Today on The Fastest Growing Companies podcast, we're talking to the CEO of Credit Suite, Ty Crandall.
Today on The Fastest Growing Companies podcast, we're talking to the CEO of Credit Suite, Ty Crandall.
Today on The Fastest Growing Companies podcast, we're talking to the CEO of Credit Suite, Ty Crandall.
Chris Ronzio (00:00):
Hey everyone! Welcome back. I'm Chris Ronzio and I'm here today with Ty Crandall. He's the CEO of Credit Suite. Hey, Ty.
Ty Crandall (00:53):
Hey, how are ya?
Chris Ronzio (00:54):
Great. Welcome to the show.
Ty Crandall (00:55):
Thanks man. I'm excited to be here .
Chris Ronzio (00:57):
So real quick, tell everyone, what is Credit Suite? What do you guys do?
Ty Crandall (01:01):
Well, we help business owners get capital and we do it by helping a business owner basically improve their fund ability. It's all the stuff that lenders and credit issuers look at to really determine if you should get approved and how much money you should get the rates in terms of your pay. Uh, you know, the majority of loans aren't denied, but you don't qualify. They're just denied because you don't meet basic lender and credit issuing requirements. So we fix that. We help business owners build business credit, their EIN. It's not like they're social, so they don't personally guarantee their debts. And so they can get away from credit checks and being personally liable for what's happening with the actual money they're obtaining their business and we help business owners access capital. So we've got about a thousand funding sources and we're really good at linking a business owner and their needs with a lending institution or a private lender that can then help them get the money they need to facilitate those needs.
Chris Ronzio (01:46):
Got it. I had an entrepreneur friend of mine say that her CFO told her her business wasn't yet bankable. And I think that meant like you, you know, you had had trouble getting lending. Do you hear that from a lot of your customers?
Ty Crandall (01:59):
Well there's, here's the interesting thing. I met with a buddy of mine last night and he's in the insurance industry and what he talked about was the billions of dollars that are lost every year because of fraud and insurance. And I said, you know, this is crazy. That's exactly what we deal with in banking. And that is the problem is that think of how much fraud is entrepreneurs were exposed to every day, these banks it's overwhelming. I mean, eight or nine out of 10 applications, they get aren't even real. They're all fake. So what happens is normal business owners just get caught in that mix where there's all these checks that lenders and credit issuers are doing. They're accessing this data from LexisNexis and these secret credit reporting agencies. And it's all just designed to even make sure they're dealing with a legitimate application.
And a lot of us, we just, we mess this up. We change our business address. We change our business phone number. We don't change our stuff everywhere, online. And then all the checks they're doing, looking for congruency, we don't meet those requirements. What happens is a lot of our applications just get caught in that and get denied because they don't think that the application's even legitimate. So yeah, I mean, being bankable, lendable, being fundable, meeting the lender and credit issuers criteria, understanding what these computers are looking for, making sure you structure your business, where you meet those requirements, but most importantly, making sure your business really looks legitimate. And the information you're putting in an application is congruent everywhere is really important in order to be able to get the money that you need.
Chris Ronzio (03:18):
Makes total sense. So why this business for you? When, when did you start this and why'd you decide to start this business?
Ty Crandall (03:24):
You know, the first time I ever owned was a mortgage company and I thought it was rockstar built at seven figures pretty quick. And then, the mortgage crisis occurred. And you know, it's interesting cause I see this with COVID now that you know, it's not a recession that kills you. It's what causes the recession that kills you. And in that case, I was in the wrong place, the wrong time, right. Mortgage meltdown. And then as a result, you know, I'm in the mortgage industry. So what happened was I lost everything. I personally guaranteed my business debts. So they came in, they wiped out all my personal accounts. I mean, it was just a bad situation. So I got into consumer credit to help people recover from the mess. And then what I realized along the way it was a lot of business owners were asking me about business credit.
I didn't know enough. I'd spent, you know, I don't know, 12 years of financial services at that point knew nothing about it. Couldn't find anything on YouTube and Google, etc. And then when I really discovered that you could build a credit profile for your business and separate liability and that all the heartaches I was having at the time wouldn't have happened if I would have done it the right way responsibly, then I kind of took it upon myself and felt that I needed to learn how the system worked. And I was willing to teach it in real time. And so it was really kind of a self exploration thing where I would go learn Dun and Bradstreet, what they do, how they work. And then I would put together a PowerPoint. I would teach it and just put it out in the world. And then it was months later that I realized that a lot of people were following what I was doing.
