87: Find Your North Star Metric with Peter Lehrman

Peter Lehrman is the CEO of Axial, a private deal network serving professionals who own, advise, and invest in North American lower middle-market companies. We talk about the North Star Metric, the due diligence checklist for buying a business, and the benefits of having perseverance in business. 

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Find Your North Star Metric with Peter Lehrman

Our guest is Peter Lehrman, the CEO of Axial, a trusted online platform business owner and their M&A advisors use to safely and intelligently. explore and execute capital raises, acquisitions, and exits with strategic buyers or professional financial sponsors. Hey, Peter, great to have you on the show.

Same here, Steve. Thank you for this. Looking forward to it.

I’ve been looking forward to this as well. Not the least because AXS was one of the first SAS service that I used in this country. Ten years ago, we subscribed to your platform, I think it was a fairly new platform and we used something called, used to be called merger market in Europe. And we found Axial to be the closest alternative, we really liked merger market and then we found Axial and it was, it was a critical piece of our business, it was investment banking business and without your platform, I think we would have been very, very short of information about the market investors. So it was very, very helpful to us at the time.

I’m happy to hear that. I mean, that’s a great plug. So thank you so much.

I know that the platform has changed a lot since and we’ll cover that later in the show. So just as a warmup, so tell me and our listeners a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey. How did you become this technology entrepreneur of this SaaS business, this platform that you built?

So, you know, a couple of different places to start the answer to that question. Very quickly, I mean, I am the fifth of five children. My father was an entrepreneur. And so there was a lot of entrepreneurial conversation at the dining table as a kid. So that was maybe where it got started. And I was always working jobs in the summer and stuff like that. But then I’d say to just make the answer somewhat brief, my first job out of college was working with my brother Thomas and his partner, Mark. They co-founded an information business in New York as an information services company.

And the company makes it easy for professional investors to speak to experts as part of analyzing companies and studying companies and making good investment decisions. And, you know, it typically gets referred to as like a technology enabled information services company. And to make that, you know, sort of long story short, that was an incredibly successful and rapidly growing business. I happened to just be lucky. My brother was starting it. I was their first intern and I was at the company kind of shortly after day one just as an intern. And then I went there right out of undergraduate school and I worked there for about six years.

And over that time, the company grew from almost no people and no customers to a couple hundred million in sales and close to a thousand employees. And I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. And I tried to just sort of hang on to the rocket ship and do my best work. But that was kind of where things got started for me. That was when I had a great experience. That was my first experience like being part of a fast growing company. I was just like, this is an incredible career path. This is an incredible way to spend your career is trying to either launch or be part of fast growing companies. I left and went to graduate school.

I went to Stanford for graduate school. Obviously Stanford’s like, you know, in the center of Silicon Valley. And so it’s just tech, tech, tech, tech all day, every day. And I went in 2006 when I was there, finished in 2008. So, you know, that was like SaaS and Salesforce.com and like web 2.0 was kind of taking over and the first generation of really successful, so, you know, sort of software as a services businesses were really taking off. It was not just salesforce.com, but a lot of other sort of first generation, excellent cloud businesses were getting started at that time. And Axial came about because I was working part-time for a private equity firm that was investing in private companies.

And I was here in Stanford and it was tech, tech, tech and cloud and software and internet. And then I was working for this private equity investment firm as a part-time associate and a summer associate. And the, certainly the hardest part of the whole job seemed to be centered around finding opportunities, finding opportunities, finding deals. That was a huge bottleneck. It is a huge bottleneck for investors and private companies. The sourcing process is super, super complicated, super challenging and totally mission critical.

And to make a long story short, instead of going into private equity out of graduate school, Axial was born in February of 2009. And the original goal of the business was to make it easier for professional investors and private companies to find great deals. It’s evolved since then, and I think our mission has expanded, but the day one mission of the company was to sort of solve this very specific pain point for investors and private companies.

Okay, well, we’re going to get into it in more detail in a minute, but before we go there, let’s address the management blueprint question, which is kind of the theme of this podcast. Sure. So on our pre-interview, we talked about the North Star framework that you have used,  so can you tell me and our listeners a little bit about the North Star framework, what is it about and how does it work?

So the North Star framework is something that I learned about. It is definitely not my invention. I learned about it from a company called Amplitude. And Amplitude is a software company that helps businesses study the usage of their products by their users in really, really rich and really, really deep ways and tries to help companies understand what are the important moments in a customer’s journey when they’re using your software platform and how can you instrument your business really intelligently around those key moments in their journey and build a better business and a better set of products as a result of that.

