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Running a small business is no easy feat. That’s why we’ve created a forum for small business ideas, insider tips, and the industry knowledge you need to help your small business grow.
Women Have Come a Long Way, But…
A lot has changed for women entrepreneurs in the past 30 years, but there is still a long way to go. Read more from Rieva Lesonsky about how women small business owners continue to move forward.
Her Mission: Save Lives
MEDwheels is on a mission to provide mobile defibrillators where they are needed most. Learn how Jane Gonzales created a company on a mission to save thousands of lives each year.
Women’s Small Business Month
We’re proud to support women small business owners who have the power to change the world. Our Spotlight collection highlights how to embrace the unique challenges women face and thrive as small business owners.
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The W-2 can be defined as the United States Federal Tax Form. In other words, it is the document, that contains all the earnings and tax withholdings the worker receives every year and also helps to count tax return. The employer completes this sample for his every employee and sends its copies to different governmental and state institutions. One of the copies goes to the employee for him or her to know the correct amounts of the wages and tax payments, paid for them. This rule concerns the employees only. The people, hired as the independent contractors, do not need to file the form, or add it to their tax documents, as they file other templates to IRS. It is necessary to mind the deadline, as the employer needs to file every W-2 template before the end of January. The date should not confuse you. The January payments will go to the next year’s report. The IRS counts the information you include for each calendar year.
For example, to avoid creating the massive amount of papers, you should fill out only one paper form, that is filed completed digitally. Share this sample with the employees and governmental institutions.
Form W-2 Sample
When does the Employee need to Send W-2 to IRS?
First of all, the worker has to receive the form from the company he works at. In a case, he does not have any W-2 either paper or electronic before the end of February, he should request the employer for it. If there is no answer, but time flies and tax season coming, apply for the help of the Internal Revenue Service. They will notify the employer about your request. Then, your employer will file this document to you electronically or by USPS. The form itself is not sent to the IRS, but it is used to support the tax documents you send to the IRS. The due date to provide the papers for employees is the fifteenth of April.
What Information Does W-2 Contain
The small, one-sheet form comprises numerous items and both federal and state sections as the employer pays taxes there. It is available in PDFfiller library. The only thing you need is to open the form and infill the PDF blank with the necessary information. Generally, there are a number of detailed items included in the template:
- It starts with the general information about the employer or the company and EIN.
- Next, tape in the company contacts and full address, together with ZIP code.
- Then go the control number, employees’ last name and initials.
- The right-side part includes all income, tips, and salaries paid to the person.
- Additionally, provide the Social Security Wages and Medicare payments details.
- In front of every payment include the tax withholdings.
- Finally, provide the information about the state, you withhold payments.
- The saved document is easily sent to any organization or individual by e-mail.
- The person may save the printable sample to the internal storage of his device.
- There is also the new option that automatically sends your W-2 to the Internal Revenue Service.
To learn more about the form W-2, please watch the following video:
Internal Revenue Service requires to complete 1099 form those, who collaborate with the companies as an independent contractor or perform specific services for an organization rather than being a constant employee. This means, as independent worker you are able to control what you are working on and how it may be done. An organization. you work with may only monitor or check the result of the work you have performed. This document works, for example, for drivers, who work for a ride sharing companies, for graphic designers, landscapers, social media consultants, etc.
1099-MISC Form Sample
How to report taxes with a 1099 form?
So, according to the information mentioned above, while working independently you may receive at least one 1099 once a year. IRS requires United States organizations to distribute this document among their independent contractors no later than on January 31st. There should be indicated information regarding the income paid to each worker over the prior year. It is very important to know, that in case an organization paid an independent worker less than $600 over the course of the year, they don’t have to send a 1099, but a freelancer still has to report his or her income.
How I pay taxes with a 1099 form?
Any institution has to pay a percentage of their employees’ salaries for taxes. That’s why they may withhold an amount from the payments and wages. In case you work independently, you have to pay these taxes fully. However, if you owe IRS $1,000 or more for the current tax year, you may have an ability to send the required payments quarterly. To divide the paying process, assess your tax liability using as a basis the most recent quarter. For this purpose find a 1040-ES.
How to complete a 1099 form?
A 1099 fillable form is available in the PDFfiller online library. It is easy to find searching on the website. Then you are provided with an ability to fill this document online by a single click. Indicate the following:
- the receipent’s personal data, including the name, address and his or her telephone number;
- your business’s TIN or Social Security number (only in case you are a sole proprietorship);
- recipient's identification information;
- an account number of a recipient;
- mark the box “2nd TIN not.” in case, you have provided an incorrect tax identification number during the last three years. It is necessary to inform IRS, that now you provide true and accurate data and they don’t need to send you another one notification.
To learn more about the form 1099-MISC, please watch the following video:
Understand the Five C's of Credit before you apply for loan.
Jacob Pezold explains what do banks look for when considering a new credit application. Read the article or you can also listen to the podcast at
You've probably heard that a headline is the most important part of your copy. In fact, many copywriters write the headline first and many write 50 or more before coming up with a good one.
When you look around online, you'll find many tips to improve your copy and you'll find many fill-in-the-blank headline templates.
Copywriters usually start with templates because you get a proven format and it's easier to come up with ideas.
Sometimes your headline seems to be resisting. Nothing helps. When this happens try this tip: Write out your main headline idea in simple English.
What's the point you want to make in your headline? What's the most important point you want to get across? What is most appealing to your targeted audience?
could anyone help me please creating a name for my business?
I am planning to open a business with luxury products for babies which will be personalised.
I am looking for a catchy name which will also have a lovable meaning for the babies/kids themselves.
Thank you in advance for any suggestion/help.
Have a lovely days everyone.
I am planning to open a Bakery business and I need help to prepare a business. Please, ADVICE
Small businesses run by women are on the rise, and each October, Bank of America shares its support of women small business owners by celebrating National Women’s Small Business Month. In August Bank of America released the Bank of America 2018 Women Business Spotlight which explores the goals, challenges, and everyday realities of women entrepreneurs across the country. In case you missed it, you can download a copy of the discussion here: The Spotlight is on Women Entrepreneurs in 2018
We also created a podcast with Sharon Miller, Bank of America’s Head of Small Business. In this podcast she shares insights about economic outlook, access to capital, and the ongoing digital transformation and how women are feeling about the growth and what's coming in the next year ahead You won't want to miss this discussion! Women Business Owner Spotlight: “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” Episode 8
Finally, we'd like for our community members to get to know the names, faces and stories of the women behind small businesses, and the stories they've shared at: Bank of America supports the power of women small business owners
We hope you find these discussions helpful and would love to hear your feedback!
Does your company employ people to help share the workload, and do your employees know how much their contribution means to you and the success of your company? Do they feel personally invested in the endeavor? An expression of acknowledgment and appreciation can go a long way toward cultivating employee loyalty and an environment of successful cooperation. You don't even have to invest a lot of money or time; just knowing the types of rewards your employees might enjoy is a great first step. Here with some suggestions, is our contributing expert, Steve Strauss, in a new article:
I hope you enjoy the article. Have you used any of these suggestions in your workplace? How did it go? Do you have any other recommendations for our community members on ways to acknowledge employees and remind them of their value?
Hello all! I am starting a small business and was wondering if anyone could recommend a good, secure document scanning software? I came across this article that highlights some top document scanning software services. Does anyone have any experience with one of them you can recommend?
