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An Introduction to SharpShooter Funding with Paul Pitcher
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Written by Caitlin Wood
An Introduction to SharpShooter Funding with Paul Pitcher
From funding small businesses in the U.S. to making the move to the Canadian market in 2015, Paul Pitcher, managing partner of SharpShooter Funding, knows what business owners want. We sat down with Paul and discussed all things business financing, the journey he took to build SharpShoooter Funding, and where he sees the future of small business financing in Canada.
What made you get into the world of business funding?
I got involved in financial sales while I was in my late teens, thanks to Mr. John Horrigan (CEO – Wynn Point Financial) a dynamic investment advisor in Annapolis, MD. He taught me the basics and more importantly about doing business the right way. Later, after working in various sales positions for 10 years, I decided to find one “product” or “service” that I could offer to every business, in every country, and soon realized that it was right in front of me. In 2011 while working for the Washington Wizards and Capitals in DC, I was reading articles in business publications like Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur about “Small Business Financing”, and the lightbulb went off. I realized meeting the needs of small business owners, locally, nationwide, and throughout North America, was going to be something worthwhile and personally satisfying. Successfully helping other small-business owners me to work harder and learn more every day. Small business is the backbone of America and I love being a part of it.
You expanded your service to Canada in 2015, what drew you to the Canadian market?
I was working and growing my company, First Down Funding out of Washington D.C. & Annapolis, MD. In 2015, I went head-on with 11 or more different marketing/lead generation strategies, more than I could handle at the time, but I found a way to make it work and was testing out everything I could possibly get my hands on to see what worked in the United States, how it worked, and why it worked. One of First Down Funding’s marketing agencies and partners was running new marketing campaigns and when they called me in early June, I said: “I want you to run lead generation on the entire East Coast.” They quickly cut me off and said: “Paul, we cannot just test the entire East Coast.” But after some discussion, I said, “I want to generate interest on the entire East Coast, from the very top of Maine, all the way down to the most southern street corner in Miami, FL”. That gave us exposure in Eastern Canada.
All of a sudden, about two dozen Canadian business owners started applying immediately with First Down Funding. They were mostly from areas in Ontario, along with St. Johns, Halifax, Fredericton, Moncton, Ottawa, London, and Hamilton. Three of my sales reps sent me funding applications with Canadian postal codes and SINs. One day one of them placed 4 files on my desk, I did not know what was going on, but I could feel something really cool happening. I had never been to Canada and only knew two true Canadians in my life, one of which I played NCAA Collegiate Golf with at the University of Tampa.
I quickly learned that the Canadian “Small Business Funding” Market was open for business and all I had to do was connect the dots. My favorite part about Canada is that I get to deal with small business owners that truly want help, and they just need some guidance. Very similar to the Baltimore-Washington region and other small cities on the East Coast, I felt a connection and wanted to get in the mix. So I moved to Toronto in 2017 and have been back and forth from DC to Toronto for the past 4 years, which why my schedule stays busy. Loans Canada had a major influence on my company, and I sincerely appreciate all of the guidance they have given me as well.
Can you tell us the story of how you choose the name SharpShooter?
My childhood friends and I were huge World Wrestling Federation fans. My Hero at the time was Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Every WWF wrestler has a finishing move in the Squared Circle (wrestling ring). Jake the Snake Roberts had the “DDT”, The Undertaker had the “TombStone”, Mr. Perfect had the “Perfect Plex” and The Hitman, well, he had this cool leglock called the “SharpShooter”. And just like closing a deal, completing final underwriting, and funding a business, we want to be the Sharpest Shooters in the Canadian funding industry. I was thinking to myself in June of 2015, “Ok Paul, if you’re going to do this and try to expand into Canada, what are you going to call it?” Boom, “Sharp Shooter Funding”. It was an automatic choice, no questions asked. It was a perfect fit, not only for the industry but for everything that I believe in.
What is it like to work with your childhood hero Bret “The Hitman” Hart?
Guys like Bret, I always like to say, have “too much talent”. Very similar to other professional athletes worldwide, they spend their entire lives in the ring, or on the field, and they truly do not fully realize the enormous positive effect they have on their audience. In the beginning, it was similar to fireworks; all Bret had to do was spark the match, and the rest was up to me to connect with Canadian business owners and make sure their business funding needs were met. All I can say, truly, is that I have nothing but the absolute and highest amount of respect, and gratitude, towards The Hitman. What he accomplished, and what he also put his body through for 25+ years is hard to put into words. I sit and stand in front of four or five computer screens, notepads, keyboards, and printed documents and connect with business owners nationwide every day, seven days per week. I am not on TV, radio, or pay-per-view, I do not have a Podcast, nor do I have my own TV Show or YouTube Channel, so it is very hard for anyone to see what “work” I put in, every day, 12+ hours a day. But I try my absolute best to model my work ethic and productivity after the greats in the ring, on the football field and within the Small Business Funding Industry.
The demand for business funding is constantly growing, how do you keep up?
PBJ. Prepare, believe, and just do it. Preparing every night, for the next morning, is the absolute most important thing anyone in business funding can do. Preparing in the morning will set up a good afternoon, preparing in the afternoon will produce a positive evening, and so forth, you see where I am going with this. Our industry is literally changing by the day, sometimes by the hour, and I love it. Change is good but being able to adapt to change is something that comes with putting in the hours. Spend at least one hour every night, preparing for the next morning. Spend at least three hours over the weekend, preparing for the next week. Spend at least 10 hours this month, preparing for the next month, and so on.