And we built a tribe. We built the company and products to be able to serve business owners and just been on that quest ever since to get behind the scenes and figure out all the stuff that banks know about us that we don't know they know, how they make decisions, how we get caught up in this trap of not getting what we need. Not because we don't qualify to get it, but because of all this other information that's being obtained about us, and that's just the mission I've been on ever since.
Chris Ronzio (05:07):
I love how the need for this business came out of your last business. And I hear that from so many people. So it was very natural, organic story. Now I'm going to ask a really elementary question before we get into the meat of this, because I think there's people out there that want to know. A lot of people start a business as a sole proprietorship, or maybe it's just a, some kind of schedule C income or a DBA or something like that. How do they even just start, just start getting some business credit? Is it registering an EIN and doing something or what can they what's that first step for them to get some business?
Ty Crandall (05:39):
The very first thing to know is you don't want to do a sole proprietorship. I think it's an easy route. A lot of people do it, but the problem fundamentally there is with a sole prop, you are the business. And I'm not an attorney and I'm an accountant, not legal or accounting advice, but the problem there is, is that sole props get audited one in seven with the IRS, corporations get out audited one in fifty. So significantly better chance of getting audited. But the further problem is that you are the business. If the business ever goes under, then you're personally responsible for all those business debts. If the business ever gets sued, well, then you're getting sued as well. So you really have to create some layer of protection between you and the business and that's corporation. That's LLC that's even partnership in some cases as well.
But yeah, it's coming in and it's setting up the business the right way from the beginning, there's over 125 of these fundability points. But some of the basic stuff that you want to do is try to avoid names that indicate you're in high risk industries. Understand what industry you're really in. Most of us don't know what NAICS code we have. And that's a code designated that we really choose what industry we're in. And this is used by credit bureaus. It's used by lenders and credit issuers. It's used by the IRS. It's used by the SCC. A lot of things are done comparing us to other people in our industry. And if we don't even know what industry we are in, it's problematic. So you need to clearly know what your in NAICS code is. And I'll give you an example, you know, you might say you're in real estate, but there's 32 subcategories of real estate.
So you have to really know what you're doing. And when you're applying for loans or credit cards and even setting up a bank account. Now I set up a bank account the other day, my banker said, you know, what business are you in? It's such a general question, but you know, I give her the exact NAICS code and the exact definition. So there's never a question. So you need to have those things done. You need to have your basics done. You need to have a website set up that reflects what the products and services you sell. You'd have never professional email address, not a Gmail or Yahoo type email address. You need to have a business address. You need to have a business phone number. Voiceover IP works, virtual address works, but you don't want to use home addresses and PO boxes, UPS addresses.
You don't want to use home phone and mobile phones on application for credit or financing. The easiest way to explain it, is just, when you fill out an application for credit financing, you have to think about what's being asked and every answer you're putting down, you have to really ask, does it reflect that you're a credible business? Does it make you look legitimate? Does the answer you're putting down there, creating the perception that you want to lender a credit is sure to have. If the answer is no, you really gotta take a step back and just structure your business and set up a business where you look reputable, you look credible. And if you kind of follow that advice and I think you'll get some of the basic fundability items down.
Chris Ronzio (08:14):
Yeah, it makes sense. All right. So over the last few years you went from 11 to 70 people. Now I want everyone to understand how you guys actually make money. Is it courses, is it consulting? Is it fees on lending? Like how, how does your business generate money to add more people to it?
Ty Crandall (08:29):
Our main forms of revenue is software sales. So what we do is sell a product called our business finance suite. And through it, our customers can build fundability build business credit and they can also get financing. And they work with our funding team and our advising team to help them through the step-by-step software. So that's the majority of what we sell and that accounts for over 80% of the revenue that we bring in. We put partners in the business of being able to offer business credit and financing as a service as well. So we have a partner program where they resell our product white label. And so with that, we also come in and we help them, buy, you know, buy wholesale units that they sell retail. Well, then they have upsells there, where they're able to come in and get more access to us, more access to the, to getting paid on funding products, etc. And then we make commissions on the funding that we help with. Although that's a very small portion of what we actually earn there. So our revenue comes from a lot of different places, but it's usually some subscription upsell revenue. It's the sales of our actual software. And very small amount actually comes in back end commissions from funding sources.
Chris Ronzio (09:34):
So as you went through that journey from, you know, 10 or 11 people up to 70 today, what do you think the secret sauce is? Like, what really took off that enabled you to just keep growing? What makes you different from other people that might be doing this?
