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PEP Solar is the nation’s first residentially available solar installer. CEO Bonnie Katz is dedicated to providing energy solutions to reduce dirty energy and improve air quality. Learn how Bonnie’s leadership has developed a successful, forward-thinking industry innovator.

 

 

Bonnie Katz:               They have to like what you have to say, they have to like the way you talk, and they have to trust you. I think the longer we're in business, that longevity actually PepSolar.jpgplays a very big part in the people that we get referrals from. Would you want to buy from a company that’s only been in business for five years, or one that's been in business for over 40 years?

 

Steve Strauss:            Hi, I'm Steve Strauss and you're listening to the Bank of America Small Business Podcast, a podcast where we speak to small business owners about their journey and uncover useful tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners everywhere. Today I'm really happy to have our guest, Bonnie Katz. Bonnie is the CEO of PEP Solar.

 

Steve Strauss:            Let me tell you a little bit about PEP Solar. PEP Solar was founded in 1978 and is regarded as the nation's first residentially available solar installer. PEP Solar has been installing solar electric systems since 1981, and its modern high end energy products provide the best comfort with the lowest cost, guaranteed production in the industry. PEP Solar is known as a forward-thinking industry innovator, and a leader that receives considerable recognition from the business community. PEP Solar also is well-known for its extensive history in its community for its innovative product lines, for its friendly and well-educated employees, and they pride themselves and the company prides itself in providing superior advanced energy solutions and experience. Bonnie, you're doing great work and we are really happy to have you on the show today.

 

Bonnie Katz:               Thank you.

 

Steve Strauss:            Can you tell us a little bit about ... I know PEP Solar is a family business. How did you get involved in the business, and how did you end up becoming the CEO of the business?

 

Bonnie Katz:               Okay. Sort of a long story, but I'm going to make it short for the purpose that we're doing today. By the way, thank you for having me.

 

Steve Strauss:            My pleasure.

 

Bonnie Katz:               I originally started with Senator Barry Goldwater, who I met at an event. I believe he was running for office at the time, and he was concerned about the Navajos dying from asphyxiation from the kerosene on the reservation. How could I help them with solar? My father at the time was installing solar thermal, and we had no idea how to do that. So we made a movie on the reservation explaining what happened and why they were dying and how they felt about it, with an interpreter, and we took that letter and their information to Washington with Senator Barry Goldwater in 1981. We were appropriated money from the Code Talkers money, and with that Code Talkers money we went back to the Navajo reservation and installed over 200 off-grid solar systems that Motorola made our panels.

 

Steve Strauss:             Wow. That's very early in the solar industry back in the early '80s, right? That must've been really innovative and challenging, I would assume.

 

Bonnie Katz:               Yes, there were no residential solar panels that were available, but Shell Oil who was making solar for NASA and their platforms told me that if I could get a meeting with Motorola they'd teach them how to make them. So nobody had residential solar and panels at that time except for PEP Solar and the ones that Motorola made for us.

 

Steve Strauss:            That's pretty incredible. It's great that you started out with a big contract and that great connection, that's certainly one way to start a business, but then that you and/or your dad, you tell us, were willing to take that risk on such a new technology. What motivated you to go in that direction, really, and not just have this be a one-off thing?

 

Bonnie Katz:               Going up to the reservation was a mind changing thing on how people lived and that the elders had no idea what was going on in the world. They were burying their medicine and their food that was going bad and the kerosene was asphyxiating their children. The weavers, they were dying while they were working on their rugs. Somebody had to help, and I felt like that Senator Barry Goldwater had touched me and made me that person that had to go do it, so I did.

 

Bonnie Katz:               That was the beginning of a ... Because we were originally in the cool storage business in 1978, but it was a new beginning for me and I really have enjoyed working with the Indians. From there, we went on to do rooftop solar. And here I am today. I'm the CEO of a small company now. We used to be very large, but we're small now, and I also am board member for AriSEIA, which is a ... The SEIA is a national organization.  AriSEIA is for Arizona. I sit on that board and I help make decisions for legislation, work with legislators, and the utilities to make solar better in Arizona for my customers and other people's customers.

 

Steve Strauss:            You know, I'd love to and am going to ask you about how your business has grown, but before we leave that Navajo story, can you tell us a little bit how what the work you did there changed their lives?

 

Bonnie Katz:               Okay. Think of yourself as an elder out in the middle of nowhere, and no place that you can walk to. There's no... They're too far away. You need medicine, and you have meat, and you're burying your food and you're burying your medicine and you're afraid to take it because the desert is 120 degrees, and you didn't bury it deep enough. It was an awful experience for them, and they didn't know how to get help or where to get help.

 

Bonnie Katz:               Now, Arizona public service had put some electricity on the main road, but it was so far away, Four Corners, that it was so expensive for them that after they got their first bill those that lived on the road, they cut their power off and wrapped it around the meters. So these people that lived way out, they had no idea and when somebody came out there, we gave them two lights. We gave them, if they had children, one of those little 3x3 TVs, if you remember, with batteries.

