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16 min read

Why Your Company Exists - Do Your Employees and Customers Know?

Why Your Company Exists - Do Your Employees and Customers Know?

If you read books about business, you've heard about "mission statements." 

Also known as "boring MBA-speak" (that would be way better if it was in real English). 

In this episode we put our "Why" (which is boring-MBA talk about a company's mission said like people actually talk...) out there, and discuss how being able to communicate your "why" can impact your business. 



Here is a link to Simon Sinek's Ted Talk and here's his famous book.

Below is a show transcript in case you like reading better than watching. 

Show Transcript

Rob: 00;00;25;02 - 00;01;03;23 

Welcome to the Smarter Business Finance Podcast Season two and the first season was just me because I was the sole employee. It was about eight years ago and I did it out of my house and now we've graduated from a house to an office. And I'm Rob Misheloff. I founded Smarter Finance USA and then I joined up with Chet Zeken and we we founded Smarter Equipment Finance to focus on the equipment side of the business.

Hi Chet. Hey, Rob. So for this first episode, we're going to talk about starting with why it's a famous book and there's a famous Ted Talk by Simon Sinek. And it's about how companies it's very easy to tell somebody what you do, but it's more difficult to tell them why you do it.

Chet: 00;01;28;28 - 00;01;29;24

Why is that more important?

Rob: 00;01;30;15 - 00;01;39;24 

The reason why that's important is because according to Simon Sinek, people don't buy what you do. They buy why you do it.

Chet: 00;01;40;18 - 00;01;42;02 

So why did you get into this business?

Rob: 00;01;42;28 - 00;02;15;21 

Well, it's an interesting story. I was running with with another guy, a direct mail company. We focused on a product called Reverse Mortgages, which allowed old people to to stay in their home and not pay their mortgage until they died or sell the home. And that business was floundering and an old employee of ours had gone to work at an equipment financing company, and they were generating leads using direct mail.

And I sold direct mail, so I started selling direct mail to folks that that do what we do today. And I found while selling that mail, a lot of them weren't honest with their customers. And that really pissed me off because I had really liked being in the reverse mortgage industry, even though I was just selling advertising to it because I knew my customers were helping people and by and large they didn't based their business on lying to somebody.

They based their business solely on helping somebody. And that made me feel good about what I did. And I decided that I wasn't going to spend the rest of my career making money by helping other people steal that. That just wasn't me. And so I started the business with a very strong WHY. It didn't necessarily matter to me that much what my business was, but I wasn't going to have a business that succeeded by dishonesty, by theft, by ripping off small business owners.

And I felt so strongly about it. I wanted to have a business that was solely based on giving business owners transparent information so they could make an informed business decision. And it just happened to be that I implemented that by helping small businesses get loans and helping small businesses lease equipment.

Chet: 00;03;54;29 - 00;04;17;28

Yeah, I remember when you first got into the business, you called me. I was working at another company and you called in, explained your whole idea about how you were going to get business with blogs and whatnot. And I thought it was very interesting. You wanted to start selling business to us as a lender. I found it interesting, but I'd never heard of anybody doing that and being successful.

Rob: 00;04;18;16 - 00;04;40;19

I'll tell you a funny story about that. Yeah, because the very first investor or funding source that I got signed up with, their business development manager called me and said, Hey, congratulations, I understand you're a new broker. How are you going to get business? And I said, Well, I've put together a website and the website is going to generate leads because it wasn't generating leads just yet.

Right. And I said, and people are going to call in and I'm going to do loans for them and they're going to be so happy that we told them the truth upfront that they're going to choose this company. And he laughed and he said, Well, what are you going to do once you figure out that doesn't work? And so nine years later, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do once I figure out this company doesn't work.

Chet: 00;05;03;08 - 00;05;20;11

So that's funny because you told me that story a few times and I had the same thought when you called and you told me that because you told me you didn't know the business that well, that you were you know, you were a marketing guy. You knew how to build websites, but you didn't really know how to do loans.

You were just gonna kind of figure it out as you kind of went along. And I thought about it and I was like, Well, I mean, he's sincere. He may not know what he's doing, but like, what's the worst that can happen? Like, let's give this a shot.

Rob: 00;05;33;22 - 00;05;55;21

Yeah. And instantly, I want to make clear, Chet and I were and business partners, yet Chet was at another company, and I wanted to send his company business. When folks came on to my website at the time was just my website, not our website. When folks came on to my website, I needed to find a home that best fit that transaction.

Chet: 00;05;56;18 - 00;06;27;08

While Rob is going around the equipment leasing industry, making friends, telling everybody how he's going to generate business and his why. At the same point, I was in a transitional period as well. I was happy with my career, but I knew that it just wasn't my home long term. But when I got that call from you and then we met up at a trade show several months later and I got to put a face of the name, I was like, you know, I don't know how much business we're going to do with this guy, but I like this guy.

