Jacques Poujade, CEO of LendPlus, recently sat down for an exclusive interview with Inspirey, answering some of the top questions he is usually asked in his line of work. With years of experience in the business and financial work, he has learned a lot and applied it to his company.
About 10 years ago, LendPlus was founded by Poujade. He felt like there was a very specific need for a lot of people out there who are in tough situations financially.
Too many people were simply unable to get the money needed to successfully purchase a home and pay a monthly mortgage. They were looking for other answers besides trying to rely on a typical bank loan.
Poujade has been able to build his Aliso Viejo, California company up in the last decade, going from an idea in his head to a company that now has over 100 employees. Even though he is happy with his company’s success so far, he seems as hungry as ever to continue having business success. Here is his unique insight on business not only as a CEO, but as a guy starting out in the world of business and finance as well.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
I first had the idea just by simply noticing some trends around me. There were a number of people I came across on a daily basis working my other jobs that wanted to own a home, but couldn’t. Sometimes, they simply weren’t at that point in their life that they could feasibly pull it off. However, in most cases, they just needed a little bit of assistance. A jump start, if you will. So those people inspired me to try to help others like them in the future out.
How do you make money?
I’ve been very fortunate to see LendPlus grow from humble beginnings to the company it is right now. I felt confident a decade ago, but no one ever knows for sure in business if things are going to work out or not. LendPlus has been and is my current business focus.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
The beginning was tough, because we are in the business of lending money to others. I really did not see much profit until almost two years into the business. That might sound somewhat discouraging for potential business minds out there, but that’s about par for the course and in line with the mortgage market we’ve experienced over the past decade.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
There are always doubts. We are all human. I do have confidence in myself and the people I surround myself with though. Like any business, we need customers to survive, and there were some tough times in the beginning. Now, I’m focused on building everything out at a solid pace.
Anyone who has doubts should know that it is normal. Just continue to put your head down and work hard. Starting a business means you are giving up a normal 40 hour a week job and sometimes working twice that amount of time or more to survive and eventually thrive.
How did you get your first customer?
This might be cheating, but it was a good friend of mine. He was dealing with a very difficult situation financially that I don’t want to get into too much since I respect his privacy. It was satisfying to not only help him at the time, but also see that he has turned his entire life around. I feel like LendPlus played a small part in righting the ship.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
In general, I think marketing a new business needs to be very specific to a base of people. So find out who wants your service or product and begin marketing that way. Even 10 years ago, advertising online isn’t as prevalent as it is now. I would start all marketing strategies online these days, because it is usually cheaper and very targeted.
Can you think of the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months? What was it?
Just some minor growing pains with the company. I really can’t complain too much about the last few months because things have been relatively calm. Of course, I could be jinxing things by mentioning that.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Well, it is time for me to sound cliché. I don’t give up. I work extremely hard (my family and friends would probably say too hard at times). There are always going to be difficulties and challenges, but hard work usually provides rewards in the end.
Staying positive is also a major key for me. It can be easy to get down if something doesn’t go perfectly.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My parents always told me that one of the best things a person can ever do is provide job opportunities for others. Each new hire we have is a very satisfying experience.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I’m really looking forward to the future with LendPlus. I think we have met a lot of goals so far, but we are still a young company. I’m not in the prediction business, but I think we still have a lot growing left.
What business books have inspired you?
Good To Great was always a favorite of mine. I think I read that one about five times and still go back to reference it to this day.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
Noise canceling headphones, for sure. Nothing is better to escape the sounds of a busy airport and retreat to your own world and listen to an audio book.