Terry Campbell served in the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant Colonel before entering the civilian workforce as an HR specialist. Eventually he decided to pursue a new professional avenue, opening Liquid Capital of Virginia, a company dedicated to helping small - and medium-sized businesses grow and succeed through "factoring." We asked Lt. Col. Campbell some questions about his career choices and experiences, and picked up some insights to pass on to veterans.
Can you give us some background on your military experiences?
I served for 20 years as an Armor officer after graduating from West Point. I had the privilege of commanding a tank company at Fort Riley and an armored cavalry troop patrolling the old East-West German border. I served as a tank battalion executive officer deployed for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I was fortunate to also have served on the ROTC staff at LSU and as the US Exchange Officer to the Australian Armoured Centre. I finished my career as a staff group leader at CAS3 at Fort Leavenworth.
What made you decide to change your career from HR and how did you decide on "factoring" as your new area of expertise?
For some time my wife and I had been thinking about owning our own company. We had looked around at several opportunities but nothing really appealed. We went to a franchise expo and met a franchise broker who specialized in helping veterans find a franchise. The account manager he assigned us to did a great job in getting to know us and narrowing down the types of companies that we might be interested in. He presented Liquid Capital and as we learned more about factoring the more we liked what we saw. More importantly, we found that the executive team at Liquid Capital shared our values.
Can you talk a little bit about factoring and how it helps local businesses?
Factoring is an alternative form of financing. We purchase our client's invoices, which usually have extended payment terms, and provide them with immediate cash so they can better manage their cash flow and grow their business. Our clients have strong sales but the payments often lag by several weeks. In the meantime, they need the cash now to pay their employees, bills, purchase supplies, and so on. That is how we help; we turn that asset called accounts receivable, a promise to pay, into immediate cash without adding any liabilities to their balance sheet.
What were some of the challenges in changing your career "mid-stream"?
The biggest challenge was committing to the decision to leave my comfort zone and start my own business. I worked with a lot of good people. I enjoyed my job and was positioned to make a large contribution to the company's success. But ultimately I felt strongly drawn to building my own company and found the courage to make the commitment to start.
Did you find that your military skills and experiences helped you in your career transition?
Absolutely! The Army gave me confidence in my ability to assess, adapt and overcome any situation. I think that without that confidence, I would not have found the courage to step out on my own.
Also, leadership is fundamental to the military and is key to any successful business. The newest recruit quickly learns you don't manage technology, you lead and manage the people who operate the technology. The leadership skills and experiences I gained in my career helped me in my previous position as a director of HR and I believe will continue to help me as we build this business. Establishing relationships and building trust is at the center of leadership and at the center of this business.
Finally the Army taught me to take responsibility. I learned early on that I was responsible for anything my unit did or failed to do and to never turn a blind eye to something that was wrong. I think most military service members learn this early on. In many respects, I think that this willingness to step in and take responsibility set me apart from my contemporaries and gave them the trust the company owners had in me. I also think my clients like that about me and trust me because of it. They know I will do all I can within the bounds of the law and ethical behavior to help them succeed.
What tips or advice would you have for veterans interested in getting into your field?
For the way we operate, you have to meet minimum financial requirements – the franchise holds you to certain standards while helping you meet your goals. Beyond that you need to have a reasonable grasp of business financial management and general understanding of how money moves within a business. A genuine interest in helping other companies succeed is another asset. Of course we are also in this to make money, but if you can't find satisfaction in helping small businesses grow and prosper then you may find this uninspiring and humdrum.
This is not a passive business. You have to work at it to grow a clientele and succeed. Like the military, it requires hard work.
Beyond finding work as a factor, I would also advise anyone to make sure your values and those of the company match. You owe it to yourself to investigate any opportunity you have. As part of that investigation you must determine that the culture of the company you are joining is one that you can live with. If you don't fit in the culture then you will never find satisfaction or success in your work.
About Liquid CapitalTexas-based Liquid Capital is an international network of franchise owners or “principals” who help small- and medium-size businesses grow and succeed through “factoring,” a specialized financial service that provides immediate financing secured by credit-worthy account receivables. Clients include both small, growth-oriented businesses and established mid-sized companies who oftentimes require additional working capital when money is tied up in accounts receivable and obtaining funding from banks and other traditional resources means a long and arduous process. Liquid Capital currently has a network of approximately 60 franchise owners or “Principals” in NorthAmerica. For more information, visit www.lcfranchise.com/.