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Make Acquisition A Part Of Your Strategy with Walker Deibel, Acquisition Lab

May 12, 2021

Walker Deibel tells us why acquisition entrepreneurs outsmart the startup game. If you’re wondering whether you should make acquiring businesses a part of your overall plan, don’t miss the face of acquisition entrepreneurship discussing how Acquisition Lab can help.

About our Guest:  
Walker Deibel has acquired 7 companies over 10 years, co-founded several startups, and has written the best-selling book Buy Then Build. He currently works as an M&A advisor with Quiet Light where he helps online-based businesses exit, as well as sharing his experiences and frameworks to help entrepreneurs learn why buying an existing company is often a better route and how to do it, through his flagship program, Acquisition Lab.

On today’s episode:

  • Starting his own acquisition entrepreneurship journey – 2:11
  • Why he felt the MBA program was lacking – 4:44
  • The genesis for Buy Then Build – 5:33
  • Becoming the face of acquisition entrepreneurship – 9:04
  • Creating Acquisition Lab – 11:56
  • Pricing strategy for Acquisition Lab – 14:44
  • The story of John Malone & EBITDA – 18:19
  • The biggest mistake he made – 22:05
  • The 2 ways to grow: organic & acquisition – 24:28
  • The biggest opportunity when acquiring a baby boomer business – 31:18
  • The steps to becoming an acquisition entrepreneur – 36:52

Key Takeaways: 

  • The genesis for Buy Then Build was because Walker’s MBA program didn’t teach entrepreneurs how to run small businesses, it focused on running a team at a large organization. 
  • He wanted to build the best program possible with Acquisition Lab – something with an MBA base, but designed for acquiring businesses rather than just running them. To create a community and offer the best suite of tools possible for buyers. 
  • If you’re growing at over 20% year over year, you don’t necessarily need an acquisition strategy right now because you’ve got really good organic revenue growth. 
  • If you’re between $1-10 million in revenue and you’re growing at 10% or less a year. Start to think about acquisition strategy, because the amount of value that you can create for your company is immense.
  • $10 trillion in baby boomer business value, just in the US alone, needs to transfer in the next nine years. 43% of the US economy needs to switch hands. To truly maximize value, as an acquisition entrepreneur, you need to bridge their old economy business with a new, online economy business.

 

Memorable Quotes by Walker Deibel:

  • “You get access to this curriculum and community and tools and be fully equipped with the inspiration and environment to succeed on this path. And then if you go through it, and you decide, it’s not for you, that’s still a great deal. I mean, it’s cheaper than an MBA class at a top university anyway.”

 

Are you an acquisition entrepreneur? Share your story with us in the comments. And don’t forget to say hello if you would like to share your entrepreneurship story on our podcast. 

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Connect with A.J. Lawrence:

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Transcript

[00:01:19] A.J. Lawrence: I read it three years ago. And it’s had such a major impact on my business thinking that when the author started acquisition labs, which is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs understand and master acquiring businesses, I joined and it’s been an amazing experience for me. So our guest today is a Serial Acquisition Entrepreneur, an M&A advisor, he’s a man of many interests and even an Emmy nominated producer. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say. So enough of me let’s welcome Walker Deibel.

[00:01:55] Walker Deibel: A.J., first, thank you so much for having me on your show. It’s been so great getting to know you, and I really appreciate the opportunity to spend time with you today.

[00:02:04] So, I even want to take you back a little bit. When I was getting my MBA, and I went to the Olin School of Business, it was just recently ranked #1 for Entrepreneurship here recently. It’s a ranked university, it’s a great program. I can’t recommend it enough. But the thing, well, now I know I’m a professor at Olin.

[00:02:28] Yeah. Right. Take my class. But I think it’s one of things where I sort of realized in the program that a lot of the students in the program were really going into finance, or they were going into the traditional MBA consulting. At Olin, it’s a lot of like middle management at large organizations.

[00:02:47] And I kind of realized, okay, that’s not exactly what I want to do. Right. I’m much more entrepreneurial and I really want to own my own company. And I sort of had this understanding that when you’re practicing entrepreneurship in St. Louis, you’re not practicing entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, right?

[00:03:04] And you look at the types of investors around the Midwest and you look at the types of companies that get funded in California versus Missouri, and it’s a very different profile, right. Jim McKelvey, Co-founder of Square in such a kind of changing that, but not drastically, right.

