An Excerpt from the Book:
“The most important thing I did was to hire talented people to do those things
that I was not very good at”
Kevin Short is the CEO of Clayton Capital Partners, a nationally recognized investment banking firm specializing in M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions). He has been involved with numerous leadership positions with initiatives focused on the educational needs of children in poverty. Kevin is an author with two books on strategies for selling a business.
I’ve started, owned or operated about 30 different companies. While on my honeymoon at age 23, I worked on a business plan and started an investment advisory group when I got back. We returned our wedding gifts to help fund the company.
My father was an executive at Reynolds Metals; my mother stayed at home, as did pretty much all of the moms at that time. I was the oldest of six, and was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug at a young age. I had a series of jobs beginning when I was about twelve years old: I went around the neighborhood and started painting addresses on curbs for $2 apiece; by age sixteen, I was selling newspaper subscriptions door-to-door, followed by tile cleaners, and so on. It was a way to make money that did not involve working at McDonalds, which I wanted to avoid at all costs. I later realized that the sales jobs were the ones that I enjoyed the most.
With my first company, I advised individuals on their investment portfolios. Today, financial planners are a dime-a-dozen, but in 1981, advising was a less common path for new graduates. I was much more than a broker: I formed my own company, executed on my business plan, and added people and structure as we got busier. As I look back, it was crazy for me to think I could start an investment advisory group just out of college: who was going to trust a 23-year-old with their money? It did not seem crazy to me at the time. I was relentless knocking on doors, and once I got my first few clients, growth mostly came from word of mouth. The Company delivered a good product with favorable results.
We got into real estate and business acquisitions because we had a few clients who wanted to balance their portfolio with something other than the typical blend of equities – what would be termed “alternative investments” with higher risk but also greater opportunities for gain.
When the tax laws changed in 1986, the real estate market tanked the following year: it was baptism by fire, with banks threatening foreclosure. It cost me a lot of money to dig out our investors and partners – but this was the right thing to do. In the long run, it served me well with regard to my standing with clients, investment bankers, and the ability to attract the best employees. It doesn’t take much to tarnish your reputation – once that happens, it’s almost impossible to get back.
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