Last month, Joseph Camberato, President of National Business Capital was invited by Capolo, Middleton & McCormic LLP (CM&M) to discuss the state of small business growth in today’s economy, and how NBC offers easier, faster alternative business financing options when traditional methods fail to provide.
September 25, 2018:
JOE CAMPOLO: Good morning Long Island, and welcome to CMM live. It is Tuesday September 25th, and we’re gonna have a great time here today talking about one of my favorite topics and that is small businesses—particularly small businesses here on on Long Island. A recent statistic says that 8 out of every 10 employees that are employed on Long Island work for small businesses.
Today we’re going to be talking to one of my favorite people who have committed their careers to specifically helping small businesses thrive and growing as you know here on CMM live we are looking to help Long Island thrive.
My first guest today is Joe Camberato, the president and co-founder of National Business Capital (NBC): a business financing company located here on Long Island. By way of disclaimer Joe and I have have had a long term–relationship—both business and personal—but he really is one of my one of my favorite people. He’s a great leader we’re gonna dig into him a little bit today. So Joe, welcome welcome aboard!
JOSEPH CAMBERATO: Thank you, Joe. Thank you for having me.
CAMPOLO: Absolutely, it’s a pleasure. So talk about talk about this amazing growth. You’re a co-founder of the NBC with with James Webster, and I’ve been working with you guys for about 10 years. Talk about the last 10 years—about how things went from an idea to this company where you have about a hundred employees now, right?
CAMBERATO: Absolutely. It’s been it’s been one heck of a journey, and you know it all started from an idea to just help small businesses get financing. It was very humble beginnings. NBC started out of my bedroom and out of James’s dining room, and we started slow and steady, but we we noticed almost 11 years ago now we had a lot of referrals, and a lot of customers that were small business owners, and it was in a different industry but a lot of them started asking me for help with business financing.
I was in the residential mortgage business and I built a pretty decent network of small business owners who were referrals. A lot of them came to me to get help with their home loans, and then a lot of those clients started asking me for their business loans. And probably like three clients asked me in one month, ‘Hey can you help me with a business loan?’ and I would and say well, why don’t you go to your bank?
And what I we realized is that as soon as a customer got turned down from their bank they really had no clue you know where to go. What I discovered after a lot of work and research, and just kind of taking one deal at a time and trying to really shop them around and help the get financing as a consultant, was that there was this whole world of private lenders that are out there that focus just specifically on small business loans.
And we noticed from there that the process was very difficult. There’s a ton of paperwork, every lender has different requirements and guidelines, so as a small business owner you can get pretty fatigued from shopping around from lender lender. So we’ve created a platform that has eliminated a lot of unnecessary paperwork and really focus on speed and we brought all these lenders together—about 75 plus—on one platform, so when someone comes to us we can get them approved and a very quickly.
CAMPOLO: Yeah I mean a lot to a lot to unpack there but it’s truly what I love about the entrepreneurial spirit. So in 2008 the world melts down, banking regulations become clamped down, and businesses are worried that they’re not going to be able to get their financing, and then guys like you were able to come in and see an opportunity to be able to find these alternative lending arrangements from typical commercial financing, keep businesses alive, and keep businesses growing.
It’s truly a remarkable story. My notes here say you’ve secured over 1 billion dollars in financing for thousands of clients nationwide—that’s a pretty tremendous tremendous number right?
CAMBERATO: It definitely is. It’s made us you know one of the leaders in the alternative lending space, and it’s a really it’s an awesome accomplishment. We’ve been doing this now for ten years, but we feel like we’re just getting started!
CAMPOLO: Yeah, and you guys really are thought leaders in the space. Just like in my profession where there’s so many questionably ethical lawyers and rogues out there, and people that can really they get the headlines they besmirched what lawyering is all about.
If you’re a good quality lawyer you’ll naturally stand out on the crowd. What I love about you guys is from day one when I met you you said we’re gonna do this right, we’re gonna do it ethically, we’re gonna do it legally, we’re gonna just work hard and build a tremendous brand.
It looks like you guys have really risen to the to the top so talk about how important that culture has been as a guiding force for you over these years.
CAMBERATO That’s right I appreciate that. That’s been really our our main focus—standing true to our core values. One of them is doing right by you know the clients. Another is focusing on our culture. We’ve focused on building great relationships with our customers, great relationships with our lenders, and building an awesome environment internally.
For James and I it’s not really a difficult thing to do the right thing, and we’ve always focused on that—I think if you do the right thing and and focus on you know good relationships, only good things will come out of it.
CAMPOLO: And that’s been so impressive to as as your lawyer—you guys just are always doing the right thing. Whenever a challenge comes up, it’s always ‘What’s the right way to handle it, and how do we move past it?’