 

Steve Strauss:            Yes.

 

Bonnie Katz:               Yeah, and we gave them a little refrigerator with a car battery. Can you believe it? Because we knew no better. But now, they could have cold. They could actually have their medicine and their meat in cold. Their kids could watch TV. In fact, I remember the old woman. She walked behind a TV looking for the people. It was so funny. If you think about it, and you never saw a television, she's wanting to know where these people are that are talking out of this screen. That was a riot. To educate them on how to turn on the lights was very exciting for us, very exciting. It was so rewarding.

 

Steve Strauss:            Well, kudos to you. Did your family have a background in small business and entrepreneurship?

 

Bonnie Katz:               My father did, yes. Absolutely. Yes, he did.

 

Steve Strauss:            Growing up, was it your dream to own your own business, or how did you decide that you wanted to become an entrepreneur as well, like your dad?

 

Bonnie Katz:               I really just wanted to be a kept woman, and then I decided I needed to work. So I thought this was a worthwhile project for me to get involved in. I was very interested in the Indians, the Navajo nation. They're history of Arizona. I've always been very politically inclined, although I haven't really been in politics. But I wanted to see them get better. It wasn't right what was happening, and if there was a way to make it better for them to live, then we needed to do it.

 

Bonnie Katz:               We also built some kit homes. We did that with the foam that we used when we did cold storage, only we put wood instead of FRP on them, like we did in cold storage. We put wood on either side and we did octagon shaped, like a hogan, and then we did a training class to teach the Navajos how to put them together so that they could have homes because a lot of them were still living in mud huts. Now, this was 30-something years ago, but come on. Living in a mud hut when you have money from the government that's available to make your life better and to know that I was part of making their life better was, like I say, very rewarding.

 

Steve Strauss:            Let's talk about where PEP Solar is today. You've branched out, obviously, quite a bit since then. You mentioned rooftop. Tell me about your products and your business and what you focus on these days.

 

Bonnie Katz:               Well, today we are currently selling with Shell Oil their product, which comes from Japan. We have, for many, many years, only sold American. And as the tariffs have come in and other situations that those companies that we used to buy from, it's not available to buy in the U.S. anymore so we're buying thin film from Solar Frontier, which is owed by Shell Oil, who has been in business for 71 years. They work great in our hot desert, in the heat here. They're probably rated better than any other panel that's made.

 

Bonnie Katz:               We use these panels, and we try to build a superior quality system for our customers so that they have the best of the best that's out there today. Just recently, we went back to also having a U.S. product that we're buying from some people over in Texas. But we try to buy the best railing, the best everything. Everything that we have, we try to buy the best for our customers and do a stellar job so that they'll give us plenty of referrals. That's why we've lasted all these years.

 

Steve Strauss:            Do you think that's what it is about your business that your customers love? Is it the products? Is it the service? Is it your culture? Why have you been in business for so long? What do you attribute it to?

 

Bonnie Katz:               Building trust.

 

Steve Strauss:            Is that right?

 

Bonnie Katz:               People have to like you. They don't have to love you, but they have to like what you have to say, they have to like the way you talk, and they have to trust you. I think the longer we're in business, that longevity actually plays a very big part in the people that we get referrals from. Would you want to buy from a company only been in business for five years, or one that's been in business for over 40 years?

 

Steve Strauss:            We are speaking with Bonnie Katz, who is the CEO of PEP Solar. I want to ask you this. Have you heard about Business Advantage Relationship Rewards from Bank of America? It's a new program that rewards eligible small business owners with benefits and rewards that grow as their B of A business deposit or as their Merrill Edge or Merrill Lynch investment balances increase. You can read about it at bankofamerica.com/relationshiprewards.

 

Steve Strauss:            There are all sorts of benefits, including no fees on select services from Bank of America, including monthly maintenance fee waivers on up to four checking accounts and four savings accounts, a 25% to 75% rewards bonus on a base earn of every purchase you make with your eligible Bank of America credit card, cash rewards based on your Bank of America Merchant Services monthly payment processing volume, up to 20% interest rate booster on a business advantage savings account, and interest rate discount on new loans and lines of credit. Interested? You should be. Learn more about Business Advantage Relationship Rewards at bankofamerica.com/relationshiprewards. That's bankofamerica.com/relationshiprewards.

 

Steve Strauss:            You know, Bonnie, one of the things I love about your business is that it's not just about selling products, but you really are, it seems to me, a mission-driven business. When I look at your mission, it says PEP's mission is to reduce dependence on dirty energy, coal, and foreign oil pollution; improve the quality of air we breathe by utilizing an economically and socially responsible product line and manufacturers; to deliver an honest and consistent and realistic message; to meet our customers' requirements; and so forth. How important is the mission part of your business to your business?

