Champions for Financial Literacy
It took a seemingly innocent question from his 12-year-old daughter to drive Eric Martin into the arms of his true passion…but more on that in a minute. Eric began creating his new venture in early 2010 and launched the website seven months later. Champions for Financial Literacy is a non-profit focused on improving financial literacy, especially among high school and college students. “Our work is divided into three main areas,” Eric says, “free resources, free classes and online video training.”
Q: What do you find most fulfilling
about running your business?
EM: Sharing my passion for financial education with others is extremely satisfying. It’s true when you hear people say that once you find your passion, you’ll never work another day. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating this business and look forward to sharing it with many, many people as it grows.
Q: What motivated you to start
EM: Last Christmas, I was at the bookstore with my daughters. Naturally, I gravitate to the ‘business’ section – it’s what I like to read! My oldest, who is 12, said, “Why don’t you read something FUN for a change?” At that moment, I consciously realized what I had subconsciously known for a long time. I love financial education – it was time to DO something with it. I did some research and discovered that financial literacy in this country is terrible. And there it was in front of me – a wide open market opportunity to create something doing what I love.
By background and training, both my undergraduate and graduate degrees are in business. I worked in the investment industry for several years, owned a small business ($7 million in revenue) and now have the ability to serve as Chief Financial Officer for a non-profit in Denver.
Q: What book has been most helpful
to you in your business?
EM: There have been so many. At the moment, I still like eMyth Mastery and eMyth Revisited by Michael Gerber. The concept of working “on” your business, rather than “in” it, is a powerful mental shift. It applies to far more than just a business – and that’s part of the reason I like it.
Q: Who has influenced you most
in your life?
EM: Wow, great question. I’m not sure I can identify a single person. I think, if I can, I’d like to change “who” to “what”, since for me, I have been far more influenced by events than people. For example, I watched my (then-young) father downsized from his “stable” Fortune 500 job and struggle for years to find himself again. I’ve experienced catastrophic business failure. I’ve seen professionals try and start a business – great lawyers, yes, great law firm owners, no. All these events have shaped who I am today – and, more importantly, shaped the training I am now sharing.
Q: What has proved to be your most
successful marketing strategy?
EM: Well, we are just getting started with this venture. But my prediction is that word-of-mouth and referral (both offline and online) will be the most effective.
Q: What have been the greatest
challenges you have had to overcome, or are currently facing,
in your business?
EM: In this business so far, the greatest challenge has been to stick to my own promise to myself – that I would launch this business with virtually no investment. I would invest my time – but almost no capital. There were times, certainly, when it would have been easier to call in the experts, but I was committed to doing this from scratch to prove that it could be done. So far, I have been successful and have stuck to my promise.
Q: How did you benefit from participating in a Make-it-Fly® board?
EM: Great networking and a “safe” place to share crazy ideas. Often, people are quick to judge and shoot down ideas. The Make-it-Fly® forum provided a great place to brainstorm, share ideas and learn from others.
What would you say to other business owners who are contemplating
getting involved in a Make-it-Fly® board?
EM: I would recommend a Make-it-Fly® Advisory Board to business owners and senior executives of larger businesses. It’s a small investment for a large benefit, both personally and professionally. Through the experience, you get to know the other participants quite well and, in my case, continue the relationship long after the meetings have come to an end.
Eric Martin can be reached by phone at: 720-291-1202. Or visit his website at: www.financialchampions.org
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