I’ve watched so many other people in your industry trying to break into this, and are just incorrigible people. I’m really proud of the way that you guys have been able to to build this. So talk about some of the actual programs and products that you guys offer, and what types of businesses can be benefited from them.
CAMBERATO: Sure, so we have a big focus here and presence on Long Island, but we also work nationwide with a number of industries from restaurants, to doctor offices, dentists, manufacturing, wholesale distributors, the transportation space, he typical mom-and-pop retail location.
We help people that are just starting out, to people doing anywhere up to ten to 20 million in sales. We offer a number of different products, and by focusing on our clients and their business opportunities—that’s how we decide which product makes sense to use.
CAMPOLO: So what is the typical sales volume that a company that would take a loan from you have, and how many employees would they normally have? Give our audience a sense of what that’s like.
CAMBERATO: We focus on a wide range of business sizes. If well if you’re just starting off, we really only need about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year in minimum gross sales. We also work with businesses that do all the way up to about 10 to 20 million in sales.
Our sweet spot is about two to five million a year in sales. Of course, each industry is a little bit different in terms of margins. Based on these factors and the customer’s opportunity, we’ll adjust our focus to find the perfect program for their needs.
CAMPOLO: What what inspired you to get involved with small businesses? So many people out there particular people in the finance industry like you are will look to go to Wall Street and large investment banking houses. What inspired you to work with small businesses—was it the need, was it the people, was it a combination?
CAMBERATO: I guess the main reason was that small business owners are the backbone of the the economy. Yet less than 1% of small businesses do over 10 million each year in sales, which is really wild if you ask me.
Local communities are all made up of small business owners, so it was really surprising to me how challenging could be as a small business owner to get financing. It’s already challenging enough, building and running a business.
As a partner on the financing side, being able to help someone get funding to grow their business—seeing other people grow is incredibly rewarding, and that’s what really inspired James and I.
CAMPOLO: In dealing with commercial banks myself, I was looking at purchasing a small condo, right? I went to the bank that houses all of our business accounts for ten years, knows every single dollar and cent that we that we have, and the process was so onerous and grueling that I just said ‘Forget it, I’ll find another way to finance it.’
And that is killing business growth. So talk about your streamlined process. What’s the application process like? It amazes me how you guys are able to accomplish that same endgame of getting a loan done, have a lower default rate than commercial banks, and be able to do it in such an efficient process.
CAMBERATO: Well, we help people with excellent credit to challenged credit. We’re not focused on credit—we’re more focused on the business and the opportunity. I think we’re also just have a realistic underwriting approach.
If someone had their credit challenged because they’re building their business, we can still find them financing. We’re focused on the opportunity, so it’s a very realistic and flexible approach, whereas I think a lot of the banks have very black and white guidelines with no real understanding for certain situations.
Through technology—specifically Salesforce.com—we’ve built a robust CRM system, and we’ve digitized as much as we can throughout the process for added speed and convenience. However, we also value the human approach just as much as we do technology in the funding process. Through technology, we’ve built a large network of lenders on a global scale, so when someone comes to us for help, it’s easy for us find the perfect financing option in the marketplace for their needs based on our initial conversation.
With digital networking, we can tell our customers exactly what paperwork they’ll need, and eliminate documents that are unnecessary for the process. Then we package everything up, load it into our system, and connect through APIs to lenders. Those lenders will essentially start bidding on the in particular deal we’ll take.
Then we gather all those offers, and present them to our customers. The customers get to choose one of those offers and then we get to work managing the whole process. We remain directly connected with underwriting to make put all the workload on us, and away from the customer.
CAMPOLO: What’s the typical type of security you’d be looking from these small businesses to back their financing?
CAMBERATO: That depends on the product. Some are personally guaranteed, some are not. Some are backed by real estate, and some aren’t. Some are backed by receivables, others are not. Some are also backed by the piece of equipment that we might be financing. Again, it all really depends on the product. Some are completely unsecured with no personal guarantees, and others have no hard asset security but are backed by a personal guarantee—what you back your financing by all depends on the type of product you receive.
CAMPOLO: Walk us through the process a little bit. A business owner gets in touch with you guys, and you have specialists that sort of triage what their situation is, right?
CAMBERATO: Yes, so we do a discovery call to understand again what their need is, then from there we’ll let them know what documentation is going to be needed for that specific product. Then we’ll send out a DocuSign application so they can do it right on their cell phone or or at their desk— they don’t have to print anything. Once they fill out our 60-second application digitally via DocuSign, it’s sent into our system, and we immediately start reviewing business and personal credit internally, along with their financial documents.
Our system will suggest certain lenders, and eliminate lenders that we know won’t approve a customer. We then connect these suggested lenders to our customers. Sometimes it could be just one lender, other times it might be three—we’re not exactly sure who may give the best approval. Then we’ll get that approval back, if someone submits us all the paperwork we need and completes the digital application, we can usually have answers in 24 to 48 hours depending on the product.
