How do you spot a good deal? I see a lot of offers, at least one a week. In the last eight years Finn Partners has closed 19 deals. So, what do I look for, what is the most important factor when considering whether or not to do a deal? For me, it’s culture. I am looking for entrepreneurs because I like the energy and imagination that entrepreneurs bring to a business, to an agency. And I want the culture of Finn Partners to reflect that.
I think of culture as the Art of the Deal. What does that mean? First of all, it means that culture is the most important component of a deal. Second, that this is an Art, on some level, not a science. How does it feel? Can I see my employees enjoying doing this work? Will it energize them? And then of course, thirdly is the Deal itself. Does it make sense? Is there a fit, some reason that our capabilities or our market penetration be enhanced by doing this deal?
The first meeting with a potential acquisition reflects our prioritization of culture. The first meeting isn’t about the numbers, it’s about chemistry. My personal motivation is finding entrepreneurs with whom I want to work, and with whom my people will want to work. Our vision also includes the explicit goal to be an agency with a heart and a conscience. Our core values reflect that vision, and this helps us weave culture into everything we do, which then helps us discern agencies which might be a good fit for us.
Leading with a vision statement and core values and evaluating for chemistry first set the table for the rest of the process. Working hard, playing nice, and diversity are key components in our core values. The PR industry has long prided itself and been known for its people. As the industry is pushed and pressured by new forces into new directions, being creative is being strategic, and building strength through growth, focused on culture as the key asset, makes good business sense.