[00:03:22] I mean, he’s been in FinTech and things like that. But the thing is like there was this gap between the sort of people we were seeing on magazine covers and reading about in the Wall Street Journal and what entrepreneurship really looked like in the Midwest. And moreover, the people that were business owners in the Midwest, they didn’t own sexy companies.

[00:03:41] Most of them were, I’ll use your term, sub 8-figure businesses, and they had the biggest houses in the neighborhood kind of a thing. Right. And so what I saw was success was really more or less this line between, or sort of the intersection between entrepreneurship and sort of small business ownership.

[00:04:01] And I was realizing during the time, that my MBA program was not teaching me at all about like how to run a small business right there, you know? And it’s very, very different than running a team at a large organization. I mean, you sort of like stay in your lane and, you know, like everything that goes with a big company.

[00:04:24] So I would say that it really started there. And then as I graduated and I started my search, I was like, okay, I’m going to try to buy a business. I don’t know how to do it. There was no data at that time, it didn’t exist like it does now. And so I got the idea in 2004 for Buy Then Build, which eventually got published in 2018.

[00:04:45] And it was one of these, like, I need a resource to tell me how to navigate this like private, opaque, fragmented market that has like no comps and like, I can’t get deal flow. And every single person that I meet is doing things completely differently and has like such a drastic point of view on what we’re talking about.

[00:05:09] So it wasn’t really that I knew I had something. It was more like after 2018, after the book came out, I wrote that book over a four and a half year period, A.J., in the middle of the night. I wrote it from 2:30 in the morning ’til about 6:30 or 7:30 in the morning, and then on Saturday mornings, okay.

[00:05:30] And I completely rewrote the book four times over from a blank page. And it was more like it was in me and I had to get it out because I was so sick of what everyone was projecting around me. And it was like no one is seeing this opportunity. And I got, A.J., I got panicked and I almost didn’t publish it. Because I was like, okay, if this was really a thing, like this book would already be written, everyone’s going to realize my false logic.

[00:05:59] I ended up doing it. I put it out there and I was humbled by the response. It ended up getting picked up by a bunch of top ranked universities and just kind of, I don’t want to sound like I’m boasting, but it was like, I got an email. I got two emails yesterday from readers that were just like, this has changed my life, you know? And like I read this book, it changed everything that I’m doing. I bought a company and in a couple of years or I guess a year and a half after the book was published, I was talking to an MBA class.

[00:06:34] And the question from the audience was, how are we supposed to think about this because it’s really just sort of like the hot topic right now? And I was like, what? This is a hot topic? What are you talking about? This was not a hot topic like 12 months ago, and now all of a sudden, it’s sort of, the thing to do is like buy small businesses.

[00:06:57] So for me, it was just always there and it was sort of like mynjourney and I didn’t really realize that it was like a huge thing.

[00:07:10] A.J. Lawrence: That’s amazing that it came out in 2018 because Christmas of 2018, I took my family to Thailand. We were having the whole thing and I had seen a couple of different business groups had referenced the book and talking about it and books that they had changed. A couple of people had said, oh, wow, this really changed how I, so I was like, sure, why not? You know, read a few business books over the vacation. I just happened to choose Buy Then Build the first day. And I did a 4-hour tread, not treadmill, but it was whatever. And I’m just sitting there like, wow, and I’m taking notes. I bought it for my brother. I bought a copy for my wife. It became a blueprint, but I really thought it had been out for quite a while. I didn’t realize it was 2018, cause I read it at the end of 2018, so wow. That’s cool.

[00:08:04] Walker Deibel: But I’ll tell you, the book was done in 2016. And then I completely threw it in the trash and started it over.

[00:08:11] A.J. Lawrence: Were you surprised that you became the popular face of this, that’s becoming a very hot space, Acquisition Entrepreneurship?

[00:08:19] Walker Deibel: Frankly, not really. Because part of what sort of gave me the desire to write the book was the fact that nobody was talking about it. My mission was just to write the best book in the world, the best book that I could on this subject. And the thing is that, I couldn’t write it earlier because I hadn’t done it yet. So everything was sort of like theoretical. By the time the book came out, I had completely bought 100% of seven companies myself, okay.

