December 13, 2023

Episode #110: Adam Hoeksema – ProjectionHub

Adam Hoeksema is the Co-Founder and CEO of ProjectionHub which helps startups and small businesses create financial projections for potential investors and lenders. Adam started the business with his brother in 2012 and today the company has a team of five who help a few hundred businesses each month with their projections. You can learn more here

In addition to ProjectionHub, Adam also spent a decade as the Executive Director of Bankable, an SBA lender in Indiana. Adam was employee number one for Bankable, and helped build a team that ultimately made over 1,500 small business loans to Indiana small businesses. Adam, his wife Stacy, and their 4 boys live in Middletown, IN where they enjoy living in the country, watching a beautiful sunset from their porch, and growing an ever expanding garden.

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you’re listening to the self-made is a myth make a difference together show with your host coach Tim campsa where we talk with successful business owners to hear the stories of their Journeys in building their successful businesses and more importantly we recognize the folks who help them Excel because we know that achieving business success is not something we can do on our own hello this is coach Tim camel and I’m excited to have a fellow business owner from Indiana with us today my guest started the bankable SBA microloan program right out of undergrad in 2010 in his downtime he enjoys the process of planting and growing a garden in his backyard and he’s most proud of not giving up on his current uh project uh projection hub even when things weren’t working out for him and eventually fig figured out how to get that uh get that to be successful and he’s going to share a little bit more about that with us today it’s my pleasure to have H Adam on the show today hello Adam hey Tim thanks for having me absolutely well hey let’s start with having you uh introduce yourself and tell us a little bit of your personal story like where you born and live and about your family and hobbies sure yeah I was I was born in cooko Indiana so uh I’ve been in Indiana but took a few uh different different routes along the way um to get back to Indiana so um lived in Texas for a while and up in Detroit Michigan um when I was growing up my dad was in the automotive industry and so kind of followed the followed GM supplier for GM and kind of followed that around um the country a bit and then ended up back in cooko for for high school um went to Taylor University uh here in Indiana for for undergrad and yeah I you know studied accounting um during that time I did some audit internships did a tax internship and realized uh accounting the the the accounting career was not really my thing I I wanted to be an entrepreneur um and so yeah decided to go a different path after graduation fantastic and your uh your garden is is it a vegetable garden that you do yeah yeah we we have you know I don’t know tomatoes and cucumbers and squash all sorts of squash and we have strawberries and raspberries too and oh wow yeah lots of lots of different stuff it is a little I have four kids I should have mentioned that I have four four boys ages eight to 18 months um so I feel like with each successive child it gets harder and H hard to keep the garden going right yeah but yeah how big is the is the garden uh it’s I it’s big I mean it’s a pretty it’s it’s pretty big I don’t know like uh maybe maybe 25 yards by 10 yards or something like that I mean it’s you know I kind of just kept digging up more of the yard each year I I also enjoy doing vegetable garden every year so that’s why I was asking more of the details it’s yeah it’s it it’s really uh fun but also can be frustrating when something doesn’t turn out the way that we assumed it you know it would and the way it did last year it’s like what happened why did it not work this year yeah yeah for sure so Adam is there a a funny story that your family likes to tell about you that you’d be willing to share with us today oh funny story well I I guess um probably the the maybe the claim to fame is um the way that I met my wife so uh we were both G to be going to Taylor University um and this was right this was 2006 so right around when Facebook was becoming a thing but you didn’t really know like what was maybe Al Facebook etiquette at the time because it was new you know so um and you had to be part of a college to be able to be on Facebook so it was like you know everyone that just got accepted to to tailor you know then got to get a Facebook or join that group or whatever and um so kids were just kind of messaging each other back in forth and so I’m I’m thinking oh okay let’s see there’s some some cute girls here maybe I’ll some send some messages so my my poor wife was the uh the one sucker that responded to to my message um and uh yeah we started chatting uh you know before we even um started going to school and my my I guess the main embarrassing part but the the um the claim to fame is that my last name hooks him is Dutch and her last name was Van duen which is also Dutch and I knew that I knew it was Dutch but I I started the relationship out with a lie and said hey I hey van names are van names Dutch and you know I thought this is how I’ll get her to respond we’ll start strike up a conversation and U she responded and said if you aren’t Dutch you if you ain’t Dutch you ain’t much this this is I’m this is my my future best friend awesome I love it for sharing uh tell us about um how the business came about and at what point did you have the confidence that you could run your own business yeah so uh after