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Position for an Acquisition – Return on Podcast Ep. 23 with Ben Leonard

Position for an Acquisition - Return on Podcast Ep. 23 with Ben Leonard

The following is a transcript of Episode 23 of Return on Podcast, the show where we help e-commerce sellers improve their ROI in business and in life. For more episodes, subscribe to our YouTube channel or listen on Podbean, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify.

Tyler Jefcoat:
All right. Welcome to Return on Podcast, where we talk about the experiences, the obsessions, and the habits of the most successful e-commerce entrepreneurs. I’m your host, Tyler Jefcoat, and I wanna welcome you to this episode of ROP. In today’s discussion. Guys, I wanna talk about how the current market pressures are impacting e-commerce exits, right? I mean, you got a brand you want to exit, you’re an investor, you wanna buy a brand. And 2021 was a very different year than 2022 has been so far.

And this has had a lot of implications on how you and me need to have our minds oriented as brand builders that may wanna exit someday and potentially as brand investors that wanna take advantage of the natural wealth transfer that happens during a recessionary market and invest while things are kooky. And so to have this discussion, I wanna bring in my friend, Ben Leonard, E-combrokers.co.uk. You see the website there in the feed. Ben, how you doing today, buddy?

Ben Leonard:
Yeah, I’m good. It’s good to be here. Thanks for having me.

Tyler Jefcoat:
Man. It was, it is awesome. We were, right before we hit record guys, Ben and I were talking about, it’s like the mood. The mood is just, it was like roaring twenties a year ago where, middle of 2021, there could be no wrong done. And 2022 has just been a little different. What would you say the story of 2022 is so far been?

Ben Leonard:
Yeah, it’s been tough and it’s been important. I think it’s important that people accept that reality, and don’t bear their head in the sand and so I think the story behind it is there’s several kind of prongs to this fork, if you like.

The post COVID, sales have been falling, right? The COVID shopping spree is well and truly over. Costs have been rising, production costs, you know, supply demand. Factories have been closed all over the place and now they have a backlog, and that’s not just in China. That’s everywhere. We all know about what’s been going on with shipping costs and fuel surcharges, et cetera.

And competition continues to rise. There’s still more sellers, which is great. It means there’s more and more people who are becoming entrepreneurs, which is fantastic. And we wanna encourage that, but sellers are getting smarter. Whereas a few years ago, you didn’t really have to do that much to differentiate your brand to be more ahead of the competition, whether that was using a tool, a clever way, or making your brand stand out with a stronger brand identity or some sort of neat little hack, everybody’s getting smarter.

So it becomes more difficult from that point of view. And then on the aggregator side, and they are so influential now, there’s been a sudden aggregator reflection. You know this oh, we need to get our act together. Because they, there has been a recognition that they have – not all of them – many of them have had, and continue to have, a lack of strong operational capability. They’ve had a lack of foresight when it comes to that and a realization that the model isn’t as easy as they thought. “We can just roll up, financial arbitrage, roll these up at a low multiple, sell at a much higher multiple.” And there’s a recognition now that you can’t just hammer a square peg into a round hole.

And so as a result of all of that, multiples have been down particularly for weak brands. Deal volume is down, the frequency with which deals are being done is down. The risk appetite of aggregators is down, and their due diligence is much tighter and stricter. They’ve gone from having this done in 30 days to, 45, 70 days. And LOIs are far more carefully considered. Whereas an LOI might be on the table within 48 hours, that is rarely the case now.

Tyler Jefcoat:
Yeah. Yeah. I was talking to a friend and former customer of mine that really, Ben, he could not have sold in a better week. You know, right near the beginning of 2021 was one of the, actually a couple of guys that I’m really tied in with sold really early to, to one of the big investors out there, as you mentioned, and couldn’t be happier, has had a great year, is now in a great position to build another brand.

And then we have a lot of clients here at Seller Accountant that really were part of the kind of feeding frenzy last summer even and exited, and they’re pretty upset right now. And they’re upset because they’re feeling like they entrusted the operations, as you mentioned, the execution of their brand, to the investors that bought ’em.