[00:08:49] And it’s like, when you take that kind of debt and you run those kinds of teams, I mean I’m talking about, I invested my whole entire net worth, I invested pretty much every waking hour of my life or that decade. And I did it in multiple times, in multiple industries. And when I started writing the book, I really interviewed other people.

[00:09:08] I was like, this is not going to be the Walker Deibel show. I really want to write sort of like a Jim Collins’ Good to Great sort of thing where I’m using these examples and best practices of this industry. That’s just, you know, Pete, this is happening. People are doing this.

[00:09:22] And so I started interviewing all of these people. And what happened was two things. One, I realized that if you want to write a Jim Collins level book, you need to have two dozen PhDs on staff full-time for a number of years, which wasn’t going to happen. But number two, every time I talked to somebody, they would say, oh, well, Walker, I was just looking for the same thing everybody else was I was looking for.

[00:09:46] And then they’d say something completely different from everybody else. And so it was my interviews that I started to realize. Oh, okay. And then sort of then start taking consideration of what I had done and the different opportunities that I had acquired and for different reasons that I started to form all of my models that are in the book.

[00:10:05] And then just looking at all of the people that would get started that would never actually close on anything. And like my interviews with brokers and just sort of like being in the space was the thing that ultimately helped me create that prep funnel and just watching what everybody was getting wrong.

[00:10:20] And so you look at that AE matrix and a lot of times, I think it’s like maybe four pages in the book, I had that on my marker board in my office for four years and I could not get the quadrants right. But ultimately, I got them right or at least I think I did. But the point is, it was all these other people putting it together.

[00:10:42] So I think it’s one of these where just doing the work and understanding that there was, you know, like what I wanted in 2004 was a blueprint for this space. And by the time the book came out in 2018, it still wasn’t there. No one had written it. And so I feel like the book came out, it was really well received.

[00:11:02] And then I was kind of slowly building the Acquisition Lab in the background, like kind of prelaunch. And then all of a sudden, a bunch of online marketers started popping up with like their little online courses. And I was like, oh, okay, I really need to hustle here cuz I have competition, which is great and fine. But I wanted to build the best program I could with the Acquisition Labs, something more MBA-based, something with embedded groups, something that could really have results rather than flinging online course around.

[00:11:32] And so I think that once I started seeing all the competition, that’s sort of when I knew that like, okay, the idea for the book was in 2004, the idea for the Acquisition Lab was in 2010, the book came out 2018, the Lab we launched at the very tail end of 2019.

[00:11:52] A.J. Lawrence: Yeah. I started looking, I guess, realizing that I wanted to start putting together my efforts and build up a process and a model. So I looked at over 10 different courses, some in-person, you know, Cambridge, different things cause I’m living here in Europe. And what was very funny was first the amount of scams. And then as a marketer, seeing all these people using like the ultra fine tuned language positioning all that. I’m like, okay, once again, you’re not saying anything, you’re just saying this. But you’re the only one who are like out there, like, okay, this is what’s going on. You weren’t treating it like the second coming. You weren’t treating it like you know.

[00:12:40] Walker Deibel: It’s hard, it’s so hard, A.J.. It’s hard to do, and it’s challenging, you know, and it takes a lot of courage.

[00:12:47] A.J. Lawrence: Yeah, but the end of the day it’s work. It’s not rocket science. Rocket science is rockets. This is work. And that’s what I really liked about it. And I saw, since I am a member of Acquisition Labs and I’m in the group. Now I guess we’re called lab rats.

[00:13:07] Yeah, I like that. As a lab rat, what are you hoping most that someone like me, other entrepreneurs who are looking at this on their journey of being an entrepreneur, what are you hoping most that they get out of Acquisition Labs?

[00:13:30] Walker Deibel: So, you know, I mean the default setting, like the first blush is kind of like, oh, I want everyone to buy a company. I actually don’t. Okay. Here’s why. If your goal is that everybody is going to buy a company, then that means that you’re gonna have a certain amount of failures in there, right? The way that we have have priced the Acquisition Lab is we keep it less than one month, a one month fee of a buy-side advisor.

[00:13:59] And you get lifetime access. It’s kind of ridiculous. And it’s one of these where every single time I talked to a member about pricing, they sort of admit like I would have paid much more for this thanmwhat you’re charging. But the point is, I want to build a really strong community.

