Bill Prater | From Farm Kid to Over $1.3 Billion Worth of Business Deals
Smart Business Revolution

Bill Prater is the Founder of Business Mastery. He has raised over $1.3 billion for private businesses of all kinds. He was the Founder of Weatherly Private Capital, an investment banking firm that raised money for companies to finance new businesses, aggressive expansions, management buyouts, and M&A.

Bill grew the firm to over 125 people with offices in New York, Seattle, and Washington, and later sold it. Today, he’s a trainer, coach, mentor, and author of two books, Business Mastery: Dominate Your Market and Dynamic Growth.

Bill Prater, the Founder of Business Mastery, joins John Corcoran in this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where they talk about Bill’s entrepreneurial background and how he ended up founding an investment bank. They also talk about some of the clients Bill has worked with and the challenges he faced growing his business.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Bill Prater’s entrepreneurial background and the jobs he had while in college
  • Bill talks about working in investment banking, founding his own investment bank, and how he secured investment deals during the early days
  • The challenges Bill faced growing his business and the lessons he learned from the experiences
  • Bill’s strategies for getting investment clients to change their business operations in order to grow and scale
  • How Bill helped a construction firm scale from $10 million to $250 million in revenue
  • Bill explains how he helped a client in North Dakota find employees from another state — and how he worked with another client, Sarah, to triple her revenue
  • Bill talks about the peers he respects and shares his contact details

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Cofounders Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran credit podcasting as being the best thing they have ever done for their businesses. Podcasting connected them with the founders/CEOs of P90xAtariEinstein BagelsMattelRx BarsYPO, EO, Lending Tree, Freshdesk,  and many more.  

The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.

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Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:01

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right. Welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the host of this show. Every week I get to talk to smart, interesting, astute CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs, all kinds of companies. A few weeks ago, it was the co-founder of Netflix, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, OpenTable, go check out some of my archives. There’s some great stuff back there. I’m also co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And this week, I’ve got Bill Prater. He’s raised over $1.3 billion for private businesses of all kinds of shapes and sizes. He was the founder of Weatherly Private Capital, an investment banking firm that raised money for companies to finance new businesses, aggressive expansions, management buyouts, M&A, that sort of thing. He grew it up to over 125 people with offices in New York and Seattle, Washington, and then sold it. Today, he’s an author, he’s a trainer, he’s a coach, he’s a mentor, Founder of Business Mastery, and author of two books, Business Mastery: Dominate Your Market and Dynamic Growth. And of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25, where we help b2b businesses to get clients, referrals and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. I’m a huge evangelist for the medium of podcasting, which is why Bill, I’m glad to see that you’ve joined the ranks of the podcasters recently. How do you like doing it so far?

Bill Prater 1:55

Before I love it, John is a fantastic thing. I like the fact that you’ve got a pattern of weekly, and I do exactly the same, I think I might have emulated you.

John Corcoran 2:09

I’m glad to hear that. I think that more people should emulate that pattern. Because, you know, if you on a weekly basis are talking to smart people, nothing but good can happen from that. So if you have questions about it, shoot us an email [email protected] or our email or check us out at Bill, such a pleasure to have you now. You know, you started this investment banking service firm. And I’m interested to know how you ended up starting that because that’s not typically a starter business that, you know, usually that’s not the first thing that people jump into. So I’m wondering, were you the kind of kid who was out on the weekends, your parents front lawn, setting up a card table and selling lemonade every weekend? In other words, were you a born entrepreneur from young kid? Or is that something you you came to later?

Bill Prater 2:55

I was a born entrepreneur, I, I used a somehow early on, I fell upon the question about how can I? And usually the How can I wouldn’t be something guy, how can I make more money doing? How can I make some money, whatever. And so out of that came a series of, if you will, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship kinds of enterprises inside of companies, where I was able to negotiate John, a special compensation package for myself. And at the beginning, it was it was a it was really kind of small. But by the time I was halfway through college, I had enough money to be able to buy a brand new Porsche.

John Corcoran 3:42

Wow, that’s pretty impressive.