Ty Crandall (09:47):
Well, you know, first of all, you have to have a scalable way of doing it. I think a lot of business owners start with referral and that type of marketing, and it's just not scalable. You can't scale a business on that. So I've really found that scaling of business marketing wise, and that's my strong suit is marketing and sales, it really has to happen on two pillars. You have to have organic growth, which means you have to be really good at creating and curating content and distributing that content. You have to be able to do live streams. You have to have organic social media where you're putting a lot of that content out in the world. You need to have a podcast. You need to have as many distribution vehicles as you can to delivering good quality educational content. So my world, you know, my mission is to help people build business credit. If that's truly my mission, then I can't charge everybody to do it. I need to be willing to for free educate people on how to do it and give people a choice, whether they go the free, longer path that they go, the shorter path and work with us direct. So I think you have to be very good at educating and creating the curating content and distributing content.
On the other side, you need to get into paid digital. You need to be able to find scalable ways to grow the business, to increase ad spend, and know you spend a dollar and get $3 in return. Nowadays, you know, Google and Facebook, the statistics are crazy like 80%, 90% of all advertising dollars are spent on those platforms for good reason, because they have, you know, a lot of information about us and they help us really target market or customers. So that's, that's it for me, it's that simple, you know, if you come in and you're very good at curation and distribution of content and providing quality education, and you combine that with a well orchestrated sales funnel that, you know, gives a way of a lead magnet or free guide, a free report, something of value gets people to a sales funnel, again, delivers them consistent value. And then from there, you get them onto a sales call where you, again, deliver consistent value to them on a, on a consultation or sales call. Uh, I think that process could be adapted in any business. Now that doesn't have to do anything about the staffing and I'll answer questions on that, but that to me is how you could take any business from startup to seven or eight fairly quickly is those two pillars.
Chris Ronzio (11:54):
So you mentioned going from referral into marketing and sales and, you know, the same was true for me. My last business was a consulting business and it was mostly referral driven, where as Trainual, we have a marketing engine that runs it. And I think that's a really hard transition for a lot of businesses to make. So did you start this business at the very beginning with those kinds of marketing efforts? Or was there a key hire in your first few people? Or how did you give yourself the marketing muscle to be able to do this?
Ty Crandall (12:20):
You know, the funny thing is when I think about when I started, and I'm not saying this proudly, I kind of laugh at it because it makes me think. I went to Upwork at the time, which is where Upwork, ODesk was at the time. And I got list builders for $1 an hour, which you can no longer do. I think they start at four bucks an hour. And then I had these people build massive lists of businesses with email addresses. And I believed enough in our email funnel and the quality that it delivered, that I just dropped thousands and thousands and thousands of people in our email funnel and spammed them. And I'm not proud of that, but I didn't have any money to market. Right. If you know, that's what we do as entrepreneurs, we just get scrappy. So that's how I got scrappy. And we just built these lists. And what we realized was that people were not opting out even just spamming them. And so, then the interesting thing is, I read this great by Perry Marshall on 80/20 marketing. Sale and marketing.
Chris Ronzio (13:14):
I love that book.
Ty Crandall (13:14):
You love that book, right? So I went home that day and I thought, oh my gosh, like, this is a life changer. And so I went through our YouTube videos and I did an 80/20 analysis. And sure enough, like your 80% of her reviews came from like one video, it worked out, it goes exactly 80 20. And this video was on some crazy thing, like how to build business credit for your EIN. That's not linked to your SSN, like something that most of you, I wouldn't even make sense to be the most popular topic. And then I had that transcribed into a free guide and I ran Facebook ads to it, and it was an absolute hit.
And now, as I look at that, we've got over a million downloads that guide, that guides still one of our most popular guides that we've ever had. And once I figured that out that I started to turn it up and scale and, you know, started to measure everything through and realize we got a positive ROI and spent more spent more. And then anybody that's done, Facebook ads knows what happens next. I'm like, okay, this is great. I'm rich. I just turn it up and everything happens. And the minute you turn up volume on Facebook, everything falls apart. And then eventually it got to a point. You know, never works out that way. You just, it's hard to scale with Facebook for some reason. So then at that point, we needed to bring a marketing person in and we had enough evidence that what we were doing was going to produce an ROI that we knew we could scale the company based on increased ad spend. And then we brought somebody else in to just handle the moving target that Facebook and Google advertising and marketing are and, you know, increased our spend through time. And that's where we are now, where we spend, you know, a million dollars plus a year on this platform.
