Ben Kelly_Building Wealth Through Acquisition Entrepreneurship_podcast episode cover

Building Wealth Through Acquisition Entrepreneurship with Ben Kelly, Acquisition Ace

July 26, 2023

Building wealth through acquisition entrepreneurship is becoming more and more predominant among business owners and those yet to leap into entrepreneurship. Instead of starting a business from zero, acquisition entrepreneurs start by buying an existing operation. They then using their knowledge to create a greater impact. In today’s episode, our guest, Ben Kelly, shares his unconventional journey of entrepreneurship through business acquisitions. He talks about the many benefits of buying a business, why it’s an incredible opportunity, and what it takes to become a successful acquisition entrepreneur.

About Ben Kelly

Ben Kelly is an inspiring acquisition entrepreneur who acquired and scaled five businesses with little to no cash upfront. Ben went from being a former Army Intelligence Officer to serving JPMorgan Bank’s largest clients as a Private Banking Associate. He then took more control of his career by founding a fitness SaaS startup with a fellow army veteran and jumping into entrepreneurship. Currently serving as the head of Acquisition Ace, Ben is committed to building a portfolio of healthy businesses and helping others do the same – all through the increasingly popular acquisition entrepreneurship model.

Is building wealth through acquisition entrepreneurship right for you?

Building wealth is not limited to starting your own business. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and enough cash, acquisition entrepreneurship could be a good option for you. 

When we talk about acquisition entrepreneurship, we mean purchasing and growing an existing business to the next level. It can be easier than starting from scratch because of the proven business model, established customer base, and existing cash flow. 

However, remember that you need to evaluate your strengths and preferences. Are you comfortable with running a business and making critical decisions? Can you handle potential risks and uncertainties? Acquiring a business requires careful research, negotiation skills, and financial planning because it is similar to investing and carries high risks.

Episode highlights:

  • Acquisition entrepreneurship is an incredible business opportunity for building true wealth, achieving financial freedom, and finally, living the life you’ve always wanted to live. (02:37)
  • Anyone can pursue entrepreneurship through acquisitions, but not everyone can make it in the field. But as long as you’re ready to roll up your sleeves, you don’t have to be an expert in everything to thrive as an acquisition entrepreneur. (06:57)
  • There are many benefits to buying an existing business instead of starting a new one from scratch. You can piggyback off someone else’s hard work and vision, get in the driver’s seat, and hit the gas pedal. (13:00)
  • Success looks different for everyone, especially in business. But you shouldn’t tie your success in acquisition entrepreneurship to just numbers; instead, aim to discover an alternative means to an end to keep yourself going. (27:34)
  • Anyone can acquire a business, but not everyone can be great at it. Having the right mindset and being open-minded are just some of the traits that show you’re cut out to be an acquisition entrepreneur. (30:22)

Ben’s best advice for entrepreneurs:

“It just hit me like a ton of bricks. The clients I’m serving have a hundred times more wealth than I do. And all of them are business owners. I’m serving them because they’re the ones who have the wealth. […] So it just kind of hit me that real wealth was created through assets and having an asset that produced a tangible product that helped people and through that building wealth.” (02:47)

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A.J. Lawrence: I’ve been following you on Twitter for a bit now, and you’re really active in the SMB Twitter space, SMB Tweet, SMB Twit, I’ve heard it all different ways. But as you were just joking, this echo chamber that we’re in because it’s so loud. But acquisition entrepreneurship, I think, is such a powerful tool to use as part of your entrepreneurial journey, but it’s still really poorly known outside of those of us who are in it. And you’re much further in your journey with five acquisitions and all this, I would love to maybe learn a little bit how you got into the space and what it’s been like for you? Let’s kind of maybe play off of that a little and have some discussion on that.

Ben Kelly: Absolutely. First off, I just want to thank you, A.J., for having me on the podcast. So I appreciate the time that you’re giving me today.