Bill Prater 3:44

Yeah. Now, that’s, that’s from being a poor farm kid starting out.

John Corcoran 3:49

Now, so that’s what I was gonna ask actually is, did you did you have much money when you’re going up is was that what inspired it to begin with not having money?

Bill Prater 3:58

So that’s a very insightful question, John. So I ended up being able to go to college because I happen to have an athletic capability, which enticed the college to offer me a scholarship. So I did that until I got hurt. And then that that gravy train was over. So I had to figure out how to basically work and go to colleges simultaneously. And so I joined companies, but right as at the beginning, I would ask the boss, how can I really enhance the top line value of your business? And they will say if you can only do this that are fine.

John Corcoran 4:44

So I’m picturing a young Bill Prater, 19 years old. What sport did you play football? You played football at the University of Washington.

Bill Prater 4:53

Actually, it was it was your close because that was after I lost my scholarship at Central Washington University. Got it. Okay, I went to University of Washington, great camera,

John Corcoran 5:03

got it got. So you, you injure, you get injured and then you’re going to work for these other companies and you go into the Boston use App, can I increase your top line revenue? Quite the precocious kid!

Bill Prater 5:12

Well, I was I was I was it was. So here’s the quick sequence, John is this. So I’m actually in the summer between those University of Washington in Central and that summer, I was out helping clear land. And so the guy was helping had a bulldozer, and I had my two feet. And so I was helping, if you will pick up logs and put them in a pile all that stuff with my bare hands. And then along when Along came a, an engineer, he was there on the property, doing land surveying. And he walked up to my boss, the bulldozer driver, and said, I got a better job than this for that kid. If, if I can have him get this jacket take to get. So I ended up working in land survey. So I was out with a machete chopping lines through the tree and bushes, the shrubs and stuff in the Washington State. You know, John, a lot of growth happens in a rain infested area like Washington. And then along came the end of summer at the start of school. And so that the latch there, I said, Do you know how to draft you know how to draw lines on paper drafting? And I said, Yeah, I did. And so he said, Great. So. So just after I do this surveying, I got to put it on paper. So great. So then I go and start out drafting for a couple dollars an hour, it seemed like, and with him, I ultimately negotiated piecework John. So we were doing subdivision envision a plat with a bunch of lots, I figured out that, that the owner of the company wanted maximum number of lots on a certain piece of ground. And so I would say, how many lots Do you think you can get? And he’d say, 90, I said, Well, can I get? Can I get paid for every lot? I find on this property over 90? And he’d say,

John Corcoran 7:24

Sure. So how do you find extra? Isn’t in there just like a certain amount of land? How do you find extra lots of land on on the fixed amount of property?

Bill Prater 7:34

Well, envision meandering roads and streets and so forth, and so on. So you need to have a design that’s attractive, as opposed to just city blocks, gosh, okay, so so the lots are going to be varying sizes, and so forth. So I discovered early on that, that there was an optimal way where I could combine design, and economics, and end up with one or two lots more, well, one or two lots for him were worth 40 or 50,000. For me, 10% of that was a big number. So that was our deal. And so, and I was extremely good at it. And because I had a good eye for design, I went on later on to work for IBM as a systems engineer. So I understood systems. And I understood basic economics. And so absolutely. 

John Corcoran 8:29

And I absolutely see the budding investment banker coming out here, for me from a young age. So you ended up founding an investment banking firm. And you’d worked in some kind of investment management before that correct. Right.

Bill Prater 8:45

So my quick sequence was a job with IBM, well, after this job I described in this engineering company, I got a real job. It wasn’t it was I had a real job, but I didn’t know. So I went to IBM, and spent eight years at IBM and discovered John that I was not cut out at all for being involved in, in corporate America. Although I was on a fast track, and I got promoted a three or four times in those eight years. I really didn’t like it at the end of the day. So I got involved in with an investment company ultimately became one of the one of the eight partners that own this company. And then I resigned from that, realizing that in addition to working, not liking working for corporations, I also didn’t like partners. And so that’s when I founded my investment back.

John Corcoran 9:42