Credit Managers–Going Out on Your Own?

By Robert Holt
How to Evaluate the Resources You’ll Need.

You’ve just been “downsized.” Perhaps your company closed or you have put your twenty years in and decided to take the severance and move on. What do you do now?
Have you considered going out on your own? It has never been easier. Technological advancements have helped make the ability to run your own company within reach. The use of e-mail, faxes and enhanced phone systems make the job much easier. In fact, all of the work can be done from a “virtual office” at a home office.

1. Get the Technology
You will need a new computer and printer of course, and you also may wish to get:
• Palm Pilot, for contacts and appointments
• Notebook computer, for traveling to appointments
• Fax/printer/scanner combo to save space
• Phone system with multiple lines – you will need a separate line for faxes and also for speaking directly to debtors on behalf of A/R outsourcing clients.

2.You Will Also Need Software
• An office suite, either Microsoft Office or Word Perfect Office
• A contact management package (ACT! or Goldmine, for example) to set your schedule and compile mailing lists
• A collection program, either one of the canned packages or you may use Act! or Goldmine for this.

3. Consider the Corporate Structure
Speak with your attorney/accountant. You may want to go with an “S” corporation or LLC. This would help to insulate you from potential suits.

4. Get Insurance
You will need general liability insurance to protect from loss of documents, damage, and theft. Professional bonding may be appropriate. You may also wish to consider Errors and Omissions insurance. This is insurance for professionals (accountants, attorneys) to cover mistakes made on behalf of clients. You are an independent professional Credit Manager now. You are in essence “hanging out the shingle.” Get the appropriate insurance, bonding, and corporate structure.

5. Who Do You Know?
Over the years, you’ve probably met people from all walks of life:
• Co-workers
• Colleagues at NACM or other trade credit association
• Industry group colleagues
• Clients
• Other professional organizations
• Friends
It’s time to tap into your network. You may find that many people who have come to know you over the years respect your work and integrity and want to help you succeed. They may be only too willing to assist in your efforts and even give you some business.
You will probably need to check any non-compete agreements that you signed with your prior employer. Don’t run away from this, use it. Explain what you are doing, and offer to help with the transition to your successor. Never burn any bridges; your prior employer could be your best referral source!
Also, you will need to market yourself and your new company. Join a professional networking organization, such as Business Network International. This is a group whose sole purpose is to pass qualified referrals to each other, backed by a local and national support system. Another quality group is your local Chamber of Commerce or other business owners association. Go to all of the meetings. Get your name and face out there. Follow up on leads. Help others in your network sphere. Your colleagues will remember you and will want to refer business to a quality individual.

6. What Type of Work?
Here are some options:
• Operate as the credit manager for a few different companies. Many firms may be too small to have a full time credit manager. They still, however, need the assistance that a credit manager can give. The credit manager acts as the “Gatekeeper” to protect from loss. Some smaller firms may need this more than their larger, more experienced competitors.
• Act as the Collection Manager or Collector. Most small companies do not get the best person for this job. Often the Administrative Assistant will also occa sionally make collection calls. They usually do not have the experience, inclination or desire to do this kind of work. Many of us that thrive on collections do so because it is a talent not blessed on many.
• Consulting. Many small-to-medium sized companies have no clue about credit & collections. Your expertise can be invaluable. With a credit & collections department process review, you can conduct a study of the entire process, including order processing, reference checking, credit checking & analysis, and collections. The end result will be a report highlighting concerns, recommendations & suggestions. A third-party review of policies & procedures can be a big help to ensure that this is being handled efficiently.
The independence that is provided by running your own company can be an invaluable source of pride and accomplishment. It is not for everyone; many prefer the security of corporate employment. The hours can be long and disjointed. Failures occur. But it can also be the best career move you have ever made. Give it a shot, it has never been easier.

Robert Holt, President, Baltimore Credit & Collection Services, Inc., started BCCS in 1997. He can be reached at on the web at www.bccs2.com, via e-mail at RHolt@bccs2.com or at 410-549-6444, x201.


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Contact Information

Baltimore Credit &
Collection Services, Inc.
6400 Baltimore National Pike, #469
Baltimore, MD 21228-3915
Phone: 410-549-6444
Fax: 410-549-3366
customerservice@bccs2.com
rholt@bccs2.com