No, that's not me in the picture. It's my entrepreneurial grandfather (left) posing outside the headquarters of a new coal mine he is opening in southern Illinois. My father was an entrepreneur as well, starting and operating manufacturing companies in northwest Georgia.
So, I come by my entrepreneurial chops honestly, in what you might call a time honored way. I inherited them.
After that, I majored in economics and went to law school and worked for decades to hone my skills by working with the leaders of hundreds of talented entrepreneurs and venture investors as they addressed the many challenges that come with growing something new and important. I also partnered with some great lawyers who helped hone my skills as an adviser to growing companies.
I am an unabashed fan of people who grow and sustain profitable businesses. I have advised them, invested in them, and served on their boards. I know what a challenging and consuming task business building can be. I know the creativity and courage involved. I have been there in times of crisis and celebration. I know how starting and growing a business can test a person and change his or her life for the better.
I know this from watching my father's transformation from executive employee to business owner and operator when he opened his first carpet mill in 1967. I was in high school then and moved with the family from the cozy suburbs of the North to the unfamiliar small town South. Northwest Georgia, the center of the country's floor covering industry at the time, became my new home.
I learned what a "southern breakfast" was while working in my father's plant. It's an RC Cola and a Moon Pie, at least on the shipping dock of a certain carpet mill. I worked that shipping dock and the sample room. I swept floors, washed trucks, drove forklifts, moved rolls of carpet, made deliveries and did whatever I was asked.
At home over the kitchen table my father would suffer through my many questions about the business. How was he handling this? Why he was doing that? Always, he handled them with grace and insight. And over time, he took to sharing financial statements with me so I could get a better picture of what was going on.
In the end, I chose the legal profession instead of a career in business. After starting my practice, I quickly gravitated towards business and deal making. I have enjoyed a long career of helping entrepreneurs and venture investors accomplish their objectives.
It's been four decades now in the trenches mostly advising growing businesses and their investors but also making some angel investments and serving on a few company boards. I also served in senior management of a couple of law firms, including a stint as one of five executive partners in a 500+ lawyer firm with 14 offices across the country. During the same period, I co-founded what is now the oldest and largest trade association for venture capital and private equity investors in the Southeast and wrote a few books on deal making and legal strategies for business operators.
Hopefully, I have learned a few things that are not in the law books. Things that only practical experience can teach youabout how the law and business can intersect effectively and creatively to the business operator's advantage. As well as things about how investors think, what attracts them to an investment and how constructive deals are negotiated.
Get you own copy of Richardson's Growth Company Guide 5.0 - Investors, Deal Structures, Legal Strategies and see what you think.