Walid has over 20 years of experience in the banking and technology industries as well as experience consulting some of the top Canadian financial institutions. He's also founded and led a 7-figure business that is one of the top property management and real estate investment agencies in Toronto. He's also the COO of MediaBlock Corporation, a father of two, and an avid kiteboarder.
Covered In This Episode
- Why do you really want to be an entrepreneur?
- What is your value proposition?
- How to align your “why” with the business you buy.
- What kind of pain do you want?
- What to look for when you’re buying a website.
- Higher multiples for higher EBITDA.
- Domain authority.
- Website traffic.
- Interacting with and judging sellers. What to look for.
- Where does money come from and how does it influence you?
- How to create healthy working relationships and culture in an online business.
- How Acquira builds culture as a remote team (catching eagles)
- Parting advice for people looking to buy a business.
Kylon: Welcome to the Acquira podcast. Acquira is an elite accelerator for business buyers. We help entrepreneurs acquire their ideal business and provide them with the tools to succeed in post-acquisition.
I’m your host Kylon Gienger. Join us as we explore and unlock the secrets to successful business acquisition, growth, and exiting strategies.
Hey guys, so if you’re enjoying the podcast and you wanna take the next step in your business buying journey. There’s a couple of different ways that you can do this.
First, check out our business buying workshop. The Acquira workshop will give you a backstage pass to a private equity firm that acquires and operates six plus new businesses per year. This is an opportunity for you to peek behind the curtain and understand the entire process of finding, buying, and growing an online business. The workshop is limited to a small amount of serious business buyers so you can count on it being intimate and you can plan on spending plenty of one-on-one time with some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs in the M&A space. So go to acquira.com/workshop. Again, that’s acquira.com/workshop to get more information and to apply.
Second, if you are serious about buying a business. I would love to have a quick chat with you and see how we can help. Go to acquira.com/call. Tell us a little more about yourself. And then you can schedule a free consultation call and we’ll see what we can do. Again, that’s acquira.com/call. Talk to you soon.
Hello business buyers and welcome to another Acquira episode. Get stoked because today on the show we have Walid el Hajj. Walid has over twenty years of experience in the banking and technology industries as well as experience consulting some of the top Canadian financial institutions. He's also founded and led a seven figure business that is one of the top property management and real estate investment agencies in Toronto. He's also the C. O. O. of Media Block Corporation among many other things for instance being a father of two an avid kite boarder. So Walid man it's great to have you on the show. That's the intro I have for you but please fill in some of the blanks and tell us a little bit more about your story man.
Walid: Thank you. Thank you very much Kylon for this awesome introduction I really appreciate it. So yeah as you said that I've been working for a while thank you for telling people about my age.
The latest project I guess would be the most interesting one that folks are interested in which is the COO of Media Block where we are building a portfolio of businesses and crypto and the financial services space (mostly content sites), a portfolio that strategically fits and compliments one another and that's been the exercise. So the whole dealflow component of it and the whole growth strategy around that.
Given our audience—business owners or to-be-hopefully-soon business owners that are looking to acquire a business. A lot of the thoughts that come to my mind, Kylon, today are around the philosophy or psychology of entrepreneurs or wanna be entrepreneurs as their embarking on this exercise mostly around the why. Why do you want to buy a business? why do you want to become an entrepreneur? Some of the pros and cons and around that. So if you're okay with it, I'd like us to focus a little bit more at this angle. If you prefer we take it any other way I'm also open for whichever direction you want to take it. How about that?
Kylon: Oh no, let's do it! I think a lot of the episodes on this podcast are really going to focus on the how-to and so it would be really interesting to focus on the why as it is a little bit more nuanced and you know you can even get a little philosophical if you want.
Walid: Sure. So the first thought that comes to mind is in the last three years or so it's become super cool to become a startup or an entrepreneur. I think it's being glorified a little bit more than it should be and a lot of people are embarking on this path and soon enough they get the hard awakening that it's not all roses and that journey is a difficult journey.
So it's one of my pet peeves how glorified this whole space has become. Having said this, I am sort of in that space so I totally see the upside and I really appreciate what entrepreneurship in a way has to offer. A couple of things that come to mind if somebody's doing it for in asking the question why are you doing it and if you're just doing it for basically the money or you're doing it to be your own boss—I'm pretty sure just from the onset of those two reasons for me tend to not go a very long way.