Where it really started for me was as soon as I graduated from college, I commissioned as an army officer. And so, I went and spent six years as an Intel officer and got to do some really interesting stuff all around the world. And it kind of set the tone for me. I had a lot of independence. Even though I was in the army, a very structured group, the missions and the tasks I was given gave a lot of independence to it.

As soon as I got out of active duty, I went to go work for JP Morgan in their private bank. And so I was managing high net worth individuals and their wealth. It was at that point I thought I had made it. I thought I made it to a great company. I was getting a nice paycheck. But that sense of independence, the sense of actually having a direct line between my actions and the tangible result at the end, it’s kind of severed at that point.

I had been working that job for two years and this is kind of where the light bulb came on for me. So I’m working that job for two years and I’m thinking like, look, I’m at the pinnacle of wealth. I’m a banker, right? This is why everyone wants to be a banker. And then I realized one day as I’m talking with our clients, I had like a couple of calls that day and a lunch meeting, and at the end of it just hit me like a ton of bricks. The clients I’m serving have a 100x more wealth than I do. And all of them are business owners.

I’m serving them because they’re the ones who have the wealth. And they created this wealth through owning a plumbing business, owning a manufacturing business. And it just hit me like, man, they’re doing the thing that is the top of the food chain, not me. And so it just kind of hit me that real wealth was created through assets and having an asset that produced a tangible product that helped people and through that, building wealth.

And so at that point, I decided to jump ship at JP Morgan and I did my first acquisition into a SaaS company. The way that I did this first deal was I didn’t have too much funds back then. There was an idea of consulting for Equity so I came in on board and said, Hey, look, I will help you raise money, because that’s why I knew how to do well being from the bank.

I know investors, I know how to talk with them. I can raise money and I can help you build a team. And my partner said, great, and he’ll focus just on the tech aspect of the software company. So we did our thing and we grew that company from just the two of us now to over 25 people. And I was able to do that first deal just completely as a novice getting in, get my feet wet.

It was a grind, obviously it was a small company. It was a startup really at that point. Even though they had a few customers, it was really very small. And then we grew it to where it is today. So that’s how I got my first deal, which was kind of a consulting for equity deal. And then that formed into doing the remaining acquisitions after that.

A.J. Lawrence: First, while I understand you were seeing the business owners as this, you know what, maybe that’s the real pinnacle of success, as you were looking at it. But how did you know that you could do a deal? And then two, in different business groups I’ve seen people discuss that as a route into ownership, but that’s not usually the beginner process.

Definitely that’s considered to be a little bit more a deal structure, or at least the process because it’s more conversation. There’s more risk and et cetera in that. So what did you use that helped you actually say, Oh, I could do this, and B, here are the ways I’m going to try and approach this person once you found that company.

Ben Kelly: That’s a great point, A.J., you’re right. That type of arrangement, the consulting for equity model is not necessarily usually anyone’s first deal that they do. And so it’s usually someone who’s done multiple deals and has proven that they can help companies and that they use that.

So the only reason why I was able to do something like that and have the knowledge of that is something that actually can be done was my father-in-law. He’s been on Wall Street now for a few years, but he was a wall street banker for 30 years and has done hundreds of deals in his lifetime.

And at the time, that was the main thing that he would do, is he would come on board, someone needed to raise money, someone needed to get connected with a specific group in order to increase revenue or sales, and he’d be the guy, the middleman, who made it happen. And every time that he would do something like that, he would always take a piece of the company for doing that service.

He would take a fee, and if you were willing to give him a nice slice, he would lower the fee for the upside, do this multiple times.

A.J. Lawrence: I see.

Ben Kelly: And so he was kind of the impetus for me being like, you know what? I can help him because I know how to raise money. I know how to have discussions, financial discussions with high net worth individuals, so let me try to do that. And so, that was the reason why I was able to do that in my first deal where typically you’re right, that’s not something that someone would try to do.

A.J. Lawrence: Okay, cool. It just because it’s like, wait, you start with the difficulty of 10 instead of, I mean, it’s difficult. The whole process anyway of an acquisition is difficult, but yes, you had sort of a framework to follow.

Ben Kelly: Yes.

