Ep 18: Know Thyself, Know Success — Cole Harmonson

This week on The EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast, Wes interviews Cole Harmonson, CEO of Far West Capital — a small business investment firm that was started in July 2007. Since its founding, Harmonson’s business has financed over $6 billion worth of receivables for over 750 clients across 33 different states and recently announced a merger with Advantage Business Capital — a investment wing of Houston’s longstanding Central Bank.

In the podcast, Cole divulges some secrets to his business’s success — many of which revolve around clearly defining your business’s mission and values and sticking to those at all costs. Cole also reflects on the importance of “knowing thyself” — examining your own person for personal strengths and weaknesses and leaning into (and away from) those in a professional setting.

 

The EnTRUEpreneurship Takeaway:

“Find the place where you’ve at least got the humility to say, ‘I’ve got so much to learn.’”

“People think there’s a separation between business and personal — that how I show up here is not how I’m going to show up there — and I think that’s bad advice.”

On finding a business partner that aligns with your values: “When your values are what you are practicing as a business, like attracts like.”

“I look at entrepreneurship as a vehicle for personal growth and as a vehicle for uncovering many of your weaknesses.”

“I believe if you take the time, you can step back from failures and think, ‘What is it about myself here that I can be learning and bringing back to the tribe and sharing with other people?’”

“As a leader, I believe your biggest job is to enforce [your core values] … At the end of the day, it’s incumbent upon any leader to say, ‘You either fit here or you don’t.’”

“Get really clear on what it is that you’re all about, then hold those standards.”

 

Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

1:26: Cole discusses his early life and career and how, although he did not sense an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age, he quickly grew weary of the oft-conformist culture of the finance industry.

9:38: Harmonson expands on his dislike of the restrictions of the “normal job” and his desire to define how he wanted to be treated, how he wanted to treat employees, and how he wanted business culture to operate.

12:16: Cole reflects on his first year in his own business and how starting his business during the recession actually ended up working to his advantage.

15:47: Cole takes time to give some of his most important advice to young entrepreneurs: establish a common mission and common values early in your business and communicate them often.

18:53: Cole discusses how his company has been able to differentiate itself in an industry where, largely, the product is the same company-to-company.

25:21: Harmonson expands on how Far West Capital uses technology within the investment industry to enhance customer experience, as opposed to merely expanding its portfolio.

28:29: Harmonson discusses the future of Far West Capital, its newly-announced merger with Advantage Business Capital, and how the two businesses became one.

31:03: Cole shares some excellent advice for small businesses and startups on how to ensure that a potential business partner fits into its own mission and values.

32:29: Knowing what he knows now, Harmonson shares some advice with his younger entrepreneurial self, which can be simply summed up in two words: know thyself.

 

Bullet List of Resources –

Cole Harmonson

 

Far West Capital