Initially starting a business or leading a business—your learning curve, your hours, it's twenty four seven. You don't really have a lot of vacation and what not so if it's really the money at some point I see some people getting burnt out primarily because they started off with that mindset than mine. So just something to think about if it's being your own boss nobody likes a boss breathing up their neck and telling them what to do and micro managing them but at the same time in building your brand for your business—your own social media, you are going on conferences and tours and speaking, anybody can go online and write a scathing review that impacts you financially as well as your brand. So yes, they're not your boss but anyway there's a lot of people that can impact what you're doing.
I personally, how I look at it in terms of drivers—of having an impact really understanding what your value proposition is and what value are you adding for the client and why the client is going to come to you to try to work with you versus go out and work with the competitor or even try to do it themselves if it's some sort of a service. So that compelling story to the client but more importantly to yourself for me is the one thing that when you're under duress when you're under pressure when you're putting in the crazy hours and the money didn't necessarily start flowing and it just keeps you going and going. So that's one of the items that for me resonate with me.
Another one is compounding. What do I mean by compounding? Let's say Kylon goes to school, goes to university, gets the job—every three years five years you get a promotion and then you retire at a certain age and (bump!) it all ends there. When it comes to high net worth individuals and you look at multi-generation wealth families. One of the things why they're able to sustain this growth over generations is this compounding. So when you decide to throw in the towel and say, “hey, I’m seventy five, eighty and I don't feel like doing this anymore.” You're assuming or hoping another generation from your family—your daughter, your son, or even a C. E. O. that you hired to run the company will continue to grow the company beyond your time. And that's some talking small scale operational type companies, but if you scale up and it's a business that's running like a true business and it's staffed appropriately, you're sleeping and you're pretty much making money so it's not necessarily—you're selling your time and you're selling your hours. For me, that bigger cause of what you're trying to do and for me personally as well, that compounding output in terms of growth make all the difference.
So that’s one of the first… do you have any questions or any thoughts on what I just said in terms of the initial mental model to answer the question why?
Kylon: Yeah so I think taking a step back to the value proposition. It’d be interesting if maybe you had an example you could share or maybe you talk about your own. I completely agree with this idea that if you're just wanting to buy a business or start a business in order to make a lot of money or to be your own boss you may get burnt out pretty quick. I can personally attest to that just in my own endeavors. I've been an entrepreneur for the last decade now but there's been multiple ventures I've started for instance one of them was an Amazon FDA business simply because I thought there's a lot of money in this so I'm gonna go do this. And it's amazing how fast I just got burnt out and just was completely bored and disinterested in it. So it would be interesting for you to maybe maybe give an example for people. What's an example of a why…I guess like for you personally Walid? Why are you an entrepreneur? What is your value proposition? What keeps you going beyond just…because you're obviously successful now, what keeps you going beyond making a bunch of money and just being your own boss?
Walid: I’ll give a couple of examples. One is not mine but one is a story of a close friend of mine that recently implemented and it was a content site in the vaping space. And yes vaping is significantly better than smoking traditional cigarettes, but at the same time it's not necessarily the healthiest hobby to have. So in acquiring this business, the individual or the company that acquired that business and looking at how do we make bigger meaning for this organization and impact humanity in a good way? And you think a vaping business—like how do you spend this one good luck with that one. And the direction there was—okay you're buying refills for your vaping and what not. After a period of time we have sufficient information to know your profile, your purchasing habits, where you sit in terms of the quote unquote addiction scale and we're recommending ways of how you can scale back of how you can change certain habits. So most of the time when you're selling something, you're selling something and you want to sell more of it in this space, it's earning equity with the clients and earning good will with the clients in terms of “Hey I know you're doing this I would love to send you this but at the same time have you thought about those other habits to reduce your consumption to reduce your dependency?” A lot of people would never implement such an approach.
I'll give you another one that I've done in the past personally in real estate investing. When you look at buying a real estate asset and you look at investing it over a period of time, you're entrusting this asset with a property management company which I co-owned one. And when you look at property management, yes they offer a fee of five percent / seven percent of income generated but at the same time there's twenty something ancillary services. So when somebody goes to do work on the property there’s a mark up. When you buy insurance under the umbrella insurance it's sold at a certain price, there's a mark up. So twenty three other ancillary services that add up to that cost. When you look at that chart over a twenty year period if you're really looking at accumulating wealth over time, those fees add up significantly. Those fees are the difference between making double triple quadruple your investment over that period of time. So taking a step back and being very up front about what those fees are, what those relationships are…in an industry that is usually not transparent, it's something that we did five years ago. And because you're the only one doing it now five years later a lot of other companies followed suit.
