On Helping Entrepreneurs Buy And Sell Businesses

Published: April 6th, 2021
Marla Janine DiCarlo
Founder, Raincatcher
from Denver
started May 2016
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My name is Marla DiCarlo, and I am the co-owner and CEO of Raincatcher. Raincatcher, LLC helps entrepreneurs buy and sell remarkable companies. Headquartered in Denver, Colo., Raincatcher guides entrepreneurs through the business buying and selling process to get the maximum value for their business. They are real entrepreneurs themselves who believe small business owners and their clients are the heartbeat of America and deserve their chance at the American dream. Raincatcher uses the latest technological advancements and integrated digital marketing to connect the best buyers with its sellers. They provide exit planning services as well as bringing merger and acquisition practices to their brokerage, transforming any size business into ready-to-sell enterprises.

For small to medium-sized business owners ready to sell now or in the next couple of years, Raincatcher offers industry-leading proprietary valuation resources and proven guide maps to help through the selling process. We have the most robust and integrated marketing strategies for promoting your business and finding the ideal buyer.

We close 65% of the deals we list for sale, where the industry average for most of our competitors is they sell only 30% of the deals they list. 75% of our deals sell to buyers within our database, which comprises over 8,000 pre-screened and vetted buyers.


What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

Raincatcher CEO Marla DiCarlo is one of the inspirational leaders at Raincatcher. The “why” behind Marla's passion for service started from a young age. She began honing her business skills at a very young age too. Starting at only eight years old, and every weekend until she was 16, Marla worked at her family’s pet shop. She worked the cash register, helped with inventory and animal care, and practiced her sales skills. It was at that time, when she was 12, that Marla decided she wanted to be a psychologist. Driven by a desire to help people and understand the “why” behind their behavior, she eventually studied social work in college.

Marla may have never considered how she could help people with her business skills if it hadn’t been for the Director of Human Services at her college. The Director pulled Marla aside one day and asked her if she really wanted to continue with social work, versus business, as Marla asked different types of questions than those of her classmates. She also had a hard time separating herself from her cases. The Director not only saw in Marla what Marla didn’t see in herself but also helped her find her real passion.

Everyone will eventually exit their business but having a plan in place helps you to set a better road map on how you are going to get there.

Marla still shows up to work every day, driven by that same passion to help others. She inspires those with whom she comes in contact to live with integrity, love others without condition, and lead with compassion and service. She, along with the other leaders at Raincatcher, leads with their hearts and also strives to care for their communities.

Marla’s intentions are to leave a legacy that exemplifies her compassion and care for others. She wants to make a difference in the lives of others. Marla and the rest of us here at Raincatcher are leaning in to help others and hope to lead the way with a servant’s heart.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

Marla worked as an accountant primarily in real estate, development, and property management. She had a knack for standing out from her peers since she enjoyed helping others. It actually served her well as she moved up the ladder at various companies. She was invited to join the owner and founder of a real estate and development company that created a fund of about $500MM. They worked with business owners to either help them exit their business, sell or maybe merge with another company. What she saw over and over again when she met with the owner and the staff is how underserved they were. That’s a cliché but it was true.

Marla left the portfolio and started Kaizen Business Results. They provided CFO and Controller services. She grew the company to 200 clients. and had about 50 subs and employees., but they grew too fast. She didn’t have time to hire the right people and was just looking for a warm body. The vision she had for Kaizen was not what the company had become. Owner fatigue set in. Everything came back to me, every decision. On top of that, she felt responsible for these owners and companies. She needed to make some changes. She learned the power of documenting processes and process mapping. She learned how to hire the right people, why culture is so important. How to say no to a customer that she just knew was not a good fit. That is important too, the power of interviewing the customer.

She sold the company to a national company and was invited to join Raincatcher. Marla was able to take all of her previous experience working with business owners and help them by making sure that they’re not leaving money on the table or being taken advantage of. At Raincatcher they educate the business owner about the process and opportunities before making the important decision to sell their company.

When you make the important decision that you’re ready to sell and pass that off to someone else, you want to make sure that you’ve aligned yourself with someone who cares, understands the work you’ve put in, and is going to come alongside you and not just find the first buyer that comes in.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We are proud of our growth and success at Raincatcher. We have helped thousands of businesses and owners to understand the process of selling a business and why they might want to invest in value building before selling. Due to how we use digital marketing to market to small businesses who want to sell, we typically bring in up to 200 leads per month. We have spent a lot of time on our sales funnel to make sure we respond to those leads quickly and provide value on every call. We have a team of almost 20 employees and have expanded our services across the United States.

Our team has a common goal in which to raise the bar on how small businesses are treated when it comes time to sell. Many brokers treat the business like a transaction. They get the “yes”, sign an agency agreement, throw them up on a website, and how that they sell the business. This is why many of our competitors only sell 30% of the businesses that they list. We sell more than 70% because we put in the time to understand the business owners’ needs, explain the process, take time to understand what type of buyer they want to sell to, and their personal goals after they sell the business. We will not just take a warm body and we will never treat that business owner like a transaction.

