Scale-up Specialist Exit Strategist
$5.2bn in Exits
Nick Bradley is a world-renowned author, speaker and business growth expert, who works with entrepreneurs, business leaders, and investors, building high-value companies. Over the last decade, he has built, bought and sold 26 businesses with a combined valuation of $5.2 billion dollars. He also works with Private Equity and Venture Capital firms across the UK and the US leading business turnarounds, mergers, acquisitions, and scale-ups.
Tell us about the billion dollar exits you have been involved in.
I have been involved in three+ billion-dollar exits during my time working in the world of Private Equity. I can’t disclose the specific details of these exits due to confidentiality … but what I can say is that each of these liquidity events had similar drivers of value:
1. Robust and predictable financials = strong balance sheet; consistent growth over min. 3-5 years; complementary lines of business revenue; high-profit margins.
2. Diverse customer base driving recurring revenue = either models of subscription or long-term contracts; no major reliance on any one customer or set of customers; geographic reach.
3. Unique/remarkable value proposition = #1 or #2 share position in defined market; clear product/market fit; clear differentiation vs. competitors; hard to replicate business model with some elements of intellectual property in pace.
4. Strong leadership = high levels of capability and experience in key roles; well-defined organisational structure with systems and processes in place a performance culture underpinned by a clear set of values/behaviours.
As I look at businesses now, to either invest in or help take to exit, I review against this same criteria when assessing both opportunity and value.
Companies require funding for growth, tell us more about the growth by acquisition model?
I look at business growth through two lenses:
1. Organic = customers and cash flow … effectively what you get when marketing and sales work together in true alignment to drive predictable revenue.
2. Strategic = acquisitions and joint ventures … key activities that lift you above the “one customer at a time” growth model and can literally double (or triple) the size of your business overnight (once executed).
When you put both of these together you can get an exponential effect on growth which accelerates and compounds quickly over time. Mergers and acquisitions, in particular, drive fast scale and this is why it is the strategy of choice for all Private Equity firms globally.
In terms of my acquisition model, I favour Leveraged Buy-Outs (LBOs) which allow you to buy good profitable businesses using other people’s money … leveraged against the assets of the business you’re acquiring. This is the secret strategy that Private Equity use and it’s absolutely something that small businesses can use too, to scale quickly. They just need to learn how to do it efficiently and effectively.
Tell us about your scale-up program. How does it help entrepreneurs?
I founded my coaching and consultancy business, Scale Up Your Business, in 2018 to help business owners scale fast and exit rich. My ethos being – why go through the pain of building wealth slowly when the opportunity exists to “get rich once”?
Most business owners and entrepreneurs think they can make serious money and build wealth from running a business… the truth is, these things only really happen when you get intentional about scaling and exiting. I wanted to share my knowledge and experience from Private Equity and make this accessible to smaller businesses… specifically, those doing 7-figures with the ambition to create an 8-figure (or more) exit in the near future.
This vision has allowed us to become one of the fastest-growing consultancies in the world. I also believe it is because we know exactly who we want to serve, what their biggest challenges are, and the precise strategies that will create certainty around their end-game.
We offer a number of programs that help business owners scale fast. Some are focused purely on acquisitions, others focus on building value prior to exit. Our flagship offering is the Empire Elite Mastermind which is exclusively for 7-figure+ entrepreneurs who want to learn from and be around other business owners on the same journey. This program is both live and virtual, and culminates with an event we run in Tampa, Florida called the ‘Scale To Sale Summit’ in September… bringing together entrepreneurs and investors from all over the world with the ambition of building wealth from achieving life-changing exits.
Can you share a case study?
Sure. We just completed our 26th business exit for a client!
Nothing gives me greater pleasure than helping someone achieve a life-changing exit, helping someone realise time and money freedom so they can live life fully on their terms.
This one was particularly special as my client became very ill halfway through the process (I’ll spare the details). And as you can imagine, something like this creates so much uncertainty and risk that deals often fall through.
But we held it together and my client cashed out well into 8-figures. Something he didn’t think was remotely possible for him a few years ago.
I’m known for saying – you don’t build serious wealth running a business, you build it by scaling and exiting!
Which not everyone likes to hear, but from my perspective, after being involved in 117 acquisitions and now 26 exits, is very true.
When is the right time for a company to consider growing by acquiring other companies?
My advice is to get your company to 7-figures in revenue first and then look to scale quickly from that point via acquisitions.
In the majority of cases, acquisitions are most successful, and beneficial in driving value, when they are implemented from strong foundations. This means having a very good organic sales and marketing plan in operation that can be accelerated via acquisitions and joint ventures when the timing is right and the opportunities present themselves.
What current trends do you see happening in the M&A space?
There has never been a better time in history to buy and sell businesses. In fact, Forbes has called it “The Perfect Storm” as right now there are more businesses for sale than buyers meaning you can acquire good, profitable, but sub-scale, businesses for very low valuations.
Why is this the case?
Because every day in the US alone, there are 10,000 people retiring as “Baby Boomers”. Many of these people have great businesses but they have no succession plan. Their children are off doing other things and their grandkids want to be YouTube stars!
So what happens is these good profitable businesses are being shut down.
Or, business owners could be buying them!
As mentioned, this can double or triple a business overnight from buying a competitor or a supplier and is so much quicker than trying to grow one customer at a time.
The cool this is, this is only the very beginning of the opportunity. By 2030, all “Baby Boomers” will have reached 65 years of age, so there is a window now of 8 years to get very intentional about scaling and building wealth from acquisitions.
You have interviewed several highly prominent entrepreneurs via your podcast, what have you learnt from them?
I’ve been very lucky to have had so many amazing guests on the show. Absolute thought leaders and game-changers such as: Evan Carmichael, Tony Horton, David Meltzer, Zach Bitter, James Altucher, Anthony Trucks, Neil Patel, Dean Karnazes, Robin Sharma, Robert Greene, Gino Wickman, Jay Abraham, Patrick Bett-David (and more…)
If there is one over-arching thing it’s this: You can only create success in your life, be that scaling a business, or making a bigger impact, based on the level of your identity. Put simply, success comes from working on yourself first, your mindset and skill-set, and then creating everything else from that. For me personally, I have certainly found this to be true.
How can readers find out more about your scale-up program?
The first step is downloading this free 40-page guide:
“The 5 Reasons Why Your Business Will Never Get To 8-Figures … How To Fix It Fast!”
from this, you can book a call with my team to see if it’s the right fit.
How can readers find out more about you?