Making Tough Decisions

Written by Justin Leto, CEO of Idea Financial
March 28, 2018

Idea Financial is a small business and a proud start-up. That’s why we understand our own customers. We are just like our customers. We are proud. We work incredibly hard. And we understand that there is no such thing as luck. Instead you have to be prepared and create opportunities. Many lenders and banks are huge corporations with no identity, no face. We are a true team, a group of people who didn’t know one another before this venture began but now have become family. And as with all small businesses, including yours, there are times when our work family is faced with truly tough decisions. This blog entry discusses one of our tough decisions and hopefully will serve as advice to some of you.

When you are building a business, much of what is done has to be outsourced to other companies. You enter into contracts with these companies and put your trust in them, and sometimes things go wrong. For us, our team invested hundreds of hours of time and a significant sum of money into one of our vendors in the hopes of quickly and efficiently building a top tier platform for our customers to conduct business with Idea Financial online. As the project evolved, we began to recognize problems and became concerned with the vendors’ ability to complete the task. But because we invested time and money, we continued to Charge Forward in the hopes that things would work out.

As our hope turned to greater frustration, some of the top leaders on our team held a meeting on a Sunday to try and strategize how to fix this problem. They didn’t invite our COO, President or me to this meeting because they wanted to map out the solution before they came to us. As they worked diligently on a weekend, they realized that they had enough bandwidth, enough talent, and most importantly, enough guts to scrap the entire program we had so frustratingly tried to build, and take the responsibility of building our system in their own hands.

These guys are superstars when it comes to their technical and operational ability. But it was their sheer grit and determination that drove them to make the difficult but necessary decision to cut ties with this vendor despite our investment of time and money. They came to me and told me of their grand plan and they assured me that they could do this in-house. So, because I trust them, we made the difficult decision to change course.

Incredibly, our team was able to accomplish in weeks what we had been unable to build in months with the outside vendor. Their work was, and continues to be, inspiring. Not only are we able to offer our products through a system that is completely in our control, but we have built immediate and scalable value to our company by developing proprietary software that can be applied and utilized across multiple product lines.

What I learned from watching our team was that it is easy to stick with the status quo and hope it all works. It is difficult, however, to make a sharp turn in a completely different direction, especially when so much time and money has been spent. In the end, most small businesses would elect to stay the course with the focus being on what they’ve already invested in the project. But in our situation, the money and time lost is value gained, as we were able to recognize a problem, extract it, and start fresh.

Now, we are Charging Forward with proprietary systems that can be tailored and customized to our customers’ needs.

I am so honored to be working with such talented people. What I learned from watching them is that there are no problems in business, only opportunities. Many would see our situation as a major problem, a failure. We have dumped a bunch of money and time into something and now we have to start from scratch. But this wasn’t a problem, it was a solution. The months lost saved us years of frustration and now, instead of relying upon others, we rely upon ourselves.

All small businesses must rely upon outside vendors for some of our work, but to the extent we can bring something in-house, it is our preference. No one will care about your business more than your team and you. To my team of stars: Thank you for being the true Rhinos.