graduation from Taylor um I started at the flagship Enterprise Center which is a business incubator in Anderson Indiana and the the reason they hired me was they were just starting this microloan program and uh so we were making small business loans to to small businesses in the area um so I was really interested in entrepreneurship I was just like soaking up everything from from you know folks that I was working with um and I had started like that very first summer I like started my first idea that I think failed then I started another idea that failed and So within the first couple years I started a couple ideas um along the way I had started a Blog and the blog was kind of on the um it was all around this niche of like helping you write executive summaries for a business plan really kind of a strange Niche but um it started getting some Google traffic and I created a little Financial projection spreadsheet to go along with this like as one of the blog posts and I I decided maybe I’ll just try to see if I can sell this and um figured out how to put it up for sale for like 25 bucks and people started buying it and I was like you know shocked um as like a 20 23 24 year old at the time so um that was like kind of the first evidence that like there might be people are willing to pay for financial projections people need help with this this is something that you know there’s there’s some value there and so um I didn’t really it didn’t really click right away um but then eventually I I realized as I was doing my personal taxes using Turbo Tax I kind of had this idea of like man there should be a a step-by-step process or software tool that could help you create Financial projections um and I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into but I called my brother who is a software engineer or was going to be studying software engineering um and asked him if he wanted to try to build this tool with me and he said yes so we we struck out together and started to try to build this thing wonderful that’s awesome so tell us a little bit more about the company what what’s the name what do you guys do how do you help people yeah so the business is called projection hub and uh we help uh business owners create Financial projections for potential investors and lenders um we today what we do is uh primarily two things we have about a hundred different uh Financial projection spreadsheet templates that are industry specific for you know everything from a trucking business to a coffee shop to a multif family real estate you know apartment complex uh to a software business right so just kind of all these different industries that we’ve created specific templates for um that’s our primary revenue driver and then we that’s maybe let’s say that’s like two-thirds of the business and a third of the businesses um customizing and and yeah building custom Financial models we have a CPA on staff who um will build a custom model or just help you fill the model out if you have you know just don’t have time to want to mess with it so yeah fantastic so for everyone listening make sure to check them out uh in the link in the description and uh go uh go visit Adam on LinkedIn and tell him that you watched his interview today so Adam share a story where someone pushed you or inspired you that you could do it even though maybe you didn’t think that you could and the impact that that person had yeah you know I uh I I think um I had a a professor in college uh his name was Mick Bates um who really helped me get kind of into the the interest in entrepreneurship um so I think freshman year uh of college I entered this business plan competition um with an idea it was a bad idea but it but but I I did the process and ended up getting to the finals and I I I didn’t win the whole thing but I won like I won a little bit of money as like the the best undergrad award or something like that so it’s was like kind of like you did a good job you Tred you know you tried we’ll give you something so um so you know that kind of got the spark going and then I would say probably every every six months of college after that I was like I had a new idea and I would come to Professor Bates with you know here’s my oh let me this is the idea and you know I just remember this one time I had this idea that was just like so infeasible for for me to do I’d probably need like a billion dollars of startup capital or something you know it was just like oh yeah if you had a ion dollars this might be a good idea but U but he he just kind of told me like uh I’m not sure this is the idea but I’m sure you’re gonna have one that works like there’s gonna be an idea that works here I’m just not sure this is it yeah but that that kind of like encouraged me to like okay I’m just gonna I’m gonna keep going at this yeah not get disappointed with the with the bad ideas or the failures yeah Fant it’s great that he was able to balance that you know the the giving you the tough love but also encouraging you to to stay at it and keep coming up with a you know something more feasible that’s awesome Adam what’s your biggest learning as a business owner uh yeah I think that uh yeah what to put it in one biggest I don’t know I I guess I’d probably say uh just get started is kind of the thing I I often um say because you know I work a lot with and even we’re helping people in the planning stages right with financial projections we’re we’re helping people plan so maybe it’s a little strange to say but um in my experience I’ve learned so much by just trying and doing and failing you know that’s how I’ve figured things out and learned way faster than I could have I also listen to lots of podcast casts on