Updated: a day ago
by Paula Anderson
For many individuals, becoming an entrepreneur starts from a necessity. A corporate job provides a sense of stability, but what happens when you get laid-off or downsized?
Keith Dillihunt, founder of Gordon James Financial Solutions, was laid-off twice from his corporate job after "climbing the hierarchy of an organization."
"I can't let this happen to me again, so I decided to take a risk on myself," said Dillihunt."
With 15 years of commercial lending experience, he created a company and named it after his two grandfathers - Gordon and James.
Dillihunt said, "This is a tribute to them because during their lifetime, they worked as sharecroppers and at the end of the season, they still owed."
Both of his grandmothers were beauticians, and the entrepreneurial mindset was planted in him.
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Dillihunt's grandfather said, "This changed our destiny."
Since sharecropping did not prove to be a profitable business, his grandfathers served in the military and were able to send money back home. Dillihunt's parents were first generation college students.
Owning and sustaining a business does bring challenges and rewards.
"It is difficult to be an entrepreneur because you don't have weekly staff meetings to motivate you, and there is no steady paycheck," said Dillihunt.
Now, he uses his experience and knowledge to help other entrepreneurs realize their dreams of owning a business. His company provides lending options ranging from $5,000 to $500 million and that consists of traditional, alternative, bridge and Small Business Administration (SBA) lending options.
When new clients seek his services, he listens to "every deal to see if there is an opportunity." He is also honest with them upfront.
Clients with or without a business plan are given the same consideration because he needs to understand if the business model is viable.
"I don't look at business plans initially because I need you to communicate your plan to me directly," said Dillihunt.
However, having a business plan does show that you have invested time into developing a business model with financial projections and customer identification.
Startup companies and existing businesses are considered for funding. Bank A or Bank B may not want the deal, but Bank C "can be the solution," said Dillihunt.
Credit worthiness is often one of the challenges for new entrepreneurs, but it does not mean that you don't stand a chance to receive financing. Dillihunt said, "I dig behind the numbers and find out what is going on with the situation."
With any business venture, there will be challenges and failures. One of his success stories was a client who needed cash to meet payroll. He was able to finance the loan for a short-term period.
His clients range from retail, service, medical professionals, churches and contractors. As a home-based business owner, he works with clients to find the best financial solutions for their business goals.
To learn more about Gordon James Financial Solutions, visit his website at gordonjamesfinancialsolutions.com.
Paula Anderson is the founder of Writing of Design Media, Inc.
This article was originally published in the Winter 2020 Black Men in Finance edition.