I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I grew up constantly thinking about business ideas, I just never understood how to pursue them.
I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I grew up constantly thinking about business ideas, I just never understood how to pursue them. I always thought bankers held the keys to success until I became a banker. Now I realize they are a very small piece of a huge puzzle.
My mission is to help others pursue their dreams of starting their own business by providing my customers with a roadmap for their entrepreneurship journey. I meet them wherever they are
My Zero Milestone Story
When I was kid, I dreamt about owning Athletic Alley, the locally owned athletic sports store in my hometown. Not only was Athletic Alley my favorite store, but all the old men and high school coaches sat around drinking coffee and talking about Friday night’s game. I thought it was where all the major decisions were made.
In middle school, while on a trip to Florida, I fell in love with the beach. I dream of owning an Athletic Alley quickly switched to a Ron Jon Surf Shop on a beach somewhere (I didn’t care where). Side note: I later found my ultimate surf shop when visiting Costa Rica for my honeymoon… Pura Vida!
After High School, I went to college at Seward County Community College to play baseball. I grew up watching the team and it was a childhood dream come true. After several shoulder injury’s I hung up my cleats and moved to Stillwater to attend Oklahoma State University. Before I knew it, college graduation was upon me (I had been on the Animal House route to graduation). They gave me a degree in Business Administration with an Accounting focus, all I remember studying was baseball and the economics of the local bar scene.
Around graduation, I was searching businesses for sale and found 3 baseball fields in Florida. I thought “what a great way to fulfill my entrepreneurship aspirations and my love of baseball.” I set that as my goal and soon realized, I had no idea how to run a ballpark.
What Others Have to Say...
Through networking, I found an “in” with a minor league baseball team in Frisco, TX selling tickets. This job and move to Texas ended up being a life changing event. I went from being an introvert to making 100 phone calls to business owners and CEOs every day. I still remember my first sales training I was so nervous my manager, Jenna Byrnes, asked me if I needed to leave. After we talked it out, she helped me find the confidence to keep going. I can’t thank her enough.
After a few years in sales, an Operations positioned became available. Sales is the lifeline of any company, but a Sales Team is only as good as its Operations Team. I quickly learned the lessons of communication and the potential downfalls of miscommunication between the Sales staff and Operations. I knew if I was going to be in charge, I needed to understand all aspects of the ballpark.
While there I read an article, that I can’t find the specifics on anymore, about the importance of financial statements which said, “to run your own business, you have to know how to read financials.”
Soon after reading the article, I was talking to a client who worked in banking. She informed me Credit Analysts review financial statements and “tell the story” to determine creditability of commercial loans. From there, I took a right turn from the baseball industry and was off to learn about banking.
I started out in Retail Banking. This worked out perfectly because I was interacting with business owners every day and learning about their day to day frustrations.
After working my way up, I finally got a job putting together loan packets in our Commercial Lending Department focusing on SBA Loans (for more information about SBA) . I worked with lenders all over the US and learn the ins and outs of SBA Loans (yes, I have read the entire SOP - no, it is not recommended unless you want to go to sleep with a headache).
From there I moved into the Emerging Markets group but was still able to connect with all the Commercial Groups: Emerging Markets, Middle Markets, Large Markets and Wealth. I was exposed to huge companies like T-Mobile and Best Buy, as well as, smaller mom and pop companies.
My wife and I decided to move back to Oklahoma to be closer to our families. I was pushing hard to be a loan officer, but the bank I was working at in OK wanted me to stay an analyst for a couple more years. I sat out to prove I was more valuable as a loan officer. A few nights a week, after work, I would attend entrepreneur meetup groups such as Startup Grind.
I discovered underserved markets in the startup and entrepreneur communities. Not only were they consistently told to “boot strap” and find seed money, but the banks (not all banks, but most of them) were blatantly ignoring them.
I found a large number of companies that qualified for bank lending but had been denied for various reasons or never thought of banking as an option. After meeting with several new clients, I figured out they didn’t have a problem with qualifying, they had a problem with “telling the story.”
A few months later I started Thousand Paces to help entrepreneurs navigate the difficulties of bank lending. I wanted to connect my passion of helping companies grow with my background in finance. I didn’t want to be just another loan broker or loan officer.
Later, I developed the RoadMap framework as a tool to help businesses “tell their story.” Now it is used in all our programs: from teaching my students at USAO about generating a business model, to entrepreneurs determining the best launching point and revamping existing businesses who are working through a growth pattern.
Our RoadTrip helps you determine the appropriate loan amount to run your business, then we take a unbiased approach to finding you a loan partner, whether it’s through a traditional bank, non-bank lender, angel investor or venture capital firm.
MY EXPERIENCE (LinkedIn Page)
University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma
Senior Credit Analyst
First United Bank
SBA Loan Officer
PMC Commercial Trust
Commercial Loan Underwriter