A.J. Lawrence: Okay, cool. So you do this, your other acquisitions, was this after? Was this during? Where did you decide to make a repeat process here?

Ben Kelly: Yeah. So after I did that first consulting for equity deal, like I said before, in the beginning it was a very small company, so it was very much a grind in the beginning. There wasn’t even any money made.

As soon as we started to make money, started to grow the company, I realized, okay, what just happened now is bearing fruit. And this is something where it opened my horizon. I was not a software guy at all. I had no background in it, not a tech guy at all. But yet I grew a software company. Right?

And so it kind of opened up another thought that I don’t have to be an expert in the company that I ended up acquiring as long as I know how to do a few things, right? I know how to build a team. I know how to make sure that I find people who do have the skills that are necessary to grow that company or do the service. And then also, I know how to overall grow revenue, right?

I know how to find where that market is, how to make partnerships, how to make it so that that company’s going to grow. If I could figure those things out, then it doesn’t really matter the industry, I can be successful on it. And so that’s when I jumped from that to the next deal, which I’ve had deals in construction, in financial services, in website design, across the gamut. And it’s because I’m not an expert in any one of those things, but it’s just because I was able to put a team together that could actually grow a company like that.

A.J. Lawrence: Okay, cool. I’m taking us away from sort of the arc of your story, but it is kind of fascinating. One of the things that I’ve been learning from kind of diving through, one of the powerful things to do in your search is to develop a scoring process around different things, around different opportunities, and sort of iterate multiple times because there’s so much garbage when you look at opportunities. Good ones are such the rare situation.

Because you’ve jumped so much in different industries, is it more of a financial profile? Is it a relationship profile? What is sort of leading that for your search?

Ben Kelly: That’s a great question. So most of the time it is going to be the financial profile.

A.J. Lawrence: Okay.

Ben Kelly: Because if it has a healthy financial profile and shows a lot of upside depending on the industry or depending on the product that it’s selling, then everything else can follow. Right? The other parts are normally easier to fill in than if it did not have the financial aspect. But it may have had maybe it’s a good connection or I know the seller and we’re able to make a great deal but the company’s not the healthiest. Now I have to figure out how to do a turnaround instead, which is a whole different strategy than what I’m currently implementing.

So to answer your question, the financial aspect is usually when I’m making a scorecard for a business and when I help others do the same, there’s a way in which I can kind of do a snapshot and say, okay, is this worth my time or not?

A.J. Lawrence: Okay, good. Why don’t we jump to that? Because one of the things I found really interesting in looking in the space, there’s a couple of what I would like to call some of the more early ones like the Walker Deibel Acquisition Lab, Jeremy Harbour, at least for more of a European, even though he is expanding into the US bit. Acquiretip? There’s a couple of others that have other programs and bootcamps and the space is growing for how to do this.

One of the things I found interesting following your Twitter was you’ve developed your own group, Acquisitions Aces, is that correct? Acquisition Ace?

Ben Kelly: Yeah.

A.J. Lawrence: Let’s talk about what you’re trying to do with this and then sort of where should someone be in their thought process when they look at your program?

Ben Kelly: Yeah, I appreciate you bringing that up. So Acquisition Ace is for the individual who is probably in their late 20s, early 30s, all the way up into their mid-40s. So they have some type of experience working for a company or a corporate atmosphere where they have some level of responsibility where they’re managing teams or they are not entry level, right? So they’ve now taken the next step.

And so, it’s for someone who has gone kind of like myself, I entered JP Morgan thinking this was going to be it. And I realized very soon afterward that no, it’s not. This is not what I want to do. And so it’s for that person who’s kind of thought they got to where they wanted to be, but then realized at the last second, you know what, if this is all there is to life, then I don’t know what there is. So it’s for the people that are willing to take that leap of faith away from that corporate.

And mostly, I would say probably more than half of the people that are joining, keep your W2 until they get their deal done. So this is something you can 100% do as an employee working 9 to 5. There’s still plenty of time for you to go through the process of acquiring the business.