He didn't live too far away. We should hang out sometime and it just so happens not too much longer. Had a free weekend and decided to call up Rob see if you wanted to go grab a couple of beers one time and we just decided just start talking shop.

Rob: 00;06;43;24 - 00;06;57;16

Yeah. And, and we hit it off. And Chet had no idea at that point that I was looking for a business partner and us going to a bar and grabbing a couple of beers. He didn't know it was an interview.

Chet: 00;06;58;00 - 00;07;04;22

No, no, you got me on that one.

Rob: 00;07;04;22 - 00;07;35;18

But I want to talk a little bit more about our why and why having a why for your business is so important. And it's it's not. Okay. So there's marketing, right? We have a website. Our website has our has the why kind of dripping out of its pores. But it's not really about leads because, you know, folks come to the website and they fill stuff out, but that's not really where most of our business comes from.

Most of our business comes from referral relationships that we've set up. But the key component to that, why is that we attract people that are attracted to the way we do business. And so we get employees or partners or team members that are here for more than the paycheck. Folks come to work for us who have seen our videos, who have been on the website where our why speaks to them.

One of the things I always said to new sales classes when they come in is we're dealing with small businesses. And by and large, unless someone's going to be offended and they usually won't be, you can say a four letter word when you're talking on the phone to somebody.

Chet: 00;08;22;01 - 00;08;22;25

Treat them like people.

Rob: 00;08;22;28 - 00;08;39;17

Absolutely. But we always tell new salespeople, and that's one of the first things we make clear. If I catch you lying to a customer, a vendor, someone in this company or anybody else, you're fired.

Chet: 00;08;40;04 - 00;09;02;23

Yeah, we don't put up with it. There's one thing to be said about acting professionally and, you know, a certain way to speak. That's not something that Rob and I buy into where we are, who we are, and we're not ashamed of that. And we think that's great for everybody to embrace who they are as individuals. Unless, of course, part of who you are as a liar, it just doesn't seem to work out really well with us.

We've had a couple of instances, you know, unfortunately. But, you know, we've dodged some bullets. We had one guy during the pandemic, cold callers were calling in. You know as they do turn to look for a Rob or me, we're sitting there in the next office. You know, he's in the sales pit. We're sitting there right behind him and he's like, They're not here.

They're sick.

Rob: 00;09;26;18 - 00;09;28;00

We were all out with COVID.

Chet: 00;09;28;11 - 00;09;53;06

It was like, Why even go there? But it kind of opened up Pandora's box, and I was like, Wait a second. I've I've heard him say some things that were a little off before. So we went back and let's listen to some prior calls. And sure enough, not only was he was he not being honest with the cold caller that was calling in, you know, but there were referral sources that he was working with that he wasn't being honest with as well.

We put it into that immediately. There was no explanation, no begging. It didn't matter. The decision was made as soon as we heard, you know, any shred of dishonesty on the phone with that with anybody.

Rob: 00;10;06;14 - 00;10;30;09

Yeah. And what's really cool is that helps other people here feel like they have their moral compass properly set. The fact that it's well known that if you lie to somebody, we will fire you. Yeah, that's a threat to a liar. But we don't want liars here anyway.

Chet: 00;10;30;18 - 00;10;33;03

Yeah, it's okay. We're okay if they feel threatened.

Rob: 00;10;33;26 - 00;11;10;27

Turnovers, expense. Right. It costs thousands and thousands of dollars to train a new sales team. And not all of them are going to make it as a business. We want to reduce churn once we've spent. Who knows how many thousand dollars on somebody. We want this to be there forever. Home, you know, sales or sales. Some won't make it, but for the folks that end up being a good fit, they end up having number one, we're not just here for ourselves, like we could make money doing anything.

It's nice to be able to help facilitate an awesome career for people where they feel like we have changed their lives and that centers us very much on, for example, making sure our employees feel valued and treating them like they are our most important asset. Because let's face it, they are. Let's talk a little bit about our office culture because our Why feeds into that.

And in fact, it's all kind of interrelated and we feel like it. We're not sure how it happened, but the pieces just came together that we have this amazing culture in our company with amazing people.

Chet: 00;11;57;19 - 00;12;19;03

Yeah. So, you know, I think when, when the company first started out, I'll say I'll be the first to admit the culture was a little, little janky, to say the very least. Like, you know, you're trying to find interesting creative ways to bring in leads. I'm trying to find funding sources that will take on a new company. And I'm also trying to work deals and train a couple of people.

We hadn't really figured out who we were yet. You know, all we knew is that, you know, we we aren't going to lie to people. We're going to care about our customers. We're going to do our best to take care of our employees. We're just going to do things in the ethical way. And I feel like our why actually helped create our culture.

