102 episodes

This show seeks out conversations with business owners and private investors to learn how to acquire and run small companies, with a special focus on search funds, micro private equity, and permanent capital.

Episodes released weekly. Learn more at alexbridgeman.com.

Think Like an Owner Alex Bridgeman

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 4 Ratings

This show seeks out conversations with business owners and private investors to learn how to acquire and run small companies, with a special focus on search funds, micro private equity, and permanent capital.

Episodes released weekly. Learn more at alexbridgeman.com.

    Sam Shepler - Video Testimonials for Growing Companies - Ep.100

    Sam Shepler - Video Testimonials for Growing Companies - Ep.100

    My guest on this episode is Sam Shepler. Sam is the founder of Testimonial Hero, a company he bootstrapped that helps companies create more effective video customer testimonials. Sam and I spend much of the episode talking about how to create great testimonials for your company and what the driving reasons are for using video over text or other mediums.
    In addition to being focused on a really interesting part of a sales process, Testimonial Hero itself is an interesting case study at what a bootstrap services company grows into overtime.
    Over the course of the episode, we talk about hiring a great team, using software and technology in your business to automate processes, and we spend some time near the end discussing time management and productivity. Enjoy.
    Listen weekly and follow the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Breaker, and TuneIn.

    Links:
    Sam on Twitter
    Testimonial Hero
    Gumroad
    Andrew Wilkinson: Lazy Leadership
    Topics:
    (3:31) - How do you think about investing yourself and your professional development?
    (6:45) - What are some of the biggest changes you’ve made in your routine as you’ve grown in your career?
    (8:05) - What are some learnings you’ve had from working with coaches?
    (10:02) - How did you build Testimonial Hero? What were the early days like?
    (12:12) - What research have you found in the comparison of effectiveness between pull quotes and video reviews?
    (14:15) - What kinds of companies are best suited for video testimonials?
    (17:16) - If a company doesn’t have a content strategy or video testimonials, which should they pursue first?
    (18:16) - Were video testimonials always the main product at Testimonial Hero?
    (19:11) - What’s been your journey as a founder?
    (21:01) - Was there a tipping point that launched your growth?
    (22:15) - What did your day as a CEO look like in year 1 vs. now?
    (24:40) - Was there a moment where you realized you needed to bring on a General Manager?
    (25:50) - Tracking a CEO’s time
    (27:53) - What college course would you teach if it could be on anything?
    (28:35) - What strongly held belief have you changed your mind on?
    (29:24) - What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?
    (30:53) - Are there parts of Gumroad you’ve tried to emulate?

    • 35 min
    Robert Graham – Running Two Businesses, in the Healthcare Space and in the Search Fund Space - Ep.99

    Robert Graham – Running Two Businesses, in the Healthcare Space and in the Search Fund Space - Ep.99

    My guest on this episode is Robert Graham. Robert worked in management roles at Eaton prior to attending Harvard Business School, after which he worked in investment banking and private equity. Eventually, he decided to search for a business after seeing his HBS classmates do it, and today Robert is Managing Partner at Pillar Health Group, the holding company for four healthcare businesses he acquired together as a searcher.
    He's also a partner at Search Investment Group, which advises searchers on finding and acquiring their dream business. Search Investment Group also invests in self-funded searchers and has launched a new funded search program that functions as a hybrid between self-funded and traditional funded search.
    We discussed this program, its goals and feedback they've received from searchers in the episode. During our conversation, we also talk about what managing large manufacturing facilities with hundreds of employees is like, why Robert didn't want to acquire a manufacturing business as part of his search, running two businesses at once with Pillar Health and Search Investment Group, and time management as a CEO.
    Listen weekly and follow the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Breaker, and TuneIn.

    Links:
    Robert on LinkedIn
    Harvard Business School
    Search Investment Group
    Pillar Health Group
    Topics:
    (4:07) - Robert’s journey into Search
    (5:32) - Could you have launched a search fund directly after attending HBS?
    (6:38) - How did your experience prior to Harvard Business School help prepare you for searching?
    (7:40) - Robert’s experience running operations in manufacturing facilities
    (13:37) - Did you ever come across any SMB’s that would’ve existed as suppliers within manufacturing plants that interested you?
    (16:43) - Running Pillar Health Group 
    (18:51) - The explosive growth of the three branches of Pillar
    (20:30) - How similar are the three businesses?
    (22:46) - What does your current day-to-day look like?
    (25:33) - What adjustments are you looking to make in your role for 2022?
    (27:31) - Do you do any exercise that helps you decide what needs to be delegated?
    (29:37) - Thoughts on grocery delivery
    (30:57) - Search Investment Group
    (32:17) - SIG’s program for funding self-funded searchers
    (35:25) - Is there a step-up in any expenditure you make when helping the searcher
    (36:45) - What’s the reception been like from searchers?
    (37:53) - What personality tests have you found to be most effective when interviewing potential searchers?
    (41:12) - What college class would you teach if it could be about anything?
    (41:44) - What’s a strongly held belief you’ve changed your mind on?
    (43:32) - Have you found any correlation between a searcher’s experience in an industry to their success in that industry?
    (45:55) - Warren Buffet’s annual shareholder meeting
    (47:10) - What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?