 

Bonnie Katz:               Very important. Very, very important. One thing when we go out to see a customer is we try to never sell them. What we try to do is educate them so they can make a good selection and decide what they want to do. It's a major thing when you buy solar. It's like buying a car. It's expensive, and you want to make sure that you're going with the right company and you have the right product. So my mission is very important because do we really want our children to breathe the coal air? When the slurries up in Four Corners where the reservation is, Four Corners, Arizona, gets into the water table, the babies, the little Indian babies die from the water. So we have to have an environment for everyone that's clean, that's clean energy, that's clean water, clean air. And that's going to be the most important things in our life for our great grandchildren. If we don't take care of that now for them, they won't be here. They don't have clean water.

 

Steve Strauss:            Well, we all appreciate that. I'm wondering if you could share maybe some of the unexpected challenges you have faced along the way and being an entrepreneur. I know that owning a business is lots of things. It's fun and exciting and interesting and challenging, and it's also hard and challenging and a bumpy road many times. Have you had a couple bumps along the way? If so, what have you learned from them?

 

Bonnie Katz:               I've had a lot of bumps along the way, and lots of wonderful good times and some very, very bad times. The only thing you can do when you have a bad time is that you need to set yourself aside from your business and you need to think about where you're at, and you need to think about what you need to do to make things better. And then you go and you get it done.

 

Steve Strauss:            And that's what you've been doing-

 

Bonnie Katz:               That's the answer. That's right.

 

Steve Strauss:            ... for many years.

 

Bonnie Katz:               Yes.

 

Steve Strauss:            You also, obviously, are a very innovative and technologically savvy company. I'm wondering if that extends into your marketing. Do you do a lot of social media, for example? How is it that you find customers and keep customers?

 

Bonnie Katz:               Well, we do marketing. My son is in the business with me, and he comes from IT. He has an architectural background, architectural engineer background with Motorola and IBM. Not Motorola, but American Express and IBM. He's really brilliant when it comes to computers and marketing, so we do social media. We belong to a lot of clubs. We visit a lot of places and we talk to people every day. If I'm standing in line at the grocery store, I'm talking to the person in front of me about solar.

 

Steve Strauss:            What do you think your trick is for finding customers? What works for you that other people could learn from?

 

Bonnie Katz:               Doing good work. Having satisfied customers brings more good customers.

 

Steve Strauss:            Well, what about things you might have done differently? Anything that's happened to you that you thought, "Oh, this could be different or better," or something that we could take from that as well?

 

Bonnie Katz:               Yes, communication. Communication is the number one key to, once you sell a job until you install it, is communicating with the customer as to where you are with their job. Even if they knew that it was going to take 90 days, you need to stay in communication with everybody and let them know at all times where you are with the job. It's kind of like you take your car into the garage. If they tell you it's going to be a week till it gets done, you still ought to call them in a couple days and say, "Hey, we just lifted up the hood, but we're starting work on your car." Same thing with us.

 

Steve Strauss:            Do you have customers, do you have a lot of repeat business? How does it work in your industry?

 

Bonnie Katz:               Not a lot, but we're finding customers, or we have customers that have sold their house and they are now moving into a new house and they want solar again from us, or they want it removed from the old house and moved on the new house. If they haven't had it very long, we can do that for them.

 

Steve Strauss:            Bonnie, clearly you're doing many things right. You have loyal customers, you have a business that's been in business for a long time, multi-generational. Not an easy thing to do. And you're an innovator and you clearly get a lot of awards and recognition from the solar community and from your Arizona community. If you were to leave us with one or two pieces of advice that you think other entrepreneurs should know, what might those be?

 

Bonnie Katz:               Number one is tell the truth. Never, never tell the customer something that is not true. And never talk about a competitor. Anybody asks me about a competitor ever, we always say nice things. Because it makes you look bad. You only talk good about your competitors and you always want to tell the truth. That's the main thing.

 

Steve Strauss:            I'm sure your competitors have plenty of good things to say about you as well, because you have a very impressive business. Bonnie, if people want to find out more about you or about your business, where should they go?

 

Bonnie Katz:               They can go online to pepsolar.com, or they can call us at 623-806-8806.

 

Steve Strauss:            That's pepsolar.com.

 

Bonnie Katz:               Yes.

 

Steve Strauss:            Well, thank you so much, Bonnie. You're doing great work. We appreciate it and admire it and thank you so much for being with us today.

 

Bonnie Katz:               Appreciate it. Bye.

Sage advice for women small business owners from Ramelle & Emma Massey of Massey Insurance Agency.  Emma and Ramelle are 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.

 

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Transcript:

“I am Emma Massey, and this is my daughter, Ramelle Massey, and we are Massey Insurance Agency.

 

“It’s extremely important to have female business leaders that you can look up to. This is my mom. She was a female business leader, and I followed in her footsteps. Having a strong role model is very important. Lift as you climb. The glass ceiling is shattered, piece by piece, and we are the ones who are chipping away at it.”

 

 

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.

The power of women is changing the world. Throughout our culture, from the #metoo movement to the growing (and record) number of women running for office, women are flexing their power like never before.