Also, learn from those who know more than you. Leaving your ego at the door every morning and learning is probably one of the biggest things I try to do every day from 7-8 am. You have to learn before you earn. Also, believing in yourself every day is huge. If you do not believe in yourself, then who will?
Enjoy the battle too. Love the hustle. I wake up every morning loving the daily hustle and hourly battles I deal with. That is what makes me tick.
What type of funding options does SharpShooter offer?
Simply put, we offer small business funding at 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12-month options. Now, SharpShooter Funding has the ability to offer business funding at five-year terms, as well as “bank type pricing” due to the strong and long term partnerships we have across North America, but I will get into that on another day. Let me put it this way, if you own a business, would you rather have an option that could help you double sales in three months, and pay off your debt in six months? Or, would you rather have an option that could triple your sales in eight months, but you have outstanding debt on your company for the next five years.
Small business funding is here to help businesses have access to capital that banks do not offer. But also, we are here to help coach, advise, and guide small business owners on the best route, month to month, and quarter to quarter. I would estimate, 75% of small businesses do not survive after their first year. We are here to make sure they are in business for years 2, 3, 4 and 5 and so on. Once they get to five-plus years in business, then you can forecast the next three to five years accordingly.
Small Business owners need to learn before they earn. And more importantly, do not take on debt that you cannot see yourself paying off.
How SharpShooter is Helping Canadian Business Owners Grow
How do business owners benefit from working with SharpShooter Funding?
I always say, “Why wouldn’t you want to work with SharpShooter Funding?” We work seven days per week, and if there was an eighth day in the week, we would be open for business. SharpShooter is here to connect with Canadian business owners every day, understand their business model, accept and address their faults, find their strengths. Realize what you need now, what you need next quarter, and what you want to do over the next 12 – 24 months. Then we can really put a solid funding option together. We thrive when our clients thrive. If you win, we win. And we want to make sure you win first. Bottom line, we want to help, when others won’t. That is the SharpShooter ethic.
What is the best option for a Canadian business owner looking for an alternative to the traditional bank business loan?
Six-month business funding approval with renewal options within SharpShooter Funding. 100%. There is a reason I say that, and it has been our tested method since 2011 within First Down Funding. Let’s get the ball rolling, fund your business, learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, then prepare for the next 3, 6, 9, 12 months and more, together.
Why should small businesses go to you instead of dealing directly with small business lenders?
We are the best, period. We only direct small business owners to the absolute best, most viable funding option and funding program that will help your business grow. We turn down businesses weekly because specific business owners are requesting funding that will literally hurt their business, but they are just not aware of it.
We are in this for the long run, in the States, Canada, and more. There is a reason hundreds of business owners nationwide call us every week and thousands have renewed with us every year.
Paul Pitcher’s Advice to All Canadian Business Owners
What is one mistake you see a lot of business owners make when it comes to applying for funding?
They might bite off more than they can chew. Our advice is to start small. Take affordable steps. Do you want to bring in another $11,000 in sales per month? Ok. Let’s start with 20% of that, let’s get you another $2200 in sales next month, then $4400 the following month, and so on. Get your foot, not feet, wet first. Then get the other foot wet, dive in after 6 – 12 months of learning, then you can earn.
What is the first step an owner should take when looking for the right funding to meet their needs?
Be honest, transparent and tell us everything. The more you tell us, the more we want to work with you.
If you could give one piece of advice to Canadians looking to start a business, what would it be?
Whatever you want to start and do, make sure you love it first. Then after you find something you love, go work for a company that provides similar services, products etc. After you learn, and I mean, learn everything. From opening up the door at 6:45 am, to closing the place at midnight, and getting your hands and mind on every aspect of the business, then, and only then, should you attempt to start a business. But start small and start it as a project.
The biggest piece of advice is to learn before you earn. There are so many individuals within the small business funding industry that I would love to sit down and learn from. People younger than me and older, just learn from everyone.
And, be the hardest worker in the room. I despise when people say “work smarter, not harder”. That is bunk. Of course, work smart, but you better be the hardest worker in whatever you do, because guess what? There is some 20 year old, right now, in college that sees what SharpShooter is doing or First Down Funding is doing and they are working harder than me right now. And that is a fact.
Do you have any thoughts on the future of lending in Canada?
Do things the right way and always, always, always put the business owner first, make sure you are helping the business owner, they are priority #1. I pride myself on trying my absolute best to do everything possible to do things the right way now, in order to create an industry that has longevity.
Also, there are some phenomenal tech-minds within the industry. And I know some of what they’re up to now, but there are going to be some phenomenal things coming that give Canadian business owners viable options for funding with the click of a button. The future is great for Canadian small business funding.
What does the future hold for you and SharpShooter Funding?
I do not dwell on or obsess about the future, but I constantly adapt to the changing business environment. I just try to work harder and smarter than the day before. As long as I can truly help Canadian small business owners on a daily basis, then I consider myself lucky, blessed and more importantly honored to operate in Canada. I love what I do, I enjoy the daily grind and SharpShooter Funding will always show that the harder you work, the luckier you get.
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