Now taking that another level up. So you never want to be so far out from your competitors were you look weird and the way you want to be ahead but you want that distance to be a little bit bridgeable. So as the competitors followed up or followed suit, the next level is to look at becoming fiduciary and it's not a new concept if you look at the investment world today and you look at investor managers and what not. Everybody's talking about fiduciary in that space yet there's a lot of other industries that people are not necessarily mentioning the fiduciary space.
So those were two examples of that—just came to mind in terms of how can you have bigger meaning and what does that meaning translate to you personally and how you start seeing and visualizing that difference and that impact you're making on the clients and the world you serve.
Kylon: Gotcha. And so I imagine for people listening that already own a business it may be a little bit easier to be able to find that meaning that just keeps drawing you into the work and to making your business grow and just be better—it’s that motivation there. But I wonder what advice you’d have for people listening who—they're still they're looking to buy a business but they have no idea where to start to come up with that why? What are the questions they can ask themselves to discover that for themselves which will then guide them on the journey of the type of business they want to buy?
Walid: Excellent question, Kylon. Really, thank you for asking me that question.
So let's go through an exercise. Close your eyes. Honestly, close your eyes. I can't see you. I know we're on the phone, but close your eyes and for a second there. Just imagine that any business you're gonna be in regardless if it's real estate, if it's digital marketing services, if it's selling an e-commerce product online, if you're in the podcasting business, if you're trying to broker deals for individuals— whatever business you're in these days, you gotta produce tons of content. And that content has to have context and meaning to the audience. You got to write articles you, got to post images on social media, you gotta write stuff on social media, you gotta create videos. The amount of content you will likely be producing is quite a bit. Now, if you're big enough you can outsource all this to highly qualified individuals. But if you're trying to grow, if you're trying to boot strap, if you're at the initial stages and you've never done this before, I highly recommend you give it a shot so that you learn how it's done before you give it to somebody else to do it. So that at least you can manage them appropriately. So I gave you the long winded answer here, but what I'm intending to say is think very very very thoroughly about what do you want to spend your day reading about? What do you want to spend your days and times and whatnot writing about? Because eventually it's going to become you. So whatever that topic is, whatever that new shoes—be very careful to enter a business that's in that space and that niche because it's going to impact you in so many ways than you ever thought it would.
Kylon: Interesting. I love it man, thanks for that. Something else that's along these lines that…this is my personal opinion but I'd be interested to get your take on it in terms of discovering what you want to do or in our case you know what type of business you want to buy? Something else you can do alongside asking yourself? Essentially what's the type of work I want to do is the type of content I want to produce. I guess I should set this up a little bit. When you do embark on a journey like this, there will still be a lot of challenges that you have to overcome. There's gonna be a lot of ups and downs and mistakes that you'll have to learn from and there's gonna be some painful moments, but you know that cliche saying “no pain no gain” it holds true like fortune favors the bold. This is something that you have to go through and you should look forward to mistakes that you can learn from. But having said that, one interesting thing that I've found…that I've used alongside your process Walid, is asking myself what type of pain do I want most to go through. And I know it sounds a little bit morbid maybe but I think it's a really important question because people only think about…You know when you want to buy a business you tend to just think about this is why it's gonna be so exciting and people don't really want to focus on (maybe) the reality that it's actually going to take.
Walid: Couldn't agree more with you Kylon on this. And you said something which type of pain they want to focus on. So as you're looking to acquire a business and you think you're going to be producing a lot of content at some point. If you think of the buckets that (regardless of the business that you're in) if you rewind and you think of digital marketing and you're gonna be doing content—both articles, video, social media. You're gonna be doing conversion rate optimization at some point. You're gonna be doing on-page SEO and off-page SEO. You're gonna be doing email. You're gonna be doing design and development. You're gonna be working on brand development, monetization, affiliates. Humongous list. So in those some are extroverted tasks. For somebody who doesn't necessarily want to go out and interact with the rest of the world, some are extroverted tasks where you want to go out and try to drum up business and your face and conferences and whatnot. That's a very good starting point to take it to the next level and I would say personally, the digital marketing tasks ought about sixty percent of the business if you're doing the work yourself (regardless what type of business you're in). So figuring out which ones you want to do yourself, which ones you want to outsource, how to divvy up the workload is a very good component.