And they’re not getting paid some of the earnouts that they were promised. And some of that kinda stuff has been, it has been a little ugly, and yet you’re talking about the financial arbitrage, like I know of some friends that did that. They literally were one of these smallish aggregators that were able to turn it and make some money. And so it’s just been a fascinating moment. What else would you say about this moment in history for e-com and investors right now that you’re chewing on here recently?

Ben Leonard:
Now is, and I think this is across the board for sellers, for service providers, for buyers, now is the time to strengthen your business so that as we emerge out the other side of this, you are in a position to, you are Usain Bolt ready on the blocks, ready to spring into action. And you are not sluggish because otherwise you’ll be left behind.

So that means getting all your ducks in a row, improving your, every aspect of your business, your systems. If you’re a seller, for example , it’s about asking yourself when the appetite to buy my business, and for some people, by the way, there is still an appetite to buy your business right now, we can talk about that. But if you’re not ready to sell yet, and you’re waiting for the market to pick up, it’s about saying, would I buy my business?

And if the answer to that, and the answer to that is gonna – you have to be honest with yourself. And there’s gonna be aspects of your business that you wouldn’t be happy about buying, and it’s strengthening those. And we can dig into that if you want, but it’s looking at your business from the point of view of a buyer, what they’re looking for.

Tyler Jefcoat:
And by the way I do wanna dig into that a little bit because you’re talking about if I honestly looked at my business, and if I were gonna be the guy on the other side of the table buying it, would I have to get lucky for that other guy to pull the trigger?

Would I have to, whether I was being dishonest or not, would I have to be lucky that they didn’t discover something or would there be something that they would’ve had to ignore to buy my business? And what are those real wars? What are those real value destroyers in my business? And then you mentioned getting your ducks in a row.

So that’s kinda where I wanna go here. Let’s talk about the ducks for a minute, Ben. Now is the moment to build, because it isn’t, we can’t, we gotta plant the seeds right now. We can’t harvest right now because the markets – although I will ask you in a minute about the kind of businesses that can be harvested, ’cause I agree with you, there are deals getting done.

But let’s talk about ducks for a minute. What is it that the average seven figure brand owner needs to be doing right now so that when the sun comes back out again, they can really capture value in their business?

Ben Leonard:
Yeah. So we talk about at E-com Brokers, we talk about a value pyramid. So imagine a pyramid of five layers, right? And the bottom is brand. Then you have growth, risk, transferability, and documentation. And people have spoken a lot about the top four: growth, risk, transferability, and documentation, which is all really important. But for me brand is the foundation of the pyramid because that is where we are going, and it’s actually where we’ve been for a while now.

Whereas previously, buying a pretty poor online business, selling probably through a marketplace like Amazon with no real brand identity, was possible. And you could sell that at, at far too high of a multiple, really. These businesses were being significantly overvalued. And we’re going, we’ve gone through a correction, and now we need to go through probably another correction back the other way.

But without a strong brand identity, it’s a much riskier acquisition for a buyer. And buyers and, in turn, their investors are now looking for much more sustainable businesses. They’re taking this seriously now. Rather than just, we’ll just buy an Amazon account. That’s making some money. It’s, we’re buying a brand. So you need to treat your business like – think of Pinocchio. I wanna be a real boy, it’s I wanna be a real brand and have the real assets that actual brands have. And so think about what are your hobbies and interests? What are your favorite food items in the cupboard, and what assets do those brands have? Make sure your brand has those and you’re using them to the highest leverage you can.

Tyler Jefcoat:
Yeah. Go ahead. Finish your thought there.

Ben Leonard:
No, that’s the foundation of it, right?

Tyler Jefcoat:
It totally is.

Ben Leonard:
Absolutely. And closely behind that is growth. We really want to see historical growth, but what’s really important to buyers is built in roots to growth.

Have you, if you pull all the growth levers, there’s not that much of an incentive left for a buyer. But if you build in these roots to growth, beautifully set them up so that they can come in and pull those levers when they acquire the business, then it’s a win-win right? Because the keyword is deal.

It’s a deal. It’s not just about you selling your business. It’s about coming to a deal for somebody to buy your business. It’s all very well having a great brand, but if you haven’t made it an attractive proposition for a buyer, then what’s the point, right? And so those inbuilt paths to growth might be developing, having products in development that are ready to go.

