6th Birthday Issue
April marks our 6th Birthday and this edition of The Deal Leader is dedicated to celebrating the milestone and taking a closer look at our journey so far. As fellow entrepreneurs and business owners, we want to share our reflections on the key lessons we've learnt along the way. We hope these experiences will resonate with you and offer an ‘aha’ moment.
At our core, our approach to business has always been a combination of science, art, and craft. The science being the use of data, analytics and research to make informed decisions and optimise our operations. The art involves understanding our clients' needs and developing unique and compelling solutions, while the craft of business consists of mastering the necessary skills and techniques to deliver an expert service.
As we continue to evolve, adapt and grow, we strive to balance all three aspects to create a unique and sustainable business model that delivers value to our clients and stakeholders.
We hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and thank you for being a part of our journey.
Find your recipe for success from the outset.
We recognised from the outset that to thrive in the South African market, it was imperative to have local ownership and management while still having access to an international network and applying an international methodology to dealmaking. This would become our recipe for success.
Attempting to transplant an international model into the South African market without an understanding of local market nuances would have resulted in potentially failing to meet the needs of local businesses. South Africa is a diverse country with a complex history, and cultural, social and economic factors can significantly impact business operations.
By being locally owned and run, we can better understand these factors and tailor our approach to meet the specific needs of the South African market. We have also been able to build strong relationships with our clients, which is essential for success in a market characterised by strong networks and personal connections.
At the same time, having an international network has given us access to a broader range of acquirers and adapting an international approach allows us to tap into global best practices and apply them to the local market to provide the best solutions for our clients.
Overall, by being South African-owned and run, but with an international network, we can leverage the best of both worlds to create a successful business model that meets the unique needs of South African businesses.
Remain positive during challenging times and identify opportunities presented.
The Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses worldwide, and Deal Leaders is no exception. However, out of this crisis came unexpected opportunities that helped us to pivot and grow in new and exciting ways.
Adapting to change is critical to business success.
We all remember the uncertainty and fear which gripped the global economy due to the Covid pandemic. In response, and as companies needed to find new ways to operate and deliver value to their clients in this new challenging environment, we launched our saleability consultation solution, known as a BMA (Business Evaluation and Market Assessment) to provide clients with a comprehensive analysis of their businesses and the market to ensure they could make a calculated decision on when the right time was to approach the market and whether there was an active buyer’s market out there for their businesses.
As the pandemic persisted, it became clear that the business landscape was changing rapidly, and companies that were able to adapt quickly and effectively would be the most successful. As a result, what was originally a reaction to global conditions became the right requirement and a key differentiator for Deal Leaders moving forward. Our BMA consulting exercise allows us to approach M&A in a more strategic and thoughtful manner and to make better-informed decisions.
Overall, by prioritising our BMA, we not only survived but thrived in a challenging business environment by remaining agile, responsive and competitive in the face of ongoing uncertainty and change. And at the same time, enabling our clients to be in a far more informed position when the real decision for “do I take my business to market?” comes along.
Watch this short video as we discuss what goes into the preparation before even going to market.
Maximising team and process efficiency is an ongoing priority.
The Covid pandemic has certainly left a lasting imprint on the way people work around the world. With the sudden shift towards remote work and other necessary changes, many individuals and teams have had to adapt quickly to new processes and ways of working. While the pandemic was an incredibly challenging time, it also forced us to become more efficient, leading to the emergence of more effective teams and processes.
One of the key ways in which Covid forced us to work more efficiently is by prompting the widespread adoption of remote work. This also meant that we had to develop new strategies to keep teams connected and productive. This led to the adoption of our daily morning check-ins (which we still do today) and collaboration platforms, which have enabled teams to work together seamlessly despite physical distance.
Another way in which Covid and remote working helped us to become more efficient was by highlighting the importance of clear communication and streamlined processes. With the sudden shift towards remote work, it became more important than ever for teams to have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, as well as the processes and tools they needed to use. This has led to a renewed focus on the implementation of more effective workflows and communication strategies.
Overall, while the pandemic was a challenging time for us, as it was for most organisations, it also led to us becoming more adaptable, productive and collaborative.
As a result, we took our biggest client ever to market during lockdown, concluding the deal early in 2021. We also realised the need to focus on quality businesses where we knew we were able to attract quality acquirers – hence our focus on businesses with EBITDA over R20m (our largest to date does R200m EBITDA). This change in client focus led to an improvement in the team's overall deal execution, as they were able to apply the real experience gained to every deal they took to the market.
Keep an open mind to untapped potential.
One of the most significant developments for Deal Leaders during this time was our largest deal to date, which was valued at over R400 million. This success gave us a newfound confidence in our abilities and opened our eyes to the untapped potential of the corporate and advisory space.