And so the company’s name is Amplitude and they wrote this book called the North Star Playbook. And I had heard about Amplitude and some of the work that they were doing and I just dove in really deep. This was about two and a half years ago. And I downloaded the book, they made the book free, like in a PDF format, you didn’t have to buy it. And I started studying the elements of the Northstar metric and the framework. And what I really, really liked about the Northstar metric as a management blueprint were two things.

The first is the Northstar metric is a metric. It’s a non-financial metric. It’s an operational metric. And I think that building a business around a non-financial metric is, I don’t think you should do it in isolation, but I think it’s an incredibly important aspect of the way that you build a business is building it off of operational metrics and not just financial metrics. The second aspect of the metric that I really, really liked and that took me a while to sort of understand how to apply it to Axial is that the goal of the metric is to be very difficult for you and for your organization to be able to game, to game the metric.

And one of the interesting challenges associated with that is when you have a metric that can’t be gamed by your organization, one of the challenges that you sometimes run into is your organization says, I can’t control this metric. So why are you building the organization around this? I don’t have agency over this metric and I can’t control it. But ultimately, I think that a mature organization needs to realize that there is only a certain amount that they can control, but that the customer really is focusing on what is valuable to them.

When you can’t game a metric inappropriately, I think it’s a more enduring metric. I like the term North Star because it’s like this, it has this, you know, this notion of being, you know, really enduring. And when your team cannot game a metric, but they still need to be focusing on and driving that metric, I think that it, it just creates the right alignment between delivering what is valuable for customers, and figuring out how do you maximize the company’s agency to be able to drive that even if they can’t game it. So it’s called the Northstar metric.

It typically applies more to software businesses in the context of how they introduced it, but I actually think that it’s not a software business metric. I think that lots of companies can employ a Northstar metric framework, even if they’re not software companies. And I’ll just add like, you know, one more aspect of it. And then I’ll, you know, we can, you know, dive in deeper or move around from there. What the Northstar metric calls for is the metric itself.

The Northstar metric itself is, you know, it’s what you align your organization against and it’s not a gameable metric, but then what they create is a set of what are called input metrics. And the input metrics represent the things that your team can control. And the hypothesis is that the input metrics are the primary drivers of the North Star metric. So the North Star metric is not gameable and you can’t influence it directly. But if you break the problem down and you look at, okay, well, what are the input metrics that drive the North Star? You begin to realize that there are a set of metrics that are within your team’s control and you can build a hypothesis that says, okay, well, if we drive these input metrics, those metrics collectively will move the North Star metric in the direction that we want it to move.

A North Star metric is more than a goal; it's a compass that guides organizations towards meaningful customer value, steering businesses by non-financial, operational markers. Click To Tweet

Awesome. So give me the example. I’ve been dying to ask this.

Yeah, so.

So, I can imagine in a sales organization, we have the same situation that you cannot directly control the closing of the sales or the lending of customers, but you can do all the activities that will result in more customers and more sales. So give me the example. If you can share yours, that would be the best.

I’m most familiar with ours. So I’ll share it. I mean, our North, the North star metric for Axial is the total rolling number of members who have signed an LOI through the Axial platform. The signing of an LOI is a term that’s specific to Axial. It refers to the number of buyers and sellers that have signed a formal agreement to execute the purchase and sale of a company. So this is a perfect example of a metric that we can’t gain. We operate a platform that connects buyers and sellers of private companies, and they alone are free to decide whether or not they want to enter into a transaction with one another. We can’t persuade them. We don’t have agency over that.

Maybe we could influence it, but we don’t really aim to. What we aim to do is create great introductions between buyers and sellers through our platform and maximize the speed with which they can ultimately decide to buy and sell companies among and between one another. But we can’t force anybody to sign a letter of intent to buy or to sell a business. We cannot gain that metric. So for us, that’s the North Star. We want to drive that number as high as we can. We want the total number of users of our platform to be going as high as possible in terms of signing these major, you know, these major legal agreements between one another.

And then we’ve created a set of input metrics and the input metrics represent our best thinking on how do we drive that Northstar metric higher. And the input metrics involve things like a quality pursuit. A quality pursuit is an action that is specific to the Axial platform in which a buyer not only pursues a deal that was shared with the buyer by a seller, but proceeds to sign an NDA on that deal, and then proceeds to access the executive information materials related to the sale of that business.