Bank of America shares its support of women small business owners by celebrating National Women’s Small Business Month in October.
See the faces of the women behind small businesses at Bank of America supports the power of women small business owners
You can get to know the business owners and also see how they embraced the unique challenges they faced and thrived.
Every business needs to foster a tolerant culture by promoting diversity and inclusiveness. Apart from making perfect business sense, promoting diversity creates a personally enriching and excellent environment for the staff, suppliers and clients.
Benefits of diversity are still compelling in today’s business, regardless of the size of an organization.
What is diversity? Diversity is the distinct difference in gender, nationality, religion, education, race, age and sexual orientation, among others. While such differences create a beautiful entity if handled well, it can turn chaotic be a and source of deep hatred curtailing the business.
There are three ways diversity strengthens a business.
It decreases conflicts
The Internet has turned the world into a global marketplace. As a result, you are most likely to interact with people from a diverse cultural background in your professional assignments. One of the most invaluable workplace skills today is cross-cultural communication. A great message can cause adverse effects if conveyed in the wrong way. To get a positive response from clients, financers, and other stakeholders, you need to put the message out in a pleasant way that depicts tolerance.
Communication within the workplace also promotes a conducive culture that increases productivity and individual output. Also, address policies and values that may suppress a particular community or individuals.
A culture of tolerance promotes unity in small businesses, which increases productivity.
It promotes innovation
Employees have rich ideas and problem-solving approaches. Employers can tap into this by making employees feel respected, connected and involved in the business. Tapping into the power of diversity will help the company respond well to clients, empower teams to collaborate, and retain high-performance employees among others. With the right environment and support, individuals will give the best and offer solutions that will take the business to the next level.
Every business seeks to offer unique products and services. Getting every team member involved in the running of the company will help you create a unique product or brand.
There is power in diversity. To deliver to clients, different thinking, talent, and views that reflect the society is crucial.
Increase market base
The critical goal of any business is to increase its customer base. One sure way of pushing sales is through diversity. Being able to meet customers at their point of need while talking their language is a great plus. As a business, you can employ low-cost and straightforward ways like recognizing different holidays and ensuring that your staff represents different cultures.
When business respects and appreciates the differences in individuals, more people feel comfortable doing business with them. Leveraging diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and lifestyles will drive a company to success.
Diversity is fast becoming a strategic priority. It is an enabler that helps businesses survive in the ever-evolving marketplace. The business world today faces geopolitical shifts and complex challenges which makes diversity a necessity.
About Ebong Eka
Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.
Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.”
Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.
Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation
Managing and maintaining a social media account is not always easy for small business owners. Why? There are a couple reasons:
For starters, there is a huge variety of platforms to choose from: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and more. It’s up to you how robust you want your business’s social media presence to be. Depending on what your business specializes in, some social media platforms will be more useful to you than others.
Also, it takes time. Even after you have decided which platforms are important for you and which you can ignore, you will have to make time to maintain your social media presence ... We’re talking daily posts, follower engagement, etc.
The good news is that maintaining a thriving social media presence need not be that difficult. Here are a few of our best hacks:
1. Utilize video: People watch online videos. They gobble them up. It would therefore behoove you to put your business in that fast lane. The good news is that creating a video presence for your business has never been easier, quicker or more affordable because nowadays, it is not necessary to produce high-quality videos to garner views. We are in the YouTube era. Moreover, with Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook Live in our midst, you can create compelling video for free, and in the palm of your hand.
RELATED CONTENT: How to use Compelling Video On Social Media for your Small Business
2. Show behind-the-scenes footage: What should your video be about? One thing that works is behind-the-scenes footage. People love that. Similarly, your social posts, even without video, should be highly visual as visual content is more likely to gain clicks and shares than pure text. Take and post some photos of your staff, the yummy food at your restaurant – things like that. It’s fun for customers to see this side of the business.
RELATED CONTENT: Read next: 5 Steps to Use Video to Garner More Clients
3. Create connections: One secret of social media is that it is not just about being a megaphone for your business, it is about creating connections, so make a point to share content from other businesses in your sphere. This creates goodwill and can result in some returned shares in the future. This is an especially good idea if that business is similar to yours, so as to provide your followers with content that you already know will keep them engaged.
RELATED CONTENT: 5 Simple Steps to Increase Business Referrals
4. Engage: Push content, yes, but don’t forget to also engage with your tribe. Find extra ways to interact with your followers. Respond to people’s questions, retweet followers, show appreciation, etc. Most social media platforms have poll-making technology, which can not only be a fun, interactive activity, but can also provide you with useful feedback you could use.
Engagement creates a connection with your brand.
RELATED CONTENT: How to Engage with Your Social Media Followers
5. Create contests: Incentivize your followers. Contests can be great for that, and moreover, contests typically bring new people into the fold. Get creative and make sure people have a clear reason to participate.
6. Share tips and insights: Social media is a good way to address common FAQs ahead of time. Think of your most commonly asked questions and answer them in the form of a fun fact or pro-tip. This too is engaging and useful.
RELATED CONTENT: Facebook Messenger Chatbots Give Small Business Owners an Edge
7. Make announcements: Use social media to announce promotions, sales, and any other relevant news about your business. This is a great way to remind your customers about upcoming events and to get them to think about your business.
8. Schedule your posts ahead of time: It can be easy to forget to post on social media. Scheduling your posts in advance ensures this doesn’t happen – it’s also a great time-saver. There are a lot of tools out there designed to make this easy for you. Buffer and Hootsuite are probably your best bets, but there are more tools for scheduling posts if those two don’t fit your needs.
Last tip: Ask. For example: Did you like this post? Then please share.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss.
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.
Gaining access to capital is not as difficult as it may seem, but you should make sure you’re checking all the right boxes. In this podcast, Charlotte Business Resources sat down with Jacob Pezold from Bank of America to dive into the 5 C’s of credit. Tune in to find out what you need to do before applying for a loan.
Joseph: Hey, I’m Joseph and I’ll be hosting this episode of CBR’s B2U Podcast, presented by cbrbiz.com. Bringing Charlotte’s business resources directly to you. Running a small business is no easy feat. From staffing to operations to sales, it all falls on you as the business owner. And the same is true for your financials. And when we’re just getting started, access to capital can be very critical and challenging, but it’s accessible if you understand what banks are actually looking for. In today’s podcast, we’re going to be helping you do just that. And now, I’d like to welcome today’s special guest, Jacob Pezold, small business banking manager for Bank of America. Jacob, thanks for joining us today.
Jacob: Thanks for having me, Joseph.
Joseph: To get started, can you tell our guests a little bit about yourself?
Jacob: Yeah, thanks. Thanks for having me again. I’m the small business market manager for Bank of America here locally. I reside here in Charlotte and oversee the Charlotte Market for all our clients in the small business segment. And I’ve been here in the local market for going on about three years.
Joseph: Great. So Jacob, what do banks look for when considering a new credit application?
Jacob: Joseph, that’s a great question. We look at numerous things. Some of the most important that we focus on is the five C’s of credit, that’s what we call it. So it’s capacity, capital, collateral, conditions, and character. So, capacity. Capacity is essentially the analysis of whether or not the business has the financial capacity to support the debt and expenses. Typically a business we want to show from an income perspective has a dollar and a quarter coming in to support every dollar going out in debt payment. The extra 25 cents in question there, it’s there to support and provide a cushion for the business to absorb unexpected expenses or a downturn in the economy.
