I spent 25+ years in finance. I started my career as a bank teller and was a Chief Lending Officer by the time I moved on to product management, which is also in the financial services space.
During my finance career, I learned a lot of important professional skills. Many of which have been beneficial as an entrepreneur.
With everything going on in the finance sector and lots of bankers & mortgage lenders losing their jobs, I wanted to take a moment to share how you can use the skills you learned in the finance industry to start a business.
Finance skills that translate well into entrepreneurship
When it comes to starting a business, I’ve found that having finance skills can give you a significant advantage. After all, running a business involves managing money. Some of the most important skills I learned in my finance career that have carried over into entrepreneurship include:
- Financial management, for instance, is crucial for running a successful business. This includes managing cash flow, creating and sticking to budgets, and analyzing financial statements.
- Budgeting is another important skill that involves creating and managing budgets for different areas of your business, such as marketing, operations, and employee salaries. This skill allows you to make informed decisions about where to allocate resources and how to optimize spending. I build out a base budget at the start of every year and then make tweaks along the way, depending on how my revenue production is going.
- Risk analysis is also important for entrepreneurs. This involves identifying and assessing potential risks to your business and developing strategies to minimize or mitigate them.
- Knowledge of financial markets can also be helpful, as it can allow you to make informed investment decisions and stay on top of market trends.
In addition to finance-specific skills, there are other skills that you learn as a banker. Particularly one that works in a customer-facing role. For example, my years as a small business and later a commercial lender gave me the following:
- Experience with client relationship management and sales can be beneficial for entrepreneurs. In fact, I might argue that client relationship management and sales are the most important skills because they help you to build and maintain relationships with customers, which is key to growing your business.
- Strong communication skills are also important, as they allow you to effectively convey your ideas and strategies to others, whether it's your team, investors, or customers.
- Analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities are also crucial skills for entrepreneurs, as they help you to identify and solve problems that arise in your business.
To summarize, you learn a nice mix of finance, marketing, sales, client relations, and other skills, which is what makes the finance industry such a great path to entrepreneurship.
Turning finance careers into businesses
There are many types of businesses that can be started with finance experience. Many of which you can start part-time and grow into a full-time business.
- Financial planning and investment advising services - even if your career didn’t involve being a financial advisor, it's likely that you have been exposed to this business in some fashion. Many of the bankers I know have their financial licenses if for nothing else but to learn the concepts and to be able to refer business to a financial advisor.
- Accounting and bookkeeping services - as a commercial lender, I learned a lot about analyzing financial statements. In fact, my first business was a bookkeeping service where I focused on working with dental practices.
- Real estate investment and management services
- Banking and lending services - if you have lending experience, you can easily transition into a mortgage broker role or, better yet, a commercial loan broker business.
- Payment processing and merchant services - helping businesses accept debit and credit cards is a big business, and processing companies are always looking for people willing to refer them business.
- Financial technology (fintech) startups - I’ve personally taken my finance skills and used them to start three different startups. Those same skills have come in handy in advising startups. If you love the idea of building a high-growth startup rather than the traditional finance paths, then your finance skills will help.
Turning finance experience into a business isn’t solely about the skills you have learned. Be sure to focus on the type of business that is best suited to your personality. For example, if you consider yourself an introvert and that makes marketing and sales hard for you, either hire someone to do it for you or choose a business that is less customer-facing.
I have had experience in virtually all of those business models and can share more details with you.
Additionally, there could be opportunities for us to work together.
Click the button below to apply to work with me.