It’s not just that they pushed a button and said, I’m interested in this, but they have signed a legal agreement, which is an NDA, and they have downloaded a document which summarizes. It’s those things that we want to see those things happening with high volumes and high rates of efficiency because we believe that, you know, there’s like a causal relationship between that metric and, you know, and the Northstar metric.

So how do you influence that? How do you influence them signing the NDA and quality, you know, pursuing with quality?

So if you move one step up the funnel from the input metrics, you get to the work, the work of the company, right? So you have the Northstar metric, you have the input metrics, and before the input metrics, you have the work. And the work is represented in streams of work that occur every week at the company, whether it’s a roadmap and a sprint team that’s working on improving the software, making it easier to use, automating certain elements of the experience from getting a deal to pursuing a deal to signing an NDA. You could have a customer success team that is studying the number of customers that are at different stages of the funnel pre NDA or post NDA and build alerts and reports and monitoring tools that allow the customer success organization to intervene and make things easier for the customer.

And so what’s upstream from the input metrics is the work of the company. It’s, and there’s a customer success organization that’s working against those input metrics. There’s a product organization. There’s an engineering organization working against them. And in some cases they’re working to influence those input metrics like very, very directly, right? It’s like, there’s a really clear line between their work and those input metrics. And then other times, their work is totally critical, but it is further abstracted away from the input metrics.

So let me give you an example. We have a couple of cloud infrastructure engineers that work at the company. And their job is to make sure that the servers, the infrastructure, the computing platform that powers the whole Axial platform, that that platform is reliable, that that platform is up and working all the time, that security is improving, and they’re operating at a very fundamental level in the business. But they’re not directly touching those numbers or directly touching those customers of ours, but they are infrastructure engineers.

And if our platform doesn’t work, if our platform goes down, if our members lose trust in our platform, if security is an issue. So there’s a whole bunch of ways that you ultimately, you know, sort of have people laddering into and connecting with the North Star and laddering into, you know, connecting with, you know, with the input metrics. For some, it’s really clear. And I think in other cases, it’s like really important for the managers of the company to make the connection for the, you know, for the employees so that they see the relationship between them and the North Star.

It's important for the managers of the company to make the connection for the employees so that they see the relationship between them and the North Star. Click To Tweet

I have the sense that it would probably be possible to create your limit maybe maybe already done it but to create metrics that show how effectively you influence the input metric for every areas of the company. So there can be an actual connection there and not just kind of a managerial connection.

No, that’s right. I think, and just to be clear, you know, it doesn’t work perfectly the first time. You know, we came up with the Northstar metric and we came up with a set of input metrics. And then we looked at the input metrics relative to the North Star metric and if you looked at it over the course of time, you, it wasn’t clear that there was like a strong causal relationship between some of our input metrics and and the North Star  and get smarter and smarter about what they are because you don’t, you don’t always have your finger on root cause right away when you implement, you know, a blueprint like this.

I think you can make good educated guesses and you can be correct sometimes, but we’re actually in the process right now of fine tuning the input metrics and just trying to make them a little bit more causal because we think we’ve got some opportunities for improvement there. So it’s not like you can just implement the Northstar metric and all of a sudden your business is just on autopilot and everything is easy. I wish it were that simple. But the truth is that there’s a lot of uncertainty and you have to keep testing and back testing. And but, you know it becomes.

I guess it becomes a barrier to entry because you figure this out. This is the strategic thinking work that you have to do to do to figure out how to grow your business. The closer you get to the relationships, the more clear paths you will have to scale the business. And if it was easy, then everyone would scale their businesses. And you need perseverance and deep thinking about that.

Yeah, perseverance, time. You need smart people who really are interested in the problem and care about the problem. You need to get a little bit lucky and maybe you stumble into a really important input metric. I mean, you know, success always has like a whole bunch of uncertainty and luck in it. And, but yeah, you need to stick with this. It’s not the kind of thing where you can, you know, workshop it for a day and, you know, get it stood up a week later and everything is running. It takes some time.

You need smart people who really are interested in the problem and care about the problem. Click To Tweet

You need to get it instrumented, you need to educate your organization on what is the North Star, what does that metric mean, why does it matter, how do they connect to it. There’s a lot of machinery that you need to put in place in order to really get the traction. So you have to be willing to stick with it. It can’t be like this cool new management toy that you put in place and then you leave it on the side of the road six weeks later. You really have to invest in it. It has to be part of company presentations.

