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Michelin-starred food for thought

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Selling a business is a sales and marketing exercise!

“Look, Dave, I am not a businessman,” said multi-award-winning chef, serial entrepreneur and adopted national treasure Raymond Blanc, when we were discussing the schedule for last week’s BCMS event. The venue was a pretty special one: Raymond’s own hotel, the world-famous Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire.

The guest list included friends from our partners at Freeths and Tilney, former clients such as Darren Cairns of Intrinsys and Emma Marlow from Green Hippo, and a wide array of business owners considering their next moves. Raymond served up not only four courses of unforgettable cuisine, but some unforgettable insights into his life and career.

Not, it must be said, your typical Thursday evening.

As guest speaker, Raymond repeated the same line on the night. “I’m not a businessman at all! I’m uneducated, I never went to culinary school, have no formal training… I just surround myself with people who are brilliant.”

He’s so wrong here it’s almost funny. Raymond is a classic, textbook entrepreneur. It’s precisely because he wasn’t formally trained that he approached the restaurant business with fresh perspective, new ideas, a new approach. It’s why he was fired from his first job for offering the Head Chef some ‘helpful advice’ on how to serve his food. It’s why his restaurant won two Michelin stars in its first year of opening and has held them ever since. He is constantly striving to make things better - and has the passion and drive to make things happen.

The guiding principles of a business sale

I have to say that sounds quite a lot like many of the most successful business people I have met, and many of our clients, past and present.

In a very small way, there are some parallels with our story at BCMS, too. When the Rebbettes family entered the M&A industry back in the ‘80s – after a pretty dispiriting experience trying to sell our previous company – we had no expert knowledge of corporate finance. We weren’t schooled in the technical aspects of deal-making, of SPAs, HoTs, MBIs or any other acronym our industry is so fond of.

When we started BCMS 30 years and many hundreds of transactions ago, we knew we were naïve. Today, the business world might use a different word: “disruptive”. We had one guiding principle, that selling a business was fundamentally a sales and marketing exercise. We believed – and still passionately believe – that to sell a business for its maximum value, you have to create a market, generate interest, sell the future, and look far and wide for buyers who can see your company’s true potential.

Look, I’ll be honest. I’m still not an expert at M&A. I’ve just learned to become quite good at surrounding myself with people who are.

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Dave Rebbettes's picture
Posted Mar 2019
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