Jacob: Capital. So what’s capital? Capital is the business’s capital assets, such as cash and equipment. And what we’re looking at is whether or not there’s enough there to help support the financing that you need, right? That’s what backs the loan and the asset that you’re looking for.
RELATED CONTENT: Learn more: Learn about working capital and why it's important.
Jacob: You and others may have invested capital in your business, but how much? Right? So the answer says a lot about whether the business is one in which the banks want to invest.
- Collateral. So collateral is a…there’s many forms of collateral. Some of the key ones in components that we look for from a business finance perspective is accounts receivable, inventory, cash, equipment, and commercial real estate. Those are all acceptable forms of collateral that banks typically look forward to leverage to secure financing.
Jacob: In addition to that, we like to look at the value of the collateral in comparison to the loan and use that as a measurement on the amount we’ll extend out.
Joseph: Makes Sense.
Jacob: Absolutely. Conditions. So we talked about conditions. Conditions are sometimes things that are outside or are items that are outside the control of the business, such as the economy, trends in your specific industry and any pending legislation relative to your business are all conditions that we evaluate. A lot of these factors are out of your control at times, and they may affect your ability to make payments. And then lastly, character. Character is rather robust and it is an incredibly important and a key conversation for us today. So character can include experience in owning and operating a business that you’re in, and then ultimately your personal credit history, which is incredibly important in what banks will consider. Personal integrity and good standing are essential for starting out with obtaining business credit.
Joseph: Okay, that makes sense. So the five C’s flow into what type? If our business owners get everything together with the five C’s, then what type of business loans or financing should they look at?
RELATED CONTENT: Get answers and information about business financing.
Jacob: Yeah, and another great question. There’s so many different forms of credit available to small business owners. Some of the main ones that we see clients leverage and offer vary across the board, right? So there’s also business stages and life cycles. So whether your business is starting out or you’re in growth mode or sustaining or even working on an exit plan, there’s multiple different formats of financing available. Speaking towards clients that may be starting out, right? So we can look at options from a business credit card. And a business credit card is not just necessarily for a client that doesn’t have established credit history, it’s also an excellent cash flow mechanism, right? So, to support the payables process and provide a float for the business to bridge the gap from the receivable process.
So, a credit card is also there to establish credit, right? So it could be the first form of credit that you have as a small business owner.
Jacob: It really is a universal tool that is essential to any business operation. Not only does it provide you a necessary breathing, the breathing room when you’re working through your business cash flow cycle, but it can also provide you with robust rewards if you’re in the right credit program that you can instill back into the business.
Joseph: Makes sense.
Jacob: Yup. And then there’s lines of credit, right? So that’s another really popular form of credit for a small business to use. A line of credit is really a…it’s somewhat of the Swiss army knife of the business finance world. What it can do is provide you ultimately with the monthly cash flow tool, it can provide you the ability to go out and make short-term expenses and handle accordingly. But ultimately what a line of credit is there for is to help bridge the receivable and payable cycle, right? So how quickly can a business get the money paid to them after they’ve paid the money out to render services?
Jacob: And what a line of credit can do, Joseph, is it will actually give you the ability for the business to float money to itself, and payback accordingly when they receive payment for the work rendered.
Joseph: Okay. So kind of similar to a credit card but a little bit more robust.
Jacob: Yeah, with a credit card, you’re going to want to use that for eligible expenses that a vendor or a client can accept card, right? If not, you would be looking at pretty steep cash advance fees as opposed to with a line of credit, you can advance cash at a low-interest rate.
Jacob: In comparison. The main difference there is that a credit card, within a statement cycle if it’s paid in full, you don’t pay interest. Lines of credit are…the interest is accumulated from the moment that the cash is advanced, but typically at a lower rate.
Joseph: Okay, makes sense.
Jacob: Yup. And then a secured loan. So a term loan financing is really, it’s there for so many different reasons, all the way from working capital to financing a piece of property, right? And everything in between. So really common needs that a term loan would fit, so if a business is currently leasing a space and paying high rent, I mean being here in Charlotte, we’re in a really competitive real estate market. So all those business owners out there listening know what I’m speaking towards.
RELATED CONTENT: Buying vs. Leasing Property: What You Need to Know
Jacob: Oftentimes, you know, when you’re operating a business, you’re thinking about the day-to-day, but also out there, you’re, paying rent to somebody else. A term loan, you know, either leveraging the Small Business Administration or conventional financing to secure real estate collateral, can really help you build equity in a tangible asset that you can utilize for the long run, right? So build your own equity into a piece of real estate and that’s a really common need for a small business owner looking to leverage term loan financing.
Another format would is to use equipment that’s necessary to grow and expand the business, right? So if a client needs to purchase a piece of equipment and doesn’t want to deplete their capital or their cash reserves, it can give them the ability to finance that equipment and grow the business and grow revenue while paying a low monthly fixed cost rate. And then ultimately we can finance working capital, you know, cap cash injection to the business to grow organically. There’s multiple different ways that you can leverage bank financing. I would heavily recommend that you take that opportunity to sit down with your CPA or your accountant and your small business banker at any time you can to discuss your goals when it comes to all those different opportunities.
RELATED CONTENT: Get the equipment your business needs.
Joseph: Okay. It does definitely make sense. And so to actually secure credit, we know the importance of having a great credit score or a good one. So what are the things that business owners can do to maintain their good credit score or improve their credit score?
Jacob: Yeah, there’s several things you can do and all of them are somewhat equally important, right? So first and foremost, make sure you pay your bills on time.
Joseph: That’s the biggest one.
Jacob: That’s a big part of the character that we talked about earlier and the ability to pay back, not just creditors, right? So conventional banks and finance companies, but also your vendors. Sometimes our clients or business owners don’t realize that there are vendors and that they can report them just as easily as a creditor can.
Joseph: I didn’t know that.
Jacob: Yeah. And that’s a key difference between a personal credit report and a business credit report is you’re not only just being measured for your payback on conventional credit, but also too from potential vendors. Also, reduce your debt. If you’re showing that you’re consistently over-leveraged and you’re not making any type of principal pay down, it can show a bank or another lender that you’re really not making the right steps to reduce debt and retain more capital. And that can cause a red flag.
And then what’s really important ultimately as well as that you’ve got to check your credit report regularly. If you’re not checking it consistently and looking at it and looking how vendors or creditors are reporting you and your creditworthiness, you really are leaving it up to chance. And there’s inaccuracies out there and it’s really important that you’re on top of it and can understand it and check that. And then a big one that’s, I think universal, whether it’s a business or personal credit is, make sure that you have multiple forms of credit and that you can show the repayment history at handling multiple forms of credit. Oftentimes when we pay something down really quickly, we want to close it down and show that, hey, I’ve paid that obligation and I’ve closed the account.
It’s really important to not do that.
Jacob: And the big reason for that is to show that you’ve got your age of your accounts and your ability to hold an account open, is at least scrutinized. So when you pay down an open trade line, like a line of credit or a credit card, first and foremost, don’t close that down from the perspective of an age trade line, but also too, that’s accessible capital for your business that you may need at some point.
Jacob: Some of the most important parts is to update your business profile, which is a little bit unique in comparison to your standard credit report is making sure that your business profile’s up to date.
Joseph: That makes sense. Now, you kind of mentioned a couple of things that seemed very similar to your personal credit score or your personal credit report.
Joseph: What would a business credit report kind of look like versus a personal?
