Home Who is Jonathan Jay? A Full Review

Who is Jonathan Jay? A Full Review




This report seeks to answer the question ‘who is Jonathan Jay?’ and examines the evidence available online, in Jonathan’s publications and in the press as to whether Jonathan is the deal-making, M&A expert he claims to be, or just a marketing entrepreneur whose career has been built on the sale of seminars. Is Jonathan passing off someone else’s content as his own, re-packaging it and using his marketing and coaching expertise to sell training? ‘Who cares?’ you may be asking yourself. Well, when you hold yourself out to be an expert in your field, teaching others how to buy companies with no upfront capital and offering expert M&A mastermind sessions for hundreds and in some cases thousands (mastermind course) of pounds, there is an expectation that you are who and what you say you are. If you are making representations about your experience and skills, and taking money from people for imparting that knowledge, and such claims turn out not to be true, and result in a detriment to the customer, you are in danger of being found guilty of fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation.

Buying companies without risking your own capital is a compelling proposition as a seminar and holds enormous appeal for business owners looking to expand, entrepreneurs looking for a new opportunity and anyone looking to find a different route to success and financial independence. In assessing the credibility of an M&A expert offering such seminars, and before dishing out hundreds of pounds in course fees, would-be attendees of course want to have some assurance that you can ‘walk the walk’ as well as ‘talk the talk’ before they part with their hard-earned cash. They will want to have assurances that you are an expert in the subject matter of the seminar and that the content you are teaching is really based on your own experience, or if you’re teaching someone else’s that you acknowledge the source.

Who is Jonathan Jay?

In summary, they will want to know how credible you are and whether your claims stand up.  So, let’s go back to answering that question, ‘who is Jonathan Jay?’.


Looking initially at LinkedIn, ‘the Bible’ of who’s who in business, based on how they want to pitch themselves – Jonathan Jay’s profile[i] headline reads, ‘Acquisitions Strategist – No Nonsense Training on How to Buy a Business’.

Jonathan’s skills in order of number of endorsements are for Marketing Strategy (99+), Business Strategy (99+) and Small Business (98). After this Mergers & Acquisitions (32) and Copywriting (7).  Such endorsements over a period of years are generally a strong indicator of what an individual has focused on for their career. So, is Jonathan an acquisition strategist or a marketing strategist? Marketing strategy is his most endorsed skill.

[i] https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathan-jay-3556b230/

jonathan jay linkedin

Jonathan lists his current roles as Managing Director of Welcome Nurseries (Jun 2019 – Present)’ and ‘CEO of the Dealmaker’s Academy (Jul 2016 – Present)’.   The latest role, MD of Welcome Nurseries, is not in dispute.  According to Companies House[i], Jonathan set up this company on 3rd June 2019 and was one of four directors. According to the Welcome Nurseries website there are indeed 15 nurseries in the group[ii].

‘CEO of the Dealmaker’s Academy (Jul 2016 – Present)’[iii], sounds like Jonathan is an M&A expert, and this is absolutely what you’d want to hear about someone taking your money in exchange for sharing their expertise. However, Companies House states that the Dealmaker’s Academy (DMA) only came into being on 13th December 2017[iv], when Jonathan renamed an existing company, AMAS (UK) LtdSo, this statement at best misleading. The DMA did not exist by this name in July 2016 and did not offer any training until several years later, as we will see later in the report.

[i] https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/12027560/filing-history

[ii] https://welcomenurseries.com/locations/

[iii] The Dealmakers Academy https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/08903817

[iv] https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/document-api-images-live.ch.gov.uk/docs

Jonathan jay business buying review

Now looking at Jonathan’s LinkedIn headline, ‘Acquisitions strategist’ might suggest that this person has significant experience of advising clients on acquisition strategies or has at least acquired a significant number of companies in their own right. Whilst Jonathon may have acted in a business consultancy capacity, advising small business on marketing and how to attract more customers, there is no evidence to support the fact that he had ever advised companies on how to grow by acquisition before selling his deal-making training courses.

In ‘Marketing Secrets for Small Business Owners – Vol II’, published in 2009, Jonathan specifically states that ‘there are three ways to grow your business (there is a fourth – via acquisition, but that’s not the focus of this event)’. Jonathan had never made a single acquisition in 2009. Jonathan’s first acquisition, according to Companies House, did not take place until seven years later, in 2016, having completed the Harbour Club three times. We will explore Jonathan’s experience of acquisitions further later in the report (SPOILER ALERT: only 2 acquisitions at the point The Dealmaker’s Academy started offering training in 2018/19 and since then the only acquisitions have been nurseries).

The ‘ABOUT JONATHAN’ section of his LinkedIn profile tells us that Jonathan is ‘an acquisitions strategist, with 30 years of business experience and multi-million-pound exits’. Thirty years’ business experience sounds impressive on the face of it, and it aligns with reports elsewhere that Jonathan has been starting businesses since the age of 19 (he is now 49). However, in terms of multi-million-pound exits, this falls short. The first documented multi-million pound exit we can evidence for Jonathan was in 2007, when he sold ‘The Coaching Academy’ for £5m. It is blatantly misleading to state that he has 30-years of multi-million-pound exits – from the evidence available online, Jonathan has just 13-years’ experience of multi-million-pound exits, and in that time only one other possible exit could fall into this category: a possible sale of The Marketing Guild shares in March 2017 (assuming this was a share sale as Jonathan was listed as the Person with Significant Control), not registered at Companies House until 27th Nov 2019.  Jonathan is clearly misrepresenting the facts about his experience of significant exits. Clearly the truth wouldn’t sell M&A training. To say, ‘well, I had a multi-million-pound exit once, many years ago, and then I went on the HC, and managed to do two distressed acquisitions – and here I am now, asking you to pay me for my extensive M&A expertise, when all I really know about is marketing and event management’ would not have the same appear for prospective buyers.

Jonathan states that he was MD of The Marketing Guild from August 2014, however Companies House confirms that he only became a Director of this organisation in February 2015. Another incorrect statement.

Under the role ‘CEO of The Dealmaker’s Academy’ on LinkedIn, Jonathan states he ‘has bought and sold businesses for over 20 years’. This is neither correct, as we have seen above (13 years of business sale experience), nor consistent with the statement under ‘ABOUT JONATHAN” on his LinkedIn profile where he claims to be ‘an acquisitions strategist, with 30 years of business experience and multi-million-pound exits’.  This statement suggests that Jonathan has spent the last 20 years as a dealmaker, fine-tuning the strategies he teaches on the DMA, when the reality is that Jonathan is an entrepreneur and built businesses in marketing and coaching, which he later sold. As we have seen from examining the Companies House records, Jonathan’s first DMA style acquisition was in 2016 (Creare Communications) so this statement is highly misleading as to the extent of his deal-making experience and as to his career focus for the past 30 years.

The role description mentions private equity and trade sales and the whole profile is suggesting that DMA has been offering this type of training for 4years – and that ‘for the first time he is teaching deal-making’; as if this is a long-awaited revelation from a seasoned dealmaker. The reality, as we will see, is that the DMA has only been offering training for just over a year.

Looking further back into JJ’s write up of his career on LinkedIn, JJ is also ‘CEO of Richmond House Investments (Jan 2007 – Present)’. Companies House tells us a different story[i]. Richmond House Investments was only incorporated in June 2018, not January 2007. This is not just a little inaccurate – it is wrong by 11 years. This company was also renamed to Welcome Day Nurseries Ltd in May 2019, so the statement that Jonathan has been CEO of an investment company since 2007 is wholly incorrect. Anyone taking a quick look at LinkedIn might be forgiven for thinking that Jonathan is an experienced investment manager, with extensive acquisitions experience, and in so doing decide to invest in one of his ‘M&A’ training courses.

[i] https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/11421500

Jonathan Jay acquisitions scam

Even if this statement was supposed to indicate that Jonathan has been investing in his personal capacity since selling The Coaching Academy in 2007, it is highly misleading to suggest he has been a CEO of an investment company for that period. Again, this is a significant misrepresentation of the truth, and appears to be an attempt to seduce potential training course candidates to sign up for training on the basis of Jonathan’s significant investment experience.  Jonathon’s profile states that he set up The Coaching Academy in October 1999, however this was not incorporated at Companies House until 28th February 2000.  In summary, the only role accurately listed on LinkedIn is that Jonathan has been the MD of Welcome Nurseries since June 2019.