entrepreneurship and business and um I’m I can confidently say I’ve learned a whole lot more by trying things on my own and screwing it up sure so I would encourage folks that are you know thinking about starting a business or even just they thinking about an idea in their business like give it a try don’t don’t bet the farm on it but you know give it a try in a small way you’re going to learn a lot that way so yeah I love that advice because there’s so many of us who can get stuck in that analysis paralysis or or fear of failure or fear of rejection or fear of you know it not working out and and we can prevent ourselves from from actually you know taking a step forward so uh one of the phrases I love is progress not Perfection right and and just get a version out there or take a step forward um even you know launching a blog as an example of you know you look at my first you know the first few they’re they’re not nearly as uh well as where we’re at today but it’s that same principle right of just do it and learn it learn through it and figure it out and you’ll get better as you go so that’s awesome advice I appreciate you sharing that What’s um we know that business success you know doesn’t happen in isolation so what’s a challenge thatth you had over the years and and maybe a fellow business owner who came alongside of you and helped you to figure that out yeah I think um I had I kind of skipped over a big chunk of time in the projection hub story so I you know my brother and I started the business as a software tool and we wanted to uh create a a a recurring Revenue business where people would pay us a subscription to access this projection software every month and so that was how the business started we and we tried to make that business model work for probably like six or seven years um and and just you know what we ultimately learned is that one people need projections at a particular point in time so it’s not something they want to keep paying every month for sure um and also Excel is still really good we kept trying to add new features and do this and that and the software and it was like we’re just kind of rebuilding Excel why are we doing this it’s really expensive um and so I had talked to uh to another business owner and he was saying like you know not everything needs to be you know a recurring Revenue business you know he said have you thought about just charging a one-time fee because you know your services needed one time if people are just subscribing for a month or two or three and then cancelling you probably you might be better off you might generate more Revenue um if you just charged a fair onetime fee and so uh we never really made that switch with the software tool but that got us into selling Excel spreadsheet templates for a one-time fee and that has you know 10x the the business from the subscription model because you’re he was right that you know the people wanted to pay for it one time and are hesitant to sign up for a subscription for good reason just as I am too sure right so yeah I think that was that was a a good learning I was trying to force everything you know you wanted everything to be recurring yeah and not everything is a recurring Revenue business so I I like that I’ll use the word pivot because I think that’s you know a good a good um use of that word in this situation I love that you you know you were open to that feedback and and open to changing the the business model to you know to take advantage of the fact that there is a need but you had to deliver and satisfy that need in in a different way and and be willing to you know going from a recurring Revenue model to a one-time model that’s a pretty significant pivot but I you know I appreciate the fact that you know you guys were willing to do that and take that advice and right and and try the other version and and test and measure it and and as you mentioned 10x that’s a pretty good return on a pivot yeah yeah ad if I was I’m gonna put you on the spot here if I was to ask you to three people in your business owner Journey that you’re most grateful for them being there to help with your growth who are those three people and how’ they help you yeah so I would say uh first my my wife certainly um she she stays at home with our four boys and um you know we she’s been supportive and you know in in uh in entrepreneurship a lot of times it feels like maybe I’m not doing it right always but a lot of times the owner is the last one to to get paid right you know the owner’s the last one to really see like I’m like hey things are working okay can we you know can we go on vacation well I don’t know about that you yes if it’s going that well uh uh so I I think she’s just been supportive so well along the ride um on the ups and downs what’s her name uh Stacy awesome uh and I would uh I’d also say I think I’d probably then point out my two two of my key employees uh who’ve been with me for a while so um Grace sna is our CPA um she uh she was working at a at a maybe not a big four but a big eight or something one of the big CPA firms um and took a risk to to leave that pretty steady well-paying work to um come and try to do do projection Hub before before we could really afford her you know and kind of take a I I could promise a a small base commission and then but we thought we could grow it together and so she took that risk and I think it’s worked out really well for for all of us um today and she’s um she’s grown built a lot you know most of the templates as well as done a a lot of the custom modeling for folks so um yeah it great that she was willing to take a risk on on me so her yeah her name was Grace Grace sisna um and then uh and then