Jacob: Sure. So a business credit report is going to be a little bit different and unique compared to a personal credit report as there really isn’t any standardization in it, right? So a report from one vendor, it may include information from a vendor that’s not choosing to report to the other agencies.
Jacob: So it’s really important to make sure that you’re checking on the main key ones, which would be Dun’s and Brad’s or LexisNexis are two main ones that the banks use, all those should ring a bell. But the variation between the two and then the, ultimately the business profile that is updated by you as the owner is something that’s a key difference.
For a personal credit report, you know, it’s reactionary. You make payments, creditors either tell you, tell the agencies, which is Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax that you either paid them or you didn’t.
RELATED CONTENT: How Your Personal Credit Impacts Your Business Credit.
Jacob: And it’s rather seamless process for us as consumers.
Jacob: What’s really important for a business owner is that they actually create and update their business profile. It’s essentially them telling the story to the agencies to report to us as lenders.
Joseph: Okay, makes sense. So something that may be kind of new for our listeners is a business profile.
Joseph: So what should be included in someone’s business profile?
Jacob: Yeah, another great question. And this is something that, you know, when I’m around in the market, I actually get these questions quite often, and exactly what is in a business profile or you know, when we go to reference the information that might be on Dun and Brad’s, they say, well, I don’t know where that came from. And it’s really interesting to know that you actually have to go in and update these agencies, right? So you have to go in and provide your business profile. So that’s the first thing to discuss is that you actually have to go in and provide the information necessary. It might be reported, but it’s not your story. So you wanna’ make sure you tell it.
But in a business profile, what it does, it helps banks determine how much credit to extend and whether or not to approve you for credit essentially, right?
Jacob: Your ability to handle business debt. Your profile can include things like the size of your company, the number of employees you have, and where you are located.
Jacob: A big part of that is how we evaluate is the size of the company. How do we segment and size you into a relationship at a bank or how do we handle the amount of employees and the needs that you have on that side? So it’s really important to update that information, so banks can leverage it and make sound decisions.
And then ultimately what you need to do is you need to contact the major bureaus and ask for your company’s profile. That would be a great first step. Find out what actually is being reported about you if you don’t know, that would be a great initial step. And then take necessary steps and get advisement from either a small business banker or your accountant or just a trusted adviser in the small business community about how you should properly update your profile and reflect with the agencies.
Joseph: Okay. So before applying for credit, what is one of those things that you think that all business owners should know or kind of take the step to do right before applying for a business credit?
Jacob: Yeah. This is a question I could probably expand on for quite awhile, but again, it kinda goes back to the stages and life cycles of the business at hand. You know, again, whether you’re starting out or you’re in growth mode or you’re winding down or even exiting, there’s so many different formats in financing available. It’s really important to understand where you’re at in your business life cycle and what your priorities are. When you’re starting out things that are really important, items that are really important are personal creditworthiness. Oftentimes, you know, when there’s a lack of business history or there’s a track record there to show that you’ve operated and owned a business and you have a financial backlog to show it and your ability to effectively grow a business, your personal credit is leveraged. It’s what we have to go off of. And it goes back to that character thing again, right? So, how you’ve handled your personal debts, how you’ve handled your personal finances are critically important to obtaining financing. And it can even be in the form of a business credit card when you’re starting out.
RELATED CONTENT: Building credit for your small business.
You know, if you’re in a growth model and you’re trying to grow your business and expand, you know, what type of capital have you used and what kind of capital do you have? How are you handling your income as opposed to debt? Are you reporting enough income on your returns to show that you can support the debt that you’re trying to obtain? Right? That’s really important. We definitely leverage the business reported income and the personal reported income to service both the personal and business debt. And that’s a really important facet of it as well.
But again, going back towards all of these different items, it goes back to the five C’s, right? Pay attention to the request in hand, you know.
Jacob: Seek out the credit opportunity early and get the advisement early on. And the more you’re prepared to go into an application to obtain financing, the better. So if you have a goal in mind, whether it’s, you know, next month or two to three, four or five plus years out, it’s really important to vocalize that with the individuals that are here to help. Because our job and what I so passionately teach and educate my folks on is that you are aware of what your client’s needs and goals are. You have to know what your priorities are and know how we can help accommodate them. And the earlier we know that, the more that we can help better prepare and that’s so important. Being prepared for obtaining credit and going into it is almost everything, right? You don’t want surprises. So meet early and often with your accountant, your banker, anybody that’s a trusted adviser in your small business community and just vocalize about what your goals are and seek advice from multiple different channels on how to obtain them.
Joseph: Makes a lot of sense. Now in a perfect world, everybody’s going to get approved.
Joseph: But sometimes people won’t. And so if a small business owner is turned down for credit, do you have any advice for them or what their response should be?
Jacob: To your point, it’d be great if we could extend financing to anybody that needs it. But unfortunately, that’s not the case. And one thing I would just want to educate a small business owner on is to, don’t be dejected, don’t take it personal. There’s typically a root cause to it and there’s typically a solution to it, right? And it’s what you do after that point that’s important. How much more education can you have? How could you remedy the situation at hand? It could be for multiple different reasons as to why we weren’t able to obtain or give financing to you at a certain time, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible with a little bit of work and attention to what caused the decline in the first place. Some different reasons that a client could get declined could be issues with the personal credit. If they have a bankruptcy on file or some negative information being reported about payment history.
RELATED CONTENT: What to do if you get declined for business credit.
Jacob: Or it’s simply if they’re over-leveraged on as an individual.
Joseph: It kind of flows into the character part.
Jacob: Exactly, right. It’s a big part of that. And then whether or not we can even finance your industry type. Or, we talked about the conditions, right?
Jacob: So there are some things that are out of even your control as an owner, right? Or the business operator that our economic conditions or industry regulation that arises and that can heavily impact a business, depending on their client base. So that could be out of your control. And then also if there’s issues with your business financials, right? So maybe you don’t have enough income on display to cover the debt that you’re seeking or the finance structure that you need. All those are different reasons. But again, all of them are an opportunity to look at it in the future and continue to work into a place that you can obtain financing in the future.
Joseph: Okay. So sometimes you won’t get the financing from a traditional bank. Are there any other options for small business owners if they can’t get approved with a traditional bank?
Jacob: Yeah, there absolutely is. You know, if a business has been turned down by a bank, we always want to recommend a community development financial institutions, often referenced as a CDFI. These are great options for clients. They are lenders that help certain small business owners gain access to capital, right? So Bank of America works with many of them. For example, here locally we have a partner in Charlotte. It’s the Carolina Small Business Development Fund.
Jacob: The approval rates with CDFIs are typically a little bit higher, and they’re geared towards, you know, all different facets of the business life cycle, but typically where they really help is the early stages of a company or a startup. And they also, in conjunction to providing possible financing, they offer education, support, and in a lot of different areas that we talked about earlier that can get a business geared up and ready for conventional bank financing.
Joseph: So before we wrap up, is there any other advice you would give our small business owners?
Jacob: Yeah, I have a lot of advice. I would love to expand and, you know, just know that you know more than anything, there’s a lot of resources available to you when it comes to lending advice, support, and guidance. The one thing that’s great about the local small business community is it’s a passionate group. There’s so many different network opportunities and it’s just a wonderful small business community here that we have in Charlotte. So take advantage of those opportunities, right? It doesn’t always just have to necessarily be with a banker or your accountant. There’s just so many different great, excellent groups to be a part of. For example, NAWBO here locally is the National Association for Women Business Owners. Actually not local. A national organization with a local chapter here in Charlotte, where they provide a ton of great resources and education and just peer to peer networking, as just an example. But also to meet routinely with your small business banker and do so in conjunction with your accountant or your CPA or your trusted advisers.
