Learn how to self-educate and effectively research…The more you educate yourself, the better you can stay ahead of the competition.
Ken Brokaw is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for starting and growing companies, all while developing long-lasting partnerships. Over the last 11 years, he’s conquered the markets of equipment leasing, working capital, startup funding, business lines of credit and more. As the founder and CEO of FaaStrak, LLC, Ken strives to help businesses discover how to utilize different financial products to accelerate their business growth. FaaStrak offers software with a simple user interface to control the equipment leasing process and execute a specific algorithm to ensure the applicant is placed with the most appropriate lender.
Ken grew up in Michigan but attended Arizona State University. After graduating, he worked for an equipment leasing broker company for several years before deciding he knew a better way to tackle the industry. He’s passionate about helping businesses get what they need, and he knows financial health has a lot of influence on business success. He values transparency and efficiency, and that’s part of why he’s committed to growing FaaStrak. He moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to start the company, and now is happy to call Charlotte and all its vibrancy his home. He has an English Bulldog named Tugboat, and in the rare instance he’s not working, he loves exploring the outdoors.
Where did the idea for FaaStrak come from?
“FaaS” comes from “Financing as a Service.” Like “SaaS,” because fundamentally, we’re a software company, but we’re focused on business financing. The idea came to me after I worked for another financial broker company for awhile. It did a lot for lenders, but not so much for borrowers, and that got on my nerves. The company would match borrowers up with lenders that didn’t give them great terms because it took so much effort and paperwork to do so, and I didn’t think that was fair. So, I really took it upon myself to figure out a better way to give those in search of financing a way to find their ideal terms, and a better way for lenders to connect with those people – so I came up with FaaStrak. We facilitate and automate the entire equipment financing process for equipment vendors.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I get up really early – like 4 a.m. – because I want to make sure I have time to tackle everything. I read and meditate first to take care of my mental state, and then begin to focus on executive projects. To keep productive, I focus on the one project that I know will move the needle for the company, and I make that my mission until it’s finished.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My motto is, “better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” I skip the wondering period – that period of time where you’re scared to take action on things. I try to approach them pretty logically, and of course, I weigh my investment costs, but I don’t dilly-dally when it comes to implementing them. Being an entrepreneur is all about taking the right risks, and if you never put theories into practice, you’ll never move forward.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Automation, obviously, because that’s what FaaStrak is. But also AI. It’s cool to see what the tech world is doing with artificial intelligence, and all the things it can do for efficiency and automation.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Meditation. I meditate every day. If you can learn how to clear your mind of everything, it’ll help you focus on business things when the time comes for it. It also gives your mind time to rest, which we all need.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn how to self-educate and effectively research. You don’t always have to be taught how to do things, and I should have taken more initiative to learn more, earlier on. The more you educate yourself, the better you can stay ahead of the competition.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Schooling is kind of irrelevant. Not fundamentally, of course, but when it comes to the really important things in life, you learn those after you graduate. Most of our knowledge comes from daily life, and we’re always educating ourselves. You don’t necessarily need a PhD to do big, influential things.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Read! Like I said, if you want to be successful, you have to constantly be further educating yourself and learning as much as you can about not only your trade, but also the everyday things life can throw at you. There’s a book for everything.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I don’t like to wait to execute things. Businesses are volatile and there’s no use in trying to plan every detail. You don’t have to iron everything out, you just have to execute your plan with grace. You’re going to be hit with constant changes, so I don’t like to waste time thinking about “what ifs.”
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I got fired for starting another company. But they say one door closed is another one open, right? So instead of stressing out about it, I went all-in to the company I started and ended up not having to get another “real” job, because I created my own.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Businesses don’t succeed off of ideas. They succeed off of execution. Unless you’re willing to act upon those ideas, they’re irrelevant.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I just purchased CLEAR/TSA Pre-Check because time is money, and I also hate waiting in airport security lines.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
This doesn’t directly have to do with our business or the software we use, but I use Headspace a lot – which is a mindful living website. As I mentioned before, meditation always helps my head stay clear and focused.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. I won’t spoil it, but it talks about what makes a good leader in life and in business. It has fundamentals that are really applicable to starting a company.
What is your favorite quote?
“Money doesn’t change people, It only amplifies who they are at their core,” which I’m pretty sure is a Will Smith quote.
- It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. You have to take risks sometimes, and you have to be a leader in what you’re doing. That doesn’t happen if you’re waiting around.
- Running a company is volatile – the world is constantly shifting, and so will your business. Don’t stress about ironing out every detail, just be prepared for those shifts.
- There’s always room for more knowledge. Go out there and teach yourself the things you want to know, the opportunities for growth are endless.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.