And so the typical profile like I said is, it’s a guy 30 to 45 years old who wants to be an entrepreneur and wants to go through the path of least resistance. And we can get into why I think that is acquiring a business as opposed to starting a business.

A.J. Lawrence: Yeah. Well, I find that interesting because that is a really good and I think underserved market. Because traditionally it was the MBA search funder where you get the backing. You go spend one to two years off into the desert and hopefully you find something and your investors then have first rights and all that fun stuff.

Then my experience, but a little bit variation is the self-funded searcher where, Hey, I’ve already had some success. I have some of my own money in my own pocket, why don’t I go do the search and then look for investors or go down the SBA route.

Where I’ve seen more and more as the acquisition space starts getting is that I’m doing something already, that in between. So this is a nice sweet spot because I think it is pretty much underserved.

First talk about the value you see in doing so, but then let’s talk about how you see that happening now in a high interest rate environment where externally imposed discipline is occurring right now.

Ben Kelly: Yeah. To your first question, which was the value, the reason why I think doing it, acquiring a business as opposed to starting a business, right? Because there’s always on Twitter you’re going to see, obviously SMB Twitter is more of the acquisition side. And then you also have the SMB side, which is more of, Hey, start my own business and then grow.

A.J. Lawrence: Yeah.

Ben Kelly: Done both, okay. And I can say from having done both and seeing what it took to go from zero to one versus going from one to two, right? Going from one to two, already having a company that has existing revenue, existing customers, existing product, existing team. And being able to step into a position of ownership to where it’s already moving, now you’re making sure that you’re optimizing it.

You’re making sure that you are tweaking it here and there, adding new product lines, maybe putting a different manager in place, but the rate of success on that is over 90% after a five year period. So if we’re looking at just purely from a statistical point of view, acquiring a business, that’s already been profitable for over five years, we have over a 90% chance of success. Where if you flip it on its head, you have over a 90% chance of failure if you were to just start a business. Five years later, most of them are not around.

So the value in doing this way is you’re able to basically piggyback off of someone else’s hard work and vision and be able to take a car that’s already in motion and just hit the gas pedal. That is the idea behind it. You brought up a good point about the search fund model, which was traditionally, the Harvard MBA type, a search fund model where you kind of go out and you have financial backers.

Doing it this way, where most of the people that work with me are the self-funded searcher, it takes away the risk in the sense of going out and trying to find a company that fits not just your parameters, but all the parameters that you have now promised all these investors. And anyone who has done a search, they’ll have realized you start out thinking you want A, and a lot of times you end up buying B or a version of A you weren’t originally thinking of.

Because as you get out there and realize what the landscape looks like, what interest rates are doing right now, different types of business models that are more recession-resistant than others, things change. And the self-funded searcher is way more flexible in being able to change with that and be able to grab an acquisition as opposed to a search fund where everything’s pretty much once the paperwork is formed, it’s pretty locked in exactly what they can do in that part of it.

A.J. Lawrence: Yeah. Really cool. I agree. I think the flexibility, the opportunity, as I jokingly call it rub two sticks really fast together a few times to grow businesses from scratch. The research around existing businesses, especially a profitable business, is likely to remain in business. So if a business is in profit, as you said, five years, it’s likely to statistically, at least for another five years. And that goes on. I mean, obviously there’s always things that don’t go on, but from a risk profile analysis, it is a completely different picture. You do take a lot of that early stage piece out.

So where do you see the driving of that value for someone who is in that early stage, early career, looking to make the transition now into ownership?

Ben Kelly: Great question. So in Acquisition Ace, what I wanted to do was focus on the two main issues that every acquisition entrepreneur faces – sourcing the deal and funding the deal, right? Everything in between, you can find other places. How to analyze, you can look up, you can get third parties to do your due diligence on the financials, all that can happen. But you never can get your foot off the ground unless you can find a deal.

And as you mentioned before, you’re going online, if you’re going on BizBuySell or WithKumo or any of these other online brokerage or listing sites, while there are deals to be had, there are far few between. And a lot of times by the time they’re on that site, they’ve already been shopped around a little bit, nothing happened. And so now they’re putting them on the site.