Having marketplaces that you can quickly exploit, having roots to internationalization, expansion that can quickly be exploited, building up a phenomenal social media following where your audience is. Could be Instagram, could be TikTok, could be on YouTube, and having the ability for new owners to go and leverage that to drive traffic somewhere. All sorts of things to think about.

Tyler Jefcoat:
No, it’s so good. Man, you mentioned so much there that I wanna make sure we circle back to building a real brand. I wanna make sure we circle back to who is getting acquired right now, but I just wanna, you mentioned something that’s really important. We’re talking about like Amazon marketplace businesses, and I think maybe even you and I talked about this last year, but there’s this, there was this moment of kind of irrationality where all of a sudden, the advice from a guy like me as a CFO, or from somebody speaking at a conference, maybe it was Ben, it was crazy.

Because what we were having to say to you guys is, hey, the market is actually valuing two hero products just on Amazon.com with as little complexity and as little fluff as possible. And therefore don’t waste your energy and resources investing in the expansion of the brand unless you’re gonna have a pretty long time horizon because people are gobbling up these brands that have sometimes 5, 6, 8x kind of multiple.

And what’s really been interesting, Ben is you mentioned this as kind of this reversion, this regression to common sense. If I were going to buy an asset as an investor, and I’m an investor, Ben, you’re an investor, I want to know that the business is solid, that it’s profitable, that there’s growth, that there’s gravity to my product beyond just Amazon’s brand, although Amazon’s a crucial partner, a crucial tool. Like that’s how I would view it.

That’s how every rational investor would view it. And I’m gonna tend to be hesitant to spend like an 8x multiple on a brand that only has one channel because it’s a fairly flimsy, risky business. But a year ago that wasn’t the best advice because it was crazy, and these aggregators were – and the reason by the way is that the aggregators, Ben mentioned them not being great at operating the businesses. The simpler the business, the easier it is to operate it if you don’t have a huge, great operating chops.

And anyway, I wanna ask you about building a real brand. But building a real brand is actually a reversion back to common sense. How do I build the infrastructure and foundation in my business that will convert maximum value to the other guy? Like you said, it’s not just a transaction, it’s a deal that serves both sides of it. What are your comments on that? And then I’d love to talk a little bit more about what looks like to build a real brand.

Ben Leonard:
Yeah. You’re absolutely spot on what you said there. You could sell for a ridiculous multiple a business that had an Amazon account that was selling a mishmash of products with no true brand identity, with no real customer experience on the back end, with which had very few moving parts, and was simply, send a PO to a supplier, get the stock into Amazon. The listing could be pretty terrible and off you go. And people were cashing out for serious money. But we’ve gone through a correction and now we’ve got a bit too far the other way.

But what all of this means is, and it’s great news for serious entrepreneurs who are building real brands, and it’s bad news for get rich quick people. It means that you can’t sell a poor business anymore. And the reason I say you can’t sell is some people might be saying, can I just sell it, but sell it for less? That’s gonna be difficult because actually there really isn’t an appetite to buy something that’s just a mish mash of stuff.

Because with no brand, there’s no sustainability. And the reason for that is you don’t have a hook. You don’t have excitement. You don’t build a loyal tribe of fans who are gonna buy all your stuff, keep buying from you, spread the word about your business. And we’re see the aggregators have realized that, whereas they, before they thought, yeah, we can buy these pretty poor businesses ’cause they’re easy to run and we don’t have the operational jobs.

So we’ll just buy these and roll them up and that’ll work. They thought that they could just hit a square peg into a round hole with a hammer so big that they couldn’t fail. But even the big, even Thrasio have come to the realization that’s not working, which is why they’ve completely, they and others, have completely backtracked from acquisitions for the foreseeable future as they seek to get their own house in order, which is the right thing to do. And I’m glad that those guys and others are having that realization.

And onto your next point about what is a brand and how do we build one? There’s lots of definitions of brand, and probably none of them are wrong, but here’s one that I really like: a suite of related products that solve problems for a particular group of people.

So that could be knitters, could be boxers, could be photographers. And when you do that, suddenly it becomes a lot more cohesive, and straight away you’re filtering out selling random stuff on Amazon. But what that doesn’t mean is, oh, okay, great. I can just source a whole bunch of products that work well for knitters and slap a logo on it. Well you can, but it’s not, that isn’t gonna be the answer to building something of real value and which is an attractive acquisition for a buyer, right?

