Meeting Ali Leonard was an extreme pleasure. Ali is a knowledgeable, engaging personality with a passion for improving the financial lives of individuals and families. Ali shares what inspired his business, goals yet to reach, and a vision for wealth creation. If you know me, you will know immediately why we connected.
Question 1: What is name and your business?
1). Financial Services Unlimited (http://www.fsucredit.com/)
Question 2: How did you figure out that your skill/hobby could be a business?
2). When I was a loan officer about 15 years ago, I found that many of my clients couldn’t qualify for a mortgage loan. I began to delete negative accounts in the efforts to increase credit scores. Clients began to see a change in their FICO score and became eligible to complete the loan process successfully. Afterwards, other co-workers in the office started to ask me to provide the same service to their clients’ credit. As a result, I knew then that credit consulting could become a successful business opportunity for me.
Question 3: What are the tools or know-how you feel you need to get to the next level in your business?
3). I need to get my company in front of more clients by advertising, marketing, and completing more credit seminars for the community. People should know that there is a legit company here to assist them with their credit needs. We are also in the process of orchestrating our non-profit division. This is an arena outside of my expertise; therefore, I do need outside assistance with creating this plan. I just know that this would [a pathway] to a broader range of business opportunities for my company.
Question 4: Who are your role models or examples as entrepreneurs who built businesses before you?
4.) As for role models, James Harvey was the individual that hired me as a loan officer in 1999. Outside of his mortgage company, he had several successful businesses that he operated (security companies and property management companies). He is now a chairman of Shelby County Commissions. Also, my mother inspired me. She went back to school at the age of 40 and earned her BS as well as her Masters. She worked 3 jobs to provide for me as a single parent in Chicago.
Question 5: What’s the toughest business decision you have had to make up to this point?
5). The hardest thing that I had to do business-wise was closing my doors for about a year in 2008 during the real estate crash. Business was hard and I let people persuade me to seek employment in the “corporate world”. I then took a job as an Assistant General Manager of a Hotel. I worked this position for about 6 months. Afterwards, I was promoted to General Manger and laid off about 7 months after completing the hotel’s model for renovation. This was a blessing in disguise, and I was forced to regain the power to reopen my business.
Question 6: How is your business or product unique from others in the market?
6). Financial Services Unlimited is now a family based business and we pride ourselves in providing excellent customer service. My clients are not just numbers but apart of a family. We also educate them on the credit systems because knowledge is power. We equip them with the ability to upkeep their credit scores after they complete the program. We can help our clients reduce debt which allows them to increase cash flow to invest in themselves (rebuild wealth).
Question 7: What are your goals for your business?
7). Our goals are to make FSU a household name. I am going to continue to do Credit Seminars to spread educational information about the credit systems and how it operates. I believe that it is important to educate our future leaders so that they will not make the same mistakes that we made growing up. Credit is too important not to have or not to know how to work the system. We cannot maximize our credit scores and use them for our advantage if we do not know the rules or credit secrets. Our second goal is to become a HUD approved Credit Counseling Firm.
Question 8: What other things should we be on the lookout for from your business?
8). I plan on publishing books, producing or creating CDs, DVDs and one day a radio talk show.
Question 9: What other comments would you like to make?
9.) Credit is a computerized reputation that we all have. I am putting a Credit Awareness Tour for Colleges and Universities together. My main focus, at this time, will be to target HBCUs . I will give people an option in life to eliminate debt 50% to 70% sooner. I want communities to build Wealth not Debt.