And so what I wanted to do is, okay, inside Acquisition Ace I’m going to help them with the sourcing side, and then I’m going to help them with the funding side. And so what we do [is] in the last year, I’ve developed off-market sourcing as a separate service that I offer acquisition entrepreneurs. So I’ve been offering this for about a couple of months now and helping people how to find off-market deals.

And a lot of times it comes down to we utilize a cold email approach. We have already ready-made scripts. The real magic is actually in the list creation and the quality of the actual businesses that you’re reaching out to. And so we figured out how to do that in a way where I’m not buying lists, we’re not going on any kind of site and doing that, we actually have a full-time business analyst who’s all day long going through public records to be able to find these businesses at the right size and location that we want them.

So for everyone who comes on in, they get access to this service where it is now helping them get off-market deals. Those generates warm responses from the sellers that are interested. And at that point, we’re then teaching them how to build rapport, how do you put them onto the next step, how do you then start getting financials, how do you then start talking to lenders or our network of private investors.

And so once you find a great deal with Acquisition Ace, you’re able to apply that deal to me. I look it over and make sure it’s of good quality. And if it is, then there’s a couple of different routes we can do to help you fund it. We have over 250 access to a investor list of over 250 accredited investors who want to invest in SMBs. We can either shop it to them, depending on the structure, or if it’s great for SBA or conventional, we can then go that route.

And so, I wanted to solve those two major issues because those are all the questions I would receive on Twitter when someone’s going through a search. It’s always about how are you finding these deals and hey, do you know of any investors who might be interested in this deal with me? So that’s what I wanted to solve.

A.J. Lawrence: No, I think finding the right deal is really interesting and there are different approaches. It is very much a McDonald’s versus Burger King type part, better yet the Microsoft versus Apple approach. Even though that’s no longer as dominant but there’s very, very structured opinions around each one.

But then when it comes to financing, and this is well though, two things have happened. One, I have been hearing just the tightness in the lending practices. Some very large SBA banks that do SBA loans are starting to say that they’re starting unofficially to push for more equity, more seller financing. They’re looking for even a higher debt to earnings ratio than previously. They want to see a little more creativity and a lot more risk on their pit side. But then also with the new rules that I’m not sure if they’re coming out next month or whatever, but the rollover capital capability along with non-financial or nontraditional financial partners being able to do SBA-backed loans, it’s going to get interesting.

So I am seeing the importance of being able to find experienced both relationships with banks, but then also be with potential investors in the space. Because it is a pretty interesting investment class that’s different from a lot of others. It’s not private equity, but it’s definitely not the traditional VC.

What are you seeing as sort of the changing environment now that you have the people, you have some banking, you have potential investors. How are you seeing this changing now with what’s going on with the rising investment rates and sort of the tighter credit environment?

Ben Kelly: Yeah. So as of the last few months, you’re absolutely right that the credit environment, especially from the SBA has gotten tighter. The DSCR, the debt service coverage ratio, it’s the calculation they use to see how much cash flows there is able to cover debt service. They’re getting very, very strict on that number. Now the narrative, it always seems doom and gloom, but in reality, these are things where if this is going to make a difference in the business you’re buying, you probably shouldn’t be buying that business, right?

If it’s a business where it’s one or two points away from the lowest threshold that the bank would even consider, and now it’s past that threshold, you’re really trying to get by the skin and the teeth on that deal. And so I try to make sure that there’s a healthy balance above the DSCR and making sure that every deal that I’m looking at, like where we put in our projections, we’re not just putting, Oh, 10% growth year over year over year as our projection. You have to put in there, Okay, what happens if it’s a -10% here? What happens if it’s a -15 or 20?

Let me look at the last time in this industry back in the last recession and how did that perform, right? What was the industry growth average? Oh, it was -3. Okay, so let me now put negative 5 as my projection to see what it looks like.