We present these offers back to the customers, who will choose what makes the most sense for their needs. We then oversee and manage the entire process from start to finish, right through to when our customer receives funding. This streamlined process allows us to work as fast as our clients want us to—typically between one and five business days, depending on the customer’s needs.
CAMPOLO: That’s absolutely amazing—for folks out there that are listening to or watching this, you have to understand how powerful that is. Time is money, opportunities come and go, and the ability to turn around a business that fast is just unbelievable to me.
Let’s talk about your own business leadership style, and your own growth that you’ve experienced over the last ten years. You’re president the company, and basically head up their sales and marketing team, is that right?
CAMBERATO: That’s correct.
CAMPOLO: Right so talk about that—I mean, I’ve managed sales forces in my life. You don’t have a lot of gray yet, but I’m sure it’s coming!
CAMPOLO: What have you personally learned over the last ten years of your journey?
CAMBERATO: Not everyone’s motivated you know by the same thing. I’ve had to constantly get outside of my comfort zone and focus on my own personal growth, in and outside of the business, but really just focusing on what motivates different people I think is extremely important.
Not everyone is motivated by money—everyone has a different motivation. Another thing I’ve learned is the importance of culture in the workplace. That’s really been a huge focus of ours in the business and creating an amazing culture has been has probably been one of the best things that we’ve ever done at NBC.
CAMPOLO: What motivates you?
CAMPOLO: ‘Winning,’ meaning what exactly?
CAMBERATO: Being able to take an idea and put it in reality, put it into motion, building out this company from virtually nothing. And to see some of the great people that have been with us for some time now—to see them grow you know personally and professionally in the organization has been extremely rewarding.
At times it’s frustrating and challenging, as anyone owns a business will know, but to see it all come together, and see it work and, and to see where it is today compared to where it started is really rewarding. Sometimes I think we all have to kind of stop and you know, look at where we were and where we are today and appreciate the present.
CAMPOLO: I totally get that. And I’m telling you, I’ve watched you guys—you just have an amazing team people love working there. They love being there, your culture is terrific, and you’ve done a great job in marketing yourself. Your social media presence Grow by Joe—talk about that a little bit. It’s an interesting spin on how to put yourself out there on social media.
CAMBERATO: I think the name came up because—everything that we do in in life and in owning a business—everything goes back to growth, right? It’s all about growing your business. It’s all about growing yourself personally.
So I think everything that we do really all points back to the concept of growth, and getting outside of our comfort zone. So we wanted to put this big focus on on growth because we help business owners grow by providing financing but also providing advice and helping in any other way.
My goal with it is to really start connecting with some of the local business owners that we’ve helped, and start sharing some of their growth stories, and the challenges that other business owners have had. Hopefully some of the challenges they went through and the way they overcame them will help small business owners in similar situations grow in similar ways.
CAMPOLO: It’s a great commitment to to helping folks grow, and I know you offer some other services as well other than financial services—talk about that and talk about how that idea came about, and how it’s been working out for you
CAMBERATO: We started a company just just under two years ago called National Business Services, and Kevin Harrington actually—one of the original sharks from shark tank—is actually became its spokesperson.
We noticed that some clients don’t necessarily know where to go for business financing, but also don’t know where to go for help through typical business services—whether they need help with payroll, credit card processing ,marketing services, web design, phone solutions, and a number of different services—either they’re not exactly sure where to go, or they’re not necessarily getting the best deal.
So when we help get someone funded, we also take a look at a number of different services to save money in areas that they didn’t realize they could, or offer a solution that will help their business grow, whether it’s streamlining bookkeeping services, or maybe they’re doing their own payroll and that’s killing their time, so now implementing a payroll service would help them with other areas of growth.
Maybe pointing out some things that they can be doing on the marketing side to help drive sales. When you’re running a business, there’s a lot of moving parts, and there’s all these things that you need in order to make it successful. So we’re bringing them first-class services and the financing they need to grow, all together in one company
CAMPOLO: You’re really smart—that’s a very, very smart move. I’ve referred to you as the Amazon of business—it’s really true! The hardest part is getting the the customer. When you have the customer, if you think about Amazon, they realize: why not buy my groceries, dog food, books, music and everything else in one place? It’s very convenient. You can’t offer those services unless they’re there for a critical reason, which is the financing. So it’s a really a brilliant move, and I think that you guys are gonna do extraordinarily well with that with that endeavor.
CAMBERATO: Thank you! We want our clients to have one place to call, and one relationship with someone that really knows the ins and outs of their business to help them grow in the best ways possible, just make it simple so you can put all your time and effort into building your business.