Also when you're looking to buy a business a lot of people are automatically looking at the numbers. Okay, the business makes half a million a year. Take away expenses—left with two hundred thousand dollars a year. I want to pay three X. I want to buy it for six hundred thousand and you're trying to figure out holdbacks, vendor take-backs, the structure of the actual deed. Very rarely is somebody really looking at it as relating it back to the digital marketing tasks. What are the real tasks that are associated with running and operating and growing this business. And taking that into consideration early on because trust me, this money driver or factor early on will fade away within three months maximum regardless what the numbers are. So it's another way of divvying up the pie other than financial. To divvy it up with the actual tasks that somebody will be doing and what your day to day would look like on the short term and on the long term.
Kylon: That's a great point. I love it. And could you speak a little bit more to that in regards to what you guys do at Media Block? I mean with the websites that you're looking at obviously you're looking at the numbers but then you know maybe briefly go over your due diligence process. What are the types of things pre-LOI or post-LOI or both—what’s the information you’re looking to gather from these businesses in order to make a decision on “i s this a good business?” For us or for listeners, for me to move forward with?
Walid: Yes, that's a good point. I'm gonna try to hover at the higher level just because if I dive into details into due diligence that's probably an hour by itself. It's an exhaustive checklist, but I'll try my best to give a holistic overview about the exercise.
So Media Block Corp, we focus on two major components. One is our deal flow and the other one is our growth. And in deal flow, it is how to generate leads, types of businesses, content businesses… does that potentially fit the profile of what we're looking for to be able to acquire, integrate, and grow. We started off in crypto. Needless to say, if we started off eight months ago or whatnot, it wasn't the best timing. Although some of the assets we had secured were top assets within the space but the general market is down ninety percent.
So crypto finance/financial services and that is a big area to cover. It covers mortgages, loans, insurance, personal finance, capital markets. So there's many many different angles at what is covered within that space. So we typically like companies that are—give it anywhere for as low as 250. And I say 250 because sometimes traffic plays a big role so the traffic is in the millions but monetization is not the best and it's pretty low. Up to 1.5 million in EBITA.
We'd love bigger companies and we've been in discussions and we are now in discussions with companies that have a bigger EBITA. But what we find is that those companies tend to want and demand higher multiples and bigger private equities tend to acquire them than ourselves.
Kylon: One question I have. And I don't mean to interrupt…one question I have about that because this is an interesting point that companies with higher really a bit tend to sell for higher multiples. Is that specific to the financial space do you find or is that more across the board of of different businesses you would acquire?
Walid: It is across the board and the rationale and logic is if you have a business EBITA is a couple of million a year. Most likely it's not dependent on your personal brand and it's not an all or I should say it might be dependent on your personal brand but it's not going to be an operational business. You have a team. So when you're a larger private equity and do those acquisitions, it's easy to integrate because you're inheriting the team versus it's just this one person single point of failure if they get hit by a bus or win the lottery—it's a huge risk for you.
Another way to think about it is if you have a business that makes a hundred digital online business that makes up a hundred thousand dollars a year versus a business that makes a million a year. The work components are pretty much the same. So you have to go through the same buckets of work if you're doing it for a hundred thousand or if you're doing it for a million there isn't much of a difference. So ideally if you're doing that call, of course you’d love to pick up the bigger business because anyways you're doing the work you might as well just deal with the bigger business.
Kylon: Yup that makes total sense. Thanks for explaining that more. And so yeah please continue on you were kind of going over the process with Media Block.
Walid: Yes so that's in terms of going out and doing your deal flow and searching. So depending on the niche your in and so when we were looking for companies and the blockchain and specifically crypto space, the whole spaces were a few years old. So we weren't able to say I want the company that's ten years old. So we compromised quite a bit looking for companies that are a year old or two years old. But when you look at the financial services, it's been around for tens of years so we're able to say we're looking for companies that are at least ten years old (let's say) or five years old. And then you have quite a bit of maturity in the domain. And that alone in terms of that maturity goes a very long way in terms of trying to grow and scale a business. You also have a history in terms of when the market was falling off out of the sky in 2008 and 2009. How did this company do at a time where there was a lot of pressure that was questioning our financial system.
