I spent last week in New Orleans at the IFA’s (International Factoring Association) annual convention. Translation – three days “geeking-out” on all things factoring, with some really fun vacation time thrown in.
Factors from all over the world come together once a year and talk about stuff, learn stuff, share stuff. We spend a couple of days talking about the parts of the industry that matter only to us…the stuff that would put you to sleep if I talked about it.
There is a group within the group…we are the Small Factors. People in the biz and out assume that we are only small because we are waiting to grow into Big Factors.
So. Not. True.
Those of us in the small factoring space are here because we like working with the types of business owners in this space – small entrepreneurial businesses – that don’t have access to the types of financing products out there for larger businesses.
There are a lot of reasons for this and it usually comes down to one of two. The first is that these business owners are in the “figuring it out” phase of business – they are trying new things, making mistakes, and facing challenges that banks and finance companies are not equipped to deal with and frankly, just don’t want to.
The other is a lifestyle choice. Just like Small Factors who want to be in this space, many business owners make the choice to be in the smaller, often hectic world of “Small Business”.
I LOVE the “figuring it out” phase. I thoroughly enjoy helping business owners get through this often scary, fear ridden part of growth. Countless times I have had clients or prospective clients tell me that they didn’t know where to turn – that there was no help out there – that we were the only company even willing to talk to them about next steps.
I completely respect the lifestyle choice, as it is the choice we have made.
In both situations, factoring can be a powerful financial tool to help level cash-flow in a business so the owner can either find the bandwidth to figure things out and/or to help ease the challenges that come with the lifestyle choice.
We have a session at conference just for us – the Small Factors. I have moderated this session several times for the IFA. We always have an attorney on hand to handle legal questions. Our “go-to” attorney is well versed in how and why we do things the way we do. At the last minute, our “go-to” attorney had an emergency and had to leave. He asked one of his colleagues to step in. This colleague treated us like we did not know what we were doing – as if it was a waste of his time to be part of our discussion.
Not only did he offend every single person present (and eliminate any possibility of getting future business from the folks in the room), it really slammed home what many of our clients go through before they find us – that choosing to be small – making that lifestyle choice – means that they are somehow not worthy of…Time? Money? Help?
He made assumptions about our level of commitment, expertise and goals.
He was wrong.
That is the lesson…
Never assume – being wrong in your assumptions is costly.