But that should be at a minimum, a biannual review of your business. You know, oftentimes we field requests and are reactionary to them, as opposed to help prepare. And I feel that it’s necessary if you really are looking to grow and establish a business and obtain financing, you do so through the proper preparation. And that includes just communication and advisement, with your advisers, right? Or your trusted advisers. But there’s also a lot of different resources here that we have at the bank for the small business community. You can go to our website to review these. It’s bankofamerica.com/sbc. And with that, there’s a ton of resources for our clients to leverage, and in addition to meeting with their local banker.
Joseph: I appreciate it. I think our listeners are going to really enjoy getting some additional information in regards to business financing and thanks so much for joining us today, Jacob. Listeners, if you have any questions after this episode, tweet us @CBRBiz. This has been CBR’s B2U podcast, brought to you by cbrbiz.com. Until next time, we mean business.
Small Business Story Collection: Celebrating the Power of Women
Women small business owners are paving the way. We’re celebrating their accomplishments during National Women’s Small Business Month this October. This collection highlights how to embrace the unique challenges women face and thrive as small business owners.
What advice does Nicole Centeno, CEO and founder of Splendid Spoon have for other entrepreneurs? Nicole is featured in the Bank of America National Women’s Small Business Month video currently running in Times Square and here on the Small Business Community.
“My name is Nicole Centeno, and I’m the CEO and founder of Splendid Spoon.
“My advice for young entrepreneurs is really to just start. The best school is the school of life. There is no one path for any entrepreneur. The sooner you get started, the sooner you start getting comfortable making mistakes, the faster you’ll learn, and the faster you’ll gain confidence in yourself to keep moving forward.”
Bank of America is not affiliated with any business featured herein.
Bank of America and the Bank of America logo are registered trademarks of Bank of America Corporation. All other logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and used pursuant to license. Member FDIC. ©Bank of America Corporation.
Just 30 years ago, it was the law in many states that a woman applying for a business loan needed the guarantee of a male cosigner – be it a father, a brother, a son or a friend. Then came passage of the landmark Women’s Business Ownership Act (H.R. 5050) on Oct. 25, 1988. This game-changing legislation did away with the rule and paved the way for more women to pursue entrepreneurship, and as a result, drive significant growth in the U.S. small business sector.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending time with some women who were a driving force in influencing the development and passage of the legislation. They joined me in attending the annual Women’s Business Conference sponsored by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). Held Sept. 23-25 in Spokane, NAWBO members from around the nation gathered to celebrate the successes of women entrepreneurs.
I can respectfully say that as a woman who is passionate about women’s advocacy, I only wish I had a front row seat to see these women in action 30 years ago! They single handedly changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of women business owners. Virginia Littlejohn, a conference attendee and one of the primary architects of H.R. 5050, said it best. “[H.R. 5050] truly was the Big Bang, it transformed the landscape for women’s entrepreneurship.” Indeed, today’s women business owners stand on the shoulders of those who came before them – women including Kathleen Diamond, Virginia Littlejohn, Dr. Terry Neese, Susan Hager and Phyllis Hill Slater.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Work Well, Live Well.” During an empowering and inspiring few days, attendees heard from notable speakers such as Eat, Pray, Love author Liz Gilbert, as well as a diverse and knowledgeable group of business owners. As designed, there was a lot of conversation about how women entrepreneurs “live” as well as they “work.” I thought the theme was an interesting juxtaposition against the backdrop of H.R. 5050’s 30th anniversary. This conversation devoted to “living well” was made possible in part by the trailblazers who sacrificed so much in the summer of 1988 – in an effort to help women “work well.”
As we celebrate National Women’s Small Business Month and the 30th anniversary of H.R. 5050, we are reminded of the importance to maintain momentum in ensuring women entrepreneurs have the resources and opportunities to bring their talents to the table – because doing so drives greater innovation, expands choice for consumers, employs more people, propels economic growth and enriches communities and lives. I am immensely proud of the work that Bank of America, NAWBO and other organizations are doing to support this momentum.
What key milestone will we be celebrating 10, 20 or 30 years from now?
What to read next:
About Jill Calabrese Bain
Jill is the Managing Director and Head of Small Business for Bank of America Merchant Services. In this role, she is responsible for managing Small Business from an end-to-end perspective, leading sales and providing the oversight, development and delivery of critical business priorities. Jill joined Bank of America in 1992 and has been in the financial services industry for 26 years. Prior to her current role, Jill was the Small Business National Sales Executive for Bank of America responsible for delivering banking, credit and cash management solutions to small business clients. Previous roles include leading Affinity Banking, Employee Banking & Investments and Strategic Planning for Preferred & Small Business Banking. In addition, she held the role of chief operating officer for Americas’ Corporate Banking and held positions within Energy & Power and Environmental Services. Jill is the co-chair of Bank of America’s Domestic Violence taskforce. She serves on the Board of Directors of Susan G. Komen New England and is a member of the national advisory board for the National Association of Women Business Owners. Jill graduated from Tufts University with a Master’s degree in Economics and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Clark University.
Women entrepreneurs face challenges and opportunities every day on the path to building a successful business – and raising capital is a major hurdle for your new business. In her latest video, Carol Roth details some important tips that women entrepreneurs can use to raise capital for their businesses. Download the 2018 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight for more on the goals, challenges, and everyday realities faced by women entrepreneurs across the country.
Hey it’s Carol Roth, and Bank of America just came out with their 2018 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight. It is chock-full of amazing information about the state of women business owners. And the great news is that women business owners are very optimistic right now about everything from the state of the economy to growth in their own businesses.
But the one area where women are still struggling is the area of raising capital. So I’m here to give you a couple of tips that will help make raising capital even easier for you. So if you’re a woman business owner or if you happen to know one – listen up.
The first tip is for you to think bigger. I don’t know why it is, but women tend to be more conservative, particularly as business owners – that means everything from the scope of their business to their projections. And having this conservative attitude does not jive well with investors who really want you to be going and scaling the business. So make sure that you’re presenting that front – that you’re somebody who is up for a bigger task.
Second, make sure that you’re finding relevant introductions to investors. If somebody doesn’t know you, at least have them have an introduction to make that connection. So, find a trusted advisor – your business banker is a great place to start, but it could be your accountant or financial planner, or just somebody in your network – to make introductions to investors. This will increase your credibility in their eyes, it will take some of the risk out for them, it will move you to the top of the pile and make it easier for you to get in front of them and to pitch them.
And last but not least you need to round out your team. At the end of the day investors are never investing in just a great idea; they’re investing in great entrepreneurs, which means they are betting on you. But you aren’t going to be able to do everything yourself, which is something that a lot women business owners like to do. They need to know you have those full team members and resources to pull off the plan. So, ideally, get them on board before you raise capital, but if you don’t have the money to do that, at least have them identified, so you can say to investors, “As soon as I get that money, here’s the person who is going to be on my team, and this team is ready to execute.”
So, I know this takes longer and is harder than you’d like it to be – but with those few tips it should make your capital raising a little bit easier. And be sure to check out the 2018 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight for even more great information on women business owners.
