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Mini-cast 108: Another EO A-ha Moment - The SBA

Bret Keisling shares a recent EO A-ha Moment, when he realized the amazing potential for EO practitioners and advocates to work with the Small Business Administration. Seriously.


Mini-cast 108 Transcript

Bret Keisling: 00:07 Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: 00:18 On our primary EO/ESOP podcast. We are smack dab in the middle of a two-part episode series featuring David Hincapie, who is an economic development specialist with the Washington DC Metro area district office of the Small Business Administration. Now I'm going to distill two episodes down to just a couple of minutes today. I'm not even going to say I hope you'll check out the episodes -- please listen, because in the conversations with David and you'll hear them over two parts, but during the second episode, Episode 126, I had an EO "A-ha Moment." Second one in my life! That moment, as we've talked about on recent podcasts with lots of guests, that moment where I knew that employee ownership was poised to change everything. I had another one of those moments.

Bret Keisling: 01:22 In Episode 125, David lays out an overview of the SBA. He talks about the 68 district offices. He talks about the 7(a) and 504 loan programs, and it's solid information and very, very helpful to have, it demystifies a lot about the SBA. For example, I knew there were caps of $5 million on the 7 (a) loans never occurred to me that the cap of 5 million could be for example, half or a third of a $10 or $15 million transaction. This greatly widens the opportunity to broaden SBA funding. But that's interesting. It's a little exciting, but it's interesting.

Bret Keisling: 02:09 What I got really excited about was as he laid out the 68 district offices and the fact that only one, his, has somebody who's passionate about employee ownership and has developed expertise. So my "A-ha Moment" is there are 67 district offices of the SBA that need education, that need enthusiasm, and they need to be brought into what we're trying to do.

Bret Keisling: 02:45 Regular listeners know that I was an ESOP trustee for seven years. I was the co-founder and co-managing director of a boutique trustee firm that's still going strong. I've built a practice. When my partner and I formed Capital Trustees, we didn't have a client base. We both actually did other things in addition to trustee work. So it's with that perspective and that hat on that I'm going to share with you the "A-ha Moment".

Bret Keisling: 03:16 There are 67 district offices of the SBA that don't have somebody like David Hincapie. They're not passionate or knowledgeable about employee ownership and that's not their fault. That's our fault. So if I were a practitioner today looking to build my practice, I would reach out to the local SBA office. David lays out how to do this; all the phone numbers, email addresses are public record. You can find them. I'd reach out to folks in the SBA office, I'd start educating them about employee ownership. We know how to do this. Reach out, ask for a little bit of their time. Educate them about employee ownership. Overcome the objections.

Bret Keisling: 04:00 I'd suggest that you put together presentations for your clients if you're a larger firm and you have multi-disciplinary clients. Law firms, valuation firms -- I'd put on an educational seminar with the SBA. I would become as much as possible the go-to person with knowledge and experience of the SBA in my area.

Bret Keisling: 04:26 And folks, I mean that sincerely, and it's not cynical. I'm talking about building a practice because here's another thing that David said. There's an ESOP lawyer that David has worked with. It's one of the only ESOP lawyers he knows. So when David's going around to businesses now, and among all of the SBA funding options he's mentioning about, he's talking about employee ownership as one of them, but these business owners will then come to David. Hey, I'd like to learn more about employee ownership! Guess where David's sending them? To the ESOP lawyer he personally knows.

Bret Keisling: 05:09 This is marketing and networking at its finest. Build the relationships with your local SBA offices. And again, David lays out in Episode 126, how to do it, build the relationships, become known for some expertise. And by the way, as you're working so hard to break through the clutter of employee ownership, practitioners, and again, been there done that. It is really challenging to find your footing as an emerging professional; you get a reputation at the conferences at the organizations as somebody with some good SBA knowledge, real SBA knowledge. Well, guess what? If I were back in my trustee days and I didn't develop that SBA knowledge, but SBA came up with one of my clients, I'd be talking to you about it! Suddenly, now, if you're an emerging professional, you're on my radar or the radar of established professionals.

Bret Keisling: 06:24 Folks, I've always said, I'll hope you'll check out previous episodes. You can find them all on our archives at or wherever you get your podcasts. But for Episode 126, particularly, but tied in with Episode 125, please listen, please listen. I think that ultimately, and we are playing long ball, but ultimately we can make the SBA a valued partner of employee ownership. And if you're a practitioner and you want to make your practice zoom, here's a niche that doesn't even exist yet.

Bret Keisling: 07:17 Folks, thank you so much for joining me today. I hope, obviously, that you'll come back Tuesday for Episode 126, do want to say, if you want to support our work, we really appreciate it. If you'd follow us or subscribe to the podcast, wherever you get them, or like the episodes, and we are rather robust on social media, particularly Twitter, we hope we will see you there.

Bret Keisling: 07:37 Our country's going through a lot right now together, and that's how we're going to get through it in the best spirit of employee ownership, we'll get through it together. Thank you so much for listening. This is Brett. Keisling have a great day.

Bitsy McCann: 07:53 We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Temi, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The ESOP Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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