another employee that has had a big impact for us is Kyle faucet so Kyle worked with me at bankable when I was I was the executive director there for a decade and um he uh he was leaving he he realized he wasn’t gonna stick at bankable for forever um and so we’re kind of trying to figure out what could be next and um and kind of in a similar way it was like well it be we like working together we work well together it’d be cool if we could keep working together outside of bankable um and he was willing and his wife was willing to say yeah let’s take our risk on this and um he really focused his focus is on the marketing side of things and so uh really marketing the the template side of the business not the Consulting side and um has again I mean we’ve probably you know since he started a couple two and a half years ago we probably I don’t know four or five exed our our monthly template sales um and you know that was not clear when he it was not clear that we could do that when decided to join yeah so um yeah just I’d say those those three have all like put a lot of personal risk kind of following me and helping support what what we’re trying to do here so yeah that’s fantastic you you mentioned I’ll go back to your wife and and being a a support and a rock and and encourager that’s pretty important to have because the the you know the the business owner Journey can be a little bit of a you know of a roller coaster at times and you mentioned earlier of hey not knowing right if if I’m going to be able to pay myself in the beginning or if we can take a vacation so having having your your life partner you know be your support and encourager is just so key in this in this business owner Journey so I I can appreciate um having that as well in in my wife and um just appreciate how important that is and how critical that can be at different stages of the of the uh Journey yeah yeah for sure um as you think about the the next three to five years Adam what’s the biggest challenge that you see that you’re going to face in hitting your goals and who are the types of people that you’re going to need to help solve those yeah so I think um one of the challenges that we’ve we’ve we’ve seen is that most of our business comes from uh SEO so we’re getting Organic website traffic which is is great but it also is we’re kind of you know we’re writing on Google Google and and YouTube and um also owned by Google so it’s just like we have a lot of eggs in that basket and we tried to uh tried to figure out ways to diversify um sources of of traffic and business business but I I’ve kind of come to the conclusion that uh the nature of the business is set up really well for SEO it’s like when somebody needs a projection template they’re going to look for it and if we can be there when they need it right then um that’s that’s probably how people are going to be buying you know it’s not like I’m not probably going to sell many templates when someone’s like I might need this someday or you know they’re going to buy it when right at you know they’re just in time sure and so I think I’ve kind of come to the realization that you know diversifying that traffic within projection hub may just not be you know that may not be the right approach and so I’ve been thinking about you know how do I diversify though and so um kind of moving into this direction of like what are other you know maybe start a different a different business or a different kind of service that could be Diversified but complimentary to what I’m doing with projection hub um that would just you know give us a bit more um a bit more safety than just like Google Chang the algorithm today and right all right we’re all this has been fun yes yes yeah so I yeah I think I think uh you ask like what will I need to do so kind of the direction or the the the way the thinking right now is that um trying to build more of a personal brand um around helping uh helping people buy small businesses is kind of what what I the plan right now is to focus on um where I can you know be more active on LinkedIn or sure or Twitter x uh um you know social social media build up that network of people that um won’t just be solely rant on the Google algorithm so I I really like that that analogy of or or the story The what if right what if the algorithm changes because that that’s key and so one of the things we we teach our clients call it the marketing 10 X1 the idea is you know 10 different marketing strategies each representing 10% of our lead expectations and the the idea behind it is exactly what you said it’s the diversifying because if we have all of our eggs in one basket and for some reason that that one lead generation activity stops working then you know we’re kind of left right in a in a pickle so I like the thinking right it’s the right it’s the right and you know thought process and and yes it’s a challenge because of the the G in time nature but um but I do like where you’re going in terms of well where maybe there’s other ways to be just in time right it’s not doesn’t have to just be a a Google search maybe you know maybe you have a podcast maybe you have you know maybe you’re a a subject matter expert and right and people are coming to you different ways maybe you have blogs and right and it’s so it’s not just the the Google search algorithm it yeah I I love it and um personal example of that idea of all the your eggs in one basket if you know if if networking was my only lead gen and then covid happens and the world shuts down for two years I’d be screwed so again having that you know having more than one lead generation activity is is so critical so I’m glad that you’re you’re thinking through that and