is going to be productive and you’re going to keep them long term and they are going to be engaged. It’s better than that based on government studies about the success of buying a business.

Noah Rosenfarb: What do you see is the biggest challenges for people that are integrating an acquisition into their company?

John Bly: Usually if they are not paying attention, they miss one or two thing on the front end in the really big things. One is either culture. They get so focused on the numbers through the due diligence process that they forget to pay attention to what the cultures are going to look like when they mesh and that causes problems when it comes to integration time. The other thing is integration of systems and so they think about the IT and the people and how they are physically going to integrate them until literally probably the day they close and then they think, “I didn’t spend enough time thinking about the integration process. Now I’ve got 60 days of figuring that out and now I’m behind the eight ball and I thought we’d all hit the ground running and I can’t because I didn’t think about this ahead of time.”

Noah Rosenfarb: Have you seen any of the failures amongst your client on the integration side?

John Bly: Yeah. Usually, it’s more culture on those two things because we work a lot on integration but if they are not paying attention to the culture even though we discussed it a lot, they might miss it on the culture side and what ends up happening typically in the case like that is three, six, 12 months in, one or two of the key people on the company they bought end up disappearing. We haven’t found that to be very impactful to the business except it’s a real pain for 6-12 months. As you hire a new person, find the replacement, get them up to speed, it doesn’t overall affect the deal structure. It’s just that it’s sort of a pain point for a period of time.

Noah Rosenfarb: What would you say are some of the strategies that work best when negotiating a price or a deal?

John Bly: Yeah, that’s a great one because a lot of people when somebody says, “Oh, they want too much money for the business.” That’s a very common thing and it sounds like based on your question a few questions ago about what do you say to people who say it’s too expensive, that’s what I hear most of the time is, “Oh, it’s too much.” Well, my comment repeatedly to people is, “Think about it.” There are so many things in the negotiation process. If you say $1 million is too expensive to buy this company, what if they were willing to finance it at no interest for five years?

Well, now you’re not really paying $1 million at net present value. You’re paying less than that. Well, what if they were willing to work for free for six months or what if they were willing to leave the AR, the cash, and the business? There are so many things that are negotiable that I try to advise clients, “Don’t run at the price discussion right off the bat. Think about the fact that there’s probably 20, 30, 40 different negotiating points that if they want $1 million, that seems to be something that they are really passionate about because they want to say they sold their company for $1 million.

Think about all the other things you can win on and say well, I gave you the price so let’s revisit this. I really need this back in return or I really need that back in return.” When they take that approach instead of “all or nothing” type of approach, I typically find that the deals get done a lot smoother and both sides end up winning.

Noah Rosenfarb: We have a saying. We say, “You tell me whatever price you want as long as I could set the terms. I’ll pay you whatever you want I just get to decide when.” I agree with that. It’s all in the terms and terms could be very meaningful. You mentioned a couple of terms that might be important whether it’s the owner contributing, the seller contributing labor at no cost post closing, work and capital adjustment, the actual length of time that the payments will be made, the interest rate on the payments, and the other big term conditions that you’ve seen that have been very influential in getting a deal closed.

John Bly: Yeah, there are some others. Some are terms of non-competes and non-solicitations. They are extending those or shortening them depending on which side you’re representing and how the deal is structured. Another is a lot of times, and you probably see this as well in small businesses, many entrepreneurs decide to buy their own commercial real estate and so they are occupied. Their business runs out of a piece of property they own and sometimes that goes in the transaction and sometimes it doesn’t, and what those lease terms light might look like or what if they are going to lease them, can I lease it for three years from the seller and have an option at today’s price to buy it in three years rather than at some inflated price? A lot of times, that’s a negotiating tool because maybe they can’t come up with enough down payment to buy it but they really want the real estate. Those sorts of things tend to move the needle a decent portion.

Another one besides just the length of time you pay the person over is the interest rate. I mean, there’s a big difference between if you’re going to pay the owner some over time at 8% versus 4% and 0%. Those are significantly different payment terms and then the last one would be just sort of how long the seller stays with the business. Sometimes, I have had clients who want to sell the estate for a long time and sometimes I have clients who want them to disappear day one. They don’t want them to ever show up. Those are all bearing terms that you’re sort of playing with both side’s egos as you work through the transaction.

Noah Rosenfarb: What is the biggest challenge you’ve seen in getting a deal closed that still ended up closing?

John Bly: Let’s see. That’s a tough one. I would say I’ve seen so many where they should have closed that fell apart because somebody’s ego got in the way. Sometimes what I’ve seen when deals fall apart is really emotional and it’s usually falling apart because of emotions. It’s rare that I see somebody work through something really challenging and still get the deal done. The only time I would say I’ve seen that is a transaction about two years ago and the seller really wanted a certain price. It was a little bit higher than the buyer should have paid and they worked through terms for months.