Jonathan’s company in administration, NABO (UK) Ltd (formerly Success Track Business Training Limited) is not mentioned at all, even though this one of his longest running businesses, set up in March 2008. Jonathan wants us to believe that he sold the Coaching Academy in Nov 2007 and 10 months earlier, had already set up an investment firm, and after 14 years of doing this is a seasoned investor and M&A specialist. This is not true.

Companies House:

Jonathan’s appointments at Companies House are outlined in Appendix 1 and are referenced further throughout the report. Jonathan Jay born September 1971 has a total of 21 appointments listed at Companies House[i]. To anyone having a quick look, this might be enough to suggest Jonathan has quite a bit of experience in acquisitions, however of these appointments, four companies were acquired in one deal, in what appears to be a distressed group acquisition – see Decaf Brioche companies (formerly Creare Communications et al), all now dissolved. 


Jonathon has written a number of books (more on that later) and his Amazon Author’s Bio[ii] provides a comprehensive overview of his career history as an entrepreneur and marketeer.

[i] https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/officers/w8VVk1rihuKTaAdYQAhobnRTMBw/appointments

[ii] Jonathan’s Amazon Author Bio: https://www.amazon.co.uk/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B001JP9MHM?_encoding=UTF8&node=266239&offset=0&pageSize=12&searchAlias=stripbooks&sort=author-sidecar-rank&page=1&langFilter=default#formatSelectorHeader

jonathan jay contrepreneur

This paints a very different picture of Jonathan Jay to the profile on LinkedIn discussed earlier in the report. He is described as ‘an accomplished businessman and marketing expert who always speaks from experience’, a statement that no longer appears to hold true, as Jonathan has been holding himself out as an expert in M&A, without the experience to back this up.  Whilst we are told that he has been running (NOTE: not acquiring) businesses from a young age, the businesses all have a strong marketing focus. His ‘current’ business is described as the ‘UK market leader provider of marketing services to small businesses’. There is reference to a business sale in 1997, when Jonathan was 26, although no details are available via Companies House or elsewhere online, and although the company name was not mentioned, there is reference to the sale of The Coaching Academy, which we know from CH was sold in 2007. Jonathan clearly now wished to be seen as a marketing expert and mentioning the name or nature of the coaching company might lead to the assumption that this was also a marketing company, rather than diminishing his experience as a marketeer.

Whilst marketing is distinctly absent from his current LinkedIn profile, Jonathan’s Amazon bio describes a highly successful marketing entrepreneur.  Jonathan is described as ‘expert on the subject’ of marketing, having been ‘advising companies on marketing since 1999’, run marketing seminars since written 5 books on the subject since 2003.  


Jonathan Jay has run his own businesses from the age of 19 and sold two of them, the first when he was 26 and the most recent in 2007 for £5 million pounds. His current business employs 25 staff in SW London and is the UK market leader provider of marketing services to small businesses with 60,000 members. Jonathan’s previous company turned over a million pounds in the first year and made a million pounds net a few years later.   He has advising companies on marketing since 1999 as he is considered expert on the subject as a result of his business track record. He has written five books, the first in 2003, all on marketing. He has presented TV shows for BBC2 and a business show called Now I’m The Boss and commented on business and marketing on BBC Breakfast, CNBC News and Sky News. He has been a guest on over 25 radio shows. At the Business Start Up Show, for five consecutive years he headlined on the main stage and appeared on a Dragon s Den style panel with Peter Jones from the TV show and at another event with Duncan Ballantyne.
Jonathan was for several years featured in the press advertising for the event and presented for TV advertisement for the event in 2010. Other TV Dragons James Caan, Hilary Devey and Doug Richard have spoken at his events. He has been featured in The Sunday Times (as a marketing expert), The Financial Times (as entrepreneur of the week), The Observer (where his company was cited as the number one in its field in the UK), The Daily Mail and The Daily Express all very positively.
He regularly is the guest entrepreneur at Young Enterprise awards ceremonies where he lectures and awards the prizes. He has run marketing seminars where he has donated over £10,000 to Great Ormond Street Hospital in entrance fees.
Mr Jay is an accomplished businessman and marketing expert who always speaks from experience. In 2010 he was the top European in an international competition to find the Marketer of the Year, held in Atlanta USA.


It is unclear as to the title of the 2003 book referenced in the Amazon bio, however in 2005 Jonathan wrote ‘Sack your Boss’ which encouraged employees to change direction and set out on their own. He mentions that he was working as a stage hypnotist in Ibiza when he read Richard Branson’s biography which inspired him to become an entrepreneur. Jonathan writes, ‘one way to determine whether there is money in that business is to find out if other people are making a profit in the same business’, and this was perhaps on his mind when attending the HC for the third time in 2015.

With regards his coaching experience, in 2003 Jonathan released ‘The Ultimate Coaching Course’[i] on CD, via the Coaching Academy. He was cited in a Herald Scotland article[ii] as ‘he makes no secret that his 3,000 UK graduates have each paid £2k to learn to become a life coach so they can charge £60-£250 per hour to chat with the discontented’.


Search results for Jonathan Jay on YouTube show that Jonathan joined YouTube on 18th September 2018, and he has 220 videos on his channel, which are all related to deal-making. The oldest videos are only 2 years old, meaning they were uploaded in December 2018.  This doesn’t support an extensive history of deal-making, when viewed in conjunction with Companies House results. There is no footprint of the Dealmakers Academy on YouTube before this time, and in fact there is a channel for ‘The Dealmaker Academy Library’ which was created in August 2019 but has no content.

[i] https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ultimate-Coach-Training-Course-RELATIONSHIP/dp/B00ONZ1ZZ2

[ii] https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/11903227.can-he-deliver-a-new-you-life-coaching-promises-to-make-you-thinner-richer-sexier-happier-abigail-wild-meets-the-man-who-has-cashed-in-on-our-dissatisfaction-with-ourselves/

jonathan jay youtube review

There is a YouTube channel for the company that Jonathan has taken off his LinkedIn profile, Nabo (UK) Ltd, and this references the Complete Marketing System, however this cannot be found by searching for Jonathan Jay, so appears to have been deliberately hidden.


A YouTube Channel With Videos Positioning Him As An Expert At Internet Marketing & Coaching

As we have seen elsewhere in the report, there are many other videos relating to Jonathan Jay on YouTube, but these seem to have been deliberately hidden in an attempt to hide any former experience as a marketeer or coach.  A channel still exists for the Digital Lighthouse, created in Feb 2014, and of a total of 31 videos, most of which feature Jonathan, the latest were added in 2016. The subject matter of is marketing and how to gain more customers and the description page plugs Jonathan’s book, ‘1001 ways to get more customers’.

jonathan jay digital lighthouse marketing


The Dealmaker’s Academy Facebook page is just 1 year old. Again, this does not support the proposition that the DMA has been offering deal-making courses since 2016, as Jonathan claims on the DMA website. Following the Fastrack course, Jonathan requests that candidates join the Facebook group so that questions can be answered on the site, and a number of private groups are set up for different cohorts, mastermind groups etc.

The Dealmaker’s Academy

The Dealmaker’s Academy website at www.thedealmakersacademy.com refers to ‘Jonathan Jay and his team of business buying and selling experts’ who will ‘train you in the steps to buying a business, growth by acquisition, how to sell a company and business turnaround’

Dealmarkers academy review

The site further claims, ‘if you want expert guidance on how to buy a business or how to sell your business effectively without business brokers – you’re in the right place?’.  There are logos for Sky Business News, The Financial Times, BBC, Huffington Post and RealBusiness on the website, which look impressive, and suggest that the business is highly successful and long-established, however Google searches for Jonathan Jay and The Dealmakers Academy on all of these sites has returned no results.

dealmaker's academy jonathan jay review

The site promises that DMA can teach you all you need to know about buying or selling a business, ‘the best way to borrow money to buy a company or how you go about buying a business with no money down’ and amongst others, ‘how to best go about valuing.’ ‘At The Dealmaker’s Academy, we can teach you all of this and more.’ Jonathan’s 2019 book, ‘Business Buying Strategies’ is offered free upon sign up.