What I mean by that is our employees know just how deeply we care about not only their work and their production, but them as individuals, human beings and their families as well. It comes across in almost everything that we do with regards to our to our team. You know, we don't want people being hungry throughout the day, so we stock the kitchen full of snacks.

Right. We know it can get a little bit boring on the sales floor. So we pump through different types of music. We try to make it fun, have different contests. We do company outings. But if I had to tie it back, I think the beginning of our culture actually started with Robert Jackson. I would see Robert Jackson trying to work with new people when they came in as if it was his responsibility.

But it wasn't. It was mine. I was just busy trying to, you know, make sure that we had all these programs working with the CRM and all this other stuff that I would be doing. And I would go see Robert Jackson and he would be, you know, he would have his arm around a new person. He would just kind of be showing them the ropes.

He leaned into them and showed them that he really cared. And then these people in turn wanted to show Robert Jackson that they could do it and they could do it, and he helped them do it. And it's been a story that's come up over and over and over again. I wish I could take credit for the culture.

I think all I did was help feed the beast. But our team is really where our office culture came from. They genuinely care about one another. Everybody wants to help out. Everybody knows where we stand with regards to ethics and responsibility for our own goals, it's really turned into this fun type of a sales environment. I've been in this industry for, you know, over 20 years, and typically it feels like like a boiler room type or call center type or you know, you hear a lot of activity going on, but nobody's having any fun.

You know, everybody's wearing suits and ties and we're dressed up today.

Rob: 00;14;38;16 - 00;15;07;19

You know, there's a nugget in what you said. And I'll tell you what it is. When I started my career, I wasn't a marketing person. I was a salesperson, and I worked for God Knows how many charlatans where you were just there for the money. And because of that and you know, I was a dumb, you know, in my twenties person and I acted like an animal because I didn't care.

Like, how hard is it to get another sales job, Because our why feeds into our culture and our culture feels like it's a family. People don't want to lose their job here. Right. They there's actually something to lose.

Chet: 00;15;26;00 - 00;15;51;11

I'm going to take that a little bit further and say that our our team, it's it's not only that they don't want to lose their job, but they genuinely care about our mission, like what we're trying to do for others. They're they're just they're bought in. They're bought into what we believe in. They believe it themselves. That's why these people seem to work out really well for us as we have the same type of vision.

We want to be able to, you know, have a steady career. We want to make good money. Of course we want to expand, but we also don't want to do it on the backs of our on the backs of our customers. Right. We want to be able to close a deal, help a customer, help a vendor, make friends and feel proud with what we've accomplished at the end of the day.

And and our team follows that. And that's I think that that's one of the reasons why we have such a great sales team is the why is a real buy in across the team here.

Rob: 00;16;21;19 - 00;17;03;15

Absolutely. And another part of that, why for a lot of our salespeople is what we do is cool, right? someone who I'll give you a example. Someone will call in or we'll call somebody because we got their phone number from somewhere and we ask them about what they're doing and they have a job. And it's very hard to transition from having a job to being a business owner in like in the construction or trucking trades because construction equipment trucks, they cost a lot of money.

And so to be able to put somebody in a position to build their own business, to build their Why is pretty awesome. We're not just selling phone systems or something.

Chet: 00;17;18;25 - 00;17;36;05

Yeah, yeah. It is pretty cool. I mean, in the couple of decades that I've been in the industry, I've been able to reflect back on the thousands of people that I've helped grow their business. But it's not just about growing the business. It's the business owner trusted me to do a job and I did it and I helped them out.

But they were they were able to go and take that that business growth and turn it into college education for their kids, being able to support other families locally in the area with with being able to hire additional people. It's really cool to see the trickle down effect of what we do and how it affects our customers and the families of those around them.

It's really awesome.

Absolutely. There's a, about six years ago, I helped a lady start a food trailer business in South Texas and it is really cool because every once in a while I'll check out that lady's Yelp reviews and people love her. Yeah, they love her business. It's clear from Yelp that she has a thriving business. And when she came to me, 8? I can't remember, seven, eight years ago, she thought she didn't have a chance at all of being able to start a business.

And we were able to get her into a food trailer that launched a new career for her.

Chet: 00;18;48;24 - 00;18;55;28

It's really cool and unique how we're here to to help these small businesses and help them with their why.

Rob: 00;18;56;09 - 00;19;30;04

We have customers often that are coming back to us for their 10th or 11th transaction, which is kind of nice because as a business, you market you no matter what you're doing, you're going to pay some sort of a marketing cost to bring in a customer. So if you treat your customers right and they come back to you nine, ten, 11, 12 times, you're really amortizing that marketing cost and making that a very inexpensive it's very inexpensive to keep a customer for life.