And so, you need to go through that process so that you can kind of see your worst case, best case, and then most likely scenarios. And if you feel comfortable on even the worst case where, you know what, even if it does do a -10%, we’re good, we still have money. Then okay, that’s a deal that you should go ahead all day long and get that deal done.

So on the debt, yes, that affects cashflow. Certain deals that probably shouldn’t have been done in the first place are definitely no goes right now on that. But going to your point about the new rules coming out, so I actually talked with my lender who’s at the largest SBA bank.

A.J. Lawrence: Live Oak?

Ben Kelly: Yep, exactly. They still have not gotten the exact rules about how it’s going to look now. So if you guys are listening to this podcast, anytime soon if you were to call a SBA lender until it changes, they won’t be able to actually give you any more information on that. But to your point, yes, there looks like there’s gonna be some rollover allowed, which is a game changer, right?

Especially if you’re looking at buying a company and really being trying to be an investor in it and not be running day to day. Because now you can go to inquire 70% of a company, the seller can continue to have 30 and they’re still running it and they got a nice cash payment. So now they set aside their retirement and they still want to work for the next ten years, right? It’s a perfect mix of investor and operator. So that’s really exciting, the things that that can actually open up.

And so, in one sense, yes, it’s harder to get a loan because of the different threshold. But in the other sense, they’re opening up some other options that could open up way more deals to be done. Like a lot of deals that previously could not get done, if we do the rollover would be able to get done.

A.J. Lawrence: Yeah. I mean, just from my own I had a deal that unfortunately I wasn’t able to go after. The CEO had 10% and the convolutedness of like, they would have to walk away for a year, all the things before they could come back onto the cap table, you could do off to side deal. It was just like, all right, this just got too crazy.

Now, things like that where key employees could easily be rolled over, the owner can put a little bit of skin in the game to really show that they are aligned with the long term prospects. I think what I’ve heard is that there is a very dense, very large position paper that the SBA has announced and we need some clarification because there’s some wording in there that is extra special. So we’re hoping that in this space that it gets there.

Ben Kelly: One more point on that. As I mentioned before, the access to private investors. This also opens up an opportunity because when rates are this high now, in terms of a lot of other investments that previously investors were utilizing the rates, when you take inflation to account, when you take now what treasury bonds are putting out and everything else, those types of investments don’t really satiate the appetite anymore. Right?

Because it’s like, okay, I’m basically making 1 or 2% more than if I were just to put it in treasury notes. So why would I even take the risk of doing that? So they’re increasingly, as investors, they’re looking for something that’s going to give them more of a bang for their buck. And so, the SMB world and an acquisition, if it’s structured correctly, they can get returns much, much, much higher than what they would expect in the market or any other type of normal real estate investment or anything.

Rates are super low now compared to rates, all that, so it does open up. Even though on one end it hurts the cash flow from a traditional lending, it also opens up opportunities where you might have access to investors that would not have been interested before.

A.J. Lawrence: All right. And let’s talk about your journey here because you had done this on your own five times. You’ve gone through these things, you’ve helped others, you started this course, where are you seeing your own entrepreneurial journey going here? What’s your journey looking like here?

Ben Kelly: Yeah, good question.So part of that journey is Acquisition Ace in the sense where creating a thriving community where people are not just doing one deal, but they’re doing both. And the more that you have a community that is dedicated on growing their own portfolios, it means way more deal flow than I’ve ever had before, right?

Because now, people are going to be looking for partnerships. They’re going to be looking for advice on certain deals. So it opens up a whole new avenue onto my top of funnel for deals that I now am being brought, right? So that’s that’s one aspect of it.

The second aspect that in terms of where I see this going is, whereas my last five acquisitions are all different industries spread out, I’m now looking to actually focus in on a particular industry. So now trying to go for multiple acquisitions in the same space, consolidate, and then look for a much larger exit after 3 to 5 to 10 years, depending on the time horizon, what’s happening in the economy.

So that’s kind of been my shift from look for be agnostic and look for a great deal to now, okay, I like the deals but I’m focusing on now where this is going to be in five years and make it the best product ever to sell. So it’s kind of shifted focus on that.