Dealmaker's academy blog

The Business Acquisition FastTrack Programme

On the Dealmaker’s Academy Website, the Business Acquisition Fastrack Programme is advertised, with ‘Learn how to buy a business without personal risk in five days’[i], and goes on to say:

What if I could show you how to buy a million dollar/pound business – without any personal risk – and without borrowing money from the bank.

And what if I told you that right now there are probably ten times more business owners looking to sell than there were six months ago…it’s a buyer’s market!

And what if I taught the system I’m using to buy, on average, one business per fortnight for just 10-20 percent of the original asking price?

Suggesting that anyone, could be taught to buy one business a fortnight, in five days, is an audacious claim from Jonathan, given his limited experience of M&A.  Jonathan states that he has been in business for 31 years, and that he struggled for the first 10 years and didn’t make much money. He claims that after 10 years, which would have been in 1999, he began to buy other people’s businesses ‘for practically nothing’ and combined them into one ‘super business’ and went on to sell this to a private equity firm in 2007. He is clearly referring to The Coaching Academy which was sold in 2007. However, this is the first time Jonathan has ever stated that he started buying businesses in 1999, for very little money, and this does not ring true, as we know that Jonathan’s first HC style business acquisition was not until 2016. This would appear to be a clear misrepresentation of the facts.

[i] https://www.thedealmakersacademy.com/fast/

Jonathan Jay review

He then goes on to say, ‘so I did it again and again’. This is just not true – we have seen from Companies House, and from his own testimonials that his focus was always on selling coaching seminars and marketing strategy, not on M&A until many years after he had completed the HC course, where he learnt how to buy businesses for no up-front capital.  Jonathan is distorting the truth to position himself as ‘deal-maker’ with a history of M&A transactions dating back to 1999, in order to sell the Fastrack programme to candidates, at £495 per 5-day course (that is 5 x 1.5 hours of recorded footage). Once on this course, Jonathan will try to upsell the Mastermind course for thousands of pounds.

The terms of the training (shown below) are quite harsh and strongly biased towards the Dealmaker’s Academy. There is no money back guarantee, with the advice, ‘success is your responsibility’. Condition 5 states that ‘legal and financial advice is not offered or given by Jonathan Jay or the Dealmaker’s Academy Ltd’. Condition 6 states states this is a commercial agreement, not a consumer agreement – which may not hold up to legal scrutiny if deemed to be an unfair contract term, assuming an individual with no business background signs up for the course.  A company of genuine experts, confident in their content and abilities would generally not wish to impose such strict terms on their customers. Is there something to hide? A long list of dissatisfied customers, unhappy with the outcome, having forked out for an M&A course taught by a novice dealmaker?

Looking back over Jonathan’s career history, we know that he founded the Coaching Academy and ran this until he sold it in 2007. During this period, in 2005, he wrote ‘Sack your Boss!’

‘Sack Your Boss!’, was described as, ‘A compelling, incisive book written by a top business coach who’s been there, seen it and done it’[i] and ‘easily the best start-up book I’ve ever read’[ii]. Jonathan’s bio on the rear cover describes him as ‘Founder of the Coaching Academy, Europe’s leading school for personal and business coaches. He has taught over 5,000 people how to set up their business – and hot to make a success of it. A committed entrepreneur and presenter of the BBC’s popular ‘Get a new life’ show, he is also a regular conference and seminar presenter. Jonathan is proud to be leading the UK’s Sack Your Boss revolution.’ Clearly in 2005, Jonathan was well-known as a coach and start-up advocate.

In his Introduction, Jonathan says, ‘Six years ago, I started my own company with £145. Today, that business, The Coaching Academy, is worth £25m and has become Europe’s largest and most successful training schools for coaches.’ It is difficult to evidence whether this was Europe’s largest and most successful training school for coaches in 2005, or whether it was worth £25m, but we do know that it sold two years later for only £5m, so this feels like a wild exaggeration at best, and a common theme in Jonathan’s career. In this case, bold claims that due to his expertise the company he started with £145 is now worth £25m, that cannot be substantiated.

[i] Testimonial on rear cover of ‘Sack your boss’ from Jeff James, Editor of Making Money

[ii] Testimonial on rear cover of ‘Sack your boss!’ from Mike Chantry, MD of Hilite Direct Marketing Services

jonathan jay sack your boss

Jonathan’s Amazon bio continues, ‘He has been featured in The Sunday Times (as a marketing expert), The Financial Times (as entrepreneur of the week), The Observer (where his company was cited as the number one in its field in the UK), The Daily Mail and The Daily Express all very positively’.  

The Observer article describes Jonathan’s success with his coaching business and references his £10k a day coaching fee, and his plans to ‘take coaching into all the nooks and crannies of British life’. The article describes The Coaching Academy as ‘the UK’s biggest coaching school’, not quite ‘Europe’s largest and most successful training school for coaches’ as cited in ‘Sack your Boss!’. These exaggerations or perhaps misrepresentations appear to be a recurrent them throughout Jonathan’s career.

jonathan jay observer article

In March 2008 Jonathan founded Successtrack Business Training Ltd[i], which was later renamed as NABO (UK) Ltd. We note from Companies House, that the company is currently in administration and is not mentioned at all on Jonathan’s LinkedIn profile, nor on his Amazon bio, and the site www.successtrackonline.com is no longer live. There are however various references to the company online through some old digital marketing sites, including an article by Jonathan on www.wnwdigital.co.uk which is still live, entitled ‘7 things you can do now to cash in on social marketing[ii]. The write up on the author again refers to Jonathan as the founder of SuccessTrack, ‘helping business owners to make more profit in less time with less effort’. Even in the ‘About the Author’ there is a sales pitch for Jonathan’s new book and a link to the company website.

About the Author
By Jonathan Jay: Founder and Managing Director of SuccessTrack. Helping Business Owners Make More Profit in Less Time with Less Effort. Strategies like that can explode your small business quickly, that’s why you should go right now to
www.freemarketingbook.org and request a copy of Jonathan Jay’s new book “Marketing Secrets of a Multi-Millionaire Entrepreneur”, a 72-page book with hundreds of practical ideas. About SuccessTrack – www.successtrackonline.com

An archived web page for www.Successtrackonline.com [iii]from 2010 has a whole section on ‘Meet the experts’ (see Appendix 2). Jonathan is described as the founder and MD of Success Track Business Training. Again, the story of his ‘£50k in debt, only £145 cash remaining’ turned into a multi-million dollar exit in seven years is cited, and he is quoted as saying his dream all those years ago was to change people’s lives whilst creating a profitable business. In the format that appears to be consistently applied across all books, websites etc. the ‘Meet the Experts’ tails off into a sales pitch for training. Jonathan is described as a ‘multi-millionaire entrepreneur, marketing maverick, founder of the Coaching Academy UK, founder and MD of Success Track, magazine publisher’, etc. No experience of M&A is apparent.  The article tells us how Jonathan founded Success Track after selling The Coaching Academy, having had a few months off. This whole period is now absent from Jonathan’s online profile. Whether because the focus was on marketing strategy or that the company is in administration is debatable.

[i] https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/06522733

[ii] https://www.wnwdigital.co.uk/blog/internet-marketing/7-things-you-can-do-now-to-cash-in-on-social-marketing/

[iii] https://web.archive.org/web/20100202154521/http://www.successtrackonline.com/about-us/meet-the-experts/

jonathan jay the marketing secrets success track

In July 2008, Jonathan published ‘The Marketing Secretes of a Multi-Millionaire Entrepreneur’. This book ‘shows you dozens of ways to boost your bottom-line, multiply your profits and grow your business – at either no cost or very, very low cost!’. Jonathan is described on the rear cover as ‘a multimillionaire entrepreneur’ and ‘founder of Success Track’ who is ‘sharing some of his most closely-guarded marketing secrets…. the same ones that he used to transform his £145 start-up company into a multi-million-pound success story in just a few short years’.  This is clearly designed to entice business owners to sign up for the services offered by Success Track, in the belief that if they learn the marketing ‘secrets’ in question, they too will be able to build a multi-million-pound company. In fact, every page of the book has a footer with the words ‘FREE SuccessTrack Trial Offer worth £198 at www.successtrack.com’. Inside the back cover of the book a whole page is devoted to the same offer, ‘Two months free premium membership to SuccessTrack worth £198!’ in return for registering on the SuccessTrack website. This goes on to say, ‘for two months, receive top class business building information from the world’s leading experts’ and then offers free merchandise as part of a ‘new member kit’.