I came across my Why by accident. There was just a burning I was just angry. I was angry because I was meeting all these people who were bragging to me about how they were stealing.

Chet: 00;19;43;02 - 00;20;02;19

Im going to stop you right there, and I want to jump back to when we were having beers, when we met up for that first couple of beers. What we kind of talked about is our disdain for a lot of how the equipment finance industry currently runs itself. You know, it's kind of hubbed out of Orange County. Anybody in the industry kind of knows that.

But the way that a lot of the companies and competitors go about handling their business is, you know, do whatever it takes, whatever it takes to close the deal. We were both so fired up about it. You know, I had run into it in the past, of course, as a as a salesperson, being a sales manager and being a trained under under other people, I'd seen a million different ways that our industry closes deals.

And a lot of them weren't really focused around one the truth to the customer's best interest right and that fired us both up and quite frankly, is one of the reasons why I thought, you know, after you told me that you'd been interviewing me, I was like, well, I could definitely get along with this guy. There's not many people in this industry that I can see myself working next to for a long period of time, and it really just comes down to we see eye to eye on how people should be treated.

Rob: 00;20;58;21 - 00;21;36;13

Well, the big thing is if you're a business owner, being able to clearly state what your why is will have tremendous impacts to your business. And in the show notes, which are on the blog and if you're looking at this like on on YouTube or on like one of the podcast things, we're going to have a link that you can go in and you can see both Simon Sinek's famous Ted Talk, and he also has a book Start With Why and there's going to be a link to it.

We're not it's not like some Amazon affiliate link. I don't need to make $0.50 every time someone buys a book from the 14 people that are going to watch this podcast. But actually.

Chet: 00;21;49;00 - 00;21;50;08

We have 30 people that work here Rob.

Rob: 00;21;52;16 - 00;22;17;04

Here, well, you know, believe it or not, you know, I looked at the I did the podcast eight years ago originally, and it was audio only not not video like we're doing. If you're if you're listening to this on like iTunes or something, know that there's a video portion where you can see our ugly mugs, but it's been at least seven years since I have looked at the stats on that original audio podcast.

Over 3000 people have listened to that podcast, which just kind of blew me away. So I'm guessing more than 14 people will hear or see this. We are putting links to where you can download or read or watch the things that Simon Sinek said, because obviously he's going to explain the way, starting with why works much, much better than you or I will.

Our why is that we want to provide business owners with transparent information so that they can make the best decisions possible for their business. And we just happen to do that while we help folks finance business equipment, whether that's a truck, whether that's an MRI machine, whether that's restaurant equipment, whether that's a bulldozer, whatever a business needs to finance, we're going to be more concerned about them getting the most appropriate financing for their situation, not whether or not they do it with us.

Chet: 00;23;26;18 - 00;23;34;07

Providing solid information so business owners can make an informed decision. Why aren't more companies doing that?

Rob: 00;23;35;24 - 00;23;46;08

Because they're not leading from the heart. You know, there's there would be some times when a customer is much better off going to their bank. And when they do, I'm happy to lose that revenue.

Chet: 00;23;46;08 - 00;23;47;07

It wasn't our customer.

Rob: 00;23;47;18 - 00;24;14;29

Yeah. Yeah, it wasn't our customer. And if we have to pretend that the payments are going to be something other than it is or we're going to have to jimmy the contract and do a liar thing in order to get that. I don't want that business. I just don't want it. And by being able to enunciate that or by being able to clearly state that in a way, it's one thing to say it.

It's another thing to feel it. Yeah. And the way we conduct ourselves, you can't fake it. And our customers absolutely know. Our vendor partners absolutely know that they're not going to look bad referring a customer to us. So I believe for every customer we lose by not lying or stealing or whatever gets done to trick people into something that's not the best for them.

We're going to gain because ultimately we're building trust with the community. And my experience has been that maybe not in the short term, but being cool always pays dividends in the long term. And one example of that, you're sitting right across from me. One of the things I did in this business when I got into this business is I made friends with all my competitors, and because of that, I was able to make a lot of very beneficial relationships, which that wasn't necessarily my goal.

My goal was just I find that to be in this business, I'm going to be cool. I'm not going to be like a jerk to people. But because of that, for example, you and I, even though you were at a competitor company, you and I went to went out to go get beers and now you're my business partner.

There's always been this theory that nice guys finish last and maybe in a sprint, but not in a marathon. And if you're running a business, I hope it's a marathon.

Thanks for watching or listening. If you're listening through a podcast app, we would love it if you would be so kind as to leave a review. If you are watching this on YouTube, it would mean the world to us if you left a comment or gave us a big thumbs up.

And lastly, if you're looking at us on the website, if you would let us know an episode that's of interest to you, that would be fantastic.

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