It was probably 3-4 months going back and forth, back and forth. What they ended up settling on was because the seller was really adamant about the price and what they ended up settling on was, “Okay, we’ll agree to a minimum price" which is not quite, it’s probably 80% of what the seller wanted but if these earn out terms are hit, which they were challenging but not impossible and they said, “Instead of what your offer is, we’ll give you 20% more on the upside.” So the buyers sort of covered their minimum floor that they are willing to pay and they were willing to give upside if certain benchmarks were hit, but that took a long time to work through because both sides were sort of adamant about their own positions.

Noah Rosenfarb: How do you see the role of an accountant in an acquisition for an accounting firm client? Maybe you can walk me through what does firm do and perhaps that might differ from the industry average?

John Bly: Sure. I think a lot of firms are really focused on due diligence and what specifically on due diligence they are focused on two things, one is the actual process of financial due diligence, which is okay, let’s look at financials and make sure they tie to tax returns. The second thing is let’s look at tax structure of the deal. They talk about what does that look like? Is it going to be asset sale, a stock sale? What are we going to do for purchase price allocation? That’s typically where a CPA firm stops.

Now where we differ is we have a lot of discussions on the front end with clients about the strategy. So it’s a lot about strategy. "Okay, you want to sell in five years? Maybe you do and talk in now or you want to sell in 1.5 years? Here are two or three things we need to do immediately. You’re going to sell to a public company? You’re going to start to need the audited financial statements three years before you’re going to sell probably would be good and let’s start that process.” Those sorts of discussions are things that a lot of people are not having those proactive discussions.

The other is in your process, we talk a lot about integration and culture, which a lot of CPA firms just don’t focus on because they haven’t done acquisitions themselves to know what the pain points are. Because we’ve done so many at our firm ourselves where we’ve actually been the buyer, we know where the pain points can be in culture, in HR, and those sorts of things.

A few years ago, we were advising on a transaction and we didn’t get very deep into it because we recognize very quickly that there was no Obama Care issue but we didn’t recognize it because anybody has spelled it out or because there was a tax issue. This was just a sense of they were doing, this company was growing so fast and they were so profitable. The sellers were fairly young individuals that we said, “There’s got to be something else here.”

So we thought about it for a day or two and just went back to our potential buyer and said, “I think there’s an Obama Care issue. Let me just call the…” and this was right after the law was passed. It was probably six months so none of the regulations have even been written. We called the investment banker and we said, “Here is what we think the issue is. Here’s why we think they are selling. I need some sanity check on this.” The investment banker used a few choice words and then said, “I think you might be right” and they took it right off the market.

Noah Rosenfarb: Wow.

John Bly: I don’t think that the accounting firms from what we understand and from our competitors in the market aren’t necessarily doing these sorts of things.

Noah Rosenfarb: Who do you see is filling the void? I mean obviously you have created your own niche in advising companies on how to either handle a merger, an acquisition, or a divestiture. What’s your perception of the market place and who is helping the owners?

John Bly: I think there are people trying to help owners. I think it’s sometimes teams of people - it’s attorneys, it’s bankers, not just their corporate banker but investment banker and or a business broker and their attorneys. I think it’s sort of a team approach in most cases. If you don’t sort of have a team like that, that can be a problem. If you don’t have some people helping you, I’ve been on sides of the transactions many times where ate the other party for lunch, for a lack of a better term.

They were awful, they could not perform. We would laugh because we go, “Okay, we’re definitely winning this issue because the other side of the transaction does not know what the transaction is and they are going to be in a lot of trouble.” You have to have qualified advisers and when I say qualified advisers, people who actually do the deals and pay attention to what is going on in the market place because these negotiating points can shift deal to a win loss pretty quickly.

Noah Rosenfarb: I agree. How have you seen things change over the course of the last few years? What would you say are the biggest things that you see evolving as you look at the M&A market place?

John Bly: The biggest thing is the baby boomers aging out of every business, the availability of capital now compared to 2008-2011 and combined with the price. The price right now is really hot so all of that led to, and you may have had this in a previous podcast but there was some stuff that came out about six weeks ago that the first quarter of 2015 had more M&A transaction than any quarter in the prior 16 years.

Noah Rosenfarb: Wow, I didn’t see that.

John Bly: And that is going to continue to heat up. It’s projected that between now and maybe the end of 2018 that it will be the hottest M&A market probably of all time. There are lots of stats that show that about 63-70% of all businesses that are privately held are owned by baby boomers and the folks that were late baby boomers where they are significantly older now, well, they had to survive the recession of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 so they delayed their exit which sort of condensed this whole M&A process into a really short five-year cycle.