One reader says, ‘Jonathan has helped many of my Members get started with their new businesses; he has motivated them by demonstrating practical ways in which to get a business off the ground…. [the book] will give you a great insight into marketing techniques that you need to know in order to grow your business and make it profitable.’  Jonathan’s focus here was clearly on start-up businesses and growth strategies, not acquisitions or business exits.

In 2009, whilst running his marketing seminar company, Success Track, Jonathan wrote ‘Marketing Secrets for Small Business Owners -Vol II which promoted his company, marketed his ‘The (free) Strategic Marketing Weekend’ and offered tips on ‘how to recession proof your business’ and ‘turn your company into a sales and marketing machine that will weather any economic downturn – in one action-packed weekend!  Every other page headline reads ‘Attend a two-day free training course with Jonathan Jay’ and not one but seven of the final pages are devoted to promotion of this ‘free strategic marketing weekend’.  On page 91 Jonathan says, ‘Here’s the promise that YOU can make this happen in your  business’ and then lists various points about the secret methods taught on the course and states, ‘You see, it is proven that there are ONLY three ways to grow your business…’ and then refers to a fourth ‘via acquisition, but that’s not the focus of this event’.

The weekend is offered for FREE with the caveat that attendees pay £198 for the accommodation and Jonathan states that the intention of the weekend is to ‘select 24 business owners to worth with in our Marketing Mastermind Group’, advising that attendees will effectively be ‘auditioning’ for his team, who will decide which businesses will receive the most benefit.  The offer ends with ‘Your fast response is required…register now by calling…’and goes on to provide a phone number and the dates of the upcoming courses, clearly showing that this book is not intended to be anything other than a marketing campaign to sell the 2009 courses. This is evidenced by the fact that it is no longer in print.

marketing secrets success track

Jonathan owned www.digital-lighthouse.co.uk, a digital marketing company advising clients on how to attract more customers– strategies he used to build his coaching business.  This company, www.digital-lighthouse.co.uk , is cited at the foot of his Amazon profile, and the site is still live, offering free internet marketing strategy sessions. Two of the adverts are shown below:

digital lighthouse website UK
digital lighthouse website UK banner

In 2011, Jonathan provided Lessons from the Recession for the Business Leaders Book Club[i], and his profile again describes him as a ‘marketing maverick obsessed with helping business owners to reach their full potential’.


business leaders book club

Meantime, Jonathan’s company SuccessTrack Business Training Limited which had been turning over £592k in August 2009, had grown to £1.6m by year end August 2011, attributed to increased demand from small businesses for training to support them through the austerity period[i], and according to a now hidden YouTube video in May 2011[ii], partly due to Joanna Martin for contributing to an increase of £1m in sales. Jonathan claims NABO tripled their sales in the space of a 3-day weekend by hiring Joanna and openly mentions that NABO sell packages for between £5-25k and then urges viewers to sign up for a paid training course with Joanna. In the video Jonathan says he has been organising events since 1999 and is the founder of NABO, which according to Companies House doesn’t exist for another 6 months.

Seven months later in November 2011 Jonathan did actually rename his company Success Track Business Training Limited to NABO (UK) Limited – the Nationwide Alliance of Business Owners. The company appears to have run into some difficulties during this period, and a Rent Deposit Deed was registered in November 2012, year-end accounts were not filed, and a notice of compulsory strike off was lodged in August 2013 and later discontinued when abbreviated accounts were filed in September 2013. Turnover for y/e 2012 was significantly down at £955k (compared to £1.6m in y/e August 2011). Clearly Jonathan’s methods for growing a company cited in his books were not working for his own business. This would not look good on Jonathan’s LinkedIn profile. Perhaps it was time to investigate that fourth method of growing a company that he had mentioned in his books, to point out that it wasn’t a method he taught on this course. Roll on the Harbour Club.

[i] https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/document-api-images-live.ch.gov.uk/docs/HKBx_gU55ZF-yJ_enYcj_OMqy9uKeW6hi6Hp2K4v97M/application-pdf?X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Content-Sha256=UNSIGNED-PAYLOAD&X-Amz-Credential=ASIAWRGBDBV3BAJQPX4P%2F20201220%2Feu-west-2%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Date=20201220T204134Z&X-Amz-Expires=60&X-Amz-Security-Token=IQoJb3JpZ2luX2VjENL%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2FwEaCWV1LXdlc3QtMiJHMEUCIAqnYLO2%2Fh568jBbzS2ejum%2FcxlWRnYfGvPi%2FaVy09SjAiEA78EPtjDmQGTQkLdiE3LQ1IDmcoFbWcofBss12l%2FYYcMqtAMIexADGgw0NDkyMjkwMzI4MjIiDH%2BI8Gp1Ebqk6al5oyqRAz0idpTVbcs6xfrdqAu7lLy7uQ6KREZAtDjCaHNc7ycnrh7AmjBJqy2htXDuMqOe0yo4IKe2Eg%2BJpmVzYFZ%2BrG8Ah3FBnzZo3Lt2JB6tw7Cc5QZw0Oqycwp6YtSA3EndHK%2FRxHUPyfZlnq0Nj9fdFu6TU1c03P%2FJBaeU7BEIQSr%2BM1f7Vd2jXP1ZGqVUYDW0RQmckwmy9tu97zQfLCZN1L1nONDxr1TJyr2DJQM5mK7XbSI32GIfpM9nN%2BPV6g0gzBpsiD907wjGPQ3O6w4lZQQwdOzPQP26s1eL6uHy9dFFkFQa%2FEssrmM%2FHafdAe8lrO2vCsGKyB%2BxyXEVe1K8xo3nYoFOGX7d5f68dqdHZQ3FknGheZfoLBDm3KW2SRT%2B51sT3BfcQRm7fUzVhv3P%2FKFoROSYvUPjTngQ%2BXxpFEUf20EP2%2Bzobat3Lm%2BR1EdQnvVURTsi%2FiFEqHiDSGZRVZbpaYGqKwncEorCVu%2BpOThiKv28Q5T%2FWtftkqfN9E5hvX3sYVeADIeDy3ltUZ56FkzmMNCe%2Fv4FOusBsBXdbUxwfhxTieSb%2F1eKbLZedAFgxgxSzEyYTLuc3q1zhWS%2B2fB4FWc1S8xSs8y%2BNerK7UxPCudYVw7gzLg%2FvQI3dIH%2BNhdUz0ToOEnQiqmYXITgkhWtI4icM%2FPd5FZtmyq0LMZyMb1WMGSf0Tx99VVgBz1RF3Ew%2FkL4hcaM%2BdhEw01cFEFCi7LcS9wb%2BoZluYyVjGHNC9V9BvUPuiU4EqyQjt0BRjsSeRVhqEQeTQtA%2BWK9yzhLGmYLgD95uBHBG%2FGxP6OlxDFAobQcBvEz51SXW84TqG%2FQAnISql%2FjBtgdNq6iUeNoMq4dkg%3D%3D&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Signature=fc41aa9eb5d1d580b83bfb20b9a49d483d3da2ba87a60cdb27e489fa6fa3253d

[ii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za0xQivSs3s

jonathan jay nabo uk

During 2012 Jonathan attended the Harbour Club (HC), a training course set up in 2009 by Jeremy Harbour and whose objective was to teach delegates a number of deal-making strategies to buy businesses for no money down. Jonathan was hugely inspired by the content, and at a time when his company was clearly struggling, he returned for a second time the same year, this time bringing his SuccessTrack team along with him. Jonathan provided a written testimonial ‘Absolutely outstanding! Worth 10 times the fee.’ after the course, and stated he was Director of Nabo (UK) Ltd. Also, in 2012, Jonathan provided a video testimonial in the form of an interview with Jeremy Harbour.[i]

Also, in 2012, Jonathan was included in the Marketing Hall of Fame in Jurgen Wolff’s book, Marketing for Entrepreneurs, again described as an ‘entrepreneurial success because he worked out how to find the people most likely to be interested in what he was offering,’ His success story with the Coaching Academy, as to how he ‘took £145 in cash and spent it on marketing’ and later turned this into a multi-million-pound company was outlined.