You still need to develop quality products and develop a strong brand identity, aka branding. Because branding is how you make people feel about your brand. And ideally you want people buying your products to feel loyal, excited, proud, maybe even love your brand. We all know that feeling when we buy something, and we’re super excited about having it arrive, right?

We’re almost obsessed about brand. And that’s how you want to make people feel about your brand. And we do that through marketing. That’s why marketing is more important than – branding’s vital, but you can have the best brand in the world, but if no one knows about it, it might as well not exist. If a tree falls over in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? If you have the best brand in the world, but you don’t market it properly, does it exist? And yeah, branding monologue.

Tyler Jefcoat:
No, that’s so good though, because I think that again, there’s a mindset shift that you’re helping us have here, Ben, that’s related to, let me get more intimate in my relationships with my customer. What is that audience? What is that specific group of people that I wanna solve? I’m reverse engineering your statement there. What is my specific person that I solve problems for, and how can I listen to her enough to build a suite of related products that delight her?
And then how can I be consistent in communicating value to her in a way that makes her really resonate with my brand, him to my brand, depends on who your audience is.

Ben Leonard:
Nailed it. And so it’s about, and this is where we’re doing the work that lazy, get rich people don’t do, and this is why you can win when you jump through these hoops, right? And this is why buyers will be that much more impressed with your business when it comes to trying to sell it. If you do the work to learn who your customers are, what are their challenges and pain points? What do they want? Create products that give them what they want and then reflect that back at them in your brand avatar.

‘Cause people care about themselves, right? Whether they admit it or not, we’re all slightly vain. And they just want to solve their problem. And we wanna make our brand reflect who our customers are and who they aspire to be. So I gave you the example before of a knitter. Maybe they’re a good knitter, but they aspire to be a creative knitter. So reflect that in your brand. That’s half the battle and that’s what differentiates you from stuff.

Tyler Jefcoat:
So true. Yeah. How do you make your stuff into a brand? That’s really good. Okay. Okay. All right. So just to put a bow on that first part of the topic here, if you were a brand, you are a collection of products, you get it, Tyler, Ben, I’m resonating. And I know that I may not want to exit this year because the market has maybe over corrected in a bad way. What is one or two nuggets, one or two to-dos, one or two bullet points that you can think of that, friend, if you’re hearing this show and you resonate with what we’re talking about, go home today and do this, or go home today and do that. Anything that come into your mind when you think, yeah, I wanna build a real brand now. What the hell do I do about it this week?

Ben Leonard:
Okay. So assuming then that you’re on board with the, right, I get it, I need to have a great brand. First of all, make sure you protect that brand and it’s defenseable. Intellectual property, trademarks and patents, not just where you’re selling, but where you’re manufacturing as well. Ideally, if you can, is actually develop your own designs and have them patented. Create assets to support your brand. What assets do your favorite brands have in terms of websites, social media channels, content. Create that helpful, compelling, engaging, useful information that provides value to your audience.

Ask where your audience is and then get in front of them, provide value to them, and then ask them to buy from you. It’s the Gary Vaynerchuk classic jab, right hook. Give, ask. That’s from the branding and marketing side.

And then it’s about what else is important to buyers? Documentation. Is your, have you got documentation with regards to your financials, your tax, your formation documents? Have you documented your systems and processes? What about de-risking your business in terms of diversification? Are you relying on one or two SKUs? You need to diverse that, need to spread your eggs over several baskets. Are you relying on one sales channel? You need to diversify that. What about traffic sources? You relying on just your Facebook ads account? And what if that gets banned or the rules change with advertising your niche for instance?

And then another one, one more is when somebody buys your brand, they’re buying your relationship with your supplier. So make sure that it’s tight. Your supplier needs to be a partner, right? Rather who is willing to go the extra mile to work with you for mutual benefits. Working with them needs to be a pleasurable experience for the new owners. That means that first of all, you just have a great relationship, so work on that if you don’t. But also, what about their certifications, their audits? Can they prove any credentials they claim to have that could be social, environmental, for instance? So there’s a few nuggets there.