[00:14:18] We’ve already built the single largest vetted community of educated, prepared, and active, financial buyers in the world. We’ve already done it. The reason why is because no one built that yet. It’s not hard to do. Today, we only have 130 members, I think. Right. But I can look any business broker in the world right in the eye and say, I have 130 vetted educated buyers looking right now and they’re ready. They’re prepared.

[00:14:51] And so the thing is like that community, I’m already starting to get emails from potential investors. And I’m already starting to get emails from people saying, could I sell my company to somebody in the Lab? So it’s one of these where ultimately I sort of been looking at this and I’m kind of wondering like, okay, do I have this BEHAG in my mind of, can we sort of centralize the kind of sub $25 million private capital market?

[00:15:17] If I can, it’s a BEHAG, but it’s kind of a north star, right? And it starts with getting a footing and kind of building the best university and the best community and the best suite of tools possible for the buyers. And that’s been the direction in terms of what we’re trying to build at the Lab.

[00:15:34] And so the thing is that like in terms of what I hope people can get out of it, if you can get access to this curriculum and community and tools, just be fully equipped with the kind of like inspiration and environment to kind of succeed on this path for less than one month of a buy-side advisor fee, and then you go through it and you decide it’s not for you, that’s a great deal.

[00:16:03] I mean, it’s cheaper than an MBA class at a top university anyway. I don’t encourage people to come in with a desire for an academic experience. You’ll get one, I do want you to want that. But the point is we want real buyers. We want people that are really looking, that really wants to succeed. And so what I would hope that we’re able to help people get out of the Lab is proper preparation, world-class instruction, coaching, we’ve got four coaches that work with searchers ongoing, tools and community. And that’s really the goal.

[00:16:43] A.J. Lawrence: I’ve gained a lot. And I know for me, my biggest frustration has just been I’m in a non-friendly time zone for a lot of the active communication going on. So it is frustrating because I’ve seen a lot of good stuff. I watched the videos afterwards and I do put a lot in, but yeah, I do miss not having that kind of peace, but still the community has been great.

[00:17:08] Do you look and seeing as, you know, maybe taking the course and going even further, or the community further into acquisition entrepreneurship as part of the ongoing, you know, as a lifestyle.

[00:17:20] Walker Deibel: Let me start with a story. John Malone in 1973 became the CEO of TCI at 32 years old. He was a Yale grad, he worked at Bell Labs and the McKinsey, and kind of decided that he wanted to go into cable television because he loved the economics of the business, subscriptions and blah, blah. By the way, the minute he became CEO, by the end of that year, there was heavy regulation put into that space and they were way over levered and the banks came in.

[00:17:59] And John ended up creating this kind of very frugal, entrepreneurial bootstrapping culture in TCI in order to survive. At one point, even throwing the keys to the company on the conference table for the banks and he’s like, fine, take it whatever. And they’re like, whoa, whoa, whoa.

[00:18:16] So he comes back. He sort of gets them through the kind of like valley of death. Then he realized he comes to this conclusion that the thing that’s going to win in cable television is actually size because you’re going to be able to have them the most subscribers, the most recurring revenue and the ability to get better, better deals with content and suppliers and all the rest of it. Things that are totally obvious to us today.

[00:18:42] But if you’ve ever watched that show Succession, the CEO at one point gets so aggravated cause he’s like, cause now it’s so damn obvious, you know, or whatever, but it’s hard. Like running a company is hard and trying to figure out where to go.

[00:18:55] So he figures this out. He starts acquiring these businesses. He ended up growing the company through acquisition. And the only time, the only unit of measure that the publicly traded markets used in the 70s was earnings per share. And so he kept losing money and they’re like, John, what are you doing? You’re an idiot. And he’s like, no, no. And so we had to keep creating this language in order to communicate like as business strategy to all these financial analysts for the stock market. And so he came up with this term that would sort of start to communicate to people so that they could understand what he was doing.

[00:19:32] And that term is, drum roll, EBITDA. Okay, so if you own a business today, the odds that you are familiar with the term EBITDA is pretty good. In other words, it’s earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization. And so he was saying, don’t pay attention to earnings per share, pay attention to EBITDA.

[00:19:55] And here’s why taxes is something that I want to minimize. So I want to reduce my taxable earnings and the best way to do it is by adding depreciation and amortization on assets that I’m buying that are going to help grow the business in the fundamental driver way. And so he was doing acquisitions with cash that was basically borrowed, so cash that he didn’t have access to in his own company, to buy exit continued infrastructure and then using the interest payments of that cash to block his taxable income, using the depreciation and amortization of those assets to block taxable income. And then ultimately was creating a negative net income, but it was all non-cash expenses and interest that was used to build infrastructure.

