If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur overwhelmed by the world of loans and business growth, Ami Kassar wants to help you.
He’s been in the Philadelphia area for nearly 18 years after moving from Los Angeles — and from his native South Africa before that — and started the Ambler-based MultiFunding LLC about eight years ago to help businesses find the best financing for them.
Kassar, a member of Temple Sinai in Dresher, and his team, who he said call themselves “loan doctors,” work with lenders to help business owners in many industries — retail, medical, wholesale, real estate, franchising, etc. — best navigate the field. MultiFunding is “industry agnostic,” he said. (“Maybe being agnostic is not a good thing to talk about in the Jewish Exponent,” he added with a laugh.)
Though there have certainly been changes, especially since he started the business during the Great Recession, his main mission still persists.
“The core problem that we try to solve is still existent,” he said, “that it’s very confusing and difficult to know what the best loans are for you and to make sure you’re getting the best advice.”
In addition to his business, he’s sharing his expertise with the release of his first book, or his “third born” as he calls it, The Growth Dilemma. He will hold a launch celebration at The Lucky Dog Saloon in Conshohocken on Feb. 1.
Q: How did you get interested in this field and why did you want to start MultiFunding?
A: I wanted to build a business where small business owners and entrepreneurs could come and, in a completely transparent way, map out their loan choices and alternatives and the pros and cons of the different approaches. And then we would be their advocate and support as they go through the financing, so that’s why I started it.
Q: What makes MultiFunding different from other places?
A: If a business owner needed a loan and they go to their bank, that bank has its own specific credit box, and that bank has specific loan products that they like and are comfortable with, so your bank may or may not be the best solution for you. What we try to do is to offer an insight into all the solutions out there and the different programs so people can make sure that they’re getting the best possible solution to help them.
Q: Why small businesses in particular?
A: Small business has been a passion of mine. I’ve been working in small business finance and entrepreneur finance for two decades, and it’s just an area that I love and I think it’s very important to the economy.
Q: What are the unique challenges small businesses face, and how do you aim to help them?
A: Small business and entrepreneurs face decisions about how they want to grow, how big they want their businesses to become, and they have to make financing choices in order to help them. Often, money is like oxygen for a business. And oftentimes, everyone thinks that it’s equity … that to build a business you need help with equity, that you need to get money from investors, but oftentimes debt can be a better alternative and business owners need help in picking through those options and finding the right solutions for themselves.
Q: How do loans work differently for small businesses and entrepreneurs?
A: One of the reasons they’re different is they often involve a personal guarantee; that means that the borrower — the entrepreneur or the business owner — guarantees the loan personally so that if they can’t make the payment or the default on the loan, they’re personally responsible for it. Sometimes, depending on the loan, the lender also puts a lien on the business owner’s house, so if you take a business loan, you’ve got to make really darn sure you’ve got a plan to pay it back.
Q: So you just wrote a book, The Growth Dilemma. What inspired you?
A: The book is really designed to give business owners and entrepreneurs tools to think about how big they want their businesses to become, what they want to invest in to grow their businesses, how much risk they’re willing to take in the process, and what financing choices do they want to make in doing that. So the book is designed to create a bunch of exercises that business owners can work through and think through in order to make these decisions.
Q: What’s been most rewarding for you in this work?
A: I love it when we can really help a business come up with the proper financing structure so they can grow and thrive. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad actors out there in the world who are promoting bad loans that ultimately do more harm for a business than good, and our job is to try and keep our clients away from those land mines and help them build financing strategies so they can thrive and grow for the long run.
Q: How does your Jewish background and identity influence your work?
A: I always say that I think that we think of ourselves as loan doctors, and we always want to treat entrepreneurs as we would want to be treated. And a lot of those values come from my family and watching my dad be an actual doctor — a real doctor, not a loan doctor — and from just growing up with Jewish values.
Q: What’s a piece of advice you would offer a small business owner or entrepreneur who’s looking into this process?
A: Slow down. If you go to McDonald’s for lunch because you’re in a hurry, you might have indigestion for a few hours, and then you’ll get over it. But if you get a bad loan, you could have indigestion for a few years or ruin your business. Take time and really understand your choices and make sure you’re comfortable that you’re finding the best solution for you.
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