Starting Fresh – Evaluating What’s Really Important
Written by Erik Rajek, SBA Business Development Officer
A few months ago, I took the opportunity to align my career goals with my personal and professional values. Making any big life change can be stressful and humbling, but I’m here to say that you, too, can do it and come out not only unscathed but much happier on the other side.
Not unlike an employee with big dreams considering starting a business, my situation led me to evaluate the pros and cons of staying with a former employer or challenging myself with a bold move to a new one.
This change to First Business Bank as SBA Business Development Officer is “bold” in part because I live in Wausau, Wisconsin, and work all over the north central part of the state. While First Business is well known in other parts of Wisconsin, most folks had never heard of it in my market. But when they see my excitement, and because I’m passionate about the culture, the fit, and the possibilities with First Business, this name recognition issue is only a small speedbump for me. I ultimately made the change for a number of reasons, both personal and professional, but I picked my top three – outlined below.
Why First Business?
- The roots and the focus. Wisconsin-based with its headquarters in Madison, First Business Bank is a business-focused bank that’s part of a publicly traded company – First Business Financial Services, Inc. The company has grown from its founding in Madison in 1990, but continues to embrace a Wisconsin approach to business, i.e. relationship-focused vs. transactional. I previously had that, but my former employer was acquired by a bank headquartered in Chicago, and things changed. As the saying goes: You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. (Hat tip to 80’s rock titans Cinderella.) I am a Wisconsin guy; I’ve lived here my entire life and am a proud graduate of UW-Madison. It really appealed to my sense of state pride to return to a bank with deep roots here.
- The expertise. Over the past two years, First Business Bank has grown to be an SBA powerhouse, with a dedicated staff that guides clients through the most complex of programs and situations to access attractive, long-term funding. I’m proud to say that because of the top-notch support staff at First Business, we’re able to provide our clients with a high level of service and great loans.
- The culture. The culture at First Business Bank aligns with my personal and professional preferences and drew me to the organization. When you’re part of an organization that embraces a positive culture, you see the immense value of it. A strong culture touches every aspect of your working life — from client interactions to human resources to marketing. Everything is in alignment and people come first. It’s exciting to represent a company with a strong focus on maintaining its culture. Our management team values things that are important to me as well, and focus on bringing in the most experienced people to help business owners. As a result, there’s a level of sophistication, but also caring, that I haven’t found anywhere else.
I hope my experience will help you reevaluate what’s important to you in your career and help give you the confidence to make the leap to a better fit or to start a new business! Let me know if you’re starting one – I know I can help.