Welcome to the latest in our occasional series of entrepreneur interviews for The Small Business Blog. These short Q and A sessions highlight some of the most interesting entrepreneurial figures in the business world.
Our newest interviewee is also our very first international one: Sharon Jones, co-founder of FundWell, an online technology platform which matches small businesses in the US to funding sources. She is a lawyer by training but has a lot of experience in the area of small business development.
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
I decided to be an entrepreneur to do work that was important to me without limitations imposed by others. I co-founded FundWell, my current company, in order to level the playing field for small businesses when it comes to getting the money needed to grow the business. At FundWell, we educate small business owners on how lending works and then match them with the right lender. I have been an entrepreneur for more than 14 years.
What have been the biggest obstacles in running your company?
Obtaining the necessary capital to grow our business has been one of the biggest obstacles, which is also a challenge for many of our FundWell customers. When we started two years ago, there wasn’t a lot of information regarding the type of debt capital and the requirements of lenders to loan you debt. That is why we decided to provide so much educational advice on FundWell: to help businesses make better decisions.
Name one thing you have learnt from while in business, and from who.
One thing I have learned is that for small businesses the race belongs to the business that is most resilient—that is, the business that can survive through a recession or loss of a big client. Surviving is the first step toward thriving. I learned that lesson from my co-founder, Chinwe Onyeagoro.
What are your business and personal goals?
My business goals are to build a great team at FundWell and to help small businesses become more successful and thrive. I think I can accomplish the latter with the help of our FundWell online Scorecard , which assesses a business’s financial health, and our nationwide loan matching service. My personal goals are much simpler: I look forward to obtaining more work/life balance—something that is challenging for entrepreneurs. I want to spend more time with my young nieces and nephews and take them traveling to see the world.
Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?
I have three tips:
1. Gather as much credit/cash as you can when you want to start your business. It is always easier to get a loan when you have money. So have as big of a cash cushion as possible
2. Don’t think that you will have more free time as an entrepreneur. I have found you have much less time because your new boss (you) is extremely demanding
3. If you make a mistake and hire the wrong person, cut your losses as soon as possible. The wrong person never becomes the right employee. The sooner you move on, the better.
Thank you to Sharon for taking the time to participate and best of luck with your venture!