and can definitely appreciate that uh that uh that is going to be a challenge to figure out how do we grow Beyond or get outside of just having you know Google be our our source of of leads so yeah last question here we um lots of business books and gurus out there Jim Ron is one of my favorite he says that we become the average of the five people that we spend the most time with So Adam as you think about that quote what advice would you have for business owners who are trying to do it on their own and and don’t think that they need to you know reach out to others or or read books or watch videos that they just they just have to just have to push through and and figure out how to grow their business on their own yeah I mean I would I would say that that certainly hasn’t been the case for me that I you know it’s been other people that have you know played different roles at different times I think um so you know like the the for example I talked about the person that told me you know have you thought about um doing the the one-time fee instead of recurring I was like I didn’t really have a a a longstanding relationship with that that person um it was just a someone that had come into my life at a for a period of time and what ended up being really really helpful but I think I um I you know I said yes to or I I saw out connecting with others um that I thought could be helpful or just like interesting to talk to sure um and I think I’ve you know I found that that has paid dividends just you know saying yes to to a connection or reaching out proactively to someone that I might want to try to talk to um that I think could be helpful has it’s been worth it it’s been worth the you know the time and you know effort of building relationship so yeah I’ve heard I’ve often heard folks say well I don’t want to bother somebody I don’t want to you know reach out to them because they’re probably pretty busy so um it sounds like you’ve had success reaching out to people so what would you how would you respond to that if you know somebody who’s oh they’re going to be too busy for me they’re not going to have time to to talk to me or have coffee with me what’s been your experience there yeah you know I what I have tried especially when I feel like I’m uh trying to like punch above my weight or like connect with someone that’s like probably probably busier or whatever um one thing that has worked pretty well is like if I have a very specific question I’m like I see you doing really well with YouTube and so I have this YouTube channel and here’s my question what would you do you know like yeah I’ve sent some very specific questions to to folks and then you know kind of expecting like I’m not going to hear anything and then get just this wonderful advice that may be the only time I’ve ever talked to them or or will ever talk to them yeah um or ever you know connect with them but um so I would say and I think if I would have just said let’s just get coffee like I’m guessing they would have yeah sure right but since I had a maybe an intriguing specific question for them and it you know I think most people do want probably want to help others right and so I gave them the opportunity to see how they could help someone maybe saw them saw themselves and you know just I’m them behind a few years or something like that they remember when they were trying to figure it out so so yeah I I think be specific with some questions and I bet you’ll be able to get folks to really help there does seem to be especially within the the business owner community that sense of paying it forward that you know that hey back when I was just getting started somebody blessed me with their time or an answer and so you know I’m going to make sure to to do that for anybody that reaches out to me because I know what it was like right to be struggling and figuring out and it it there just seems to be an abundance mentality of of giving insights and advice and help within the the business owner Community because we’ve all been through it right um so it sounds like lots of people that have been part of your business owner Journey that have helped you along the way if they were all on the show here today what would you want to say to them yeah I mean I think just a a big thank you and and just um I I think that I’ve had folks just encourage me that I’m that I’m on to something even when I it’s like even when I can’t see it or it’s you know entrepreneurship is this roller coaster right it’s like one day things are going great the next day Google changes something and things are really terrible and it seems like everything’s you know and it’s like I have people remind me in those situations just remind me to you know hey you we’ve built something uh pretty pretty cool here we you know look at what has been accomplished and and um you know and that yeah that it’s maybe it’s better than it’s usually better than uh than my worst day feeling right right maybe maybe not quite as good as my best day feeling right it’s just this the roller coaster so I think I think just uh having people that are willing to be that stabilizer for me has been what can keep me going so yeah fantastic Adam been a pleasure uh speaking with you today thank you so much for being on the show yeah thank you so much for having me thanks for listening to the self-made is a myth show with your host coach Tim campsa please help spread this Movement by liking and subscribing to our show and following us on Facebook and Linkedin or wherever you listen to your favorite podcast to join our movement go to bead okay folks that’s a wrap please pay it forward and be sure to tune in next time to the self-made is a myth podcast