Becoming an Entrepreneur – Interview with David Ballheim

Becoming an Entrepreneur – Interview with David Ballheim

By Joe Bolick, UNI Business and Community Services

Name: David Ballheim

Company Name: Ballheim Financial, LLC

Year: 2012

City:  Quad Cities, IA/IL

How did you get your start?  

I spent my first four years after graduating from UNI working in the advertising industry with a small marketing firm that specialized in automotive advertising.  When the global financial crisis hit, the automotive industry tanked and so did the small business I had worked for.  Finance had always interested me so I pursued a new career with Wells Fargo Financial.  Although I enjoyed my time at WFF, my ability to manage the full financial scope of client needs was limited.  I also missed working in a small business capacity and having that sense of comradery.  I knew it was time for another change so when the opportunity presented itself I moved to the Quad Cities to work for a small business that specialized in independent investment advice.  In a few short years I had worn every hat in the business and I started to have my own ideas on how systems and day to day operations could be improved.  It became evident that the only way to continue to evolve was for me to break away and open my own firm which is exactly what I did.  It’s been almost five years and I haven’t looked back.

What is the one financial recommendation you would give to a small business owner or entrepreneur?  

I would recommend you really know and trust your financial resources.  Of all the challenges I have faced the financial challenges in the beginning were the ones that kept me up at night.  Whether you are self-financing your business, borrowing from a family member or going to the bank you must really understand what you’re getting into.  If you’re self-financing, be extremely honest with yourself and the potential impact your investment will have on your household.  If you’re borrowing from a family member think of what you’d do if that resource suddenly went away.  If you’re going to the bank for a loan, what would you do if the terms and conditions of your agreement changed or you were suddenly cut off?  Having solid financial resources and backup plans in place will give you the comfort you need in order keep your focus where it needs be – growing your business.

What are your thoughts on succession planning?  

Succession planning in the financial industry has been a controversial topic lately.  Proposed regulations would require every advisory firm to have a succession plan in place.  The purpose of these plans is to address operational issues in the event of a natural disaster, cyberattack, death of key personnel, etc. Personally I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.  If you haven’t adopted a plan already I’d say you are behind the times and you are failing your clients as an advisor.  The potential for a significant disruption in your business is inherent so planning for it should be standard procedure in my opinion.

Any advice for an entrepreneur just getting into this field?  

To those that are looking to get into the industry I would recommend researching the different types of business models associated with financial advice and ask yourself where you fit in best.  There are big differences between Registered Investment Advisors (RIA’s), Banks, Broker/Dealers, Insurance Companies and Trust Companies even though each is in the business of giving financial advice.  Aligning your strengths to the model that best fits your skill set would give you the highest opportunity for success.

Share this post