[00:20:48] So what he was doing was building this behemoth of a company, but like earnings didn’t look that good. So, he communicated this EBITDA thing and ultimately returns under John Malone, were one of the best CEO returns of all time. The point is this, the biggest mistake that I probably made A.J. in my own career, is that I went into this thinking like, okay, I’m going to buy a bunch of different companies and a bunch of different industries. And I’m going to sort of think about what I’m doing is kind of like a micro, private equity move.

[00:21:24] And so I bought all these places and at one time I had three different companies in three different geographic locations, with three different management teams, three different customer bases, three different core competencies.

[00:21:38] And, you know, every day as CEO some of it slaps you in the face while I was CEO of three different companies. So my phone would ring and it was like, okay, what is the problem, the decision fatigue was immense. And what I did was I never ended up building a single flywheel towards a certain direction. And the thing is that I’ve grown through acquisition. I love the sort of sub million dollar acquisitions on like a company doing 1 to 5 million in revenue already. It’s a great way to sort of boost your company 20% revenue growth in a single day.

[00:22:15] But the thing is, I have acquired $16 million in revenue over that 10 year period. Can you imagine if I had acquired all of that revenue in a single industry? The added benefit of not only gaining the flywheel, in doing something like that, is that you end up growing your EBITDA. You end up growing your earnings and what you get is multiple expansion. Multiple being the valuation of a company.

[00:22:45] So if you’re going to buy a company doing, let’s just say, half a million dollars in earning, discretionary earnings we’ll call it, you might sell that business. Or if you’re the owner you might sell or buy that business for four, maybe a three times that discretionary earnings number.

[00:23:02] But if you’re doing 2 million in discretionary earnings, the odds of you selling that between a 4 to 6 times are really strong. So in other words, if you can buy it at 3 times and sell at a 6 times, just by moving up market, you’re getting that multiple expansion and you’re creating additional value that is there for you.

[00:23:26] And so the thing is, I know you’ve got a lot of listeners that are successful entrepreneurs already. There’s two ways to grow. One’s organic and one is through acquisition. They are both totally appropriate. If you’re growing at over 20% year over year, I don’t know that you necessarily need an acquisition strategy right now. You’ve got really good organic revenue growth, stay focused. Get after it. This, by the way, is assuming you’re already at a million dollars in revenue.

[00:23:57] If you’re between, a million and 10 million in revenue and you’re growing at 10% or less a year, start to start to think about acquisition strategy, because the amount of value that you can create for your company is immense. It’s immense.

[00:24:11] A.J. Lawrence: As you move along, are you going to be creating more than a flywheel here?

[00:24:17] Walker Deibel: Yeah. I mean, my life right now is sort of like three legs of the same stool. On the one hand I’ve got companies that I own and on the next is working as a broker and helping entrepreneurs exit and helping entrepreneurs acquire. And then the third is this sort of Buy Then Build Acquisition Lab area. And the thing is, it’s tough because I’m equally passionate about all three. And I think that one of the reasons why I ultimately became a broker was, well, first I was getting recruited. Second, I just got really good at doing deals, and sort of understanding the nuances of deals. And ‘ve had a couple of exits myself when I started learning how important the exit is.

[00:25:05] I mean you get 50% of all of the financial benefit of owning a company the day that you sell it. And the broker in every single exit I had was an instrumental role, if not the most important. It’s absolutely key to have a strong broker. And so the thing was, I ended up almost growing a bigger passion for doing deals than I did necessarily sort of like operating some of these old economy businesses.

[00:25:36] You know, going to the office and running the production schedule for that day. It just wasn’t my core competency. So I called Mark Daoust and said, listen, if there’s a role for me at Quiet Light, then I’ll work at quiet light. And if not, I’ll just, I’m not going to work anywhere else. I don’t care enough.

[00:25:54] So I ended up joining the Quiet Light team. And so we sell online based businesses only. But the Acquisition Lab, as you’ve highlighted is not online based. It’s pretty much whatever type of business you want to buy. We want to cater to you and we want to give you the tools to succeed.