Walid: Yeah that's one thing we look at when it when it comes to financial companies.
Another one obviously is your DA or your DR just to see how much weight that company has and SEM rushes, your point of view Hrefs or any of the tools that you use.
Kylon: And for people listening who don't understand DA, DR—briefly explain that.
Walid: It's the domain authority so similar how to when we say there is ten years history or fifteen years history, the domain has more authority or power. There are some SEO tools out there— actually a lot. I just mentioned a couple that come to mind that I've personally used and the team uses now. But the DA and DR are basically your domain authority for the website. Also a huge indicator is traffic and how many visitors are you getting, unique visitors, where are the visitors coming from, are they relevant to clients to your business. So are these the visitors that you actually want them to visit your site? And is traffic trending up or is traffic trending down.
You also look historically and you look at traffic and how affected was it by any of the Google updates. Because if a business has been affected by the Google updates over a period of time and every time there's an update they get hit by it, it systematically tells you the whole bunch about their practices and how they're doing certain things. And if the traffic is trending down, well even with a whole bunch of elbow grease and effort and trying to change that trajectory, it might not necessarily work to your advantage and be as easy as you think it would be.
So if I have to scale it down to the big buckets of things to look at, I would say those would be the big buckets now. From there, there is a lot of sub categories and then sub categories and it can go quite technical but in terms of initial searching it would be those.
One thing I forgot actually to say is don't forget that you're dealing with people to buy a business. So we keep on talking about numbers. We keep on talking about traffic. We keep on talking about things, but at the end of the day it's this individual this human being that you're gonna be interacting with, shaking hands and making that exchange. So if you meet that person over the phone over Skype or in person preferably and you don't get this warm and fuzzy feeling, there's something there… so trust your gut. You're very dependent on them. You're very dependent on them with a lot of stuff and they give you a lot of hints. People in discussions in terms of their previous relationships—does it always end with the an argument and a fight or are they somebody that's been working with the same partners for many many years. On their personal life how do they deliver on their commitments to their family, loved ones, community… There is a lot of telltales and a discussion. Do not take that for granted. A lot of people unfortunately do and it's more than fifty percent of the deal flow and acquisition process.
Kylon: I am so glad that you pointed that out because when it comes down to it everything that you want in life comes from other people ultimately. I once interviewed a guy and he had a fantastic very very simple view of money and he's like…you know somehow the question came up like where does the money come from and he's like I just look at it simply as money comes from other people's bank accounts and so if you look at it that way you start to realize how important it is to be able to…Not just talk with people and be charismatic and work on your social skills, but also to be able to recognize other people's characters and it is amazing when you just shake somebody's hand looking at them in the eye. You can get a pretty good gauge right off the bat on what type of person they are and like you said as you continue chatting looking for different queues in need and you know. If you don’t buy the business, somehow this person could be your partner.
Walid: Absolutely. You said something that's very important. Money and where does it come from.
Let's do another exercise. I think that's very good. Close your eyes. We’ll rewnd. Rewind. Rewind. Rewind in your life. What is your first memory of money? When was the first time you remember thinking about money? What was that incident?
Kylon: My parents gave me loose change after I would kill slugs in their garden by pouring salt on. This looks like I get like a penny per.
Walid: I love it. So what did that experience mean to you? And you don't have to tell me. I know it's very very very personal—if you don't want to. But just your first memory of money and what that experience meant to you tends to influence people big time for the rest of their life a lot more than people ever give it credit so when you're thinking about why you're doing a business and obviously in the back of your head you have a mortgage. You have to buy food. You have so many good financial commitments. But you try to translate what does that memory of money is and what does it mean to me? It tends to help you try to answer the question specifically for the financial question. So I didn't want to put you here on the spot and ask you what it meant to you and whatnot. But it's just something to also think about to help answer certain questions.
Another one is talking also about people and how important and the due diligence that is to verify the character of the individual.
The other major thing we do at Media Block is growth. So we look at a company and there is a couple of dozen things you can do to any specific business but you're most likely going to focus on a handful of things and not everything because you're gonna target the low hanging fruit. I'm gonna try to look at what we do and try to relate that back to the business owner that's just acquiring a business.