    • 52 min
    Eric Friend – A Conversation About the 100+ Year Old Friend Family Business of Print – Ep.98

    Eric Friend – A Conversation About the 100+ Year Old Friend Family Business of Print – Ep.98

    My guest on this episode is Eric Friend. I reached out to Eric after seeing him talking on Twitter about his family’s printing business Friend Paper, which was founded in 1908 in Zion, Illinois, by Eric's great grandfather. As a print publisher through our quarterly publication called the Operator's Handbook, I was curious to hear what ideas he had on using print as a content medium. It turns out he's an even bigger print publishing nerd than I am, and we hit it off immediately. I forgot to hit the record button during our first phone call, but Eric agreed to be on the podcast to share more about his family business and print as an under-loved medium.
    Eric shares his journey from investment banking to his fourth-generation family printing business, challenges inherent in family businesses, the rebranding effort, and how companies today can use print to stand out from their competitors with customers and create unique experiences. We also spend quite some time nerding out about print publishing and the business cards from the movie American Psycho. Enjoy.
    Listen weekly and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Breaker, and TuneIn.

    Links:
    H.A. Friend & Co., Inc (Eric's Company)
    Eric on Twitter
    The Luxury Strategy by J.N. Kapferer
    The Best Made Company x Duluth Trading Co.

    Topics:
    (4:02) - The Catholic Church Story
    (10:14) - The timelessness of print media
    (13:36) - Eric’s background, his career in Investment Banking, and moving into the family business
    (31:36) - What are some ways you want to see other companies use high quality print products?
    (39:14) - What are some ways to communicate luxury through print?
    (42:49) - Challenges in the business across generations
    (49:31) - What are you most excited for over the next 12 months in the business?
    (52:27) - What college class would you teach if it could be anything?
    (54:20) - What’s a strongly held belief you’ve changed your mind on?
    (55:31) - What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?
    (59:27) - Wrap up

    • 1 hr
    John Puskar – A Journey of Growing and Selling a Professional Services Company - Ep.97

    John Puskar – A Journey of Growing and Selling a Professional Services Company - Ep.97

    John founded a professional services company in 1984 focused on energy conservation, inspections, and design work for large companies. He eventually grew the company to 43 employees and $13 million in sales and sold to Eclipse Combustion for $10 million in 2011.
    Since selling the business, he has taken on specific consulting projects to keep himself active and in the loop. I met John at a happy hour gathering in Akron, Ohio, of small business folks on Twitter and around Ohio. We shared a beer and chatted all things building a team, growing a business and life after a sale.
    His journey of being a founder and selling his business is the other side of the table from many of our podcast guests who acquired the business they run. John's story is filled with all the trials and triumphs of growing a business from scratch and creating a life changing outcome for your family. And I had a lot of fun recording this conversation. Over the course of the episode, we talk about reinventing yourself repeatedly, creating a saleable business, courage as a muscle that can be developed, and a few horror stories.
    Listen weekly and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Breaker, and TuneIn.

    Links:
    CEC Consultants
    Honeywell Combustion Safety
    Sales Concepts Course
    John Puskar Books
    John Puskar on YouTube
    John Puskar on LinkedIn

    Topics:
    (4:11) - John’s background and career
    (12:05) - What does an energy conservation audit look like?
    (13:11) - How long were you working before you could bring in a team to help you?
    (15:09) - Was there a point where you could accelerate the growth of your team?
    (24:29) - How did your day to day and the perspective of your business change when you hit that period of hyper growth?
    (29:03) - Courage is a muscle that can be developed over time
    (33:26) - John’s Pivot into creating a Sale-able business
    (41:32) - What changes occurred in your life after selling the business?
    (48:52) - Horror Stories of the business
    (53:59) - What college class would you teach if it could be about anything?
    (55:31) - What’s a strongly held belief you’ve changed your mind on?
    (56:59) - What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?
    (58:10) - Wrap up

    • 59 min
    Jordan Evans – Acquiring and Growing a Family Business in the Industry of Language Services - Ep.96

    Jordan Evans – Acquiring and Growing a Family Business in the Industry of Language Services - Ep.96

    My guest on this episode is Jordan Evans. Jordan grew up in an entrepreneurial family in California. His parents started a language translation and interpreting business when he was two years old, and it grew over the course of his childhood. It grew enough that he actually acquired it from his parents in 2019 and has since been growing the business organically and through strategic bolt-on acquisitions of other language companies. I love episodes of family businesses. I've become more interested recently in roll-ups, so this was a really fun episode for me.
    Over the course of the episode, we talk about how his parents started and grew the company, childhood with entrepreneurial parents, best practices in running a fully remote team, and developing and growth through an acquisition playbook. Enjoy.
    Listen weekly and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Breaker, and TuneIn.