[i] https://www.harbourclubevents.com/video-testimonials/

marketing for entrepreneurs jonathan jay

Although turnover was down to £829k for NABO in the y/e August 2013, profits were up significantly. However, the accounts mention[i] an unexpected cost incurred to defend a vexatious claim by a competitor, which was ultimately defended and struck out.  Although details are not provided, this is a public record of the fact that Jonathan has previously been challenged by a competitor.

In March 2014 NABO published a new book by Jonathan (some versions appear to have been co-written with Chris Cardell, Mike Yates and John Danbury), ‘1001 ways to get more customers’. There was no write up on Jonathan or his background but reference was made to this book being ‘from the creators of ‘The Complete Digital Marketing System’ and on every page footer a reminder ‘to apply for your internet marketing strategy session worth £199 where we show you how everything in this book can be done for you, go to www.ClaimMySession.com’. Again on the final page an advert to draw readers into the next stage, a FREE strategy session, ‘If you’re ready to take the next step now and see just how quickly you can transform your website, your online marketing and your profits then apply for your FREE face to face internet marketing strategy session worth £199, Simply head to www.ClaimMySession.com.’

[i] https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/document-api-images-live.ch.gov.uk/docs/OELwnG2whahxo01nXLFchFzapXXjyjcsG4_lV087BN8/application-pdf?X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Content-Sha256=UNSIGNED-PAYLOAD&X-Amz-Credential=ASIAWRGBDBV3HWRD5275%2F20201220%2Feu-west-2%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Date=20201220T212403Z&X-Amz-Expires=60&X-Amz-Security-Token=IQoJb3JpZ2luX2VjEND%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2FwEaCWV1LXdlc3QtMiJGMEQCIGaYMBOxpv3hkTCQt7cS8mKIvAQDrt3m8nS%2BIIPvgljCAiAwhSMY%2BcQlQLWSJSjQJVVPgsQeMM7r7T4mkBxvJi7e3yq0Awh5EAMaDDQ0OTIyOTAzMjgyMiIMUw%2B8ki5VjmedvWBRKpEDsQt3lXtLg%2BiWMwzGnFIiJyCtMfuaIgTpyyLfFRLiTukdRGom1eu0%2ByzI8etOtARbZhO7HQo74AaZIUFu0Okj6gCaJ56TOzTW3I%2BhkPK7sEX%2FgW605LcbkGqvoGCA%2B0Vhr3oTZ9WSivC5TuAqZADuWwdZDKvRE5%2FtLB4PH%2Bq7htq%2BpzxibsLr5A3vuR43%2B10UIpGS7whRj7aFaRqvNdd12XonfSmfzexfr18pRSLpEf4GC0o%2Boj3vXnlrlJeAw2LCJCc3TUoYAFvWGTjzpGCra8d1DmTfxjQMXjqQGEzJCEx%2B%2BBuV9uBjGZqaxogJJUjFzlcOW%2F3bXZfXdKYvrjWoLDyWlqE5k8SXuwK4OpECeVvH06iknKpWJavRz14RoZs3Jy09EAVYYyXt35nAIqHsV5mZAJUXs32%2FsmuCgrr8x8YUswQfkz77Y1%2FBmfr8tNws0q1oKFzq4YrTOeZCUmlXy%2FBpXW8zYA158CbtgHHB8pSU7u4qbJ7uXoHp%2BwNsFlHUVAv0TEolE4cH41mQxF%2FrfeUwhfD9%2FgU67AGT8GSQZgvwSHn%2F%2FteT4JVBh288Z22%2B82AVY%2B8pPTfRlPy0b3xibp4a1NRbNhHvPo74cCU9rfDBcfvTHdLCraO5i1apdTKQyQFpmCzItxxwkPeX%2Bg4mZu3IhhdMOnvIW4xLwokKGG4vjXJcU0Iel6WPJcKW%2B7jwFsFprid8GpeJKDDZraIpJ3AQoL3B0pzm48av1rQXFLxspzBY0%2FHsu6ZC29bBwNyO8EAm%2FOj3FnEr5dV%2FeWRzBBi206giqgD0j%2BcN7GRe%2FmYMNu1LgMH4rW%2BXargHRXrFuJRYtM%2Bu84Zz6MfKJ8Cl2tc1L2Yv9g%3D%3D&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Signature=bb3cd61ef63876e66099842539be79c1d428cabf07668f8fb5f072d0b6f6eb81

1001 ways to get more customers

Later in 2014 an interview with Jonathan Jay was published in ‘Secrets of the self-made millionaires’. The article referenced Jonathan’s latest book, ‘1001 ways to get more customers’ and described his background was in running ‘seminars, training programs and business development programs for small businesses’ and how this developed into the ‘complete digital marketing system’. Jonathan is referenced as ‘MD of Digital Lighthouse, a company specialising in marketing to small and medium sized businesses’.

Twice in the article Jonathan mentions that a key breakthrough for him was identifying who had the customer list that he wanted. We will see later in the report that this is likely one of the reasons that he attended the HC three times – firstly because he needed content for his training, to try and give his struggling company a boost, and to understand the type of customer interested in M&A so he could develop a training course to suit their needs.  A further turning point he mentioned was when he realised, on reading Richard Branson’s autobiography in 1996, that a good business is one that runs whether you are there or not. This is an idea that Jonathan and his team would have been taught at the HC, which advocates as a basic principle ‘working on the business’ rather than ‘in the business’.

secrets of self-made millionaires

See Appendix 3 for read this article in full

In 2014, at the time when NABO was not doing well, Jonathan set up a new company, AMAS (UK) Ltd. It isn’t clear what Jonathan’s initial intentions were with this company but AMAS doesn’t seem to have done very much for the first two years, and in fact submitted dormant accounts for the year ending February 2016.

In September 2014 Jonathan was still producing Marketing Strategy videos under the Digital Lighthouse brand.[i]  He was interviewed in an article for ‘Coaching Today’ magazine[ii] in 2014 (see Appendix 4) and tells how he heard Laura Berman Fortgang speaking in 1999 and coaching first captured his attention. Laura was a pioneer in the coaching profession from the USA, and a founding member of the International Coaching Federation. She designed and implemented the first training for trainers at Coach University and helped the industry take root globally. She set up InterCoach Inc in 1997, offering private coaching and running a training program for coaches. Jonathan explains he tried to join her course and saw the appeal of a business to train coaches when he heard all 500 tickets had sold out. Jonathan realised there was clearly a huge market for courses to train coaches.  He set to work by contacting the coaching experts he had interviewed for The Achievement Report (a magazine he published), who agreed to provide the content and develop a course structure that he then marketed and filled.  Jonathan’s input was that of a marketing entrepreneur rather than a coaching expert. Practically overnight he had gone from being a stage hypnotist to becoming a successful coaching entrepreneur, by spotting an idea that someone else was already delivering and setting up in competition.

Following the HC courses he had attended in 2012, Jonathan returned to HC a third time in 2015. He had spotted a golden opportunity in the content that Jeremy was teaching about buying a business for no money down, and saw how successful the Harbour Club had been over the years.  As he had done years earlier, emulating the concept that Laura Berman Fortgang was already successfully offering through InterCoach, with The Coaching Academy, Jonathan had again spotted someone else’s huge pool of customers and the life changing proposition that HC offered to them. The HC content and the type of customer that the course attracted were a perfect match for Jonathan’s marketing and seminar delivery experience and it seems a seed was sown for later propagation.

In February 2015 Jonathan became a Director of the Marketing Guild, a position he held until he sold his shares to the Thrive Media Group in late March 2017. During this time, Jonathan attended HC for a third time in 2015, and wrote another marketing book in December 2016, ‘Turn your website into a sales machine in just 30 days’ (see Appendix 5). Following this third HC visit, Jonathan completed his first HC style acquisitions in December 2016. Both were distressed companies: Creare Communications (which he later renamed to Decaf Brioche) and Wise Spend Ltd, both of which are now dissolved.   As we noted earlier in the report, in December 2017 Jonathan renamed AMAS to The Dealmaker’s Academy. This sounded like Jonathan was going into the M&A training business, but with what experience of mergers or acquisitions? 

Following the sale to Thrive Media Group in March 2017, Jonathan had clearly decided that he would take a different approach and follow the HC method of business ownership. He wrote the following articles and posted them on LinkedIn. In August 2017 he published, ‘Why I’ll never start another business’, and in September he wrote ‘The fastest way to become a business owner’. At this stage Jonathan was clearly taking a new direction as a dealmaker.