Chris Ronzio (14:41):
You know, it's funny, when I read that book and I audited my website and all my content and what I was putting out, I had this one article that was like how to get a mortgage as an entrepreneur. And I know you came from the mortgage business. So it was like my experience on how I struggled to get a mortgage as an entrepreneur. So I put together this massive checklist and this thing was ranked number one on Google, like above Forbes and above Inc. And like all this stuff, it was getting tons of traffic. And so I'm scratching my head. Like, how do I turn this into revenue? Am I going to start selling mortgages? It had zero to do with the rest of my business, but it was just this like lighthouse piece of content. So it's funny when you do that audit.
Ty Crandall (15:16):
Yeah, it's a crazy thing. And who would think right. How to get a mortgage, like as a business owners, entrepreneur, that just doesn't even make sense that something like that would rank so high, but it really goes to show how little we truly understand what our audience really wants and the importance of using metrics and KPIs and data to really be able to track them. And, you know, the funny thing is now is that still our second most popular guide, our first most popular guide has to do with 17 credit lines. And again, we found that with an 80/20 analysis, just figuring out on YouTube more clearly stood out, building a guide around that piece of content, running campaigns around it. So now I just think that's the way to do, and she just put out tons of content. You find what really stands out is that is driving tons of leads. Then you make that into a lead magnet. Then you push traffic to that through ads. And it could work for years and years. Like I said, we've downloaded well over a million downloads of that one guide.
Chris Ronzio (16:12):
So this could very quickly, easily turn into a whole marketing episode. And I think people need to listen to the 80/20 strategies and think about your content and think about the importance of marketing. But I want to shift and just ask you a question, you know, as you went from testing those kinds of marketing efforts and to hiring a dedicated marketing specialist, it sounds like, was there a point in the business where you went from general people, your first few people to specialists in all areas of the business?
Ty Crandall (16:38):
The interesting thing I think along this journey has been is that we, and I think I can say we cause' I think all of us entrepreneurs are the same way. At one point, we sit there and go, man, how to businesses like Amazon or Oracle or any of these things have this many people, like how do you manage that many people? And then when you put the trenches and you have to start scaling and doing it, you understand, you figure it out, right? You read every book and you really figure out the best way to be able to do it. So for us, it's interesting because we've probably had over 200 employees and, um, we've only had less than like four or five ever quit. So our retention is insanely high, but it's really high because we just, we hire based on core value and cultural fit. And we believe most skill sets can be taught. And so that's a strategy we've adapted for a very long time. We don't necessarily seek out experts in their field. We prefer to find people with some expertise in the positions we're hiring for, but what we care most about is cultural fit. If they're a good cultural fit, we bring them in because that means they'll stay and we can spend the time and money and giving them the education they need to be able to succeed.
Chris Ronzio (17:46):
Attitude over Aptitude, they say, right?
Ty Crandall (17:48):
Yeah. And I think it's very true. I mean, we've had this massive success and it's interesting because it also gives the ability to move people around in roles and have them handle multiple roles or in career planning, figure out where they want to go. And it's oftentimes not where they are, but you know, it doesn't, we don't care. It's not like we got a salesperson that was a master salesperson. We kind of helped them develop those skills. So if they want to go to business development or somewhere else now, it's not that big of a thing for us to change and keep them on the right path they want to be career-wise.
So, in that hire, we hired Jen and Jen was a guy that had some marketing experience behind him, had worked the smaller company, and he's still with us today and it has worked really well. So that's kind of how we hire it and how we go about finding people that are a cultural fit and then bringing them in and giving them, helping them further develop the skill set to be able to adapt to where they are. Now, we've really realized the importance of A players And an a player is somebody who can let loose and they get the job done. If they understand the mission to accomplish the job without coming back to you again and again, and need help, they just go execute and get things done.
Chris Ronzio (18:53):
So what's your process then on tracking that career path on keeping the conversation, the dialogue open. So you understand when someone wants to move from sales to business development or whatever it is that they're doing,
Ty Crandall (19:02):
Our team leads have a review process every quarter, where they go through with an actual team member. Review where they are up to date, have a career planning session of where they want to go, what they want to do. Are they on track with where they want to be? What does it look like for them a year from now, three years from now, where do they want to be? So we go over that every quarter with each one of our team members. The team lead does that in a quarterly assessment with the team.
