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The Do’s and Don’ts of Acquisition Entrepreneurship with Elliott Holland, Guardian Due Diligence

July 27, 2022

If you’re interested in acquisition entrepreneurship, this episode with Elliott Holland will help you understand what it takes to be successful in this space. He explains how to differentiate between genuine red flags and workable problems, why trusting your gut is not the right approach to making decisions about buying a business, and the importance of having a “walk away” list.  

About Elliott Holland

Elliott Holland, “reformed engineer” and the founder and Managing Director of Guardian Due Diligence, is an expert in small and medium-sized business acquisitions. He has over ten years of experience executing middle-market deals, and his company is filling the void of options that exist for smaller acquisitions. 

Episode highlights:

  • When considering an acquisition, it’s essential to understand when something is a real red flag (and the deal should be avoided) or just a potential red flag that is worth trying to work through. Being too risk-averse or too gung-ho can cause you to end up accepting a bad deal or losing a good one. (17:51)
  • Don’t trust your gut! Yes, you read that right. Trusting your instincts is a dangerous game for an acquisition entrepreneur because deals can look much sweeter than they really are if you’re feeling dissatisfied (which is often the case for people looking to buy a new business). Instead, focus on the data; “if the numbers don’t jive, you should run.” (20:54)
  • If you want to buy a business, make sure you decide upfront on the point at which you will walk away from a deal (i.e., your “line in the sand”). Otherwise, you leave yourself vulnerable to entering into deals that will not serve you. (26:34)
  • The only way to get clients is through marketing, so it’s important to be laser-sharp when defining your ideal client and to be discerning about whose feedback you are listening to. (37:29)
  • There are countless definitions of success. Be very specific about what success means to YOU so that you don’t judge your progress based on someone else’s definition. (42:28)

Elliott’s best advice for entrepreneurs:

“Be very specific about what you call success and how you define it so that you can actually hit it and you don’t get confused by the “universal” definitions of success and grade yourself on somebody else’s ruler.” (42:31). Success is unique to each individual; build the life you want, not the life of someone else’s dreams.

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