- Need Capital? Consider a CDFI
- Help grow your small business with a CDFI loan
- Explore our Resource Center for women entrepreneurs
- Check out the Credit & Lending Resource Center
About Carol Roth
Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.
It amazes me that in my lifetime—only 30 years ago—women business owners needed a male co-signer to get a business loan. In 1988, the Women’s Business Ownership Act helped open up access to capital for women entrepreneurs by prohibiting sex-based discrimination in lending.
A lot has changed for women entrepreneurs in the last 30 years. In fact, a lot has changed just in the past decade. The overwhelming majority of women entrepreneurs surveyed in the 2018 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight believe access to capital for women business owners has improved in the past 10 years.
But, there’s still a long way to go. Although 84 percent of women say their access to capital has improved in the past decade, 68 percent say it was more difficult for them to get financing compared to male business owners they know.
However, women entrepreneurs aren’t letting this challenge hold them back. Here’s what the survey found:
Women entrepreneurs are confident
Women business owners are increasingly confident, both about their own businesses and about the economy in general. Economic optimism hit a two-year high in this third year of the survey: 48 percent of the women believe the national economy will improve in the next 12 months and 49 percent think their local economies will improve as well.
The women entrepreneurs surveyed are even more confident about their own businesses’ economic outlook. Some 58 percent expect revenues to increase in the coming year, and 21 percent plan to hire in that time period. In addition, 56 percent plan to expand and grow their businesses over the next five years.
Women entrepreneurs are taking the lead in technology
Contrary to stereotypes, the women business owners in the survey are embracing digital transformation as a means of growing their companies. Women entrepreneurs are more likely than men to use mobile devices for complex business tasks, such as financial transactions, hiring and social media updates. They’re also more likely than men to accept mobile payments from customers, issue refunds to customers on mobile devices, or pay employees via mobile transactions.
This willingness to implement new technology isn’t surprising considering that over three-fourths of women entrepreneurs believe the success of their business depends on continuing innovation. Overall, 42 percent of women surveyed say their businesses are currently either using or exploring at least one advanced technology, including the Internet of Things, data analytics, 3D printing or virtual reality.
What’s keeping women entrepreneurs up at night?
Despite their positive outlook and enthusiastic approach to technology, there are quite a few areas women business owners are more concerned about than last year.
- 78 percent are concerned about healthcare costs, up from 62 percent last year.
- 55 percent are concerned about the strength of the U.S. dollar, vs. 44 percent in 2017.
- 52 percent are concerned about interest rates, compared to 39 percent last year.
- 37 percent are concerned about the availability of credit, up from 29 percent in 2017.
How to close the gender financing gap
The survey asked women entrepreneurs who believe there is a gender gap in access to capital what they believed would make the biggest difference in closing the gap. The majority (42 percent) believe gender-blind financing would have the greatest impact.
Just 4 percent think angel investors and venture capitalists would make a difference. (In fact, the National Women’s Business Council notes research has shown that even women investors and venture capitalists tend to be biased in favor of male business owners.)
What’s the solution to enhanced access to capital? Bank of America is doing its part: Since 2014, its loaned over $35 million to more than 1,700 women business owners through the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program.
I’ve been privileged to have a ringside seat during the rise of entrepreneurial women these past decades—and maybe played a little part in that transformation. I’ve seen so many significant changes and have no doubt women entrepreneurs will continue the progress we’ve all made.
About Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.
Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation
Instagram is Facebook’s next Facebook. I’ve been including this statement in all my keynotes and broadcasts for the past 18 months and it seems never more true than now. This year has been a challenging one for Facebook in many ways, and Instagram may well be the ‘life raft’ Facebook needs to ensure continued growth of the family of apps.
When Facebook first bought Instagram back in April 2012 for an astounding $1 billion, the young photo-sharing app only had 30 million users, 13 employees and zero revenue.
Now, Instagram recently announced its first 1 billion monthly active users milestone. The company has over 700 employees and has an estimated worth of over $100 billion. Instagram will bring in close to $8 billion in ad revenue according to eMarketer.
From a business standpoint, there are 25 million business profiles and 2 million advertisers.
The good news for small business owners looking to optimize Instagram is there’s still plenty of time for you to master the art of standing out on this fun, visual platform with a generally younger demographic.
Make Sure You Have A Business Instagram Profile
First, in order to maximize the best features for business use on Instagram, it’s important you have a business account, not a personal profile. If you currently have a personal profile, you can easily switch that profile to business in your settings. Or, consider setting up a second Instagram account, if appropriate. Keep in mind it does take work to maintain even one account so make sure you have the resources and time to manage a second account.
Optimize Your Bio, Including Hashtags and Links
Your bio comprises up to 150 characters and is the only area where you can add clickable links. You can also include clickable @ mentions to related accounts and relevant clickable hashtags. Plus, with your business account, you can now add a call to action such as ‘Call,’ ‘Email,’ or ‘Directions.’
Ideas for using links in your Instagram bio include sending visitors to a webpage, to a YouTube video, to a contest, or a free download.
To get more out of your main website link, consider a service such as
Publish Visually Compelling Posts
This is going to be your most important step. Instagram has always been a highly visual platform. It was designed for sharing photos and videos and has been a real boon to professional and amateur photographers around the world.
You can simply use your mobile phone and good lighting to take quality photos and video clips. Then publish in the square format. Although Instagram now lets you publish in portrait or landscape mode on your main feed, the square format photos and videos still perform best. Instagram makes it very easy to publish in square format, pulling any photo or video from your camera roll.
Ideally, use a specific color theme for your posts and be consistent in order to communicate the right aesthetics for your brand.
Enhance your photos and videos with apps such as Instagram-owned Layout, Boomerang or Hyperlapse. See more great app suggestions from Instagram.
Also, use the Search & Explore feature to find all manner of curated content that might be relevant to you. Proactively seek accounts that spark ideas for your own posts. Plus, follow and engage with accounts that may be relevant to you. This feature is also a great place to discover a variety of hashtags you might use in your own posts.
Include Plenty of Relevant Hashtags
Instagram allows you to include up to 30 hashtags per post. Some experts recommend only including 3-7 in the main post description and more in the first comment. However, other studies show maximizing up to 30 hashtags in the description performs just as well. The main point to keep in mind is relevance.
For example, let’s say you are a hair salon and you use the hashtag #hairtrends in your post about a funky new style, that’s totally relevant. If people find you by clicking through on the #hairtrends hashtag, they’d be happy to see your post and hopefully engage with you and follow your account. But, if you’re a drycleaner and you use the same #hairtrends hashtag on a post with tips on stain removal, that would be a total disconnect and people would quickly move on.
Save Time with Planning and Scheduling Tools
For planning and scheduling your Instagram posts, consider helpful apps such as Later, PlannThat, Schedugram, Planoly or AgoraPulse. The latter also helps you to manage your community engagement across all social channels.
How often should you publish content? It depends. At minimum, strive for one really good post on your wall per week then increase to 3-5 per week. It’s better to have less content that really resonates with your followers and gets great engagement, vs. pushing out too much content that hardly gets any reach, visibility or engagement. You’ll need to experiment to find the right cadence for your audience.
Embrace Instagram Stories
I wrote about the power of Instagram Stories in July. Since then, Instagram Stories has grown another 100 million daily active users to 400 million. Keep in mind that both Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, and Chris Cox, Facebook’s CPO, are saying that consumption of content in the Stories format is set to surpass consumption of content in the feed format. This goes for both Instagram and Facebook.