So the founders, the team has a lot of digital marketing experience. They’re well-renowned in that space. So in that sense, we're able to figure out what needs to be done and have the relationships to get it done either full time staff within the company or outsource it to some of our peers and partners. But as you're looking at your own individual business and going back to this list that I mentioned previously in terms of the house content—you have email, you have conversion rate optimization, you have SEO on-page/off-page, you have a brand development and whatnot. You're dependent on a lot of people other than yourselves. Building those relationships in a diversified way where the individuals that you have on board are trustworthy individuals. It is very very important to do that. I always say if somebody has access to your website, somebody has access to your analytics, somebody has access to your client lists, and whatnot…we tend to give a lot of people access to the stuff. But if the same people come and say, “Hey, can I get access to your bank account? You're suddenly up in arms and you say absolutely not no way. But it's the same thing. It's the same thing. They have the ability to make a lot of changes willfully or unwillfully just because they didn't know any better and impact you negatively. And at the same time if they are malicious and they are doing anything without the best of intentions, there could be a lot of impact. So you got to be super careful in the friends that you choose, the mentors that you choose, the business partners that you choose because things can move fairly quickly.
I personally love digital companies but I also recognize that they can move a lot faster than a physical asset in terms of valuation, in terms of both ways upwards and downwards. So you got to be very cognizant of that and most of the time it's due to somebody doing something at some point in time.
Kylon: Okay so here's an interesting question because most likely the majority people listening are interested in buying a business. And specifically probably an online business. And along the lines of what you're talking about, typically with an online business one of the beauties…some of the beauty of that model I guess is the fact that you can run it from anywhere. You can work remotely and the majority of your staff can as well which gives you access to more opportunities, more staff, bigger markets like international global markets. There's a lot of pluses and opportunities with an online business versus offline. But along the lines of what you're talking about when you do have to consider all these relationships—all these people that essentially you're doing business with—from your partner to the seller to your staff…what are some of the ways that in a virtual business can you create healthy relationships and healthy culture? What are some of your general thoughts on that?
Walid: Absolutely. So to do anything in life there's gotta be trust and you gotta start with good faith. If somebody doesn't trust for whatever experiences they had on their life or they don't have good faith, they honestly cannot live life. Just think you're on a side road and there's no barrier and there’s somebody coming the opposite way and it just takes them a little bit of veering off the wheel. And it's a head on collision and it ends right then and there. You're at the grocery store and you're picking up an apple or an orange off the shelf and somebody could have poisoned it. So there got to be some level of trust. But just knowing in the back of your mind that it's a digital world. Things can move fairly quickly and you got to constantly validate work you have to up until you build that relationship and you build that trust fully. So you gotta watch closely. You got to validate.
In the physical world if we worked in the same office, I would invite you for coffee, I would invite you for lunch, I would know a lot about your family, your hobbies, who you are as a person and this is how we build trust. At some point we build that relationship where it's no longer about just this paycheck or whatever. We have this other relationship that adds a lot of value to what we do. And the digital work for some reason people do a little bit less of that. We can work together for three years and you're helping me out with whatever service and I just sent this email. Say, “Hey we have a little bit more work here or there please can you take a job at it. I'm not necessarily asking you about you. I'm not going on a call with you regularly regardless if there's work or there isn't just to keep that dialogue going.” So that's the one thing that I personally try not to fall on this trap because it's time consuming and everybody’s super busy. But I try my best to take the time to constantly nourish and build those relationships.
Absolutely, you want to live in a location where it gives you that freedom to be by a beach or by a skiing slope or whatever it is that you like. And that's one of the biggest selling points for individuals. On the flip side, I heard a lot of people that have this and then they say they're not surrounded by like-minded people and they feel that they constantly need to fly to certain hubs—California, Toronto. Whatever it may be to get this tank of…that’s refilled with solid relationships of people within the same space so that they can just continue performing at the high level.
Now the beauty of the rate arbitrage as you mentioned earlier is you can go to websites like Upwork or whatnot. At the hiring process in Upwork—I think it's phenomenal. That's a lot better than what you see hiring physical people and co-located within the same neighborhood or whatnot because you're able to filter based on specific skill sets. You're able to see their whole transaction history. You're able to see the ratings of every single project they got.
