I come from a family of teachers. Out of 6 people in my nuclear family, teaching is the chosen profession of 4 of us. Mom, dad, sister, brother are all teachers. My older brother and I are the only two who chose a different path.
So, when I graduated from college I went to work for banks. And that’s where I fell in love with the idea of being an entrepreneur.
One trend that I noticed was that many of the businesses were generational. Grandpa Smith started it back when he walked uphill both ways to school, then handed it off to dad, and finally he passed it off to his son.
Boy, was I jealous. Given that my family was all teachers, I’d never had the opportunity to work in, or take over, a family business. No, sir. I was going to need to do it the hard way.
Inspiration Struck When I Didn’t Expect It
In 2009, I was working for a lender that mostly did SBA 7a loans. I had just closed my Italian ice shop 6 months prior to that, so it was safe to say that the wounds from that were still fresh. I had even told my wife that going forward, she would have to bless any venture I started going forward, as I had a propensity to pursue anything that came into my line of vision.
As luck would have it, my next idea came to me while I was working as a workout officer for the largest SBA 7a lender in the US. There I was, minding my own business, when a consultant called me. He was representing a borrower whose defaulted loan had been assigned to me.
I won’t get into the gory details, but this consultant was trying to pull some shenanigans that clearly were attempts to deceive. And that’s when the light bulb went on. I thought to myself “people do need help with the SBA OIC process, but I can do it the right way. No lies or misdirection. Instead, I can help people created organized packages that make fair and reasonable settlement offers.” And that’s how Distressed Loan Advisors was born.
The Big Leap
Fast forward a few years. In January 2011, I simply couldn’t stomach working for someone else anymore. I took the leap, and began to run Distressed Loan Advisors full time (fun fact: the domain jasontees.com was left over from a failed t-shirt venture. I originally used the domain because it hadn’t expired yet. Over time, I kept it because my organic Google rankings were so good!).
It took a few years to make me a believer. But today, I believe that this business is here to stay for the long run. I did have a few years when I got fat and lazy. I slacked on blogging, turned off my Google ads, and had no other marketing channels. Eventually, I realized that DLA is a real business that needed a real marketing plan, and since then have consistently dedicated time to increasing my online profile and identifying ways to reach potential customers.
I’m extremely proud of the business I’ve built here. And while it’s great to make a living from a business that I built from scratch, I have my eye on another goal: I want to build a business that one or both of my kids can take over.
If one or both of my kids have a desire to work for themselves, it would be a dream come true to give them the thing I dreamed when I was young: inherit the family business!
My Transition Plan
I know I’m a decade and half a way, but I’ve started to think about how best to build and preserve the business. One goal that I have is to begin to record what I do, and how I do it. It’s one thing to have it all rolling around in my brain. It’s quite another to have it all properly recorded. So here’s what I want to write down:
- My Marketing Strategies – It’s taken me years to figure out the best ways to find customers. Some things worked well. Others were a disaster. I’m sure social media and internet marketing in general will continue to evolve, as will Google organic search. So I will keep my finger on the pulse of internet marketing and keep notes.
- My Relationships – As I tell clients all the time, nobody is going to approve a client’s OIC simply because I know them. With that said, I’ve some across some very helpful and knowledgeable people at the SBA and banks.
- My Business Tools – As a “solopreneur”, I use a variety of tools to make my life more efficient. From 800 number provider to PDF editing software, I’ll have a list of everything I use to make my life easier.
So, that’s it. That’s how I started, and where I hope to end up one day. While I’m very proud of what I’ve built, my proudest moment would be turning the reins over to one of both of my children one day.