[00:26:10] I think that as I look towards the future, my next thing I want to accomplish is very much with the Acquisition Lab. I think that the quality of the program is there and we’ve now established it and have it A.J., right. And it’s more like, okay, what is the power that we can do here? And I start to think about like, can we help more entrepreneurs grow through acquisition? Can we start to bring in investors and help acquisition entrepreneurs buy bigger deals than they were looking at, or create a more creative or at least options around how they want to get access to capital to acquire a business.

[00:26:50] A.J. Lawrence: In the group, one of the things I just, over the past couple of weeks, there’ve been people who’ve been literally closing on deals. They didn’t have their full down payment for the SBA and yet there are investors there. And there were introductions made from you guys to potential investors in that, which is something I haven’t seen in any other type of group.

[00:27:14] I mean, there are people in other groups that kind of run and say, can we give you money? But there’s like gazillions, like, yes, you can give me money but without the 20 pages of conditions. That was very impressive, seeing that happening in your group.

[00:27:32] Walker Deibel: Well, and what’s interesting is I very quietly started a new site called Search List. And Search list is really there to begin pulling investors in. In other words, we had our first investor actually join the lab as a member. This is someone who has already acquired a number of businesses and they’re really looking to invest. And so I felt like they sort of maybe joined the membership because they were like, okay, I’ll go through this course. I’ll figure out what’s going on. But ultimately I just want access to the deals in the Lab and that’s not necessarily appropriate, right? It’s great and I want to have that experience and see how that goes. But the searchlist.com is really intended for like, okay, let’s have all of the investors sort of start to violin over here.

[00:28:20] It’s been very quiet. I just sort of put it live a couple of months ago. After the first four investors signed up, there was about $40 million represented. And now we’re up to 40 investors. You know A.J., I think that I’ve really tried to take a crawl, walk, run approach to everything. And I know that I leave a ton of money on the table and we’re not the biggest out there by a long shot.

[00:28:47] We’re probably the smallest, but I think that kind of moving quietly and just sort of getting it right is the way to build long-term value in this space. And I would love to be able to ultimately allow non-accredited investors to crowdfund on search list into some of these deals. Because the private capital markets get stronger gains than any other asset class in the world ever.

[00:29:16] And so it’s like how non-accredited investors can’t even invest in them? Just doesn’t make sense to me. So that’s my ultimate sort of dream. I’d love to see that happen.

[00:29:25] A.J. Lawrence: When I first kind of became aware of you, there was a lot of talk about investing in main street, traditional businesses compared to more understandable financial patterns, more understandable business metrics and structure than tech. And yet, since joining, I almost feel like, jumped. All of a sudden the discussion and I, and obviously you’ve been part of Quiet Light, but you’ve become more involved. How are you seeing this playing out, acquisition entrepreneurship in new businesses? Where do you think this is going? Is it going to just go all over every time the business is fair game or do you think there’s going to be pockets?

[00:30:10] Walker Deibel: I’m hoping for pocket. I’m hoping that both are true.

[00:30:13] A.J. Lawrence: Okay.

[00:30:13] Walker Deibel: Any type of business is fair game and pockets of specialization. Let me say it like this. I believe that a lot of times we can look at the $10 trillion in baby boomer business value, just the US alone, that needs to transfer in the next nine years.

[00:30:30] And say like, oh my God, this is like 43% of the US economy that needs to switch hands. It’s a massive, massive change. And we can look at that and say like, oh my gosh, like this is going to be the opportunity of our lifetime. And I say that all the time cause it is, it’s actually not, it’s actually not.

[00:30:50] There’s a small nuance. That’s actually the bigger opportunity. You’ve got baby boomers in every single baby boomer company period is going to be what we would consider an old economy business. And then every sort of online business is very, obviously a new economy business. And the secret, the real opportunity that we have A.J. iS that, if you can actually bridge these two together and create companies that embrace both the old economy and the new economy, that’s actually the very unique opportunity that we have in our lifetime.

[00:31:29] And so look at my watch and look at your watch. So I should probably describe it. I have a, I can’t read the brand. This was actually, it’s a wonderful, simple, very high quality watch, old economy watch. It was started by a couple of students who graduated from the Zell Fellows Program at Northwestern University and it was gifted to me after I spoke there recently.