We have also added to our products and services a “do it yourself” eLearning and marketing platform, called Sell By Owner, which allows the business owner to watch online videos to learn how to prepare to sell their business and then we walk them through the process of selling their business. They can then create their own marketing materials to list their business for sale and we show them how to prescreen buyers to find the right buyer for their business. It saves them a ton of money so they can keep more from the sale of their business.

Our goal is to help educate the business owner about their options to improve their business before selling so they fully maximize all of their blood, sweat, and tears building their business. Our promise to our customers is to always act with integrity and to put their interests first, before our own.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I found it easy to fit into the CFO role because I’ve always served a role as a CFO. I’ve always had to manage up. I’ve always had to collaborate with the owner and CEO and get my point across, I’m not a bobblehead. I used to tell business owners if they want someone who will just say “yes” I am not the right fit. I was used to being able to push back and help them and being part of the decision-making process. That wasn’t foreign to me. It was something I was very comfortable doing. What was different as the CEO, though I had an excellent team around me, I had to remember that my decisions affected them. I am the final decision maker.

When I first started as CEO I spent too much time collaborating because it’s who I am as a person. I love people. I love surrounding myself with smart people and finding the best decision. Sometimes a leader just has to decide without collaborating. At the same time, you’ve got to make sure that your people understand why you’ve made that decision and that they’ll follow you. That was probably the hardest transition for me, from a CFO to a CEO. It’s owning that role and being comfortable. I’m not always going to make the right decision, but I think through everything. Once I’ve taken everybody’s opinion into account I need to be comfortable with making a decision or nothing ever gets done. The company will never grow. It’s being comfortable with saying, “I thought about this, and this is what we’re going to do.”

The other mistake I have made and have seen other business owners make is feeling like they need to wear every hat. Everything does come back to you as a small business owner. However, there is so much power in surrounding yourself with people that are often smarter than you are in certain areas and being able to take that information and create something with it. A good leader is somebody that motivates those around them to be the best they can be and knowing when’s the right time to put the brakes on and put the gas on. Just like driving a race car. I use that analogy oftentimes when I’m talking to owners because a race car is cool. Maybe you’re driving a race car. That’s something fun. It’s not a minivan. However, you need to know how to control the race car otherwise it can get scary and dangerous.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

It is very important to have good financials. I feel it is very important for business owner to outsource their accounting. It means having someone input and reconcile your books so that you have good information in front of you broken down so you know your gross profit margin by services, products, labor burden. If you don’t know the percentages of revenue of your expenses, if you don’t have KPIs set up that are specific for your industry, if you’re not aware of how you perform with competitors in your industry, you are missing out. I call it understanding the power of your financials. Those financials tell you a story. It is the language of business.

The other important tool is to have a good CRM. You can bring into your company as many leads as you want but if you don’t have a process in place on how to first get in touch with that new lead right away you will lose that lead because those people are shopping, you’ve got about five minutes to get a hold of them. Some statistics show that even after an hour, it reduces by 50% of the probability of them even answering your call, after one hour. Imagine that many leads coming in. Ten of them come in at one time. It’s getting back to them timely, making sure that you’ve trained your staff so that they know the right questions to ask. These are busy business owners. They don’t have time to mess around.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

My most influential books are those that focus on leadership. I am a big fan of John C. Maxwell, like Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, and Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends & Influence People.

I also enjoy Brene Brown, Daring Greatly, and Dare To Lead. Of course, I also need advice on selling and negotiating since I own a business brokerage company. I enjoy books like Spin Selling, Built To Sell, The Challenge Sale, and books that discuss using emotional intelligence to sell. I try to read at least one book a week.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

Create a plan to exit your business from day one. Everyone will eventually exit their business but having a plan in place helps you to set a better road map on how you are going to get there. Also, you should align yourself with some type of advisor who has been there and done that, they know what improvements you need to focus on and how to make them. If you do that, you will be more profitable and you will build a business that is both valuable and sellable. You won’t be surprised by the value of your business. You’ll get the purchase price and terms you want. You’ll have multiple buyers. You’ll get the type of buyer you want. You’re more in control versus those owners that wait too long.

I often see owners with blinders on, they are focused on one path, tunnel vision only focused on what comes up day-to-day. I get it! When you’re a business owner, you’re busy. You’re thinking about, “I need to get payroll done. I need to get this contract signed.” It’s not that you’re doing anything wrong, but I hope you hear me. Remove the blinders. Look outside of the tunnel vision. Think, prepare and be proactive because it will be such a better experience. You will be so happy you made that decision when it comes time to exit your business.

Where can we go to learn more?

They can log in on Raincatcher.com. Click FREE Valuation. They’re going to fill out their name and email. The next step is a thirteen-minute assessment. If you’ve got all your information in front of you and you know your business, it’s quick. When you’re done, you will get a comprehensive report that gives the overall score of the business and the eight drivers or attributes that buyers look for when they’re buying a business. It gives them a score in each one of those drivers.