Meet Amanda Dixon – a business founder, relationship builder, and 40 Under 40 executive who is passionate about helping entrepreneurs buy and sell great agencies. When she went to sell her own business in the digital space, she struggled to find an M&A advisor who understood digital. The business brokerage space was hopelessly analog – and investment bankers spoke a language she didn’t care to understand. She decided to fix it. Amanda’s goal is to provide better buyer and seller representation than anyone on the planet and put a smile on your face in the process.
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Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Amanda Dixon: I made my first exit when I was in my early 20s. Despite walking away with 7 figures, it was not a pleasant experience because I hadn’t realized I needed representation. When I was phased out of the business, I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because no one was there to represent me. The worst part was the uncertainty and the sense that no one was there to fight for me. It was a tough education, but it put me on the path to founding Barney so that I could provide other digital agency owners with the M&A representation I wished I’d had when I was in their shoes.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Amanda Dixon: My father wasn’t an entrepreneur, but he was a scrapper who put himself through college and graduated despite the odds being stacked against him in rural Michigan. For as long as I can remember, he led by example – through his unbelievable work ethic. He was always pushing, always working hard. And even though I didn’t understand why at the time, now I know that hard work was the backbone of everything he stood for. Now that I’ve run three successful businesses myself, I see his diligence, industriousness, persistence, and resilience reflected in my own work. I’m so glad that he passed the belief on to me that with hard work, anything is possible.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Amanda Dixon: A typical mistake that entrepreneurs make is get stuck in execution and forget to create processes that are repeatable as well as put the elements in place to grow the business at scale. In addition, it’s tempting as an entrepreneur to only go after “sexy,” glamorous clients and niches, but to do that is to miss out on so many lucrative and fulfilling opportunities that will serve your business better in the long run.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Amanda Dixon: No one is immune to hard times. Whether it comes in the form of illness or some other personal tragedy, sooner or later, life’s going to throw you some curveballs. How you react to these situations says a lot about you. One of the hallmarks of resilient people – those who get right back up no matter how many times life knocks them down – is that they don’t spend precious time pitying themselves when facing difficulties.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Amanda Dixon: We are unique in the M&A space for the quality of our representation, which comes from our empathy and having gone through the process ourselves. A core difference between us and other M&A firms is that we understand digital business models and have built our representation specifically for their needs. Believe it or not, so many M&A firms are stuck in the past: they understand a business as a physical entity only. Building a successful digital agency requires a different toolbox than a largely offline business, and any acquisition has to happen with that in mind. Our transactions are complete in less than 90 days on average, which is extraordinarily fast in a field where the sales cycle typically lasts twice that or longer.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Amanda Dixon: My grit, resilience, and empathy are at the core of everything I’ve been able to achieve.
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Amanda Dixon: As entrepreneurs and leaders, we often fail to invest in initiatives that are not immediately profitable. The secret to personal branding is to accept that it really is a long-term game. Sure, when you’re doing it consistently and at a high quality, it will generate immediate benefits. But you shouldn’t look for direct ROI from every piece of content or every hour of time that you invest in building your brand because to do so is to limit the exponential gains that accrue over time. You should expect and demand results, but always keep the long game in mind as well.
How would you define “leadership”?
Amanda Dixon: Leadership is the power to motivate others to achieve a common goal. You can’t lead if you don’t have an objective, and you also can’t lead in a silo. The best leadership is propelled by the power of personality, not by external motives alone.
Do you think entrepreneurship is something that you’re born with or something that you can learn along the way?
Amanda Dixon: Entrepreneurship is like creativity. We all have it and there are many ways to express it. You can cultivate it or you can neglect it, but the potential for entrepreneurship is in us all.
What’s your favorite “leadership” quote and how has it affected the way you implement your leadership style?
Amanda Dixon: “A goal without a deadline is just a dream.” – Robert Herjavec
I’m all for setting lofty goals that seem crazy to the outside world – in fact, I do it at least weekly. But sometimes we need to make the small changes, day in and day out that can lead to actually achieving those big results.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Amanda Dixon for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Amanda Dixon or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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