A.J. Lawrence: No, I like that because in a sense, just like you would, business, you would optimize it. In seeing this, there’s so much value into the private equity. You have this programmic acquisition thing where there is this sort of expertise being developed around the process. And as an individual doing this, it is so ad hoc at times and so conflicting the information that trying to find a nice consistency and a nice guidance is pretty tough out there.

All right. A lot of times when I talk with entrepreneurs, there’s a very flow between how they describe the company and how they’re talking about themselves. What I find very interesting is that’s not what I’m hearing so much from you because you have done all these different things. You seem to have a nice breakdown.

But as you’re looking to one, increase the amount of acquisitions, increase the opportunities through Acquisition Ace, do you look at how you’re defining your own success as an entrepreneur? Like, what does it mean? Not like, oh, well, I’m going to grow because you said I want to grow it, create this great opportunity. But where are you defining your success as an entrepreneur?

Ben Kelly: Yeah. Wow, that’s a good question. Success in this space is not tied to a number. It’s not tied to a number of acquisitions or the number in profit. Right? It’s really tied to more background to me. So I’m married, I have three kids. I just had my third child.

A.J. Lawrence: Congratulations. No sleep for you.

Ben Kelly: Yeah, exactly. No sleep for me. Where I see the means to the end is being able to be in a position where I’m able to do when it comes to spend time with my family, pouring into my kids, being able to focus on their skills, being on focus on their dreams and be as much of an enabler as I can to help them achieve those things, that’s the means to the end that I’m trying to get to.

And I’m already well on that path where I’m able. I work from home, this is where I’m doing this episode right here with you and getting more and more control of my time. Because at the end of the day, time’s the thing that no matter how much money you have, you can’t buy more.

And so for me, that’s what I’m trying to optimize for is my time. And the time that I am spent away from my family, the time where I do travel or the time when I’m on calls or anything else, I want to be 100% in the moment enjoying it, right? So I want to do things that I enjoy, that when I step out of the office and I see my kids, I see my wife, it’s just adding to the joy that I had that day. Not taking away from you, draining, so I’m just an empty husk every time I step into the side of the house and can barely talk to anybody. That’s when I see my goal for that being.

A.J. Lawrence: Well, I think that is a very good thing. I know I’ve fallen into the trap of letting the craziness of business suck away so much of my life, so yeah, it is fun.

You talked about where in their journey someone should be, that early career, looking to this. What type of questions should they be thinking about to really get the most from looking into Acquisitions Ace as a potential thing. What are the things that people should be thinking about as they evaluate Acquisition Ace’s, the assistance to help them?

Ben Kelly: Yeah, so everyone who’s considering joining Acquisition Ace, the one question I want them to ask themselves is, are you ready to do this? Because the second that you get into the community, you’re going to be pushed to do it. And you’re putting, obviously, to join, there’s a cost to it, now you’re in. And there’s a cost to acquiring a business, right?

It’s either your own capital, you’re raising that capital, you’re spending time and effort. So we don’t want people to join who just want to get in there, mosey around, and never do a deal, right? Everyone is going to get better. Iron sharpens iron in the fact that we’re presenting our deals to one another, we’re poking holes in them, we’re trying to make them better.

And so if you’re not ready or you just kind of like, you know, I don’t know if this is for me. It sounds kind of cool but maybe in a couple of years. That’s fine. This is not for everybody. And I’m sure you A.J. can tell people, you’ve been on this journey yourself, that not everybody is meant to acquire a business.

It’s just work, there is risk involved and it’s not something where you sometimes you can turn it off at night, right? Whereas with the W2, you can. Like you’re off of work, you’re off of work. If you own a business, you’re really never off. Now you can make it so that you can get away from it as much as possible, but still, at the end of the day, you’re responsible for that business.

And so we want people who are ready to take that next step, who are ready to day one, jump on in, absorb the material, ask questions, get out there and start doing calls and having meetings. And so that would be the number one thing. I want you to have the right mindset. And second thing is be able to be open-minded to what the ideal acquisition might be.

