At Businessing Magazine, we see a lot of books written by entrepreneurs that talk about their journey to business ownership. Sometimes those journeys take an expected path—a person goes to school and learns a skill or trade, they work for someone else in their chosen industry for a time, and then they branch out into starting their own business. Other times, however, the business owners we meet or read about take a path to business ownership that is a little less conventional.
We recently read an e-book by entrepreneur and owner of Stylehawk Event Services Cameron Ungar. His story is one of the more unconventional ones. Ungar started his career in the mortgage lending industry, and it wasn’t until later that he discovered his passion for sporting event planning and management. However, in his e-book, Borrowed Experience: How Working as a Loan Officer Made Me a Better Event Services Professional, published by Founder Nonfiction, you’ll find that he doesn’t see his time in the mortgage business as time wasted. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Ungar has taken the lessons he learned as a commissioned sales agent and applied them to his current role as a business owner and event services professional. He describes four core competencies that are necessary in both of these seemingly non-related industries, how he developed them in his first career in the mortgage lending business, and how he is now using them to benefit his event services company.
Below is a summary of the four core competencies Ungar outlines in his book:
An Entrepreneurial Spirit and Internal Motivation
Working on commission in the mortgage lending industry taught Ungar a lot about drive. He says, “The competition within the office and the fear of a lean month push you forward. The satisfaction that comes with closing a deal has you constantly looking for the next opportunity…” This drive has served Ungar well as he has grown his event services business and developed mutually beneficial relationships with sports venue managers, event vendors, and event promoters.
A Personal Set of Business Values
The mortgage lending industry has seen its share of professionals with questionable ethics. This was especially true in the early 2000s when lenders were selling risky loans and employing loose qualification standards—often to the detriment of their customers. Working in this environment taught Ungar the importance of maintaining his moral compass, no matter what. He says, “Having a true moral compass and developing a reputation for it will lead to far more opportunity and prove to be the more lucrative path.”
Functional Organizational Skills
Early on in his career as a mortgage professional, Ungar learned the necessity of being extremely organized. With home loans, it’s important that all paperwork be complete and error-free. Similarly, in the event services industry, Ungar has found that well-constructed event documents are key to successful sporting events.
Strong Communication and Team-Building Skills
Ungar says that an event manager’s core job function is to act as a “conduit of information,” just as it is for a loan officer. Communication must be “…clear and explicit, and there must also be an understanding and respect for the way… service providers receive information,” he says. Good communication is a key to success in any business, as it can help prevent costly mistakes, deal effectively with changes or emergencies, and show team members that their roles are valued and respected.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs are those who are always learning and growing as people and as business owners. So, take some time to look at your background—your life experiences, your education, and your past working experiences—and see what you can take from it that will make you a better business owner and boss. You might be surprised to find that the lessons and skills you learned in an area that seems completely unrelated to your current venture can contribute greatly to its success.