2017 – LinkedIn – Why I’ll never start another business

This 2017 LinkedIn article emulates the HC principles, and we can see Jonathan starting to reinvent himself and move away from starting businesses. Jonathan mentioned, ‘a few years ago I decided to do things differently’ and alludes to letting others take care of the start-up phase and starts positioning himself as a dealmaker.

[i] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKuBFQvoRP8

[ii] https://feelbettereveryday.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/ctjonathanjay.pdf

jonathan jay linkedin post start another business
jonathan jay linkedin post continued

2017 – LinkedIn article – The fastest way to becoming wealthy

In the second LinkedIn article posted in 2017, Jonathan again says he started acquiring and merging companies upon realising a few years ago that he could become a wealthy business owner without the hard work involved in starting a company. This material is straight out of the HC course notes, but no credit is given to Jeremy Harbour or the HC, and Jonathan is silent as to how he came to this realisation.

linkedin post jonathan jay dealmaker's become a wealth business owner

Jonathan clearly had deal-making in his sights, but he still had no experience to call upon.

In late December 2017 Jonathan changed the name of AMAS (UK) Ltd to The Dealmaker’s Academy, and in June 2018 set up Richmond House Investments Ltd.  However, it was not until April-June 2018 that Jonathan started posting videos on YouTube about on M&A topics under The Dealmaker’s Academy brand: ‘What it takes to buy a business’[i], ‘Growing your business by acquisition’[ii], ‘Make two offers’[iii] and ‘Why would someone sell to you?’[iv]. Jonathan references the training programme he is offering under the DMA brand and that candidates may choose to work with Jonathan beyond that, clearly a plug for the Mastermind course he plans to upsell, using the same model he has used to sell seminars in training coaches and marketing strategy for his whole career. At this stage it was clear no courses had been run, and Jonathan had still only completed 2 acquisitions.

[i] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibxWzIwiKrA

[ii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kAfMeMdlbQ

[iii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sA58dGLDyk

[iv] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a73gP5DLd9A

the dealmakers academy ltd companies house

Jonathan wrote ‘How to buy and sell great businesses without risking your own money’ in early 2018, under the brand of the Dealmaker’s Academy. The rear cover copy describes Jonathan as ‘a multimillionaire dealmaker’ and states that in this book ‘Jonathan Jay reveals how you can transform your finances by becoming a dealmaker like me’. At this time, we know that Jonathan has still only completed 2 acquisitions, but he has developed a ’12-step deal-making blueprint that you can start using immediately’. The final fourteen pages are devoted to advertising the Mastermind course, and there it is on page 107, an invitation to join Jonathan Jay’s First Ever Dealmaker’s Mastermind. Either this is a blatant lie, or the copy on the DMA website is a lie. 

how to buy and sell great businesses by jonathan jay review

Jonathan claims on the Dealmaker’s Academy website that the very first Mastermind Group took place in 2016 and goes on to say this ‘was a group of dealmakers who had already done deals’. This suggests to the uninformed that the company were running Mastermind sessions from 2016.  Which of these is correct – either the first Mastermind Programme took place in 2016, as Jonathan stated on the DMA website, or had not yet taken place when ‘How to buy and sell great businesses without risking your own money’ was published in early 2018?

dealmakers academy review

Given that AMAS was dormant for part of 2016.[i] (see CH extract below), and there is no marketing from what was then AMAS, for a Mastermind Programme in 2016, it seems the book may be closer to the truth, that no Mastermind Programme had taken place before 2018.

[i] https://s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/document-api-images-live.ch.gov.uk/docs/ci23JsnC01oPoVFDU-bBRmB4mtFDNnegCqV1P2KxDhk/application-pdf?X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Content-Sha256=UNSIGNED-PAYLOAD&X-Amz-Credential=ASIAWRGBDBV3M4XBKCJT%2F20201219%2Feu-west-2%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Date=20201219T170615Z&X-Amz-Expires=60&X-Amz-Security-Token=IQoJb3JpZ2luX2VjELT%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2FwEaCWV1LXdlc3QtMiJIMEYCIQDeSdGAmOZuRkJpWmqCMYOSkHb95QzypWweut1%2F5rXYXQIhAPJXC5L9oAawQ%2FywZusgC46NYMRyBfxioKlA0Xy8anxPKrQDCF0QAxoMNDQ5MjI5MDMyODIyIgwOMkP2ro1SkCRufEAqkQNAj0NcZMqsj9%2BQKbVaDZNjqM4wd2t%2Bnc0UV%2B3CHbSIW90FM%2FpebKBPfAHko90cBsu6fKXaweFa7bVj1s9TYYjeVlO1mCB%2FEjHza5z71UVGqAFW2O%2F43H95%2Fm1uf4%2FLjDvzMnBPz%2BOE2S%2FpWSsDj1xUO2YCdJPOnXn%2B25ZjoOO3VIGVj7glYDKcyw4e7ArhvIhV%2FNXDscMAwLCwzbbDFcXESurmP7N2jBJP%2Fjxng7I1TsJqQfD8LPEH2PnX3iXBV442WM96WXkGE5XIIkFbQcL0zxfziBLhsDQd6h6SUZfwpR5YiNOMTqObA5u%2FR5AvbyKkCtBLJnOubfAhqOeMbePujt4qNvggid4G1y8P5vqVbHmx3KH1%2F%2FZQu%2FRkqBM08GOJ5%2Bsa%2BtJ%2BRoJZMjyPef%2F%2BQjeqjJ80v9uK7AvKbidN%2BUOBlKvfmwDP5A2tihkM8Ac1TetVSN4AJJZFHLkDJt6plFQgsI12Ys3oGYjNfiHDei%2Btv9lFViLxMzzczXAHQ0ASL%2Ft9Y3eG8xK%2Fv3c5N%2F612jCQ1ff%2BBTrqAbpBrwym6Wg5mICPCrqwHRIfewVrZKvdeTJw4BQEiE8EY3p5UdBG0RO43aBjnzoLm6kzEV%2Fb8KSy9UueEOAV3J6yVDwyzQM4bm99upzuL50KSIuSkUlrUU1HvKHTcFwN4kIczhDBzQUqCzkUF%2By69RbBfRxqBpxjQlGEAjmoZpH9vV4zcolqDirV1LxTWanl27GIoaYQoELKnKerHuFwEfTQ2bSetEvlfJMW49ZcOfCivjNSk3as8faNYkfBfMes7q0c%2Fz6kCniZQU4Eb1bduP%2BfVvSQFCgD%2BqdUSFVU2dkXg7BWr0r9N%2Fnkeg%3D%3D&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Signature=027a7939fb072b88aa12795220f07de230921eac393b8103c6b817b91366c4cc

amas uk ltd

Jonathan is not only telling lies about the history of the DMA, he is also making up a false history of his own deal-making experience, saying on live TV[i] that he has been buying, merging, growing and selling businesses since he went through his first big business exit in 2007.

The Year He Tried to Reinvent Himself As A “Dealmaker”

During 2018 Jonathan was very busy reinventing himself as a dealmaker with 20 or 30 years’ experience (depending on what you read) in order to sell the DMA training.  Until this point Jonathan was a marketing expert and entrepreneur, he set up companies and grew them organically using his marketing experience. and did not teach deal-making strategies.


business buying strategies podcast review

Around October 2018 Jonathan started the Business Buying Strategies podcast[i], and has now created 100 podcasts under The Dealmaker’s Academy brand. Jonathan describes DMA as ‘the world’s leading training on buying and selling businesses – without risking your own money’. The podcasts are a mixture of interviews accountants, HR specialists, fund managers and other professionals working in the M&A space or case studies with deal makers.

Jonathan spent the latter part of 2018 building up his brand ahead of offering the first business buying training in the Dealmaker’s Academy, which is thought not to have taken place until 2019. Jonathan now had podcasts, LinkedIn articles, YouTube videos and his book, ‘How to sell great businesses’.  At this time Jonathon had completed only two acquisitions of his own according to the records at CH – the Creare group and Wise Spend, both in May 2016, so the marketing collateral was critical to building both his and the Dealmaker’s Academy brand and attracting interest in the seminars he planned to run.

