Who is on your deal team today?

I saw the post above from Brent Beshore of Permanent Equity. I think it’s a great window into the world of mergers and acquisitions. There is an increase in activity in the small and medium business market of deals and I’ve noticed some gaps with CEOs and owners when it comes to their deal team.

The earlier you know who is on your team, the better your deal goes when the opportunity arises. Many opportunities are just that – opportunistic. They weren’t planned or timed perfectly – but when the right opportunity comes along – a good entrepreneur knows to get busy buying or get busy selling.

Do you know what else creates deals? The 3 D’s: death, disease, divorce. It’s not funny, but it’s true. All the more reason to make sure your deal team is in place if something unplanned arises.

Who should be on your deal team?

The “Normal” List: Lawyer, M&A Advisor, CFO/Accounting firm

Per Brent’s list above, these can be the most expensive and gut-wrenching parts of the deal. Negotiating the contract, finalizing the numbers, and putting together your story is cumbersome and necessary. You may use firms and have a relationship with a business lawyer or consultant or some other specialty. Then, when you are looking at a deal you ask who their M&A specialist is. My best relationships with specialists were built over time and many conversations to know when to push and when to say OK. If you start these relationships at the beginning of a deal, you are learning in real-time and that costs real dollars, energy, personality, and time – all of which have the propensity to kill a deal.

When should you start thinking about and adding people to your deal team? Right Now!

Isn’t that the end of the list? No. Here’s two more advisors where you can leverage a deeper bench to get the wisest counsel.


I can’t tell you how often we’ll be discussing a deal in our councils, and someone will ask, “What does your spouse think?” and be met by a silent stare. They usually say, “Well, she/he doesn’t really understand all of our business, so we don’t talk a lot about it.” Or “She/he trusts me.”

That may be true, but not when it comes to buying or selling. Your spouse knows your hopes, dreams, fears, quirks and can get to the heart of a matter in seconds. It’s also a life decision that you should make together. If you are not on the same page – that’s a red flag you can’t ignore.

Not bringing your spouse into your deal conversations can leave considerable gaps in your thinking. So bring them in early and often. They don’t need to sit around the table with the lawyer and accountant, but they shouldn’t be in the dark. Who helps keep your ego and fear monsters in check? Your spouse!

Peer Advisory/Mastermind Team:

Yes, I’m biased. Per number seven above (misaligned helper incentives) and the challenge of being totally open/honest with your internal team – where else can you get a unbiased, safe, informed counsel where everyone is for you and with you and wants what is best for you? The experience of others in the room can give you expertise, connections, and wisdom that you can’t get anywhere else. Again, the earlier you form these relationships, the better the conversation and insight you receive. Don’t wait to develop these lifelong relationships!

Do not wait for a merger or acquisition opportunity to come along to get you looking for the right people to be on your team. Instead, do it now, so that when the time is right, you have the best people around you to maximize your most significant investment.

Dan Cooper
Post by Dan Cooper
August 27, 2021
Dan Cooper co-founded ej4, a video-based online training company, in 2003, and was its CEO until selling in 2012. During his time with ej4, he grew the company from a startup to a nationally-recognized firm, serving clients including Pepsi-Cola, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Honeywell, Monsanto and Syngenta. Channel partners included SAP and Oracle. As of the 2012, ej4 was serving 1,000+ customers, delivering millions of program views, was highly profitable and debt-free. Today, he is the CEO of Acumen, a mastermind community platform built for CEOs and Owners of strong and growing companies. He and his wife, Ali, have three children and attend Cure of Ars church in Leawood, KS. Dan enjoys running, all things soccer — coaching, playing and watching —and burning all types of meat on the backyard barbecue grill.