It has to be reviewed on a weekly basis. It really has to burn its way into the organization in a pretty comprehensive way over a long period of time. Like every Friday at the end of week meeting, we review the North Star, we review the North Star metric. It happens every Friday. If it’s going up, we share that it’s going up. If it’s going down, we share that it’s going down. It’s ruthlessly there every Friday. And we reiterate what is it and how do we measure it. And it’s a great scorekeeper, but you got to do it consistently.

I’m thinking that maybe that’s a good way to visualize the process of creating that set of differentiating activities that successful companies have by which they can sustain their competitive advantage. Because when you are looking for this kind of metric and how you drive it, you actually create certain solutions in the business that over time they stack up and you will have a bunch of them. And eventually you get to the point where you have something that is highly profitable, scalable, sustainable.

But by the time it became so complex that it’s for the outsider, it’s really going to be difficult to copy it because they would have to copy all piece of the puzzle, some of these which they don’t see. So, you know, when we talk about companies like IKEA, who built this whole organization about how to create this furniture, which is cheaply made, but can be assembled, can be put in a flat pack, and put in the boot of your car, stored in a small place. If you reverse engineer this thing to the supply chain and the design and all that stuff that Ikea put into it, it becomes super complex.

And I looked at their two largest competitors. One is one tenth of the size of Ikea. The other one is one twentieth of the size of Ikea. And they’ve been in the limelight, but people are not able to copy them because there’s a lot going on behind the curtain. So that’s a fascinating, fascinating discussion. So let’s switch gears here and talk a little bit about Axia. So you are talking about SMB and M&A and being your target market, how different it is from what you call middle market investment banking, like mainstream investment banking?

So, it is in my opinion, exactly the same and completely different all at the same time. So, M&A is about the purchase and sale of companies, public companies, private companies, big companies, small companies, right? And the transaction is the same, no matter whether the company is big or small in certain simple ways, but the way in which the transactions take place, the complexity, the quality of the expertise that is available to the buyer and to the seller, it’s all of those details, the conditions of the business, the financial condition of the business, the quality of the books and records.

So it’s like M&A is the same, you’re buying and selling companies, what’s the difference whether it’s big or small? The truth is that it’s just massively different for a whole bunch of reasons that you don’t really appreciate from the outside. But as a practitioner, it’s a totally different career. It’s a totally different demographic. The economics are different. So that’s why I say in many ways it’s exactly the same. And in every single way you could possibly imagine, it’s entirely different. Buying small businesses is, I think, one of the most easy ways to illustrate how the complexity arises. Buying a small business takes usually as much time or more time as buying a big business.

That’s a bit counterintuitive if you’re not in the market. Despite the fact that it takes as much time or in some cases more time, there’s far less economics available in the transaction. Because a business that’s worth $10 million, if X percent of a $10 million transaction, let’s say it’s five percent of the transaction. Five percent is half a million dollars, is available to pay lawyers, to pay advisors, to pay bankers, to pay due diligence. Now, if it’s a $100 million business, and it wouldn’t be a five percent transaction, but it doesn’t matter even if it’s a two percent transaction. Now, you have $2 million as opposed to $500,000 to spread around and to pay people to help make the transaction happen.

You go up to a billion dollars, 1% of a billion dollars, that’s a lot more than $500,000. And so typically what you see is that as the businesses get smaller, the complexity of getting the transactions is higher because the businesses are usually less well-prepared. It’s more difficult for them to get great advice and great expertise. The great advice and the great expertise tends to be up-market working on the big deals where a lot of money is. Then also, small businesses, just very often they have not maintained a set of financial books and records to a level of quality and to a level of hygiene that gives a buyer reasonable confidence that they know what they’re buying.

And when you become a big business, that’s kind of table stakes. You know, you’re a big $50 million business, $100 million business, you know, you’re getting an audit and you’re getting an audit from a good firm and they’re doing some good work on your firm. And so it’s just that financial hygiene and preparedness is one of the biggest deal breakers and deal wreckers in small business M&A. And there’s not a lot of obvious solutions to it.

So that’s fascinating. And obviously, I mean, I was in this market, I was helping small business owners to start a business. And obviously it was sometimes a struggle. Sometimes it took us 18 months, two years to close a deal. And we had to do a lot of support to get those businesses into the shape that they are viable, as I like to call them. But what would you say is the major delineation? So what is the kind of line of sand left of which it is still a small business and the right of it is already kind of a mainstream business or a middle market business. What’s the critical? Is it an EBITDA number? Is this kind of a preparedness state? I know it can be a combination, but yeah, let’s delineate. What would you, how would you do that?