By September 2019, Jonathon had made only two further acquisitions according to CH, The Childcare Personnel Company Limited, in June 2019, and Daisy Chain Day Care Nurseries Limited in August 2019.  At the time of writing, CH shows only a further two nurseries have just been acquired, Stepping Stones Alfreton Ltd in Oct 2020 and Old Hall Day Nursery Ltd in early Dec 2020. Jonathan states on the Welcome Nurseries site that there are 15 nurseries in the group, but if he has acquired all of them, either he is not a director, or they are not all limited companies.

With just two acquisitions to his name before starting the DMA seminars (the only acquisitions he would make outside of the nursery business), the title he gives himself on LinkedIn, ‘Acquisition Strategist’, is perhaps a bit of a stretch. ‘Marketing strategist’ or ‘Coaching people in buying nurseries’ may be more applicable.  The Dealmaker’s Academy is described by Jonathan on his LinkedIn profile as “a UK leader in training people to buy and sell businesses, without risking their own capital”[ii]Such claims are difficult to disprove, however there are very few companies offering training in this space; the first on the scene was the Harbour Club, which has been operating since 2009, and now offers courses in Australia, Singapore, the US and the UK. Jeremy Harbour has completed hundreds of deals, taught thousands of delegates, and does not make sweeping claims about being the market leader, as until 2018 he was the only operator in this space. Testament to his experience in the M&A field, and confidence in the strategies taught, he also offers a money back guarantee.

In March 2019 Jonathan recorded a live video with Business Connections Live TV[iii], now available on YouTube, entitled, ‘How to buy a business without risking your own cash’[iv]. His first piece of advice is to ‘get educated in how to buy a company, don’t rely on your accountant or lawyer’ – clearly a plug for the Dealmaker’s Academy. Jonathan recounts his first sale, the Coaching Academy, in 2007, and again states that he went on from there to buy and sell again and again and again, just as he states on the DMA website. This is factually incorrect. We know that after selling the Coaching Academy he went on to set up Success Track in 2008 and did lots of other things before completed his first acquisitions in 2016. Jonathan also claims that he teaches the lawyers and accountants what to do.

[i] https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/business-buying-strategies-from-the-dealmakers-academy/id1369703084

[ii] https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathan-jay-3556b230/ Under description of CEO of The Dealmaker’s Academy

[iii] https://businessconnectionslive.com/how-to-buy-a-business-without-risking-your-own-cash/

[iv] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZMxpMkUZgk

how to buy a business without cash jonathan jay review

In November 2019 Jonathan published another book, ‘Business Buying Strategies: How to buy a business without risking your own capital. Jonathan now describes himself on the rear cover as ‘an experienced dealmaker, buying and selling businesses for over twenty years’. In April 2020 another book was published, ‘Buying a business: 101 tough questions answered’ and the same write up applied regarding Jonathan’s occupation and experience.

business buying strategies book review by jonathan jay

2020 – Buying a Business: 101 Tough Questions Answered

buying a business 101 tough questions answered by jonathan jay review


Jonathan Jay is not who he says he is. As we have seen, his online persona has been carefully cultivated into that of an M&A specialist, with decades of experience and his Dealmaker’s Academy course content is based entirely on the materials taught in the Harbour Club.  He would like us to believe he is a seasoned dealmaker with 20 years’ experience of M&A transactions, to entice us to invest in one of his Dealmaker’s Academy business buying seminars.  Between 2000 and 2018 Jonathan was a coaching entrepreneur, a marketing maverick and something of a celebrity in the marketing and events management arena. He saw a golden opportunity in the concepts he learnt at the Harbour Club, and in 2018 reinvented himself as CEO of both an investment company and CEO of a deal-making seminar company, giving false statements as to his tenure in each of those roles, and as to the age of the companies in question. He states that he has been buying and selling businesses for over 20 years, and in some articles, over 30 years. The truth is that on the public record he had only two experiences of selling a business (in 2007 and in 2017) and two experiences of acquiring a business (both in 2016), at the time he started creating and posting his content, based on his ‘M&A expert’ perspective.

He started a coaching company in 2000 after seeing what Laura Berman Fortgang was doing to train coaches through InterCoach. Later in 2008 he started a marketing seminar business at a time when digital marketing was the fastest way to grow your business, and there was huge demand for his seminars from small businesses during the 2008-2013 economic downturn in the UK. Jonathan was ‘good at identifying who had the customer list that he wanted’ as he said himself. Jonathan is also very good at re-inventing himself. He regularly appeared on TV and radio shows as a marketing expert, wrote many books on marketing strategy and on starting and growing businesses organically. When he wrote his online Bio explaining to the world he was a marketing strategist, he wiped any details of his coaching experience. When he reinvented himself as an experienced dealmaker, he wiped details linking him to coaching or marketing.

In 2018, after selling his marketing business the previous year, Jonathan started to transform himself into a dealmaker on all social media platforms. All links to his past life as a marketing strategist and coaching seminar entrepreneur were erased or hidden, and he rewrote his entire career history. He started building a brand for the Dealmaker’s Academy, recording videos about deal-making and business buying and posting them on YouTube. He renamed his company AMAS to ‘The Dealmaker’s Academy’, posted some business buying articles on LinkedIn on ‘Why I’m never starting a business again’ and on business buying. He also wrote a book based on the concept of buying businesses without risking your own money, as he had learnt during his three visits to the HC between 2012 and 2017. There was just one problem, Jonathan did not have the experience of deal-making that he told everyone he had, having only completed two distressed acquisitions when he started to offer DMA training courses in buying businesses for no money upfront.

Jonathan was however an expert marketing strategist and he used these skills and his vast experience in this field to build his brand, and create the illusion of experience, adopting the very same model used in his coaching and digital marketing businesses to start selling seminars in buying businesses. the first of which took place in 2019 through the Dealmaker’s Academy. His 2018 book on business buying was really a marketing exercise for the DMA Mastermind Courses he planned to offer.

Jonathan had created swathes of online M&A content in a short space of time in 2018 (now has c.220 videos posted on YouTube about business buying -all created between 2018-20), started a podcast for business buying (The Business Buying Strategies Podcast – first available episode is No 26, published in October 2018), and wrote some more books on business buying strategies in 2019 and 2020 to reinforce the image of a highly experience dealmaker.  During this time Jonathan decided to start acquiring nurseries to build a group, but as he was new to M&A, he didn’t have a network of M&A lawyers, accountants or tax strategists to support. He posted a video requesting recommendations from his subscribers for an M&A lawyer to help close the deal he was working on, having been let down by another lawyer he had clearly never used before.[i] This from an ‘experienced dealmaker’.

Exaggeration and embellishment of the facts is not a new skill for Jonathan. He claimed that he had built his Coaching business from his last £145 in cash to a £25m company but sold it two years later for only £5m. He claimed to have the largest coaching company in the UK, and elsewhere was quoted as saying it was the largest in Europe. He claimed to be the highest paid consultant in the UK, with a £10k per day coaching fee. He claimed to have coached people from 52 countries. He now describes the DMA on his podcast bio as ‘the world’s leading training on buying and selling businesses – without risking your own money!’. Lots of very bold statements that are often difficult to disprove but are frequently conflicting across different publications.

Jonathan claims to be an ‘Acquisitions strategist’ yet with the exception of nurseries, he has only acquired two distressed companies according to Companies House, his entire career having been spent on starting businesses and growing them organically through marketing strategies; the exact opposite of what is taught at the HC. He stated that the DMA had held the first Mastermind programme in 2016, which was not true, as DMA only became DMA in 2018, and even contradicted himself in one of his books in 2018 by advertising for the first ever mastermind session.  The business training company Jonathan started in 2008, SuccessTrack (later Nabo (UK) Ltd), which is now in administration, is noisily absent from his LinkedIn profile.

We have seen that only one role is accurately documented on Jonathan’s LinkedIn profile, ‘MD of Welcome Nurseries: June 2019 – Present’. The other role descriptions contain wildly incorrect dates and other inaccurate statements as to the history of his companies.  The dates documented for the Dealmaker’s Academy are not correct; it came into being by name only in December 2017, although Jonathan’s profile states he has been CEO of DMA since July 2016.  Jonathan lied about being the CEO of an investment firm for 14 years, stating on LinkedIn that he became CEO of Richmond House Investment in January 2007, when in fact the company was only set up in June 2018. This was clearly misrepresenting the facts to cover for his lack of M&A experience. To be seen as the CEO of an investment company ‘investing in business with untapped potential’ for 14 years, adds to the illusion of being a seasoned dealmaker and having over 20 years’ experience of buying and selling businesses.

