If you’ve known me for very long, you’d know that after having 17 jobs over the course of 11 years, I eventually found some stability in the payment processing industry by working for Heartland, the fifth largest payment processor in the country. After working for Heartland for over 2.5 years, I decided to leave to follow my heart and work in the non-profit sector. I landed a job at Concordia University working with postgraduate students who either wanted to get their MBA so they could become executives, or MAT so they could pursue a teaching career.
This was an awesome role that I enjoyed on a very deep level. When I took the job at Concordia, I was confident that I’d never work in payments, and surely never again in sales. I was convinced that neither was for me. I was sick of working in a transactional sales environment that didn’t play to my strengths, which were customer service and building strong relationships. I was also tired of feeling like I had to sell what Heartland made available to me and the customers I was serving. After working in the industry for so long, I began to see the value of what other providers offered that Heartland didn’t and this led to me advising clients to do what was best for them, which wasn’t always in the best interest of Heartland. Ultimately, I felt like after leaving Heartland I would find a home working for a nonprofit university like Concordia that was focused on making a difference in the lives of those wanting to improve their education.
The Shift To Entrepreneur
One day I got a phone call from a franchise organization asking me if I was still helping business owners with merchant services. I told them I wasn’t working for Heartland anymore but could help them answer some questions and perhaps point them in the right direction. I helped the franchise owner of theirs out and essentially thought that was the end of the story. I didn’t think that because I had a customer I was ready to start a business and quit my job. I was just trying to help the people that reached out to me. That’s all. As I continued to work for Concordia, I began to feel like some of the tasks, specifically, the administrative workload, wasn’t the best fit for how my skillset should be utilized, and this, coupled with some new goals I discussed with my fiancé, led me to feel that the role, even though I loved it, was a better fit for someone who might feel more at home with the tasks and day-to-day responsibilities of the job. This made me begin to feel guilty, and soon after I put in my notice to let them know that they should open the role for someone else.
I wasn’t in a financial position to leave the job, but I didn’t want the feeling of taking money from an organization that had such a great commitment to helping its students be successful. I worked alongside so many great people at Concordia, and I didn’t want to feel like a bad teammate. So, I felt it was best to leave on good terms.
Why I Started PaySuite
Starting PaySuite the way I did was impulsive, which had been a new thing for me. When I quit Heartland, it was also impulsive. I quit Heartland because of a disagreement I had with a department on what we should do to take care of a customer. It didn’t go in the right direction I felt for the customer, so I quit. Like immediately. I don’t typically recommend doing it that way, but I felt like it was the best thing for me to do at the time. Looking back on the decision, it was the best decision I could’ve made. It was one of many decisions I made during my tenure at Heartland that really helped me grow up and trust my gut.
When I put in my notice at Concordia, I could’ve gone back to work at Heartland or any other payment processor in the country if I wanted to. It would’ve been far more lucrative for me to do so, and I’d probably have a lot more hair left. But I didn’t want to and didn’t. Why? Well, I wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to make business owners sign contracts, push terminal leases, talk about endorsements, or why my company was the best payment processing provider in the world. I just wanted to help people. That was my only business plan and model. Just go out and help people and figure it out along the way. That is still our motto and business model today. Go out, help people, do the right thing, rinse + repeat.
Another ‘why’ that surfaced as I worked with entrepreneurs in their business was the memories that began to surface as I unpacked my childhood as an at-risk youth growing up in Fresno, California. I started to remember all the entrepreneurs that used to look after me when I was living with the daily adversity of growing up in a neighborhood that was struggling with the aftermath of the 80s crack era that decimated the inner-city black family. Drug, gangs, lack of educational resources, and much more was the daily reality of my life from fifth grade through high school. I’m not trying to paint a bleak picture. I was never directly involved personally in gangs but did find myself in neighborhoods and drug homes many times at the wrong time of night and early mornings as a young man.
As these memories of my childhood surfaced, serving entrepreneurs, and doing what I felt was in their best interest became part of my purpose and guided every decision I made as I ventured out to build PaySuite. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, it was much harder than anything I’ve ever done, and I’m not finished.
As I continue to grow as an entrepreneur, I will continue to make improvements and bring new partnerships and capabilities to the entrepreneurs we serve at PaySuite. In fact, with the launch of my consulting firm Catalyst Training + Development, we will work synergistically to launch new strategic partnerships that will take our ability to help entrepreneurs to the next level.
If you’d like a free digital copy of the book I wrote on payment processing to help entrepreneurs understand how to avoid being taken advantage of, you can get that here.
Let’s make a difference together!