”Axial allows you to get in front of a deal quickly. Being first to respond gets you a better turnaround rate. That’s what business owners want.”

Karen Small

January 2016

Sterling Commercial Credit is a family owned and operated financial service provider specializing in short term commercial lending. Sterling’s mission is to engineer creative working capital solutions for growth minded entrepreneurs, which allows them to follow their dream with an industry leading, transparent commercial lending partner.

Karen Small and the other founding partners of the firm believe their competitive advantage is “better bedside manner” in working with company owners. “We are entrepreneurs…we’ve all had our own businesses, and we’re ex corporate bankers. We’ve lived every side of the ledger – as bankers, borrowers, entrepreneurs. We understand how emotional going to market can be,” says Karen.


Sterling Commercial Credit joined Axial in January of 2015 after being referred to the network by three independent sources. Sterling uses Axial to connect with company owners, bankers, brokers and equity investors who are looking for that final phase – financing the deal. “We love to be contacted once a company is done with the investment raise,” says Karen Small. “The business owner likes that piece because we’re injecting fresh capital into their company, without taking any equity.”

Sterling belongs to many industry organizations and was drawn to Axial because of the actionable opportunities available on the network and quality of deals. “When you approach somebody they’re already very warm and open to conversation. No one is offended whether you have a deal or not – they just want to know what you’re about and what you do. You’re talking to decision makers.”


Review & Pursue: “If I get a direct connection through Axial, I look at the profile and deal sheet within an hour,” says Karen Small. She tries to quickly make a decision on every deal they see, moving from pursuit to NDA and calling and sending an email to introduce the firm. Karen estimates they get a response on a pursued deal 70-80% of the time. “Once they send the CIM we have access to financials and can prepare to get on a call with the banker and the prospect.”

Networking 2.0: When it comes to leveraging the Axial network to create an inner circle of relationships, Sterling has made some serious strides. Karen and her team invited the brokers, bankers and entrepreneurs they met at the last Axial event to an exclusive after event so they could have more intimate conversations. “We’re getting the Axial members who are from Michigan and Houston, TX together for a game soon,” says Karen.

We refer to it as for our industry. It’s very exciting. Focusing on Axial is one of my #1 responsibilities. Karen Small - Partner