Well, here, here’s a couple, here’s a couple delineations, you know, that are used in the trade. So the definition, I believe, of small business by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Small Business Administration are organizations with less than 500 employees. So that’s one delineation. In the private equity and M&A universe, there is, you know, there is a delineation of the market called lower middle market, upper middle market, and then middle market, or lower middle market, middle market, and upper middle market. The lower middle market tends to refer to businesses that have a value of somewhere between 10 and $250 million.

But there’s more than one order of magnitude difference between a 10 million and a $250 million business. I think the SMB category, if you just look at the way that the term gets used for the most part by practitioners or if you go on Twitter or LinkedIn, you follow along as conversations about SMB owner-operators and SMB M&A. It tends to be sub $10 million M&A transaction values, sub 10, sub 20. Those are some of the common delineations. On the Axial platform, we tend to see a substantial increase in interest in small businesses when they exceed, you know, like one sort of like fault line is, is a half a million dollars of EBITDA, $500,000 of EBITDA. That’s one fault line.

Another fault line is actually a million dollars of EBITDA. And so, you know, there’s, there’s, there’s different like trigger points and fault lines and you know, in it, but there’s no question that, you know, you can be a business with a million dollars of EBITDA, and if you have a really careful conscientious owner, you can have a much higher level of exit readiness and financial hygiene than a business that’s generating $3 million of EBITDA. A lot of it has to do with the owner, and the owner’s ability to and willingness to prioritize and to invest in financial hygiene and financial preparedness.

There’s no question that the bigger the business is, the more resources they can afford to put against this category. But, I mean, some business owners have just, they’ve just cared about their books and records substantially more than others. They’ve applied good discipline and consistency there for multiple years. And when it comes time for them to think about exploring an exit they’re just naturally in a more ready position.

There are other businesses that, you know, where the owner has been fantastic with customers, great with product development but has left the financials of the business lying on the side of the road and the business generates 3, 4, 5 million of EBITDA, but he or she can’t prove it to anybody. And that’s not a sellable business. So there are these demarcations in the market, but I don’t think that the demarcations correlate with the buyability of the business from a financial hygiene and readiness perspective. I think that they’re distinct. And I think they have a lot to do with the owner and how conscientious the owner has been on this topic.

In the world of business delineations, the numbers might define size, but the owner's diligence defines readiness—financial hygiene and preparedness often transcend the numeric thresholds. Click To Tweet

So what is XCL changing? So how are you bringing technology to disrupt or to kind of make it economically viable for institutional investors to look at these small deals? What what can you do or what are you doing there?

Well, we’re doing a couple of things. We have not figured out how to solve the financial hygiene and financial standardization problem. That’s an interesting problem and it’s a big problem. We have not chosen to bite off and solve that problem, at least not yet. What we have really focused on trying to do is create a standardized platform form on the internet that creates an environment where a willing seller and a willing buyer can be matched very intelligently based upon a bunch of data and can be introduced to one another at the right points in time in a confidential and permission-based, with a permission-based approach.

The internet is really good at publishing information quickly. And a lot of information that’s on the internet, the owners of the information are totally comfortable with that information being public. But selling businesses is not one of those things. So if you’re selling your house, you probably have no problem with your realtor putting your house for sale on Zillow. Probably have no problem with that. But if you’re selling your business, you don’t just want to always just have your business just up on the internet where everybody can see that your business is for sale. You have employees.

There’s just a whole bunch of sensitivities and considerations about a business that are different from selling other things or sharing other information on the internet. And so what Axial tries to do is create a confidential double opt-in permission-based environment for the seller and the buyer to both opt in before information and identity are revealed to the other side. And that’s a really, really important way to kick off a trustworthy conversation between a buyer and a seller. And so that’s one of the fundamental things that we try to solve.

And we try to solve it with specific software that forces the interaction to be permission-based and opt-in as opposed to a one-way blast or a one-way listing style distribution. The other thing that we are, you know, one of the other problems that we’ve tried to solve is to create reach for buyers and to create reach for sellers. So what I mean by reach is if you are a buyer and you’re looking to buy small businesses, you cannot buy a small business without having a conversation with the owner of that business. Everything bottlenecks around meeting the business, finding the business, identifying who the owner is, and interacting with the owner and the owner’s advisors.

There are literally thousands and thousands of intermediaries who are representing businesses. There’s no possible way that any given buyer can have a personal Rolodex relationship with all of those different business owners or all of the intermediaries who represent business owners. Over time, Axial’s platform, the number of buyers and the number of sellers has grown and it’s become a productive meeting ground on the internet where brokers, bankers and business owners can meet a lot of buyers in a permission centric way very, very quickly, very, very productively. And similarly, the buyers can meet and connect with willing and active sellers in a really, really efficient way.