Noah Rosenfarb: I heard some statistics the other day that there are $550 billion in cash on private equity firm balance sheet and another $500 billion of committed capital to open funds besides whatever it is, $1 or $2 trillion of capital that they are looking to raise. In my perspective with the clients that I’m interacting with which tend to be the target market of these private equity firms, I can’t imagine a better time to sell, like you said, these next couple of years. What is your prediction for what’s going to happen afterwards?

John Bly: Yes, you’re exactly right and then we have the perfect storm coming of 2018, 2019. Somewhere in that range, everybody I have seen and I’ve been a believer of it for probably six years now, I’ve been talking about this, 2018, 2019 somewhere in there the market is going to shift drastically. I’m not a stock market predictor so I’m not making any predictions like that but in M&A space, the boomers will have significantly exited, the capital you’re describing will have been used and now it’s tied up typically for 3-7 years as they grow the business before they sell it because those types of investors are flipping them. Interest rates will have risen.

We’ve been at historic lows now for seven years and everybody projects they are going to rise significantly between now and then and so you’re not going to be able to get bank capital at the same low percentages which drives down prices because you can’t leverage it as much and then there aren’t going to be as many sellers because the baby boomers will have significantly exited and people will only be in 2, 3, 4 years of ownership, so they are not going to be selling. Between now and 2018 is the time to sell if you were to, at least in my predictions, by 2018, 2019, it will have flipped and it will stay that way for three or four years until 2022, somewhere in there.

Noah Rosenfarb: Yeah. That’s kind of my guess as well. I think Rob Slee, I don’t remember that I’ve ever had Rob on the show but Rob has a cyclical market kind of diagram going through the 60, 70, 80, 90s and first decade in 2000s showing where the markets were hot and when they were not, and we’re just repeating the same cycle. It’s pretty interesting.

John Bly: You’ve got it.

Noah Rosenfarb: Yeah. So what do you think are the most important takeaways for owners that are thinking about exiting in the next 2-5 years? What should they be thinking about?

John Bly: If they are looking to exit in the next 2-5 years, they need to be thinking more like 2 than 5. That would be my #1 recommendation. If you need to exit by 2020, you better shorten that time horizon to two years because if you’re thinking five years, there’s not going to be very many buyers, my prediction, by 2020 and the price is going to be lower. That would be #1 would be to start looking at the market now especially with all the transactions and the all the capital. Prices have risen significantly in the last two years on businesses. They are transacting for higher multiples because there’s more money and it’s lower interest rates. That would be #1.

#2 would be just to make sure your operations and financials are in really solid order because people want to buy companies that are running well and you know what happens when somebody makes an offer and they start doing due diligence, is they start chipping away at that price they are willing to pay as they find all these holes and gaps. You really want to sure up your standard operating procedures and your financials and make sure they are in good working order.

Noah Rosenfarb: I couldn’t agree more. As we look at the multiples, one of the things I tell clients that have this, you know, “I want to wait until I’m 67” mentality. I don’t want to sell when I’m 64 is I try to equate it to a stock market. If you owned Google or Apple and you could get what you say was a ridiculously high price for it today, would you rather sell it today or would you rather wait until your 67th birthday with all the unknowns. How do you interact with clients around this window of time that we have in front of us?

John Bly: It’s a great point but sometimes entrepreneurs, this is where entrepreneurs struggle is they sometimes feel if they haven’t had a failure or if they haven’t gone through a business cycle, they feel like they are invincible, and so their business is only going to get to be more valuable. When you deal with somebody which we’re advising right now on a hopeful exit, they are working through the book right now and putting out to market but this person has upside to his business but he has been through a couple of cycles in the last 20 years and has had some losses in other company startups and has also seen a family business hold on too long and lose a lot of value.

If you’re an entrepreneur, the thought is you want to sell on the way up not on the way down because if you’re selling a company when it’s growing and when it’s going up, and when there’s profit, cash flow, and all that, everybody wants to buy. When you own a company that’s going down, there aren’t as many buyers and the multiple, even if it’s the same thing even if it’s the same profit, let’s say it’s $500,000, $500,000 going up to $600,000 and $700,000 versus $500,000 going down to $400,000, the multiple could be one or two times different and it’s a big difference so you really want to be selling on the upside not the downside.

Noah Rosenfarb: We had a guest on and it’s great. I went to meet with a seller and he said, “You know Matt, things are too good. I don’t want sell.” The broker says to him, “Okay, why don’t you call me when things are bad. I’m sure we can find somebody then.” That’s great. Sometimes the owner’s perspective is they like reaping the benefits of all their hard work especially coming out of that recession and our clients are making money now. They are feeling good and they want to live in the moment and thinking it will last forever, but we all know that it doesn’t always last forever, right?

John Bly: That’s right.

Noah Rosenfarb: What else would you have as advice for an owner that’s thinking about doing an acquisition? How do you help coach them to be aggressive about either their search or being willing to pay with the high prices that people are looking for nowadays?