Tyler Jefcoat:
That’s beautiful. You mentioned one nugget. I just want a super quick side note on the process front. I coach lots and lots of entrepreneurs in the space, and I’m a visionary. So when you talk to an e-commerce brand owner, they tend to fall – by the way, here’s perfect. Perfection is to perfectly capture the 80/20 principle with your processes. Like I want to just do my 20% most crucial processes that are on paper.

And entrepreneurs tend to fall off the trail either on the one side where they are hyper visionary like I am where we tend to abdicate or delegate too quickly, like we don’t process document enough, or they fall off the rails on the other side of the street where it’s, I am such a detail oriented person that I waste a lot of my time documenting exactly how I respond to every single message that comes in.

And my comment to you that you’re listening to this is know who you are, understand if you tend to be really detail oriented, in which case you need to give yourself permission to not document every process in your business, make sure it’s the crucial ones, or if you’re wired more like I am, know that and I’m telling on myself here, but we recently went through a personality assessment for my leadership team, and I realized, Ben, that my instinct is to have a great idea and to like lob the bomb over the fence and feel like I’m empowering my team to take it and run with it. And they really need me to iterate that idea like 20% more. They don’t need me to do it a hundred percent, but they need me to think through the process a little bit more so that they can be successful.

And for those of you guys out there that are wired, like me, for those of us who are driven, we can do our f-ing job for 20 extra minutes and iterate that process in a way that’s documented and someone can take it. I mean, I don’t know. Does that resonate with you at all, Ben?

Ben Leonard:
Yeah, it really does. Closely tied into that is you can, and it depends on who you’re delegating something to. If you’ve hired a, somebody who completely has no understanding of what you’re working on, of e-commerce and some people like to do that because it’s almost like working with a blank canvas, you need to be very patient and you need to understand that you have to give very clear instructions.

On the other hand, if you’ve hired quite an experienced project manager, then you can often just give them an outcome and say, I don’t really care how it gets done, but make that happen. And if they’re a highly experienced project manager, they’re gonna be able to do that themselves and with their team.

But it’s really important that we take the time to reflect on our leadership and ensure that we are being fair to our team by giving them – sure, give them the outcome, but give them enough instruction to give them something to roll with. It’s like extra 20% like you mentioned.

Tyler Jefcoat:
Yeah, I love that. I think that’s so good. So again, so many nuggets came out of what Ben said there. Rewind it if you need to listen to this part again. But do something, that’s my encouragement to you today. Don’t waste your time listening to us, just, yeah, we’re back and forth here. Take one thing away and actually build it into the foundation of your brand so that again, as the clouds move, and they will, the markets always change. That’s normal cycles that’s happened for decades and decades. You’ll be ready to exit your business.

Let’s talk about who is still getting acquired right now, Ben. So circling back to that comment we made early on, what kinds of companies, what kinds of avatars out there need to listen to this and say, ooh, this is actually my opportunity to be, go ahead and exit, even though people are bitching and moaning about the market right now?
Ben Leonard: Yeah. So businesses that are still getting acquired are brands, right? They have a strong brand identity. They’re not an Amazon business. They’re a business, and they sell on Amazon and hopefully they sell elsewhere, too. They are growing. They’ve got a track record of growth. There’s inbuilt roots to growth, which we spoke about earlier.

They’re selling in a stable, favorable niche. That means things like toys and games, baby, garden, outdoor, home. Electronics, unfortunately, are pretty difficult at the minute. And they’re highly transferable in terms of their systems and processes and how efficient they are. There’s lots of automation probably, in terms of the software that they’re using. They’ve, hopefully they have a team in place who can at least stay with the brand for a transition period to look after things like social media, email marketing, day to day Amazon and other channel account management, right? They are diverse, which we spoke about earlier in terms of their product offering, their markets, their traffic sources, the countries they’re selling in. They’ve got phenomenal relationships with their suppliers, and their intellectual property is strong.

If you’re doing that, there will be a buyer out there for you, but it is important to accept that finding that buyer can take longer than it did last year, and their willingness to pay a multiple, as strong a multiple as they did last year is likely to be declined, but for very strong brands, that impact is less. So I would say multiples have come down in general, but for stronger brands, they have not been so severely impacted, and we’re starting to see signs of a recovery.