Because you might think that, okay, I’m going to acquire a HVAC company. That’s exactly what I want. I know it’s a perfect company to get and you can’t convince me otherwise. And then you come on in, you start to listen to other people’s deals, their journeys, and you start to realize, Oh, wait, actually, maybe it’s a landscaping, maybe it’s a pest control company, whatever. So I want them to have an open mind because a lot of times my clients come to me saying they want A, and they end up getting something different than A.

A.J. Lawrence: I completely agree. I know I had one, for the first almost year, very focused thesis, and what I found was the valuations were just so out of proportion to where the profits were. Then all of a sudden, I was just sort of randomly looking and like, Hey, it’s really funny. Landscaping, HVAC home services, while still having their own issues, it’s just a whole different type of valuation thing.

So the question you really have to put yourself to is the why? And I think that’s a good approach that you’re pushing your potential members to really get into that.

So Ben, what’s the best way first that someone could get a good feel for what you’re talking about and how you’re going about sort of creating value. Where should they go learn more about you?

Ben Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. So as A.J. have mentioned multiple times, I’m pretty active on Twitter. And so my handle on Twitter is @benkellyone. On there, I post threads almost daily about acquisitions.

A.J. Lawrence: Yes. Some great stuff.

Ben Kelly: Yeah, no, it’s kind of like just a brain dump for me. I’m also going to be putting more content now on YouTube as well as Instagram, just so that I can start to broaden the audience. SMB Twitter is amazing. You got amazing people on there. But I guess I mentioned to A.J. before we jumped on, it’s very much an echo chamber. And so many people outside of this have no idea that this is even a strategy.

And in those other platforms, I found just by saying something that is common knowledge on SMB Twitter blows people’s minds. And they’re like, there’s no way. I’m like, Oh yes, there is a way. So yeah, if you want to check me out there, you’ll see links to some of my newsletter and everything else from Twitter, so you’ll be able to find out.

A.J. Lawrence: Yeah. And just quickly to even just dive onto what’s sort of the type of businesses to look at, how to create a system around it. I liked one where he was really talking about sort of the value prop, which was the buy the business system as operation and scale, kind of really good stuff to kind of do that. And where can they go find more about Acquisition Ace?

Ben Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. So if you want to find out about Acquisition Ace, if you’re on Twitter or Instagram, it’s @benkellyone, and you can just do a direct message. DM me and say, Hey, I’m interested in finding out more. We’ll jump on a call because again, we don’t just take everybody in. We want somebody who’s serious and they’re ready to get going.

And so we’ll just have a call, we’ll make sure we’re a great fit. And if we are, then we’ll hit it off to the races. So that’s how you can find it.

A.J. Lawrence: Cool. Hey, Ben, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate it. This has been a lot of fun.

Ben Kelly: Thanks, A.J. And I thank you for inviting me on. I had a blast and I’m looking forward to doing it again.

A.J. Lawrence: Cool. We’ll make sure we put everything in the show notes. We have this out, we will tweet this out, everything. Look, I think if you’re interested and you’re thinking about where you should bring sort of if this search is something, go check out Ben’s Twitter. Go find out. Maybe go have a conversation with him because I do think it’s a very interesting approach. And if you’re looking for more of that personal sort of group and sort of hands on experience, this is something that I think would be well worth it.

So everyone, thank you again for listening to today’s episode. Please, if you enjoyed the show, if you find it interesting in any way, please just forward it to someone who you think also would find it interesting and tell them to subscribe. Because the more subscribers we get, the more cool entrepreneurs like Ben I can have come on the show because they get a kick out of talking so you guys can hear from them. And that’s why we do this. Just so we can find ways we can all learn together. So, hey, thank you again, and I’ll talk with everyone soon. Bye-bye.

This episode of Beyond 8 Figures is over, but your journey as an entrepreneur continues. So if we can help you with anything, please just let us know. And if you liked this episode, please share it with someone who might learn from it. Until next time, keep growing and find the joy in your journey. This is A.J., and I’ll be talking to you soon. Bye-bye.

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