One Christmas, driving home from work in the middle of a snowstorm, I saw a guy in a broken down car at a busy intersection. People were being jerks—honking their horns and swerving around him rather than stopping to help.
In the spirit of the season, I pulled over and offered my assistance. Luckily, the street he was facing sloped slightly downhill, and I was able to push him for a block or so until he steered into an empty parking lot.
He got out and thanked me. Then he said something totally unexpected:
“Can you give me a job?”
Surprised, I told him no. I wished him well and returned to my jeep. What a weird question, I thought.
As I eased into traffic, my conscience nagged me. What the hell was I doing? The guy was obviously desperate, asking a perfect stranger for employment like that. He probably couldn’t afford presents for his kids.
If hiring him was out of the question, I could at least give him money. I turned around and drove back. He was still in the parking lot, standing beside his vehicle looking lost. I nosed up to him and lowered the window.
“Man, thanks for coming back,” he said. “It seemed kinda crazy that you’d be willing to shove me that far through the snow and then outright refuse to give me a jump.”
Seeing the Whole Picture
Why had I heard “job” instead of “jump”? The answer seems obvious now—I’d made some assumptions about the guy based on his predicament. Broken down car, friendless, hopeless, relying on the mercy of a random dude on a cold, dark winter night … of course he was seeking employment.
That’s what went on inside my head. But really, all he needed was a little boost to help him get home to his family.
Lenders tend to view small business owners with bad or nonexistent credit scores the same way I viewed the guy at the intersection. Cash broke, struggling, isolated. Waiting forlornly for someone to putter along and hand them a wad of bills.
Usually, the truth is much more complicated. When I began my first company, I was desperate for financing. I couldn’t get it because I had no credit history. It didn’t matter that business was booming or that I worked my tail off or that I was good at what I did. My credit scores (or lack thereof) were the only thing that counted.
But all I needed was a boost. It’s all that any of us need. It thrills me to think of the thousands of small businesses that Nav will assist in 2018. Our mission is to help entrepreneurs everywhere build, protect, and leverage their credit data so they can confidently create the business of their dreams.
Thanks for a wonderful year. Let’s make the next one even better.
This article was originally written on December 22, 2017.
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