Tyler Jefcoat:
That’s encouraging. Yeah. Because a lot of these aggregators out there, and I’m helping a smaller one. We’re actually, I’m on the other side of the table assessing deals that are coming across and we’re looking to buy ’em, and it is, we have a lot of dry powder and we want to buy the right companies. Like you said earlier, we are just being a lot more selective right now. And it’s because we can be.

And so again, so I think there’s some sober expectations. Am I gonna get a 10x multiple on my brand right now? Probably not, unless I’m selling software or something that’s really frothy like an automated app or an affiliate site or something like that. But can I still get a premium valuation if I am really a premium brand? You can.
And then the question really is a personal one. Like If I’m burned out and done, I may want to go ahead and if I was only gonna, if I’m only gonna be able to get a 4x multiple right now and I’m premium in the current market, I may wanna do it. If I’m not burned out and I wanna try to wait out the market, I can try to do the things Ben was saying earlier and build my brand for the future.

Any other advice you’d give to, somebody who’s looking to – maybe they are that person. I feel like people maybe listen to this would be like, hey, we’re really, I actually am burned, I’m over this. I wish I had caught the wave last year. I didn’t. What are the things that they need to do other than reach out to you to help them if they’re looking to exit?

Ben Leonard:
So yes, reach out to us. What they need to do is ask themselves some tough questions and take some, don’t rush, take some time to reflect on what are your goals, what do you value in your life? What does a great deal look like? It’s also important not to dwell too much on, on what might have been.

Yeah. You might have sold your business a year ago for significantly more, but you still might be able to sell your business now for life changing money, and if you’re burnt out anyway, why not do that? Take a break, reinvest the money into something new that excites you. To be honest, the majority of sellers we work with are in that boat.
They have actually gained a whole ton of experience with their first brand, which has been an entirely worthwhile thing. Now they can sell it for decent money, oftentimes life changing money. But they’re really, what gets ’em outta bed in the morning is not their existing business. It’s a new idea. And that’s, to be honest, that’s a red flag because then if you don’t have the get up and go for your existing business, it’s pretty certain that a plateau or a decline is gonna follow because you’re not giving it your all, and it doesn’t have the right leadership. So that’s a good reason to sell. Right there.

Tyler Jefcoat:
Yeah. By the way my football coach growing up always used to say you either get better, you get worse, you don’t stay the same. And that’s really true for businesses. Like whatever your business is worth right now. And it and it is not worth what it was worth a year ago, but whatever it is worth right now is either gonna be driven by you and will become more valuable as the market changes, or the inertia of it going downstream is gonna be to erode value unless you’re able to, like you mentioned, if you have that get up and go to, to continue driving the brand.

And I think it’s really important for our clients, for our CFO clients here at Seller Accountant to be, to really not – like you said, I can’t worry about the spilt milk of last year. I’ve gotta say, okay, what is my business worth now? What’s my energy level? And what does a great deal for me look like?

And if I’ve got a ton of energy and a great deal looks like a number, and this is the last thing I wanna mention here is the flip side of this is the brands that were happiest last year knew what they wanted and were able to take advantage of the opportunity when it arose. And as the market is down right now, Ben, we’re coaching our clients and say, okay, time out. Here’s the moment to know in three years, I don’t know how many years this gonna be. At some point, the market is gonna be rosy again. What do you actually want? What is your objective, so that when the offer comes up, and I had one of my CFO clients last year get an offer that was the number that he wanted, but he had the fear of missing out, went to the market six months later, got less than he had originally been offered. Like that kind of scenario.

And so if we go into the bull market knowing, okay, my objective is $5 million for this asset. Guess what? When I get offered that, I get to just fear free, anxiety free, say, you know what, baby, it’s time to go ahead and pull the trigger, ’cause I’ve accomplished my goal. ‘Cause you’re never gonna time the market perfectly. The lucky guy will, but you’re not gonna be able to plan for that. And so know exactly what you want, and then reverse engineer the things that I could control to drive towards that outcome. And then when the market is right for your objective to be met – and it might be now! If the market right now will give you what your objective is, get out, go do something else. Yeah, ’cause greed can really kill the future of your business.