 

Women-owned businesses have been growing steadily for the last 11 years (even during the recession). The number of women-owned businesses rose 58 percent from 2007 to 2018, according to a 2018 report on women-owned businesses from American Express, and now account for 40 percent of U.S. businesses. During that time, employment, revenues and new business starts all grew substantially faster for women-owned businesses than for businesses overall.

 

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Why is it so important to encourage the growth of women-owned businesses?

 

Despite their growing numbers, just 1.7 percent of all women-owned firms have revenues of $1 million or more. However, those businesses contribute a disproportionate share to the economy and to employment. In other words, the more the better!

 

When women-owned businesses reach $250,000 in revenues, growth in both employment and revenues begins to take off, according to the same report. Supporting businesses that are approaching the $250,000 threshold (or have just crossed it) can help increase the number of $1 million-plus women-owned businesses—and that benefits us all.

 

How can you support women in business?

 

Here are five things you can do to help other women-owned businesses—and your own.

 

1. Show support with your dollars. Seek out women-owned businesses to buy from. If you can’t find entrepreneurial sources for what you need, look for businesses that have women in top leadership positions and show real commitment to a more equitable workplace. Support them by buying from them, and encourage others to do so, too. 

 

2. Learn and share the history of women in business. Women business owners are sometimes treated like a recent development, but in fact, we’ve been contributing to America’s economy since our nation began. Consider Madame C.J. Walker. Born to freed slaves in 1867, she built a business that was valued at more than $1 million when she died in 1919—yet her story isn’t shared in most history books. Change that by learning about Walker and other groundbreaking women business owners and sharing their stories.

 

3. Take advantage of government programs. Linda McMahon, a successful entrepreneur in her own right as former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO, has long been involved with helping women entrepreneurs. Now, as Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), McMahon is proud of the 109 Women’s Business Centers across the country, where women can get business training, advice and counseling, assistance competing for federal contracts, and access to credit and capital. Learn more about programs and assistance for women business owners from SBA. 

 

4. Are you just starting out in business? Get a boost for your startup from business incubators, accelerators and boot camps for women entrepreneurs.  (Here are six of the top programs to check out.)

 

5. Are you a successful woman business owner? Give back to other women entrepreneurs by mentoring a startup entrepreneur. Become a SCORE volunteer and mentor other business owners, or contact your nearest Small Business Development Center to see if they need help providing advice and consulting to small business owners.

 

As women, we’re stronger when we work together. Reach out to give to other women and get help from them in return. That’s the real power of women in small business. 

 

     Read next:

               Check out our Spotlight on Women Entrepreneurs article collection.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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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.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

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.
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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

 

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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.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

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

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.

 

Listen here!

 

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.

 

Joseph:           Okay.

 

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. 

 

Joseph:           Okay.

 

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.

 

        1. 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.

 

Joseph:           Okay.

 

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.

 

Joseph:           Okay.

 

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?

 

Joseph:           Okay.

 

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.

 

Joseph:           Okay.

 

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

 

Joseph:           Yeah.

 

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.

 

Joseph:           Okay.

 

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.

 

Joseph:           Okay.

 

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.

 

Jacob:             Mhm.

 

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.

 

Joseph:           Okay.

 

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.

 

Joseph:           Right.

 

Jacob:             And it’s rather seamless process for us as consumers.

 

Joseph:           Right.

 

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.

 

Jacob:             Sure.

 

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?

 

Joseph:           Okay.

 

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.

 

Joseph:           Okay.

 

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.

 

Joseph:           Right.

 

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.

 

Jacob:             Sure.

 

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.

 

Joseph:           Mhm.

 

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?

 

Joseph:           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.

 

Joseph:           Okay.

 

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.

 

 

Learn more about business financing from Bank of America.

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.

 


 

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Transcript:

“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.

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.

 

Read next:

 

About Carol Roth

 

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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.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

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.

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:

               Learn how eight women found entrepreneurial success, their impact on society and the challenges they faced building their businesses.

               Check out our Spotlight on Women Entrepreneurs story collection

               Learn more about how Bank of America supports women.

 

 

About Jill Calabrese Bain

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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.

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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.

 

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“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.

 

Narrator:                     Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” with ForbesBooks, at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankOfAmerica.com.

 

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.

 

Narrator:                     Thanks for listening to the Heartbeat of Main Street with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com, and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com.

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.

 

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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 Headshot.png

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.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

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

"It's important to feel that your natural self is perfect the way that it is,” says Rachel Estapa, Founder and CEO of More to Love Yoga and Bank of America client. In this video Rachel talks about turning her passion for yoga and body positivity into her business. Learn more at www.MoreToLoveYoga.com.

 

 

 

TRANSCRIPT:

 

It's important to feel that your natural self is perfect the way that it is and that was very hard for me growing up because I was always larger. Through practicing yoga I'm at peace with myself. I want to help other people wherever they are in their body love journey.

 

Title: Rachel Estapa, Founder and CEO, More to Love Yoga, Bank of America Brand Ambassador

 

More to Love Yoga is for people that consider themselves unable to do yoga.