CAMPOLO: Right, so let’s talk about advice to up-and-coming entrepreneurs. I know that you are very big into into coaching and you’re very big into the Young Presidents Organization (YPO)– you’re part of that whole cult, and maybe you’ll teach me the secret handshake at some point.
[Laughter] CAMBERATO: Maybe!
CAMPOLO: I also know you’re very active with with Tony Robbins, and I think they’re two tremendously great things. The hardest part for me of running a business is staying motivated, —it will beat you down if you let it, and you have to find your own personal ways to stay connected to other people and to be motivated. What advice would you give young entrepreneurs out there
CAMBERATO: Really great question. Mindset is super-important, and staying motivated, but I think two words really come to mind. One is “commitment,” and the other is “relentless.” I think if you’re going to start a business, or in the beginning stages, you have to be 100% committed. You can’t be half in and half out. You have to be fully committed.
The word relentless sticks out because you need to be relentless in order to be successful. You have to—it’s a never-ending relentlessness in growing your business that will make you successful. And then I think it’s really important to surround yourselves with with other proven successful business owners and leaders.
Not to just plug you here Joe, but you’re a great attorney, you have a great law office but you’ve also been a great business adviser, and I think getting surrounding myself with folks like yourself and other business owners who have actually built a business, gone through the challenges and struggles and just being able to talk to other people has been really important in our growth, and learning from people like you has been really great.
CAMPOLO: You know, I don’t I don’t find a lot of credibility unless folks have actually gone through the process themselves. You can get newly minted MBAs out there that are taught by the best universities in the world, and that’s a great starting point, but unless you go through the meat grinder, you have no idea!
CAMBERATO: You have to go through the process. There’s nothing really that you could do besides going through it to get the full learning experience.
CAMPOLO: Yeah—losing a key sales guy, having somebody leave and go work for a competitor, or all of these things nobody can understand, unless you’re actually doing it—and I know you guys have. I’ve watched you guys go through a lot. So what’s next? Where do you see the the US economy headed? Are you guys optimistic about it? Are you doubling down and looking to grow, or you’re in a holding pattern waiting for the midterms? Where do you see this whole thing sort of playing out?
CAMBERATO: You know, that’s an interesting question. I don’t think anyone knows the answer to that one. But I’m curious to see what happens with the election—I think that it could definitely sway things one way or another.
It’s interesting, everyone is you know doing well right now. Small businesses are turning real profits, and a lot of the publicly traded companies have real earnings. So I think it’s safe to say the economy is doing well, but you know I think history does repeat itself.
We’re definitely focused on growing our customers’ businesses, but also on always preparing ahead to protecting ourselves, and keeping that in the back of our minds in case of any turn in the economy
CAMPOLO: I’d be more interested in what your customer base is doing than any other indicator there is out there in the United States. So how do you find your your clients and your customers doing—is it robust? Are things doing well?
CAMBERATO: Great question. Nine out of every ten applications we get are from growing businesses looking to hire people, expand their location,buying additional trucks for transportation company fleets, purchasing a second location—we’ve been overwhelmed with applications, and everyone that’s applying is doing something in order to grow, which is really nice to see. We first got started the company in 2007—right in the worst recession in history. We were doing a lot of our financing to help people get through a tough time. It’s great to see these people back to growing their businesses. The confidence is there, and and that’s really nice to say.
CAMPOLO: That’s a great indicator of what’s really going on here in the country. I don’t listen to the headlines all that much. I like feet on the street. I want to know what those folks who are working hard every day putting in their time and their dollars are doing. It’s really important to see what they’re doing. We have just about a minute left and I want to talk about role of technology in your company. So I see a lot of financing companies out there like Quicken Loans. There’s all this “go-online-and-immediately-get-disapproved.” How important has technology been through growth, how important will it be in the future, and do you see the whole financial industry going that way from a technological perspective?
CAMBERATO: I think it’s a big focus— not in the financial world but with every business. Technology is changing a lot of businesses for the better—especially ours. In our space, technology has really helped streamline the process and and make it easier and faster to give decisions to our customers. We’re utilizing technology up into a certain point, while still having a human approach and making good human decisions. There’s a balance of someone in our office working and having that relationship with the customer, but also it’s extremely important to have real, compassionate people involved. There are definitely companies who are you know automating things, and I think at some point we could be completely automated, but I always feel that there will still be a need for human involvement, making decisions that the automation missed, and I think a lot of the companies that are fully automated today are are missing out on opportunities.
CAMPOLO: Well, you heard it from him, folks. Joe Camberato, president and co-founder of National Business Capital and National Business Services is one of the great secrets here on Long Island that we’re trying to to uncover. If people want to get in touch with you Joe, how should they contact you?
CAMPOLO: Terrific stuff, thanks Joe. Appreciate you joining us.
CAMBERATO: Thank you Joe, I appreciate it as well!
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