[00:31:57] And it’s lovely. It’s great. This company, unfortunately, no longer exists. Okay. Look at your watch. You, A.J., have an apple watch. And this watch within its first year of launching, became the second largest watch company in the world, Apple. Okay. They didn’t even have a watch. And then they were the second largest in the world. Why?

[00:32:23] Because they merged software with hardware. Right. This, we call a phone. What? It’s not a phone. Look at Tesla. The reason why so many investors got it wrong is because it’s a software company, it’s not a car company. Look at Amazon, we all think of it as like a website. It’s not a website. It’s a series of warehouses. So if you can embrace the old economy and the new economy in a way to recreate experiences, that’s really the opportunity that we have. And so, I look at this Buy Then Build concept and it’s like, yes, go get this $10 trillion. Go buy one of these old economy companies.

[00:33:08] But where I really want to challenge acquisition entrepreneurs is how can we sort of use the new economy and the sort of like newly adopted ways that we do things, and kind of implement them into the old economy businesses and sort of upgrade them into a way that modernizes all of this information.

[00:33:29] A.J. Lawrence: Creative destruction is an amazing thing. I’ve been playing in tech since the 80s, I used to get paid when I was 12 years old to set up networks. So to me, it’s like, what are you talking about? This is old. This is new economy, but it is so true. Businesses exist and business will continue to exist in areas, but the underlying concept of how they are delivered, executed and supported will just be totally changed. Faster and faster. And AI is amazing. I had an avatar built of me. It still sounds like a robot talking, but I can sit there and type out something in the avatar of me. I’m actually, as soon as it gets a little smoother, I’m going to try and do like an episode where it’s all like that. Eventually very soon it will be natural and no reality. I’m not going to even have to type out what it says. I’m just going to have to give it topics. And it will talk like me, sound like me.

[00:34:38] Go get on a soap box and talk to them.

[00:34:40] Walker Deibel: That’s perfect. Then I can run 10 cohorts at the Lab simultaneously.

[00:34:47] A.J. Lawrence: This is where I think, you know, looking at acquisition- to me is this idea of like, okay, you’re buying relationships with the right businesses and the right business models and the right support and all that. But from what I’ve been taking from a lot of your course, the book and then the community, and the course is this idea of like, you build a relationship, you get this, and then you can kind of keep adding different pieces to expand because change is the one constan.

[00:35:22] You can’t buy one business and move on, but you combine opportunity and there are hacks and the SBA and yada yada, but you can buy an opportunity to the table that may take you longer or even harder, you know, may not be able to get on your own.

[00:35:40] So, yeah, this is a fascinating thing. I’m really, really, yeah. I’m enjoying what I’m learning from the community. Let’s end with one basic thing. If someone’s curious, they’ve been an inch more, they’ve had some good successes, they’re trying to figure out what, what would you tell them to do to start understanding what’s going on? What should they do?

[00:36:06] Walker Deibel: Yeah. Buythenbuild.com, I’ve put a library together of completely free resources. And frankly, I haven’t found a better place than that. It’s all free and it’s all compiled in one place. And so it’s a great way to sort of get access to a bunch of stuff quickly.

[00:36:27] So yeah, that’s where I point people.

[00:36:31] A.J. Lawrence: All right. We’ll make sure it’s in the show notes and we’ll send it out with everyone. So, yeah. I’m looking forward to one continuous thing, but getting this episode out. I think our audience is really going to love this because sitting, working, reading in a gym completely changed how I was looking at my next few years of being an entrepreneur. So thank you.

[00:36:54] Walker Deibel: Thank you so much. Talk soon, A.J..

[00:37:01] A.J. Lawrence: Okay, we can go on for hours and hours. This has been amazingly fun and really, really educational. I know I have lots more questions and I know you all have lots of questions for Walker, but this is all the time that we have. The good news is you can find his contacts and his links in the show notes below. So go follow him on social media and ask him directly any questions you may have.

[00:37:25] And then if you’re interested in learning more about his Acquisition Lab, go check it out or feel free to reach out to me. And I can share my personal experience and how worthwhile I found it. Every penny and every second I’ve invested has come comeback multiples. So go check out everything his doing. Lastly, stay tuned for more amazing guests in the upcoming weeks. And if you know someone with a great entrepreneur story, please share with us. Thank you so much for listening. I can’t wait to talk to you again, and I hope you have a wonderful day. Goodbye.

[00:38:05] 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 like 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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