October 3, 2022

Take Five #025: Maintain discipline. Kill deals. Win the SMB search.

Take Five #025: Maintain discipline. Kill deals. Win the SMB search.

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Take Five #025: Maintain discipline. Kill deals. Win the SMB search.

1. The CEO Resource Library

Majority Search has launched their CEO Resource Library on their website, for a great roundup of top books and podcasts they recommend for SMB operators:

If you love resource roundups, we’d also like to suggest our own:

2. The case for leasing vs. buying your building:

John Wilson of Wilson Companies on why he’s opting to buy a building for his business:

One of the problems that nearly every business has to deal with eventually is whether to lease or buy the building they’re going to occupy. Many businesses opt to buy, including me at times. I’ll toss my opinion out now and then work through the nuance. It is very rarely the right decision to buy the real estate you occupy for your business. Time after time, I have seen it be the exact wrong decision. Many owners have been repeatedly told to buy real estate, so they think they’re making the right decision, but I want to debunk that and then offer some times that it is the correct decision.

We are going through this decision currently and, despite the overwhelming evidence against buying, will be buying our location. If I sound conflicted, it’s because I am. Enjoy.

He has a great list of when it does and doesn’t make sense to buy the real estate, and ends it with where they’ve landed for his own business:

Right now, we own one of our five locations. The owned location has been our headquarters for 50 years. We are now preparing to buy a very large property in a new city and move our headquarters. It is a strategic location that we believe we can stay in for at least 15 years, have very strong tax credits and incentives to move in, are in the right location where we can serve our customers, and will be borderline free to occupy because a tenant pays nearly all of the mortgage and underlying costs.

Even with it checking every single box, I still rethink this decision every hour because I know how bad a use of capital it is and wish that same capital could go to another acquisition. It’s a bad use of cash, it’ll slow us down, and I can’t control the value. All that said, we believe that the addition of value because of the location and stability of it will counteract the downsides. Only time will tell.

From “Real Estate On My Mind” by Owned and Operated Newsletter

3. Maintain discipline. Kill deals. Win the SMB search.

4. The Right KPIs to Run Your Business

Key Performance Indicators are nothing new in business, but this is a great summary of how a former searcher and new SMB owner breaks down the concept:

The concept of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is likely not new to you. Most businesses track data to measure their performance in some format.

Any business has hundreds and hundreds of potential KPIs. Tracking all of them is impossible and a waste of time.

So how do you decide what to actually track & review on a regular basis?

In any potential deal, I always start with breaking down a business into its core “value drivers” – the variables that help determine how the business will perform.

From Guesswork Invest’s “Big Deal Small Business: Selecting KPIs to Run Your Business

5. Is work-life balance possible as a search fund CEO?

Another excellent case study from A.J. Wasserstein, Steve Divitkos, and Jim Sharpe on how to build “an integrated and fulfilling life that encompasses the personal and the professional.”

Read the full Yale case study here: “On the Nature of Work–Life Integration as a Search Fund CEO”.

We think the often-used phrase “work–life balance” is a misnomer in the context of life as a search fundCEO. Unfortunately, we do not believe there is balance. There are certainly choices, but when a talented, ambitious young entrepreneur raises outside capital and commits to leading an enterprise they are new to, there can be no balance. The CEO is devoting the vast majority of their waking hours and mind space to the business. At best, balance is an aspiration; at worst, it is an elusive mirage. ETA entrepreneurs often sign up to make their professional commitments the biggest focus in their lives. Not only is the business likely their greatest time pledge, but their inexperience also requires a huge concentration of energy and attention to make the project a success. Furthermore, the concept of work–life balance implicitly suggests that work and life are two separate things. In our experience, this simply is not true. Work is, in many ways, a fundamental component of a CEO’s life, not something that is separate from it. It provides entrepreneurs with meaning, structure, a source of identity, and an avenue through which they build and lead an organization that reflects their vision and values.


Although we have written extensively about all things ETA and small business, we cannot think of a single more important topic than CEO work–life integration. Of course, we want all of our students to be high-achieving and successful leaders in business and society. But we really wish for our students and entrepreneurs to be complete people who are happy and fulfilled and have found a way to make the five Fs (family, friends, fitness, faith, and fun) meaningful parts of their lives.

Alternatively, a great summation thread on the same study below:

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