 

MoreToLove.jpgI help usually larger bodied people learn yoga, but also experience their body in a way that's not going to feel intimidating.

 

What's really important to me is allowing people to feel like they can cherish their bodies through their own experience with yoga, but also sharing the More to Love Yoga community.

 

Turning your passion into a business, it's very easy to get overwhelmed. I had a lot of fear around the money aspect. I can't take this great idea and bring it to more people unless I get this business part down.

 

When I started working with Lisa from Bank of America she was just not like any banker that I ever met. It was like a having a friend that is a banker.

 

I've always gravitated to the small business owner because I think it takes a lot of courage.

 

Title:     Lisa Carroll, Senior Small Business Banker, Bank of America

 

In Rachel's case I was really intrigued by the company. I wanted to talk about her business priorities, and see how we can help as a bank.

 

I want to grow More to Love and Lisa's definitely helping me with ways that the financial systems can support that growth. I've never felt that any question I asked, or anything that I needed was too small and she had all of this wealth of knowledge from Bank of America.

 

It's important to have a relationship with your bank. Someone that you could trust, that you can talk to about the business, the challenges that you're facing, because that's really where we shine. We're able to actually provide suggestions to help.

 

Lisa knows who I am as a person, what my business is about, and when I grow, Bank of America's going to be a great partner in that.

 

When I think about the future, I'm really excited to have more people become part of the More to Love Yoga community.

 

I have the power to have a business that I'm proud of in the world. I mean, that's the dream for everyone, right? To do what you love.

 

 

 

Check out More To Love Yoga at www.moretoloveyoga.com

 

Make an appointment to talk with a Bank of America Small Business Banker.

Bank of America supports the power of women small business owners this October and all year long.

 

 

Each October, Bank of America shares its support of women small business owners by celebrating National Women’s Small Business Month. Last year, we introduced the names behind women-owned small businesses by placing their names “up in lights” on a theater marquee. This year, we’ve taken the “You’re Gonna Know Me” idea a step further by showing the faces of the women behind small businesses and sharing their stories with the world. By doing so, we also show the power of working together – the more women we can support in building their businesses, the more opportunity we create for other women.

 

Anthem-Screen-Shot.jpgBank of America presents “You’re Gonna Know Me.”

 

You’re gonna value our instincts.

You’re gonna use my technology.

You’re gonna get with my program.

You’re gonna know our policy.

You’re gonna read my book.

You’re gonna face the world with me.

 

The world’s gonna know you.  We’re gonna help. Bank of America Business Advantage leads the way for small business owners and celebrates National Women’s Small Business Month.

 

Get to know the small business owners in this video by visiting their websites.

 

Nicole Centeno – Splendid Spoon™

Sasha Stern & Jamie Scalera – Miss Smith

Alina Haranczyk – Initech Industrial, LLC

Emma & Ramelle Massey – Massey Insurance Agency

Erin Christie – Author of Same Starry Sky

Miri Torres – Arianna Skincare

 

 

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.  Banking products offered by Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC and wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation. © 2018 Bank of America Corporation.

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Women Business Owner Spotlight: “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” Episode 8

 

Women entrepreneurs are optimistic for the year ahead. Tune in to hear Sharon Miller, Bank of America’s Head of Small Business, share insights about economic outlook, access to capital, and the ongoing digital transformation as highlighted in the 2018 Women Business Owner Spotlight.

 

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“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.

 

 

Sharon Miller:            I think as a woman it's increasingly—we have so much more ability I should say to be able to manage our life, and that's what a business is. A business owner is not thinking of themselves in terms of “I own this consulting firm,” they're saying, “I have a life, I am a mother,” could be a father, right if we're talking about men. But we're focusing on women here, and I need to manage my whole life, and my business is part of that life and so technology helps me to do that.

 

Narrator:                    Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at forbesbooks.com and Bank of America at bankofamerica.com.

 

Kate Delaney:            Always a pleasure to talk to Sharon Miller, Bank of America, Head of Small Business. She's back to talk about the 2018 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight. I love this. Before, Sharon—first of all welcome to the show—but before we get into your findings, can you give us a little background on this annual report, your Women Business Owner Spotlight?

 

Sharon Miller:            Well, this is the third annual Women Business Owner Spotlight, and we conduct it just to understand how women are feeling about their business and how they’re feeling about the growth and what's coming for the next year ahead, including their revenue and hiring expectations, so really just getting our finger on the pulse, to understand what's happening, what's on the mind of women across America.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And how do you do this, this kind of an annual report? In this case, the Women Business Owner Spotlight. How many women do you talk with, and I'm assuming you talk with a good number of men as well. How does it work?

 

Sharon Miller:            We do. So every year, twice a year, go out and survey business owner across the United States and some of them are women, some are men, and then we take those results and we pull out the information specifically pertaining to the questions around women and how they're feeling. And so, we do the study twice a year at Bank of America, and this is the third year we are surveying and focusing specifically on women. And we've been doing this survey, Gregg, since 2012. So over the past three years, it's been increasingly interesting to understand what's on the minds of women and Hispanic business owners and to really start cutting our data into more information around those subsets.