Savvy small business owners and entrepreneurs would do well to publish one to three pieces of micro content in the Story format every 24 hours. For inspiration, check out what social media management platform Buffer is doing with their weekly trivia contest in Stories.
Experiment with Advertising on Instagram
The best types of ads I’m seeing on Instagram are either photo or video ads in the main feed that blend in with the content from people I follow, plus creative Story ads. There’s a large overlap between Instagram and Facebook ad formats. And the good news is that you can place an ad on Instagram using Facebook Ads Manager.
For creative 15-second Story video ads, try using a platform such as Wave.video where you can easily create top-quality, professional videos in minutes.
Also, begin to consume more Story content yourself as a user – just to study what catches your eye and which advertisers are getting it right.
Examples for Inspiration
Want to see Instagram done right? Check out a few of my favorite accounts for ideas:
If Instagram is still new to your marketing mix, pick one area in these recommendations and pace yourself. But, no matter what, to really stand out on Instagram, keep in mind striking visuals win every time!
About Mari Smith
Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.
Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.
Forty-thousand lives could be saved each year with widespread access to defibrillators. Jane Gonzales is on a mission to help save these lives. Her company, MEDwheels, provides mobile automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and training where they’re needed most.
“The Heartbeat of Main Street” delivers timely insights tailored to the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Featuring a rotating line-up of small business experts and industry leaders – and covering a range of topics – each episode explores the trends that have an impact on revenue creation for small business owners.
The series is hosted by ForbesBooks, and more information can be accessed through a dedicated home page. New episodes will appear regularly on the Small Business Community podcast page. Be sure to check back often – so you don’t miss a beat.
Jane Gonzalez: Working with their county, where they didn't have any AEDs, and so we worked with them, side by side, gave them recommendations, this is how many you need, these are the locations that you need. They took our recommendations, we installed the AEDs. Three days after we installed our AEDs, a high school student went down with a sudden cardiac arrest. And, we saved his life.
Gregg Stebben: I'm here with Jane Gonzalez, thanks for joining us on “The Heartbeat of Main Street.” She's the president and CEO of MEDwheels of San Antonio Texas. MEDwheels.com. And, Jane, welcome. We're going to hear all about what you do at MEDwheels, how you started the company, and things you've learned over the course of the years since 2005, but the first thing I want to ask you, as you introduce yourself is, tell us about the statistic on your homepage that says an additional 40 thousand lives could be saved each year, in the U.S. alone, with widespread access to-
Jane Gonzalez: Defibrillators. And it's, really amazing, because the defibrillator, the term AED, which is Automatic External Defibrillator, and it's been proven that sudden cardiac arrest, apply CPR strictly, does not save a life. The heart essentially has stopped and so essentially you're kind of deceased, your body is not producing any movement at all.
The AEDs, what it does, is it kind of resets the heart and so they have become very, very instrumental in saving lives. That, schools now, throughout the whole United States, from Kindergarten all the way to 12th grade, are required to have AEDs, that's how important they have become in saving lives.
Gregg Stebben: So, your company, MEDwheels, I want to read part of the mission statement of your company. "To provide all facets of an AED program, including products, services, and training to consumers and to ultimately help save lives." Help save some of those 40 thousand lives a year, and you know, just as you were talking about how important AEDs are, I was thinking to myself the training must be as equally as important as the devices themselves, because in that moment, is probably not the best time to start reading the instructions.
Jane Gonzalez: Well, that is a true statement. Interestingly enough, there was a study that was done by one of the largest manufacturers, the three largest manufacturers of AEDs are Stryker, Philips, Zoll, you have Cardiac Science. And they did a study, and they put citizens in a room and they said, "Okay, here is the AED, go operate it." And, the instructions tend to be very simple, that should there be an emergency, and someone's down with a sudden cardiac arrest, normal layperson person, pulls the AED, I believe that there's going to be a very good chance that, that layperson person will be able to use it effectively.
Although, if you are going to put an AED like in a school, for example, typically what they'll do is that they'll do the CPR training, because it's pretty important. CPR and AEDs go hand and glove. So, they'll do the CPR training, and then they'll have the AEDs to do a training session strictly on how to do use the AEDs.
Gregg Stebben: That is a big part of your mission at MEDwheels. Tell us about how you came to create this company, MEDwheels, and how you came to see this mission as what you should devote your business and your life to.
Jane Gonzalez: You know, it's really interesting. I was born in San Antonio, and after I graduated from college, ended up in Philadelphia, worked for corporate America. In my early 30s I heard the Holy Spirit say, "You're going to own a business." Now, I'm working in corporate America, owning a business was not even in my radar. Doing some financial analysis work.
In the meantime, my brother and my sister-in-law, live in San Antonio, and they had experience working with a Medicare, Medicaid company. Well, in 2005, my mom got very, very ill, and I ended up in San Antonio, where my brother approached me about starting a business. And, I said, "For sure." So, they had some background with Medicare, Medicaid processes and billings, and I had the corporate America experience, there we created the seed, MEDwheels.
Gregg Stebben: And, did the company start with ... Well, it couldn't have started with programs focused on AEDs, because I don't think the industry was anywhere near where it is today? Or perhaps, I'm wrong about that.
Jane Gonzalez: No, you're exactly right, and so, this is phenomenal how a company like ours, a family operated business has been able to survive, because keep in mind, what has happened in corporate America from 2005 to today, 2018. So, we were doing pretty well in 2005, we started the business, we were billing Medicare and Medicaid, we're serving patients here in San Antonio with diabetes, with cardiology, with mobility problems, we were helping veterans with vehicle lifts, we would install them onto their vehicles. But then, the financial crisis, the regulations, health care regulation came in, and it put a lot of strain on the business in 2008. To the point that it would cost us more money to buy a piece of equipment before we added all the additional operating cost to it, than it was the reimbursement.
And, Medicare put all this regulation in place, that the administrative cost to operate it also went through the roof, because we would go bill to get paid, and the insurance providers would not pay us, give us several reasons why not to, so then we would have to go back and spend more additional man hours, working with the providers and the doctors, and everybody involved just to get reimbursed for that delivery that's already been done.
So, we began to pivot, we had to pivot. We had to take a real hard look at our business model and that's why we, in 2009 and 2010, we started looking at distribution.
Gregg Stebben: And so, it was around that time, that you also realized what a big, not just business, an entrepreneurial opportunity, this was, but also what a big life-saving opportunity it would be?
Jane Gonzalez: Life-saving opportunity is a critical point, it's something that I want to share with you. The mission of MEDwheels, is much bigger than me. The purpose is really to have an impact in our community. My company is located in a very distressed neighborhood, multi-generational poverty, illiteracy, a high drop-out rate, drugs. But, I chose to be embedded in the middle of a community because I want to have an impact. And so, it's really interesting. We had just put in the AEDs, our company at a high school here in San Antonio.
Three days after we installed our AEDs, a high school student went down with a sudden cardiac arrest, and we saved his life.
I had so much passion and enthusiasm, that I know that I'm doing what I need to be doing when something like that happens. There is a mission and a purpose, and it is to make a difference in our community. To do whatever we can to save a life.
