When Philadelphia, PA native Dan Smith is not traveling or surfing he’s capitalizing on his passion for creating and growing companies from the ground up.
Smith recalls knowing early in life that he would one day take the entrepreneurial road less traveled. “I grew up immersed in the small business culture …,” said Smith, co-founder and managing partner of New York-based financial firm Fora Financial, formerly known as Paramount Merchant Funding. It’s a trait that Smith explains he inherited from his father.
Starting his career as a former sales consultant with business outsourcing solutions company, Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP), Smith later moved on to work at a small financial startup to work alongside college friend Jared Feldman. The two would later decide to direct their passion for entrepreneurship toward a growing industry need — flexible small business financing.
In June of 2008, two months before the collapse of financial services firm Lehman Brothers, Smith and Feldman started Fora Financial. Their initial vision was to develop a company that could help small businesses with what they needed most — access to working capital. Smith explains, “We knew the small businesses of America drove our economy and would need assistance to survive the difficult times ahead.”
To help small businesses sustain and grow, Smith and Feldman decided to deliver flexible working capital solutions in the form of merchant cash advances (i.e. provide funds to businesses in exchange for a percentage of the businesses daily credit card income), revenue advance funding and loans.
Today, Fora Financial has reportedly provided access to working capital for more than 3,000 small business owners nationwide.
Learn how Dan Smith and co-founder Jared Feldman followed their passion for entrepreneurship and why Smith believes a competitive edge is essential for success.
|Founders:||Dan Smith, Jared Feldman|
|Location:||New York, NY|
How I Got Started
Money was definitely a factor to establish the necessary infrastructure and to hire employees, yet time was the key cost to creating a successful business. Jared Feldman, my co-managing partner and I spent endless hours planning, strategizing and really understanding how to market our business and best reach the entrepreneurs who were in need of our services.
Both Jared and I grew up immersed in the small business culture due to our families. We both come from a long line of successful entrepreneurs and thoroughly enjoy creating and growing companies from the ground up.
It was this inherited drive that inspired us to start Fora Financial two months before the big crash of Lehman Brothers in 2008, when the world felt like it was coming to an end. We knew the small businesses of America drove our economy and would need assistance to survive the difficult times ahead. We’re very hands-on in our business and feel extremely fortunate to go to work every day and aid in the process of helping small businesses grow and thrive, one client at a time.
Best Success Story
As we’re celebrating the five-year anniversary at Fora Financial, there have been many successes. If I had to recognize one, I think it would be the company culture and employees that we’ve grown. By recruiting, training and recognizing our employees, we have reached and exceeded many business goals.
Sales have increased more than 100 percent year-over-year, we have leased a 10,000-square-feet of office space in New York City and most recently, we obtained an additional $13 million in financing to help fuel our future growth and assist more small business owners with working capital.
Biggest Startup Challenge
Owning a small business requires your full attention, and unfortunately can consume your mind 24 hours a day.
We have grown leaps and bounds and it takes a lot of hard work, strategy and mental toughness to overcome day-to-day challenges, while continuing to grow and stand out from your competition. As a business owner, I have learned that in order to continue company growth and overcome challenges that you need to surround yourself with a talented staff of dedicated employees and subject matter experts.
Having complete faith and trust in your employee base will allow you to focus on the bigger picture and strategic growth of the company.
#1 Tip for Entrepreneurs
If I could communicate one piece of business advice to all the entrepreneurs, it would be to think outside of the box. If you see the pack (i.e. competition) going east, travel west. If you have the opportunity to provide a different product, solution or even a different twist to your offering, capitalize on it.
A small differentiation can separate your business from the competition and lead to a competitive edge. Tweet This
For example, in the market of providing loans to businesses, you have banks that have been doing this for centuries. Yet our solutions, coupled with cutting-edge technology to help track financing, have found a way to connect small businesses to capital in the matter of a few days, while banks take weeks and months at times.
I encourage entrepreneurs to continually look for new, innovative ways to solve problems and to not be afraid to take risks.
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