Ben Leonard:
I have spoken to sellers who have had some success, but have almost started to believe their own hype, and their goals become unrealistic if not slightly greedy. And it’s about asking yourself actually, maybe what you want deep down is not a monetary goal. It is a lifestyle goal. And does it make a difference to your life really? In the grand scheme of things, will it make a difference if you sell it for $4.5 million or $5 million, will you, when you’re on your deathbed, will that have made a big difference? Probably not. You can probably achieve your lifestyle goal if you haven’t hit your sort of almost vanity metric, if you like.

Tyler Jefcoat:
So true. I think that’s extremely well said. And by the way, I’m gonna be doing this in about two weeks. And if you guys don’t do this – one of the things we do on Return on Podcast is the habits and hacks that have made us successful.

Ben, I’m gonna ask you about that here in a few minutes, but for me, one that I just wanna propose to you guys right now is at least once a quarter, I go try to get a day alone to process that question that Ben is talking about, where I’m gonna go to a state park. I’ll wake up, turn off the tech and I’m gonna just think, journal, pray, ruminate, dream.

Because I think that’s a crucial question. What is it that I really want? Is it $5 million? Is it $10 million? Is that what I really want? What I really want is to be successful financially, but I also wanna be married. I want to have relationships with my kids. I wanna do things that I wanna do. And so really asking the why question, the what is it, the five whys. But yeah, but why do I want $5 million? Oh, okay. So I can buy this. By the way, that’s not invalid. Okay. Why do I wanna buy this? Oh, so that my dad will think I’ve got what it takes. I don’t know. I don’t know whatever it is for you, but take the time to be introspective.

And I would just argue that if you’re not doing this as a CEO at least once a quarter, go get a day. Even if it’s just a half day, state parks are like next to free in the States here. And then they probably have something like that in the UK. Do that and ask yourself the hard questions so that you’re not just slave to a number, ’cause the number needs to be serving some bigger – because Ben, you just, this is what triggered me when you said this is when we’re 85 on our deathbed, no one’s gonna give two shits whether we sold the business for $4.5 million or $5 million. No one cares. What cares is always some greater, more passionate why, and if you’re not in tune with that, you’re gonna really waste a lot of your energy doing things that don’t matter.

Ben Leonard:
A hundred percent. I, yeah, love, love what you just said. It’s such a worthwhile thing to do. And I do a little bit of that, but I could do better. So thanks. I’m gonna make sure I do better on that a hundred percent.
Tyler Jefcoat: You bet, buddy. Hey, listen, let’s pivot to some fun here. So this is the week, by the way – Ben loves football, the European kind. Tyler loves football, the SEC college football kind here in the States. And for me right now, Ben, this is it. Our first game is in three days here as we’re recording this. So you might listen to this. It may have already happened. Hopefully we win.

Ben Leonard:
What’s your team called?

Tyler Jefcoat:
So the University of Georgia, we won the national championship last year after a 41 year drought. And and so we’re good. We’re not great this year, but we’re good. And, but everyone’s undefeated right now, Ben.

No one’s lost a game. The hope springs eternal. And so anyway, man, I know you’re a big football fan, the, maybe the real football, right? The Aberdeen FC football. So tell me about your passion for sports and how, do you follow those guys a lot or not really?

Ben Leonard:
Yeah. I have a season ticket. I don’t get to every game now, ’cause I got young kids, but I still have my season tickets. I can go if I, if I can, if I want to. I live like 25, 30 minute drive from the stadium. We at one point, so people should look this up, right? Aberdeen FC. We at one point we’re the best team in the world. And for context, right? Aberdeen is a small city of maybe 125,000 population. The best team –

Tyler Jefcoat:
Where is this in the UK? Help us that are like super ignorant. Where is Aberdeen in the UK?

Ben Leonard:
Northeast Scotland. One of the biggest teams in the world now is Real Madrid. They’re from Madrid, obviously. And for context, the last team to beat them in a European final was Aberdeen back in 1983, when we won two European trophies and we were probably the best team in the world. ‘Cause at that point, if you’re the best team in Europe, you’re probably the best team in the world. For a provincial town in Northeast Scotland, that is a phenomenal achievement. We will never ever have that kind of level of success again.