We began to explore this area in more depth, using our expertise and network to help clients navigate complex transactions and secure high-value deals. This led to the launch of our Corporate & Advisory division.
Since then, we have continued to experience significant growth and success, constantly pushing the boundaries of what was previously thought possible. By recognising the opportunities that emerged out of the Covid crisis and adapting quickly to changing circumstances, we were able to position ourselves for long-term success and establish ourselves as a leading player in the corporate and advisory space.
Covid not only taught us that we could pivot in times of adversity, but also showed us that we should never assume that adversity impacts all businesses negatively. We were amazed at how many businesses performed exceptionally well during and after the Covid period.
Your brand positioning is not set in stone .
In June 2021, we underwent a significant rebranding effort, changing our name from Deal Leaders Africa to Deal Leaders International. The primary motivation behind this change was to position Deal Leaders more effectively in the global marketplace, given our growing international network and focus on connecting businesses with international buyers. The previous name may have given the impression that we were primarily focused on the African market and only considered buyers from within the continent. This was not the case, as we were actively seeking out international buyers to purchase local businesses and saw significant value in our embedded reach to connect local deals to a broader, international audience, and therefore the name change more accurately reflects our positioning in the market.
Agility and flexibility can lead to clarity in direction.
Moving from a rigid process-based approach to a framework approach made us more agile and responsive to changing market conditions. It allowed for more flexibility and creativity, while still providing structure and guidance for our team.
Next was aligning our team to the new framework and moving forward with a clearer sense of direction and purpose, one that was more responsive to changing market conditions and with the right mix of skills and experience to support the company's goals and those of our clients.
We see this as a major differentiator – it is easy to talk to a process, but it is a very different outcome when one focuses on the actual delivery of that process in making sure that the results are there.
Collaboration and knowledge sharing leads to success.
When we first started out, our individual teams worked largely independently without the benefit of the collective knowledge and experience of the wider business.
However, we recognised that we needed to reconfigure our structure so that information and best practices could be shared across the business by developing tools and resources to support individuals in their work and encouraging collaboration and communication between team members.
Through this new structure, we have ensured that we are maximising the value of our collective knowledge and expertise. This has helped to improve the quality of our deals and increase our success rate while also providing team members with the support and resources they need to excel in their roles. Ultimately, this approach has helped to create a more efficient, effective and collaborative business environment.
Watch this short video as we talk a little more about how we work as a team.
The right skills and experience are crucial for business success.
As our business evolves, we see the importance of having the right skills and experience at all levels. The team dynamic does well to consistently develop individuals to be the best they can be. However, we also take advantage of the opportunity created whenever there is a vacancy to fill it with even better skills and experience than before. As a result, we believe there has been an exponential improvement in the effectiveness of the broader DLI team as we deliver to our clients.
The workspace should breed collaboration and creativity.
We moved into our new offices last year with a particular focus shift from being a place to work to being a place to meet and collaborate. The design and layout of the offices are conducive to teamwork and creative problem-solving, with open spaces and comfortable meeting areas.
The new offices have become a hub for our employees to come together and work on deals, brainstorm ideas and connect with one another. This has helped to foster a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose, even in a remote work environment.
Overall, the hybrid model and new office space have been a success for Deal Leaders, allowing us to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining our focus on collaboration, productivity and innovation. By prioritising the needs of our employees and creating a supportive and engaging work environment, we have positioned ourselves for continued success in the years to come.
Data and technology
drive informed decision-making.
Technology also plays a crucial role in our decision-making processes. We use a variety of software and tools to track and manage our operations, from project management software to customer relationship management systems. These tools allow us to streamline our workflows, improve efficiency and ensure that we are all working towards the same goals.
The Next Step in our Journey
We’ve always been focused on building a robust and resilient business that can withstand whatever challenges come our way. Our emphasis on adaptability and evolution has been a key factor in our success. We are constantly looking for new ways to improve our processes and to expand our offering to find innovative and relevant ways to help our clients sell a business of maximum value. This requires a willingness to be flexible and open-minded, and a commitment to continuous improvement and growth.
As entrepreneurs in the M&A space, we’ve built a solid business… now we want to help our clients get there. That’s why we’re excited to announce the launch of Value Builder, a powerful software system designed to help businesses grow and increase their value, with the ultimate goal of preparing them for a potential sale in the future. This software is specifically designed for businesses that are not yet ready to sell but want to take the necessary steps to get there.
To find out more about Value Builder and how we can help you grow your business, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our door is always open. We look forward to catching up over a cup of coffee.
Andrew and Rick