 

Kate Delaney:            So let's dive into this. Can you give us a broad overview, Sharon, of what you found with the 2018 Women Business Owner Spotlight?

 

Sharon Miller:            I can, Kate, and just to add to what we were just talking about as well, at Bank of America we have 3.3 million small business clients and 40 percent are women-owned. So that's also why it's so important to us to really understand what's on the mind of women. Of the 29 million small business clients across the United States a third are women. Bank of America has been serving women and we certainly want to make sure we understand what's on their minds, so that we can help them and we can help them with their business and to continue to achieve their goals.

 

                                  And so Kate, for the top headlines this year, we found that women entrepreneurs are much more confident on revenue expectations compared to last year, and their growth plans and their economic optimism is up year-over-year as well.  I would say a tone of positive, a tone of growth, a tone of we can-continue-to-grow-our-business-in-spite-of-any-challenges-we-might-face.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And what do you think, Sharon, is driving that optimism about things like revenue?

 

Sharon Miller:            You know, we’ve seen the economy continue to improve, not only in our surveys, but in national surveys: for example, for the NFIB, the National Federation of Independent Business Owners, are finding all-time highs in their survey results as well. So, people are spending, people are traveling, we see consumer stability across the board when it comes to employment, and that is a key. People have money coming in, they're earning paychecks and they have more discretionary income to spend.

 

Kate Delaney:            And what are they spending the money on as far as the business is concerned, Sharon, how are women using it? I would imagine technology would be part of a cost.

 

Sharon Miller:            It is. In fact in our survey we always ask about how technology is impacting your business, how is it helping to improve your business? And we found that women entrepreneurs are increasingly dependent on capabilities related to technology. So for instance, when you think about the digital transformation, 33 percent of women entrepreneurs use a mobile device to process financial transactions within their business versus only 25 percent of men. So, they're way ahead. And they also foresee over the next five years a complete shift to digital payments. So, as we think about serving these clients so that they can serve their communities in the businesses that they lead, we have to make sure we're keeping up with how they want to help their clients. If clients are coming in and they're using their phone to pay for goods and services, we've gotta be able to help and partner with the business owner to be able to accept payments that way.

 

                                  These are some of the insights and how we use this data in real time to get better at what we do at Bank of America to serve the businesses so they can serve the community.

 

Gregg Stebben:          We're talking with Sharon Miller, she's the head of small business for Bank of America, we're talking about the 2018 Women Business Owner Spotlight and being the one male voice here in this interview, I have to ask because what may seem obvious to the two of you as women who are deeply immersed in the world of business—and I being a man so completely looking from the outside—how do the two of you look at things like the technology gap that you've just been describing, Sharon? How do you explain why women are ahead of men in many of these ways? Do you have any insight into that?

 

Sharon Miller:            We are ahead in a lot of ways, frankly.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well I was getting there. Right.

 

Kate Delaney:            We're just gonna focus on technology today, okay.

 

Gregg Stebben:          For those kinds of things where women excel, I think the more we talk about them the better it is for all businesses in technology and all kinds of areas because then businesses can get better at identifying best practices and who should implement them because they tend to have an advantage there.

 

Sharon Miller:            Yeah, I think so, and you know we just had a discussion in New York a week ago with women business owners and entrepreneurs across the country, and we asked that question: how are you using it, why are you using it? And I think that, some of the answers that came up that evening were around “I want to make sure I'm understanding all the ways to make it more efficient for me. I may not just be the owner of this consulting firm, but I also have a family, a life, I'm a wife, a mother, I go to school, I'm still doing all” ... so all these other elements of a life came up.

 

                                  It kept coming up in that conversation, and I think as a woman it's increasingly—we have so much more ability I should say to be able to manage our life, and that's what a business is. A business owner is not thinking of themselves in terms of “I own this consulting firm,” they're saying, “I have a life, I am a mother,” could be a father, right if we're talking about men. But we're focusing on women here, and I need to manage my whole life, and my business is part of that life and so technology helps me to do that.  I can do business wherever I want, whenever I want, however I want, and that's what my clients are telling me and asking me to do.

 

                                    I don't know Kate if you have any other thoughts on there, I know-

 

Kate Delaney:            Oh no.

 

Sharon Miller:            You certainly talk to a lot of business owners as well.

 

Kate Delaney:            I do, and I talk to a lot of women, and I think, how can we do it bigger, better, faster, and for the reasons you said you're pulled in a lot of directions and I know for myself, I love technology. I didn't start out that way because I would get frustrated not learning it because I wanted to know it right away, but the more patience you have and the more that you embrace technology the easier it becomes to do the things that you need to do and all the things on the list I do, from mobile payments to whatever on down, to CRMs to using Zoom or other forms of technology to do what I do. So, I completely agree with it. I love that your survey found this because I think it's absolutely on point from everything that I've seen with my own friends who are either heading up big corporations or they have their own business.