And so what used to happen through thousands and thousands of phone calls, thousands and thousands of miles of, you know, airplane travel, there’s now, in addition to continuing to do some of that work, there’s now a platform on the internet where people can find and connect and be found by one another with, you know, the benefit of permission framework and a bunch of data that’s matching, you know, the right kinds of buyers and the right kinds of sellers. So it’s a discovery problem, it’s a timing problem, it’s a trust and permission problem.

And it’s quite complicated because there are many thousands of buyers and many thousands of sellers. And that’s something that’s more unique to small business M&A than it is to large business M&A. If you’re a large business, hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s likely that there is a much more finite number of relevant buyers for your business. And that’s not necessarily the case when you’re a small business..

Yes, that’s true, so one of the deals that we actually tried to close through XCR, I don’t know, eight or nine years ago, we had over 100 NDAs signed through XCR, which was a mind boggling number to me because when we did these deals manually I think we never got more than 20 and the ace for any of the deals that we had over 100 the NDAs, but we only got three or four offers, basically made the investors to be extremely conservative in their variations.

Well, that’s interesting that you mentioned that. I mean, one of the things that we, I would say that our fault, not our fault, almost doesn’t matter. I think one of the things that is really helpful is to keep on making the information more and more available to the buyer and more and more available to the seller. So one of the things that we’ve done since then is we’ve added more and more data fields to the platform. Now, one of the challenges is that sometimes the sellers don’t want to reveal certain data. They don’t want to reveal customer concentration too early because they think it’ll scare everybody away. And so then- This is short.

But the downside of that is that you go out and you sign 100 NDAs, but you only get three or four really serious bidders. And so, you know, was it worth spending all of that time getting all of those NDA signed if there were only going to be three or four serious and, you know, some advisors would say, yes, it is worth that time because sometimes you need to be able to tell the story and provide a narrative around the business. And I think some advisors would say, no, it’s just, you know, it’s not worth it.

Let’s disclose the information upfront and, and narrow down the funnel, uh, earlier in the process and save ourselves a bunch of time and cut out a bunch of conversations that are going nowhere. And so, you know, over time, getting both buyers and sellers increasingly comfortable sharing more and more information earlier in the process, at a minimum, it allows people to take advantage of that who want to take advantage of that. And those who don’t want to take advantage of it, they can continue to opt out.

But those are some of the things that we’ve tried to do because it’s so time intensive to sell small businesses. Anything you can do to shave time off the process, it’s very high ROI. And software can be really helpful in reducing the time that it takes to get the deals done. If you’re presenting information well to the buyer and to the seller.

That’s fascinating. I really enjoyed that conversation. So if some of our listeners would like to reach out to you or to go on Axial and experiment and try the role and role in membership, I don’t know exactly how it works these days. Where should they go? What should they do?

So, the website is axial.com. We provide free tools to sellers. There is no charge to begin using the data and exploring acquisitions, exploring exits, both for sellers. And it’s also free to use the tool and begin exploring the sourcing of deals on the buy side. We charge a success fee to buyers only if they successfully close a transaction. And so that’s the nuts and bolts of the business model. So you can use the platform at no upfront cost. It’s only upon succeeding that we charge. And then we’ve got a blog and some newsletters that you can subscribe to on axial.com if you just kind of want to follow along and self-educate. If people want to follow me, I’m on Twitter at Pete Lehrman, P-E-T-E-L-E-H-R-M-A-N. And I’m also very available for any direct message on LinkedIn, if that’s preferable.

Awesome. Well, definitely check it out if you’re into M&A, if you’re an intermediary or a small business owner that wants to test the market, or a buyer who’s looking for good quality add-on investments, or even just a private individual who wants to buy themselves into a business, I highly recommend XCL. It’s a great platform. Peter, thanks for coming and sharing your thoughts on the North Star metric. It started the wheels turning in my mind, definitely very exciting. And for those of you listening to this podcast, if you enjoyed it, please share it and subscribe and review so that others can also have access and stay tuned because next week I’ll have another exciting entrepreneur coming on the show. Thank you.

Thank you, Steve. And I’ll just say thank you for sending me a copy of your book about two or three months ago. I actually have read the whole book. I couldn’t recommend it more as a good handbook for business owners. So thanks for taking the time to write a book like that and put it out into the world.


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