Chris Ronzio (19:26):
So 70 people now, how does your workload look? You know, like what is your job these days and how has that evolved over the years?
Ty Crandall (19:35):
I feel like all my jobs have been taken. At this point? You know, look, we build credit suite from the beginning with exited mind. And so you have to be able to pull yourself out of the business. The business has to be able to run without you. So, my first of all happens with a good business partner. And I'm not saying you need that. But my life changed when I found that when I figured out that I'm really good at sales and marketing, those are my loves and I'm not good at operations and all the detailed stuff. And I found somebody that was really good at that stuff. And then we butted heads a lot because we're very different. And then we realized that we're different, which is great, like ying and yang. And then we were able to play off each other and put our strengths together.
That was a big difference for me because it gave me the ability to do what I love, which is sales and marketing and not do the legal, the billing, all the stuff I do not want to do. And so that worked out really well. And then it just kind of comes down to, you start to you know, when we get to enough people, which is five, then we assign a team lead. Those team leads then assign that team of five people. And then we work diligently to make sure that those team leads have good training, good access to information, quality people. We just got off a training session before this started with an outside expert that came in that taught all the team, leads things about communication, for example.
Chris Ronzio (20:51):
Love it, yeah. So any tips for someone then who's struggling to let go of the things on your plate. I love, I love that you say all my jobs have been taken, but that means at some point you had all these jobs and you've behind the scenes done a great job, passing those jobs off to other people or finding the right people. So for someone that's listening and still holding onto the reins, what would you say to them?
Ty Crandall (21:12):
I like to define myself as the laziest workaholic you'll ever meet. By that I mean, I am so big on delegation and automation that I will work tirelessly to build systems, to automate processes. So I don't want to have to do it. So you have to get really good at technology. And there's this great book I just read about like what to do when machines do everything. And it's really fantastic because it talks about AI and the development of technology and digital tech and how you really need to use that and adopt automations and systems and where the future's going and how you need that needs to be an important part. So I think you have to really understand automation. And then outside of that, the way I best did this was, I went through a day at every single thing I did,
I put on an Excel log. Every single task I accomplished, I put on an Excel log. Then I would look at that Excel log at the end of the day, and look at all the stuff I was really doing and ask myself if that's stuff I should be doing or if it's stuff that I could teach somebody else to do once and never have to do it again. And that one little tweak where here's what I do. Can I teach somebody to do this so I never have to do it again, really changed my life. Then it was a matter of going and getting virtual assistants, like women from the Philippines are like my favorite people in the world because they are phenomenal. They're so appreciative to have a job. There's no drama. You teach them how to do something. They do it just consistently for the lifetime.
And so, and when you're an entrepreneur get started, you don't have the money to hire a bunch of people, but you know, at four bucks or five bucks an hour, I can hire somebody for five bucks an hour to take it off my plate. Then you start to link mentally the stuff together. You start to say, this is insane. Like, is this worth my time when I could do it once and have somebody at five bucks an hour, do it for me. Yep. Nope. Five bucks an hour, five bucks an hour, five buck an hour. And then it just this mad rush of filming videos and every single thing you do. And then it's just, it's kind of crazy. I spend sometimes more time through that process thinking, is this something I should be doing or not? Um, then just doing the task because it really gets you to condition to a point where you realize there's so much stuff you shouldn't be doing. And when you get other people to come in and do it and they can do it consistently, you keep the higher level stuff. And then eventually you hire higher level team members that could do that stuff. And you know, it just continues to progress from there.
Chris Ronzio (23:33):
And that's it. You just run through the whole process. I mean, for anyone that's listening, he just gave you the shortcuts. So Ty, if people want to find out more about you or a Credit Suite, where should they find you?
Ty Crandall (23:43):
We're at credit suite.com. That's Credit Suite, S U I T E. So creditsuite.com.
Chris Ronzio (23:47):
Awesome. So you heard it from Ty himself. He is the laziest workaholic that you'll ever find. And he's grown this business from about 10 or 11 people up to 70 people in just a couple of years, by doing the simple things, by delegating, by handing off jobs until he doesn't have any left, by documenting the things that as someone else could do more cheaply than him. And so replay this episode, go listen to his tips and pay special note to the marketing, the investment in marketing at the beginning, that was the real lever for him being able to grow his business. Ty, thanks so much for being here.
Ty Crandall (24:20):
Thanks for having meChris. I Had a blast.
Chris Ronzio (24:22):
Hopefully you can borrow a page from Ty's playbook as you build your own. We'll see you next time.