And what I love about supporting them is that unlike the enormous teams where the players are paid ridiculous sums of money, these guys, when they retire from sport, age 35, 36, they will need to get a real job. And many of them end up working in the industry in Aberdeen, which is the oil and gas industry.

And so you can relate to the players when you’re sitting in the stadium, watching the team play, you can relate to them because they’re playing to pay the mortgage. And I love that. And so I followed them since I was a young child. And yeah, I’m a huge fan.

Tyler Jefcoat:
There’s some purity, there’s some like blue collarness there. Um, we were talking about vanity metrics. This is not just, can I buy a second Lamborghini or whatever. This is am I gonna be able to move outta my mom’s basement? This is real life, and that’s awesome, dude.

I really, I think that’s probably why people in America love college football, by the way. Some of these guys are getting paid now, but it’s not just a free agency model of who has the highest contract. It really is developing as a man, and understanding who I am in the world and figuring out how to make a living. And I think there’s something about the purity of that level of sport that is always why we’ve loved the Olympics. You mentioned Usain Bolt earlier and yeah.

Ben Leonard:
Oh actually Aberdeen football club is gonna be in your area next, I think in November. So in November, right? Basically soccer around the world is stopping for the World Cup. Domestic club soccer is stopping for the international World Cup, which is taking place in Qatar. It’s the first time they’ve ever had it in winter. So during that time, Aberdeen’s players are flying out for a training camp in Atlanta.

Tyler Jefcoat:

Ben Leonard:
Because we have a partnership with the team in Atlanta.

Tyler Jefcoat:
There it is. Maybe I’ll run into ’em. So I’m about an hour east of Atlanta, but I’m pretty close. So super good. Final segment of each of our shows, Ben, is we call it the Return on Podcast. There’s some, I mentioned the thing about it. I go try to journal and get alone a few times a year, but there’s gotta be something that, that you are doing regularly, weekly, daily, man, if I, if everything else left, I would keep this personal or professional habit.

This, by the way, this is the mantra. James Clear wrote a book called Atomic Habits, the idea that we don’t rise to the level of our goals, we actually fall to the level of our habits. What are the things that make us successful if we do it every day? Does anything pop into your head that gives you an unreal return on investment for this thing professionally or personally that you do?

Ben Leonard:
Yeah, it’s pretty simple. It’s movement. So I’m a big fan of training, and sometimes I’m able to train, that means lifting weights, throwing kettle balls around, hitting the punch bag, going for a run, and sometimes I’m just able to go for a walk. But whatever it is, moving in fresh air is, it’s a form of meditation because it takes you, you have to be very mindful of what you’re doing. So you’re, therefore you can’t be thinking about something in your business because you are, you need to concentrate on what you’re doing and you can really get into the zone, and it’s time for yourself and we all need that.

And doing that regularly. I’ve been training now for, since my early teens, and that has been a constant in my life. And if I stop doing it, I feel it mentally and physically, and I really have to come back to it.

Tyler Jefcoat:
That’s a great habit. I agree. Getting into flow state, using physical activity, adding some, you mentioned outdoors, like green therapy to this mix. Friends, if you do nothing else that we’ve talked about on this podcast, that’s one that you should take away. So thank you, Ben. That’s really powerful, man. Anything else for the good of the group here before we close the pod?

Ben Leonard:
Zig where everyone else zags, and when you’re building your brand, the easiest way to sidestep the competition is to be authentic. Engage with your audience on a one-to-one level, showing real interest and genuine curiosity in their life, DM your followers on Instagram, right, and provide them with value. And when you do that, the flywheel is gonna spin faster, sooner.

Tyler Jefcoat:
That’s well said. I wanna kind let that be the punctuation. Friends, you can find more about Ben Leonard of Ecombrokers.co.uk. We will make sure that his links to social media and otherwise are in the show notes. Ben, it’s been an absolute thrill having you on the show today. Thank you. Thank you so much for coming by. Just grateful to have you, buddy. Really appreciate your friendship.

Ben Leonard:
Thanks, Tyler. Likewise.

Tyler Jefcoat:
All right. So with that, we’re gonna close the show. Thank you for joining this episode of Return on Podcast. We we really appreciate your time. Hope you grabbed some nuggets that give you an ROP on your time today, and until we talk to you next week, I hope you kill it. Take care.

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