Bill Lee, serial entrepreneur and investor, and currently a consultant with The Redden Group, says as he’s sold businesses, he’s learned that having a good understanding of the deal, its terms and the players involved are very important.
“I learned over the years you can’t replace that institutional knowledge that you get from experience — that the people that you’re dealing with and the deal that you’re involved with are meeting your expectations and your goals, as well as the expectations and goals of the buyer or the seller,” he says.
When it comes to the people he’s investing in, Lee says the more important criteria is that the person is upfront and honest, and has great integrity. He says likes to check the financial history of their former employment, look at some of their work history and the relationships that they’ve developed over the years. He’ll also look at their employee and adviser base.
“I found that if you deal with people that know how to deal with people, that know how to attract people and talent, you’re probably going to end up in a good spot and you’re probably going to meet everybody’s expectations and goals,” he says.
The traits Lee finds are most important for an investable c-suite executive are that they’re relatable, approachable and teachable.
He says when it comes to relatable, too many times people in this role have divorced themselves from the very people and substance of the business that they’re acquiring or trying to sell, so they’ve lost touch. That’s why it’s important that they’re relatable to the industry, business and the people that they’re already involved with.
It’s also easier to deal with people who are approachable. It’s a people business, he says, so if someone is unapproachable and not willing to be approached, it makes it difficult to conduct business.
It’s also important that people in the c-suite are willing to learn.
“You have to open up your mind to other people’s ideas, other people’s approaches, and you can’t be set in one mindset,” he says. “If you’re not teachable, if you can’t learn, if you can’t adjust, you’re going to have a problem in a lot of facets, and you’ll run up against a lot of brick walls very quickly.”
Lee talked more at the Smart Business Columbus Dealmakers Conference about what he’s learned over his years of buying, selling and investing. Click on the video above to catch the full interview.