Lies, misrepresentations, exaggerations, embellishments – call them what you will. Jonathan’s statements regarding his career history are all designed to create the illusion of a solid M&A track record, and to convince would-be dealmakers to pay significant sums of money for the privilege of attendings seminars to learn from a master dealmaker.  We can say one thing about Jonathan, his early career as a stage hypnotist, presenter on the TV show ‘Get a New Life’, event manager and marketing strategist have clearly stood him in good stead. Those experiences appear to have had significant influence on his decision to reinvent himself as a dealmaker, take someone else’s successful concept, develop his own brand around it and then to hypnotise the world into paying him large sums of money to attend his seminar’s in the belief that he is a heavyweight dealmaker whose extensive M&A experience has led to the creation of ‘the world’s leading training on buying and selling businesses – without using your own money!’

APPENDIX 1 – Companies House Records for Jonathan Jay

  1. The Coaching Academy U.K. Limited (03935541) which Jonathan set up in Feb 2000 and later sold in November 2007. Set up, not acquired.
  2. Decaf Brioche One Ltd[i], Decaf Brioche Two Ltd[ii], Decaf Brioche Three Ltd[iii], Decaf Brioche Five Ltd.  These are renamed companies Creare Communications Limited[iv], Creare Communications (UK) Limited[v], Creare Franchise Limited[vi] and Creare Communications (Holdings) Limited, from what appears to be an acquisition of four related distressed companies under a holding company structure, using vendor finance, which were then formed into a group structure companies under a newly created Creare Group Limited (renamed to Decaf Brioche Four Ltd 19th Jan 2017) and dissolved 19th June 2018.
  3. Decaf Brioche Four[vii] Ltd, incorporated (not acquired) on 14th April 2016 as Creare Group Limited. Resigned as a Director 1st Dec 2016. Re-appointed as Director 18th Jan 2017. Dissolved 19th Jun 2018.
  4. Decaf Brioche Five Ltd[viii]  incorporated 21st April 2011 as Hamsard 3248 Limited, later renamed to Creare Communications (Holdings) Limited on 23rd June 2011 and then dissolved 29th April 2019. Acquired as part of the Creare related companies.
  5. The Marketing Guild Limited[ix] (02019878) – Jonathan was a director and the main shareholder between 18th Feb 2015 and 24th March 2017 and appears to have sold to Thrive Media Group Ltd. Sale, not acquisition.
  6. NABO Ltd[x] (06522733) incorporated as Successtrack Business Training Ltd on 4th Mar 2008. Name changed to NABO (UK) Limited in Nov 2011. Administrators appointed 13th Jun 2017 and again in July 2019. Company in Administration.  Incorporated not acquired.
  7. The Dealmakers Academy Ltd[xi] (08903817). Incorporated as AMAS (UK) Ltd on 24th Feb 2014 and renamed on 13th Dec 2017 as The Dealmaker’s Academy.
  8. GM Jay Ltd[xii] (09298330) incorporated 6th November 2014 – personal property company. Currently dormant.
  9.  Wise Spend Limited[xiii] (09244912) Jonathon joined as a Director on 3rd May 2016 (notified to CH on 20th Jan 2017) when the two existing directors resigned. This appears to be an acquisition of a distressed company and has since been dissolved effective 4th Mar 2020.
  10. AMAS (TWO) LLP[xiv] (OC399565) established 24th April 2015 and members are Jonathan Jay and GM Jay Ltd.
  11. Welcome Day Nurseries Ltd[xv] (11421500) incorporated as Richmond House Investments Ltd 19th Jun 2018 and renamed by resolution on 9th Apr 2019. Jonathan transferred his shares to
  12. the Welcome Nurseries (Group) Ltd and the company filed dormant accounts for the period to 31st May 2019.
  13. Scriptrose Limited[xvi] (01570029) incorporated 25th Jun 2019 – other letting and operating of own or leased real estate. Jonathan joined as a director 26th Nov 2018. Believed to be for flat management company or similar.
  14. Welcome Nurseries Ltd[xvii] (12027560) incorporated 3rd June 2019 with Welcome Day Nurseries Ltd as the PSC until 19th May when shares were transferred to Welcome Nurseries (Group) Ltd.
  15. The Childcare Personnel Company Limited[xviii] (06225854) acquired by Welcome Nurseries Ltd 6th June 2019.
  16. Daisy Chain Day Care Nurseries Limited (04663138) incorporated 11th Feb 2003 and acquired 22nd August 2019.
  17. LSJ Investment Holdings Ltd[xix] (12335594) incorporated 27 Nov 2019.
  18. Welcome Nurseries (Richmond) Ltd (12498834) incorporated 4th Mar 2020 as a holding company, with Jonathon as PSC. Welcome Nurseries (Group) Ltd became PSC 19th May 2020.
  19. Welcome Nurseries (Group) Ltd[xx] (12503944) incorporated 9th March 2020. Jonathon as PSC. Group company for nursery acquisition.
  20. Stepping Stones Alfreton Ltd[xxi] (07227437) incorporated 19th April 2010. Acquired 2nd October 2020 and previous director terminated.
  21. Old Hall Day Nursery Ltd[xxii] (05941661) incorporated 20th September 2006. Acquired 11th Dec 2020. Jonathon one of two PSCs, taking over from previous owner/operator.

APPENDIX 2 – Success Track – ‘Meet the experts’

2010 – Successtrackonline

[i] Creare Communications (UK) Limited (07623060) incorporated 5th May 2011 as Hamsard 3249 Limited. Became a director 3rd May 2016. Resigned as director 1st Dec 2016. Re-appointed as Director 18th January 2017. Renamed as Decaf Brioche One Ltd 19th January 2017. Resolution to wind up 25th May 2017. Dissolved 17th August 2018. Likely acquired as a distressed purchase as last accounts made up to 30 April 2015. https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/07623060

[ii] Creare Communications Limited (05848349) incorporated 16th June 2006. Became a Director on 3rd May 2016.  Resigned as a Director 1st December 2016. Reappointed as a Director 18th Jan 2017. Renamed to Decaf Brioche Two Ltd on 19th Jan 2017. Administrators appointed 6th Feb 2017. Dissolved 28 April 2019. Likely acquired as part of the Creare Communications Group. https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/05848349

[iii] Creare Franchise Limited (06864370) incorporated 31st March 2009. Appointed as a Director 3rd May 2016. Resigned as a Director on 1st Dec 2016. Reappointed as a Director 18th Jan 2017. Renamed to Decaf Brioche Three Ltd on 19th Jan 2017. https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/06864370/filing-history?page=1

[iv] See note iv above

[v] See note iii above

[vi] See note v above

[vii] Creare Group Limited (10124875) incorporated 14th April 2016. Decaf Brioche Four Ltd

[viii] Creare Communications (Holdings) Limited (07612664) incorporated 14th Apr 2016. Later renamed to Decaf Brioche Five Ltd.https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/07612664

[ix] The Marketing Guild Limited https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/02019878

[x] NABO Ltd (previously Successtrack Business Training Ltd) https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/06522733

[xi] The Dealmakers Academy https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/08903817

[xii] GM Jay Ltd https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/08903817

[xiii] Wise Spend Limited https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/09244912

[xiv] AMAS (TWO) LLP  https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/OC399565

[xv] Welcome Day Nurseries Ltd


[xvi] Scriptrose Limited

[xvii] Welcome Nurseries Ltd

[xviii] The Childcare Personnel Company Limited

[xix] LSJ Investment Holdings Ltd

[xx] Welcome Nurseries (Richmond) Ltd

[xxi] Stepping Stones Alfreton Ltd

[xxii] Old Hall Day Nursery Ltd

successtrack 2

APPENDIX 3 – Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires

secrets of self-made millionaires appendix 3
secrets of self-made millionaires appendix 3a
secrets of self-made millionaires appendix 3b
secrets of self-made millionaires appendix 3c

APPENDIX 4 – Coaching Today Article

2016 – Jonathan Jay interview in Coaching Today: Coach Journeys

jonathan jay interview in coaching today july 2014
jonathan jay interview in coaching today july 2014 contd

APPENDIX 5 – 2016 Book by Jonathan Jay: Turn your website into a sales machine in just 30 days

turn your website into a sales machine


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