 

Gregg Stebben:          It's fascinating as a man, we hear stereotypes of course, and they've been around for a long time about how men are traditionally out of balance in their lives, completely focused on work, not balancing their family life well and I think what you might be suggesting, Sharon, is in the future we're going to see more and more emphasis on the healthy part of balance, work/life balance and that we're largely going to be thanking women in business for bringing that trend.

 

Sharon Miller:            Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think it's healthy. I think it's balanced. It's bringing your whole self to work. It's bringing your whole self to your business and I think it makes for better corporations and it makes for better business.

 

Kate Delaney:            How about this, this of course is on the minds of many. Sharon, access to capital. That's a big challenge for women business owners, or is it? What did you find this year?

 

Sharon Miller:            Well, you know, access to capital is improving, and we did hear that loud and clear from business owners. But they do feel that they're facing bigger challenges when it comes to access to capital than their male counterparts. At Bank of America, we see our lending business is up. We see high demand for capital, and we are finding that for women, who represent 40 percent of our business, and I feel like we have a very strong representation of women coming to us every single day. However, at Bank of America we know that there are some issues and there are some items that we can help with, and so from our survey results we do hear that training or education or knowing what to ask for, when to ask for it, has been in the past perhaps a road block.

 

                                  So, we have recently launched the Bank of America Institute for Women's Entrepreneurship in partnership with Cornell University, and this focus is going to be all around access to capital as one element, training, education and making sure that women have all the information, because as women, and I read about this a lot, women want to make sure that every single box is checked, all 10 items if that's what's required for this, versus a male who may come in with two done and eight left undone. We're certainly hearing this from the panels we have, and so perhaps the male counterpart would understand that okay you have to have this, this and this, because they're getting the education along the way. Whereas a woman may wait till they have everything done and they still realize, oh, there was something else I needed to do. So, I think just that conversation, the dialogue, the information, whether it be online, across the desk from an advisor, is gonna be helpful in closing the gap on access to capital.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Wow, perfect place to wrap this up, Sharon Miller, Bank of America, head of small business. Fascinating always to talk to you, and this information is fabulous from your 2018 Bank of America Women Business Owner Spotlight. Thanks so much for coming on.

 

Sharon Miller:              Gregg and Kate, thank you so much for having me.

 

Narrator:                    Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at forbesbooks.com and Bank of America at bankofamerica.com.

                                  Check out our Small Business Story Collection:

 

                                  The Unique Values Women Bring to Small Business Ownership on the Bank of America Small Business Community. 

 

                                  Learn more about how Bank of America invests in women.

For women business owners, there’s strength in numbers.

 

Networking with other women entrepreneurs can inspire and energize you, help you solve business problems, and open up new channels for selling your products or services.

As a busy business owner, however, you can’t join every business organization. You’ve got to pick the ones that will provide the most benefits for your business. Here are six worthy women’s organizations to consider joining.

 

1.  National Association of Women Business Owners

 

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One of the earliest associations for women entrepreneurs, NAWBO was founded in 1975 and now represents more than 10 million women business owners, making it the largest dues-paying organization for women business owners. It’s headquartered in Washington, D.C., and regularly advocates for women business owners’ interests on Capitol Hill. NAWBO welcomes women entrepreneurs in all sectors, with businesses of all sizes and stages of development. If there is not a local chapter in your area, you can become part of NAWBO-Virtual to network with others online. Memberships, available at different levels, offer benefits such as leadership development, networking opportunities, and access to resources, online training sessions, events and more.

 

                    RELATED CONTENT: Read about NAWBO CEO, Jen Earle

 

2.  American Business Women’s Association

 

ABWA brings together business and professional women in all industries, including both entrepreneurs and employees, to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally. Launched in 1949, this organization hosts the National Women’s Leadership Conference every year. Members meet monthly at more than 450 Chapters and Express Networks across the country to share their ideas, challenges, experiences, products and services with each other. Get a look at a local ABWA meeting.

 

3. National Association for Female Executives

 

Founded in 1972, the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) is an association for women professionals, executives, business owners and others. It has chapters in 15 states. Members gain access to networking opportunities, business education and resources through the organization’s local networks. NAFE also sponsors an annual National Conference and periodic Breakfast Club events in cities nationwide.

 

4.  WITI

 

If you're a woman business owner in the technology field, you know how lonely it can be. WITI can help. This women’s organization was founded in 1989 to help women advance in technology by providing access to—and support from—other professional women in technology. Today, WITI is a global network with over 2 million members, including business owners, employees and academics, who come from all sectors of technology. Members enjoy programs and partnerships that provide connections, resources, opportunities and a supportive environment.

 

5. Ellevate Network

 

This global professional network of women is committed to elevating each other through education, inspiration and opportunity. Ellevate Network offers four different types of membership. Innovator memberships are focused on starting and growing businesses, while the other memberships are targeted to professional women in the workforce. If you’re interested in joining but want to get a feel for the organization first, check out one of the many Ellevate chapters worldwide to see if any of their upcoming events are open to nonmembers.