Gregg Stebben: As I'm listening to you, Jane, I'm talking with Jane Gonzalez, she's the president and CEO of MEDwheels in San Antonio, it's Medwheels.com. As I'm listening to you, I'm thinking to myself, I'm looking around and I'm saying, I'm sort of filling in here for our listeners as well, there are no AEDs here. So, if I'm with a company or my kids go to a school, where there are not AEDs, how does that conversation begin? I mean, before a company or a school, or a school district, or a government agency, can reach out to you, there must be some internal conversations as well. You must have some insight into the kinds of things, for instance, I might want to get my company talking about so we can get ourselves to a point where we should reach out to you to talk to you about this.
Jane Gonzalez: Absolutely. And it starts with ... That's one of the areas that we're working with, because keep in mind, we just saw hurricane in North Carolina, and you've got people with disabilities, so, that you're talking about a facility, I don't know if it's one floor or if it's two floors, three floors, 10 floors, I have no idea. But, the other piece of equipment that is critically as important as an AED in a facility would be evacuation chairs. So, that if you have somebody with disabilities up on the 10th floor, and need that chair, can permit that person with disabilities to be taken down the stairwell, with minimal possibility of injury. So that, the conversations typically would begin with whomever is operating the facility, typically that would be the person in charge of making those kinds of decisions.
And, we would be glad to communicate and support, in terms of what we recommend might be a good need and location where to put them.
Gregg Stebben: Well, part of what you're telling us is, even though we've all seen AEDs at the airport and other places, there's actually, this is actually a much bigger conversation than that. There's other things, a company or an organization should be thinking about, to make sure that they are prepared.
Jane Gonzalez: Right, I mean look at the violence that is happening. Before I came onto this podcast, there's another shooting that happened in Maryland, the other thing that I am very passionate about is that people are dying from bleed-outs, because by the time the police can get into an area that's been subjected to violence, that person, if there's nothing in there that's going to stop that bleeding, potentially may not make it, right?
So then, what I'm recommending to all ... especially in the school districts, where we have so many kids that are facing this dilemma, is that I encourage everyone, not only to get the AED, you're going to have the automatic electronic defibrillator, that's awesome, fantastic, but I'm also encouraging everyone to put at least one stop-the-bleed kit at a minimum inside of that cabinet.
Gregg Stebben: Inside the AED cabinet?
Jane Gonzalez: Inside the AED cabinet.
Gregg Stebben: So, I have to confess, I've never heard of a stop-the-bleed kit. What is that?
Jane Gonzalez: So, stop-the-bleed kits, let me walk you through a scenario. Wherever you're sitting at, somebody walks in, they bust the door open, they have a gun pulled, they shoot and they hit you on the leg, okay? So, now you've started bleeding you're bleeding right now, they're calling 911, "Police, can I get in there to provide you aid?" No one can get in there to provide you aid, because that area is still a crime scene.
If you had a stop-the-bleed kit, there could be a tourniquet in there, so that you can get that tourniquet, wrap it around where the bleeding is at, tie it really good, it will stop bleeding. Or if it's hit in the chest, there's also something called a chest compression, so that you can get that ... like a gauze, and you apply it to your chest, wherever that bleeding is at, wherever the gun shots at. You press it down, it will stop the bleeding.
Gregg Stebben: You're opening up this whole area of, I'm sure in most cases, it's probably an HR function or an Operations function, but I think, I mean for me, you're really opening my eyes to things I had never thought about. And of course, the worst possible time to be thinking about things like this is when it's too late.
She's Jane Gonzalez, she's the president and CEO of MEDwheels, Medwheels.com. I want to ask you to look back, over the years, since you started your business in 2005, and I'm wondering if there's one thing you learned, that you wish you could share with other small business owners. And share with folks who may be thinking about starting their own businesses, is there one lesson that you've gained, that you just wish everyone knew, because you knew their journey forward would be more successful?
Jane Gonzalez: You know, that's a very, really fantastic question. And, thirteen years of business, I use this analogy, football. You're in a football field, and you're a running-back, and you're running down the field, suddenly, there's going to be this big guy coming at you, the train's coming at you, right? And when a train's coming at you, you're going to have to pivot to the right, you're going to have to pivot to the left, you're going to have to do something, because if you go head on, something’s going to give.
And so, my advice is that, create that business plan. It is very important, especially for new companies, to have a business plan. And, create that strategy. One thing that I've learned is that how can I pursue something if I don't have it in writing and I'm going to be committed to the perseverance to make sure that I achieve those goals. So, then create that business plan, but then also, life is gonna happen. We're a family run business, my business company has gone through deaths, it's gone through sickness, it's gone through adversity, it's gone through challenge, and then you've got government regulation where we had to look at government policy, then you have financial regulation, so that all these things are going to be happening as all of these things are happening, the company moves on in years, it's going to be important to update that business plan and modify it, adjust, based on the current conditions that are affecting the continuity of that original business plan.
Gregg Stebben: So, your advice is, get it down in writing in a business plan, because without that, you're constantly going to be reacting to things without going back to the very foundation of the thing that you started.
Jane Gonzalez: Exactly.
Gregg Stebben: When you started MEDwheels, did you have a written business plan? Are you speaking from experience of, not having a business plan, or we had one and boy am I glad we did?
Jane Gonzalez: Well, I'm talking from experience in that I did have the business plan originally, but in the middle of ...you know, companies are going to go into the valley, they're gonna go through the fire, are you gonna have enough money to meet your payroll? What is your balance sheet looking like? Are your payments going out the door more than the money that's coming into the door? So, there's a lot of these things that are happening, and I'm talking from experience, in that during those very critical times, when we were totally stressed, when Medicare changed regulation and the gross margin that we're making slowly has been taken from under our feet, the administrative costs are going through the roof, I don't have enough money, I gotta go get my line of credit to pay my payroll. And what is the company going to do to survive? And so, creating that business plan, changing that business plan, updating that business plan, during that dark, dark time that we were going through was very important.
Gregg Stebben: And, might have determined whether MEDwheels would even be here today, or not?
Jane Gonzalez: Yeah, if we had not, on the grace of God, by the grace of God, if we had not taken a really hard look at the stress that the Medicare regulation was having on our business, and if we had not updated our business strategies, we probably would have gone bankrupt.
Gregg Stebben: Well, what's really fascinating about that, Jane, Jane Gonzalez, the president and CEO of MEDwheels, Medwheels.com. It's fascinating to hear you say that, because I'd go back to your mission statement, which includes, "To provide all facets of an AED program, including products, services, and training to consumers and to ultimately help save lives." And then, the statistic on your home page, "An additional 40 thousand lives could be saved each year in the U.S. alone, with widespread access to AEDs." I'm thinking to myself, that if you had not had that business plan and been able to use it to make that successful pivot, there are people alive today, who would not be alive today, if you had gone bankrupt instead of found a way and the will to go forward, and I wanna thank you for that.
Jane Gonzalez: Oh, thank God, for that. I'm a steward of the assets that I'm being provided, and I hope every day that I do a good job of it. I hope every day I make a difference in somebody's life. I hope every day, that this company is in business, can make a difference, and leave some kind of legacy behind.
Gregg Stebben: I can't think of a better place to leave it than that. Jane Gonzalez, thanks for joining us on “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks, and Bank of America. MEDwheels is at Medwheels.com. She's the president and CEO, Jane, thanks so much for joining us.
Click here to tune into BofA’s Small Business Podcast and "The Heartbeat of Main Street,” brought to you by ForbesBooks and Bank of America, for episodes covering a range of topics designed to empower and inform small business owners.
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