    Links
    Language Network
    ScanSnap

    Topics
    (3:48) - Jordan’s experience growing up in a family business and his ultimate decision to buy it from his parents
    (5:07) - Jordan’s previous career in software
    (7:08) - What options were you weighing when you were let go?
    (8:31) - How old were you when your parents started their business?
    (9:09) - Was there a moment when it clicked that your parents were entrepreneurs?
    (10:40) - What was the overview of the business when you took over?
    (12:34) - What do customer relationships look like?
    (14:50) - How do you organize your team to handle so many different relationships?
    (16:50) - How did your parents optimize the business around lifestyle and what changes did you make to prime it for growth and bolt-on?
    (20:57) - What was the most difficult part of going paperless?
    (24:32) - The process of hiring and developing a sales team
    (28:01) - How do you manage a team of 1500+ freelancers?
    (30:45) - What was the transition like from an office to fully-remote?
    (32:36) - Why did you decide to start acquiring bolt-on companies?
    (36:58) - What’s gotten more difficult as you do each acquisition?
    (40:21) - Where do your deals generally come from?
    (44:02) - How do you structure deals with sellers?
    (46:50) - Have you used SBA debt at all?
    (48:23) - What are you most excited for over the next year?
    (50:07) - What college class would you teach if it could be anything?
    (51:42) - What strongly held belief have you changed your mind on?
    (53:26) - What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?

    • 56 min
    Chris Williams - Running a Search and Acquiring and Operating a Small Business - Ep.95

    Chris Williams - Running a Search and Acquiring and Operating a Small Business - Ep.95

    My guest on this episode is Chris Williams. I was introduced to Chris via Justin Vogt about a year ago. And since then, Chris and I have talked monthly about his search, thoughts on running a small company, the podcast, and all things work and life. I've really enjoyed getting to know him, and I'm thrilled to have him on the podcast finally. Chris recently bought a bookkeeping and accounting outsourcing business in California called System Six, which had 24 employees and around a million dollars in EBITDA at the time of acquisition. As Chris has spent more time in the CEO seat, it's been fun hearing about his ideas, challenges, and new growth plans for the company, and I'm excited to share them on the podcast.
    Over the course of this episode, Chris and I talk about why he chose to buy a small company versus continuing in private equity, the daily life of being a CEO, building a team around flexibility, and growth opportunities ahead. Also, Chris is looking to build a specialty in searcher owned companies for bookkeeping and accounting. If this is an area you need help in, definitely reach out to Chris at chris@systemsix.com and tell him you heard him on Think Like an Owner.
    Listen weekly and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Breaker, and TuneIn.

    Links
    SystemSix
    Alpine Investors
    Emporos Systems

    Topics
    (5:27) - Chris’ background and career
    (7:15) - Was there a specific moment where you realized that you wanted to run a business yourself?
    (8:28) - Did you find PE to be focused less on People?
    (10:36) - Were there any opportunities for PE firms to recruit you to work directly within portfolio companies?
    (12:32) - Chris’s search and the emotional journey
    (17:13) - Are there any high-level takeaways you would share with other searchers?
    (19:30) - What is the business you bought?
    (21:29) - How much interaction did you have with the owner during the process?
    (24:43) - What kind of questions did the owner’s wife ask you?
    (26:23) - How has the team received you?
    (28:20) - What are the biggest differences in your day to day compared to your time spent in PE?
    (31:24) - Is there a specific moment or memory you’ve had since operating that has made it all worthwhile?
    (33:44) - What’s an operating rabbit hole you’re going down right now?
    (36:12) - Profit Sharing
    (39:28) - SystemSix’s interesting flexibility offerings 
    (42:50) - What are you most excited for over the next 6 months?
    (44:34) - What college class would you teach if it could be anything?
    (48:00) - What’s a strongly held belief you’ve changed your mind on?
    (49:36) - Have you found any interesting or reliable ways to experiment with different paths?
    (51:02) - What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?
    (52:51) - Is there a reason you didn’t focus more on software businesses during your search?

    • 56 min

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