 

6. Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)

 

Do you have a passion for the issues affecting women business owners in America? Then WIPP could be for you. This national nonpartisan organization advocates on behalf of women entrepreneurs with the goal of creating economic opportunities for women and having an impact on public policy. WIPP’s members run the political gamut from Republicans and Democrats to Independents and more. WIPP regularly surveys members about their biggest concerns, from healthcare and taxes to capital access, and then takes their concerns to Capitol Hill. The group provides members with benefits such as advocacy training, assistance getting federal contracts, educational opportunities and access to events.

Read next:
Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png
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.
Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva
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

Starting a business can be difficult. As a matter of fact, an overwhelming majority of new businesses that start every year eventually go out of business within a short period of time. The question then becomes, how can I start a business and increase the likelihood of my success?

 

Whether you're starting a new business or you're trying to pitch a new idea to investors and new customers, there are a few things you should focus on to increase your success.

 

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In my Amazon bestselling book, “Start Me Up! The No-Business-Plan Business Plan” (you can grab a signed copy for free plus S&H here: https://free.StartMeUpBook.com), I share four focus areas every new business owner should know to increase the likelihood of a profitable business.

 

What I found in my experience pitching tons of venture capital funds, angel investors and customers, is there are three additional  areas of focus that lead to profitability.

 

1. What problem does my idea or service solve?

 

Your ability to identify the problem your business solves will improve the chances of someone investing in your idea, buying your product or service and becoming a customer. People spend money for two reasons: to get a desired result or to solve a problem. In many cases, those two things are related.

 

You don't spend money because of low prices. You generally spend money because there's a problem you want  solved. There are obvious exceptions to this general rule. However, an overwhelming majority of people who spend their money have a problem they have either consciously or subconsciously identified. That's why they're giving you their money in exchange for your solution.

 

A lot of struggling businesses haven't adequately and eloquently identified the need of the customer, the desire of the customer, and the problem the customer has that really needs to be solved. If you can eloquently identify that problem and identify the market in which that problem exists and how your solution alleviates that customer's concern or problem, the likelihood of you getting investors increases as does the likelihood of you getting a stable influx of customers.

 

2. What's the cost of acquiring that customer?

 

I had a recent conversation with a startup who had a clothing line and related app. They were wondering how to get their app in front of the world. I asked them, "How much is it going to cost you to get in front of the right customer?" They didn’t know the answer and as a result, their business didn't take off.

 

Reality Check: If it costs $5 to get a new customer but your average sale is only $1, you will lose money on every new customer you acquire. This is why a lot of new companies and startups quickly go out of business. It's not enough to get a customer. What's important is how quickly and cost effectively I can get a new customer.

 

Ten years ago, all a new startup had to do was either get on Shark Tank, The Today Show or Good Morning America, pitch their deal and then they'd have an influx of orders. That's great, but that's not a long-term strategy.

 

A longer-term strategy is understanding how much did it cost for me to get my first customer and what's their lifetime value to my business and my company? And how much can I sell to them so every transaction is profitable?  You must know the customer acquisition costs.

 

3. Know your numbers, how much money you need to raise and why

 

People come to me because they need help getting a business loan, investment funding and/or new customers. When I ask for basic financial information, they either don’t know their numbers or aren’t sure of what they will use the investment for.

 

Reality Check: If you think you need to raise $100,000 for your startup, there's a very good chance you probably need to raise at least 10 times as much. A lot of startups don't know exactly what they need the money for, nor know how they will spend the funds.

 

Here's a secret: The investor's not giving you money because your idea's amazing. The investor is giving you money because they want to make money.

 

The more comfort you provide to the investor, the better chance you have of them investing in you if you can identify what they actually need, what they desire, and what they're looking for. The investor also wants to know that you're comfortable with your numbers. You don't have to be a CPA or a financial expert, but you should know some basic metrics of your business, your industry, and what you plan to use the money for.

 

If you want to increase the likelihood of getting investors, customers and winning business competitions, focus on these three tips.

 

Remember that bonus idea about $25,000? Well, Bank of America is working with Mastercard on the Grow Your Biz Contest* giving small business owners across the nation the opportunity to take their business to the next level. For your chance to pitch your business to the Grow Your Biz Panel in New York on Nov. 8 and win $25,000 to grow your business, all you need to do is answer one simple question – “How will I grow my small business?”  in a video submission up to 1-minute long. If you are up for the challenge, here are some video tips for your submission, which should be useful for any video needs your business may have. Are you ready to grow your business? To Enter and learn more, visit www.growyourbizcontest.com.

 

*No Purchase Necessary. Void where prohibited. Open to small business owners in the 50 US and DC, 18+. Ends 9/30/18. Restrictions apply. Click here for Official Rules and complete details.

 

About Ebong Eka

 

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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.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

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

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