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Business acquisitions happen all the time – but usually, the entrepreneur takes over a successful business and scales it from there. Adam Jacobs is the managing director of Bubblegum Casting, Australia’s longest running talent agency. But, he took it over under interesting circumstances: it was failing at the time.
However, his story as to why he made that bold choice is unforgettable. His acquisition of the talent agency was a tribute to his late younger sister. Since, he has grown the business to great heights and tremendous success, expanding into partnering businesses, too. Here’s how — and why — he did it.
His Sister’s Legacy
“I first decided to take over Bubblegum casting because my sister was in it when she was a young person, and she was a very successful member of the agency – probably the most successful person in the agency’s history. She passed away sadly on my birthday and I thought this would be a way of memorialising her,” he shared.
“A lot of people do different things in order to memorialise a loved one and for me, keeping this agency running was what I decided to do. Initially, this business was going to be a small side hustle because I had a bunch of other successful businesses running and doing incredibly well. I was very proud of what I was doing,” Jacobs explained.
Quickly, the side hustle became his main focus. “Now, this business is doing tremendously well probably because I’ve fallen in love with the industry. I fell in love with the casting process, and I also think it helped that I had a really good and compelling ‘why’ for making the business work. It seems to just have organically happened,” he reflected.
Tips for Steering a Failing Business in the Right Direction
From this experience, Jacobs learned a thing or two about how to get a business back on its feet. “I guess when you decide to take over a failing business, you have to have a vision for what the business could become,” Jacobs explained. However, he clarified: “I don’t think if you’ve never been in business before that taking over a failing business is a good idea. I think you need to be able to see very clearly the systems and processes that you would implement straight away to rectify what had originally been going amiss.”
This is exactly what Jacobs did, and with great success. Whereas the business was originally making $28,000 per year when Jacobs first took it over, they brought in $28,000 (the exact same amount) the first month of operations. In addition to processes, Jacobs says that “You need to be able to see the opportunities. I realised that there were tremendous opportunities for expansion for growth. The business’s reputation was still relatively intact but it wasn’t doing well, so we rectified that and moved fast.”
Growth through Diversification Opportunities
Jacobs has repeated this process as he’s launched in other cities, with locations now in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney: all through his vision of potential growth opportunities. This led to diversification: “We launched another agency (Hunter Talent) which is the fastest growing adult talent agency in Australia. Then, we launched the photography studios to support additional revenue streams for the business and a clothing brand to facilitate other opportunities for our talent. This is how Bubblegum Casting works as the nucleus for further expansion into several other endeavours,” he explained.
Jacobs recently hired a general manager to oversee operations of Bubblegum Casting, but he continues running the others. “I still run the group which is Hunter Talent, Windsor Photo Studios, Byron Babies and another business as well,” he explained.
As for advice for other entrepreneurs who want to take over a failing business, Jacobs once again stresses that it’s a bad idea to do so if you’re a beginner. “You need to be bringing something to the table that can fix the business,” Jacobs explained.
If you do have the experience, though, now is one of the best times to act quickly. “Right now, the market is absolutely right for people to be buying businesses. You can also buy businesses from entrepreneurs who have almost given up. There are huge opportunities! I’m seeing amazing opportunities and I’m looking at my next potential endeavours,” he shared.
Jacobs’ story hopefully inspires you to look for your next potential endeavours, too.