If I'm telling you on Upwork that I am the best website designer/developer yet all my experience was related to translating websites, you tell me—okay you're saying you’re a guru in the space but all your experience was about translation. So you're able to validate that what they say and what they did and their whole history and rating by many other clients before you lines up. And when when you're able to see somebody with over five thousand hours charged which is at least two and a half years. And they have hundreds of clients and it's in the same service of what you're trying to buy from them or hire them to do, I think there's a decent level of comfort there that they know what they're doing and they've been doing it for a while. But don't take that just from there and stop. Build that relationship with them make sure that they understand it's not this one time. You're building the relationship. You'd like to work with them over a period of time. How receptive are they to it? Are they excited about that? Do you feel this is somebody you can work with for a long period of time? And if the answer is yes and again you're getting this warm and fuzzy feeling in terms of communication, in terms of the services, in terms of whatnot, then it's a good thing and likely you should probably proceed.
Kylon: Yeah, I like it. What’s interesting too is you can get those warm fuzzy feelings or the lack of them even with just plain text communication.
Walid: Absolutely interesting.
Kylon: It's a little bit more nuanced than if you're on the phone or you have video chat nowadays but I don't do that often with people. Yet texting, it is subtle but you can still tell you know a lot about a person. It was all good good words man. And I know with Acquira specifically we’re all a remote team and so there's this interesting challenge of continuing to build just our individual relationships and our culture. Since we're not all working from the same office and seeing each other eye-to-eye, that can be difficult. And if you're not careful you can go for weeks or months without just asking you know—hey, how are you actually doing? And so some of the things that we do on a weekly basis is we're sharing things that we learned with each other. Just random stuff the other day I shared a book I'm reading and I'm working on some different memory habits and I just shared that. We share our highs and our lows. What went right this week, what went wrong. Last week Hayden, our co-founder and you can listen to his interview on episode 1. he shared his wife (Suzanne shoutout to you if you're listening) but he shared a picture of her she caught an eagle. They have a garden down there in Mexico and I guess this eagle is trying to attack one of their pets and she just caught the thing. And so it’s this picture with her holding this wild eagle and it's just little things like that. He just sent that to our slack channel. It’s little things like that that just continue to build the community and build those relationships which is so important. At the end of the day it just creates a better work environment and people are more productive and happy.
Walid: Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. You mentioned Hayden, a close friend near and dear to my heart who impacted my life significantly in getting more into the entrepreneurship space. So shoutout to Hayden for that as well.
Kylon: Yes, yes! So before I let you go Walid, I've got one more question. I’d love to ask you and that question is what final piece of advice would you give to anybody listening who's thinking about buying or investing in an online business but they haven't quite made that step yet? What would be one parting piece of advice you’d leave them?
Walid: Do it out of love. Don't do it out of anger or hard feelings if you're not enjoying your job / if you're not enjoying your financial status. Don't let this anger or hate or negative feeling drive your next best thing. Jump into it because you want to do something good to not only yourself. Start off with somebody bigger than you. Start at least with your family. At least. But hopefully you'll start with the community that you live in or the world that you operate them. So start this journey out of love and try to figure out if you can do it in a way where you transition slowly into it. So you phase out of your work. And then you acquire a business or some overlap at some point.
The only reason I'm mentioning this, earlier this week I was talking to a business owner who is a retired lawyer. And when he hit early fifties he realized that in few years he's going to be on his way out from the practice that he has. And he launched a blog and for two years he would wake up at five in the morning work on the website for about three hours and then go to work. And then at night try to do some touch ups and whatnot. And for two years he did that.
Ten years into it, the business was making seven figures and he sold it at 4x or 5x a year ago to some other company. So it's a beautiful story. Here is somebody with a very solid career making a decent buck and realized that the end is there. And he started strategizing a plan B and executed on plan B. A lot of people think it and have the idea and everything but waking up at five in the morning for a couple of years and doing the work this is where most people fail. He actually executed and took it all the way up until an exit. I’m just guessing he made about five million dollars from that website alone. And that's a successful career.
Kylon: That's incredible.
Walid: That's what comes to mind just as closing thoughts. Start with love. Put in the hours. Try to mitigate the risk as much as possible. Sometimes it's not doable I understand. You got to take the plunge but just some of the things that come to mind.
Kylon: Love it! Well folks you are the average of the five people you hang around the most. And today you’ve been hanging out with Walid and Kylon learning how to build your business empire. For more information or to get in touch, head over to acquira.com and always remember to build beyond business.
Kylon: Hey business buyers if you love what you heard today and you feel like we've earned it subscribe to the podcast and head over to iTunes to leave us a five star rating and review. This helps us out a ton and we love to read your comments thanks so much.
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