John Bly: Yes. One of the things on the search specifically is I tell people to realize that you’re going to have to knock on a few doors sometimes before you find the right house that fits and that means you’re going to have to share information. If you’re a member of a CEO type group like Entrepreneur’s Organization, Vistage, or YPO or something like that, you get this concept which is some sort of transparency and opening the door to show people you’re inside and as a buyer, you have to be willing to do some of that because the more transparent you are with a potential seller, the more they are going to open up the commode and share the good and the bad about their business.

You really just have to have a very open and frank and sharing discussion both ways. I find that that leads to more successful deals because they know what the holes are and they are sharing it. They are willing to work through those holes and they have a plan for fixing those holes before they acquire the business.

Noah Rosenfarb: Unfortunately, I haven’t found a great way for my client to get a pipeline to deals unless their owner writes a check each month for someone to go search for them. How have you found deals, how has your clients sourced deals? What are some of the tips and strategies you have there?

John Bly: Sure. This one I’m going to use myself as the case study because 11 years ago, I started basically at the start with Google and starting with searching for, if you’re looking for a specific industry and you Google that industry, you will find that almost every industry has experts that sell those types of companies. So you can start with something passive like that. Do fast forward and we found a couple of deals that way and we fast forward 12, 18, 24 months and we started to get our own traction around this. We started to tell every banker we knew, we started to tell every attorney we knew, if you were not me, you’d tell every CPA you knew as well, you’d tell every financial adviser.

Anybody who those core people are that served the entrepreneur business owner, you let them know that, “Hey, I’m looking to grow my business and I’m looking to do it through some acquisitions. Here’s our strategy.” If you happen to run across anybody and more times than not, you know I know a guy who is 65 years old and I don’t think he has any strategy for exit. I’ll reach out to him because people like helping other people be successful. That’s one of the weird phenomenon I’ve found over the last 11 years.

People want to see other people be successful even if there’s nothing in it for them. Sharing that idea and then we’ve also blogged about it so if you Google CPA firm merger and acquisition, terms like that, we always fall on page 1. We fall below the four, five that sell businesses in our industry but we’re on page 1 and we want to leave it that way because they read our blogs and they reach out to us.

Another thing we’ve done is we send direct mail. Now it’s up to about just under 100 competitors within about 100 miles of us. We know we’ve targeted our marketing person and administrative assistant, have targeted which CPA firms fit our category. This data is mostly public. It’s not very hard to find and in a few hours, they can target these people and that turns into opportunities every single month. We send those letters every six months and today I had a meeting with two of those firms.

One of them kept the letter from 16 months ago on their desk and they waited for now to reach out, and another one just got the letter for the first time in May and reached out to us. It’s amazing how many, now we’ve had 100 of those opportunities over the years. We’ve only done 11 of the deals but it’s because in an initial meeting, we can tell them, “Hey, we’re not a fit for them. We can refer them to somebody else that we know in the market might be looking for an acquisition." But those are the basic ways to find.

Noah Rosenfarb: That’s a pretty solid batting average compared to the private equity investors I talk to that say, “We get 100 deals to look at and we might close on 1 or 2.” So you’ve done pretty good.

John Bly: Well, we’ve done our research on the front end when we do these mailings to make sure we’ve eliminated a lot of the firms that we know are not going to be a fit. We haven’t eliminated all of them because we’ve still met with a bunch that we didn’t do but we try to screen on the frontend before we even do the mailer. But the mailer, letting the attorney, the advisers, the bankers, and the financial advisers, sharing at even industry conferences, we share industry conferences that we’re looking ot continue to acquire, these things just have a life of their own, blogging. It’s amazing, the opportunities we get. We get a lot of inbound leads for CPA firms looking to be acquired.

Noah Rosenfarb: That’s great. So John, kind of an open ended question, what else do you want to share with the listeners?

John Bly: I would say just recap a couple of things. If you haven’t thought about an acquisition, think about it as an alternative growth strategy. It provides you a lot of different venues for growth and a lot of different strategies around it. If you’re thinking about an exit, think sooner rather than later unless you’re looking more than five years out, in which case, just make sure you’re prepping your business for that ultimate time. Every discussion that you’re in with another one of your colleagues, competitors, think being a buyer and a seller in every meeting and think about whether you can have an opportunity to sell to them or a chance to buy their business.

Noah Rosenfarb: Great advice, John. I want to thank you for coming on the show today. John Bly, Cracking the Code, John, how should the listeners get in touch with you?

John Bly: Our website is www.LBAHS.com. You can email me at JohnBly@LBAHS.com and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Noah Rosenfarb: Sounds great. Thanks for coming on the show today and to all our listeners, don’t forget to like us on iTunes and leave us your feedback. Have a great day.