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There are times to go deep into details and times to stay at the 30,000-foot level. I often say that I’m on a balance beam with my clients. Sometimes I’m suggesting they go deeper on due diligence and other times I have to help them avoid analysis-paralysis.

On the flip side, two recent experiences have reinforced that there are times when it’s critical to go deep. I have a client whom I’m helping structure a deal with an industry buyer. One of the first things I did was conduct a [limited] due diligence on the company, for my benefit. I need to know about the company, how it operates day-to-day and where its strengths and weaknesses are. This will help me as we discuss the deal with the buyer.

Dealings this summer with an intermediary on a business he’s listing have been exactly the opposite. Basic questions about the business, its financial statements and operations have been answered with, “I don’t know, I’ll find out.” To me, this is inexcusable. If you’re representing a company you should know the basics about the business, its assets, expense items, customer base, etc.

The same is true when operating a business. You don’t have to do everything but you have to know who does various tasks, when they have to be done, what it looks like when done correctly and how to tell if projects are offtrack.

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