Check out the interview with Chonchol Gupta, the Chief Executive Officer of Rebirth Financial, an online peer-to-business lending platform for small businesses. Listen to the podcast now!
At the recent Kingonomics Conference in Washington, DC, I had the privilege of interviewing Chonchol Gupta at Rebirth Financial.
During one of the panel sessions, Chonchol posed the question: “Why invest on Wall Street when you can invest in Main Street?”
That resonated with me so I pulled him aside afterward to discuss it further.
For most Americans, myself included, there’s a strong belief that the road to building wealth, historically, is by investing money in the stock market, retirement funds and savings accounts that are ensured by mainstream banking institutions, he explained.
While I personally believe that something is better than nothing — and I’m sure there are perhaps some investment routes within these institutions that may fare better or are more secure than others – Chonchol urges Americans to take a slightly different view.
Why invest in local, small businesses or start one?
He says it’s important to put your money in small businesses located right in your own backyard, in your community. Better yet, investing in yourself could also mean starting your own business.
For one, he said that the great economic downturn showed that “Wall Street doesn’t care about Main Street.”
“The ‘superbanks’ neglected what banking at the grassroots level intended to do which [was] supporting those that support them,” he continued.
Chonchol asserts that it’s payback time! And who should be getting paid, as in show-me-the-money paid? Small businesses, of course.
Investing money in our ourselves as entrepreneurs and through local businesses in our neighborhoods and towns “moves communities forward” and produces “better results than if you’re investing in Wall Street,” he said.
Why is it better? Because when you’re putting money back into small businesses you’re boosting your local economy, fueling job growth and regional sustainability, which benefits society as a whole.
Is this a good time to start a business?
I asked Chonchol this question, and he answered with an affirmative ‘yes.’
His father launched a business 30 years ago in Southern California after the company in which he worked went under.
The best time to start a small business is in a recession because for one, Chonchol said, you have “nothing to lose.” Plus, there’s greater opportunity to create something that people need at a time when they need it most.
Innovation is key, but there must also be a need for it, he added.
What’s more important: Passion or Viability?
Without a doubt, Chonchol said passion is what gets you going and sustains you. But don’t fall too in love with a company that you lose sight of the business side.
You must be willing to make some hard decisions in running a business, be willing to let go, and be ready to change directions easily if needed.
Falling in love with a business idea can blur the lines and can potentially make you a less effective business leader.
Chonchol had his eye on entrepreneurship since he was a kid, having watched his dad all those years. (His mom was a school teacher.)
He also witnessed the long hours his dad put in, day in and day out. That’s what has helped him keep a level head.
“It’s not easy,” Chonchol said. “That conditioned me to understand that I’m [probably] not going to be driving a BMW …. as an entrepreneur.”
Chonchol spent a year working as a doorman, and then a year as a bartender after earning a Master’s of Business Administration from Tulane University, and as he laid the groundwork for Rebirth Financial.
If anyone knows a thing or two about changing careers and going out on a limb for something you truly believe in, it’s Chonchol.
Thanks Chonchol for taking the time to speak with The Career Pioneer!
For more information about Rebirth Financial, visit their website at rebirthfinancial.com.