By Marija on April 1st, 2012
Stan Prokop is a Platinum Author on EvanCarmichael.com – to view his articles click here. We asked him how he made his first sale – here’s what he said:
I guess it’s true what they say, ‘ you always remember your first ‘! In this case I am referring to my first customer at 7 Park Avenue Financial, the business financing and advisory firm that I founded in 2004.
Like many entrepreneurs who start their own firm I came from a corporate background, having worked for some of the largest and well-known corporations in the world primarily in Computer and Telecom industries.
When I left my last employer of ten years, Hewlett Packard I had a vision to form a business finance firm that could hopefully capitalize on my credit and financing skills I had honed over a 30 year period – my first job in business being in 1972!
I personally believe that most entrepreneurs and business people have certain, but not all the skills they require to successfully run a business. That’s when you know to work with experts on whose advice you can rely . Suffice to say that probably sales and business development, as well as marketing weren’t my strong points!
I therefore adopted a very common strategy used my many, essentially networking within circles I felt comfortable in, That of course included customers I had dealt with for many years .
That brings us to my first client, which was a telecom company headquartered in Montreal. I had financed the company in good times, and the firm subsequently went through a restructuring via a formal bankruptcy and restructuring proposal to creditors. Despite the bankruptcy the CFO of that firm and me maintained a healthy respect for each other during that somewhat difficult time for them.
I had just started my firm and they had just re emerged from bankruptcy proceedings. I called the CFO and we chatted and arranged to meet. I proposed some financing assistance, and given our past relationship I received a mandate to originate some fairly small financing for their firm. In this case it was for a financing of their truck and service van fleet.
Thinking back I realize I had not idea at the time as to what to charge, but I proposed a number and it was accepted. When I completed the financing I presented an invoice to the client. The CFO looked at the invoice, smiled, and indicated I had massively underpriced by services. He altered the invoices to the upside and had a cheque sent out.
I believe the total of that transaction amounted to only a few thousand dollars in income. Today we generate millions of dollars annually for our client base, all across Canada, and have successfully assisted hundreds of companies, from start up to FP 100 in size.
My takeaway from that first sale? Simply that relationships, track record and honesty went a long way for myself . Also, timing sometimes has an element of good luck, as my first client needed me when I needed a client.
About Stan Prokop:
Stan Prokop is the founder of 7 Park Avenue Financial. The firm specializes in business financing for Canadian companies in the areas of working capital, asset based lending, SR & ED tax credit financing, equipment financing, franchise financing and banking.
Tags: advisory firm, bankruptcy proceedings, business development, business finance, business financing, cfo, circles, corporate background, creditors, finance firm, first job, good times, hewlett packard, mandate, park avenue, restructuring, strong points, telecom company, telecom industries, van fleet