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2019

Despite their concerns, entrepreneurs remain largely optimistic about their business outlook, with revenue forecasts, growth and hiring plans holding steady since the fall of 2018.

 

The bi-annual Small Business Owner Report, conducted by Bank of America, explores the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners throughout the U.S. and across 10 major cities. The spring report explores a range of topics important to the constantly evolving small business landscape. Some important insights from this report explore:

 

  • Strong business growth indicators despite shifts in economic confidence
  • Divided opinions on how major policy issues are impacting business
  • Small business owners planning for the unexpected
  • The pros and cons of online reviews
  • Barebottle Brewing Co. Client Profile

 

For additional insights, see the Small Business Owner Report infographic below.  For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s small business owners, download the Spring 2019 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report here.

 

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An example of small business growth momentum is Bank of America client Barebottle Brewing Co., a San Francisco-based craft brewery energizing a passionate community of beer enthusiasts to bring a unique business model to life…

 

Mike Seitz, a co-founder of Barebottle Brewing Co., started making his own beer back in 2008. Inspired by the historic brewing culture of Cincinnati, Seitz teamed up with friend and fellow Cornell University graduate Lester Koga to turn a passion for beer into a business venture.

 

By July 2016, after years of comprehensive planning, research and participation in beer competitions across the country, Seitz and Koga had relocated to San Francisco, building out a former warehouse to serve as the brewery headquarters and a public taproom, and officially opened the doors of Barebottle Brewing Company.

 

Bolstered by a unique business model — Barebottle releases up to five new beers each week without a flagship beer — Seitz and Koga focus on building a brewing community in the Bay Area, encouraging customers to submit recipes and even try their hand at brewing beer at home.

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“Brewing is a very cool community to be a part of. It’s one of the oldest industries to work in — and also one of the most personally rewarding and enjoyable,” Seitz said. “No one really takes themselves too seriously, and they’re all willing to share.”

 

With 12 employees and over 400 beers produced in just under three year, Seitz and Koga are now turning their sights toward expansion, targeting a second taproom in the Santa Clara area. While beer will still be brewed in the original Barebottle location, the rapid success and popularity allowed the duo to expand their footprint.

 

“We’re lucky that we’ve been so successful with an expanding team to be able to open a second taproom,” Seitz said. “In order to continue to have that one-to-one relationship with consumers, this is an important step for us.”

 

Bank of America is committed to providing entrepreneurs with solutions to ignite and accelerate their potential, providing access to capital, mentoring, education and training through our business and partnerships.

 

Check out our other client spotlight videos:

 

Dr. Julia Harper, Founder of TheraPeeds Family Center

Denise Shelton, Founder and CEO of Community Bridge, Inc

Rachel Estapa, Founder and CEO of More to Love Yoga

 

Learn more about the Preferred Rewards for Business.

 

Video Transcript:

 

Lester Koga: What inspires me are flavors, and being able to integrate them in ways that hopefully no one's ever experienced before.

 

Lester Koga: At Barebottle, every beer that we brew has a new idea, and it's always fun seeing people's reactions. We brew to share. I'm Lester Koga, and I co-founded Barebottle Brewing Company with my friend, Mike Seitz.

 

Mike Seitz: Lester is one of my oldest and best friends. He and I started as homebrewers. We decided we want to do this because we love it.

 

Mike Seitz: Barebottle Brewing Company is a craft brewery located in San Francisco. We focus on innovation and coming out with new beers all the time.

 

Mike Seitz: This is such a community-based business.  So on the back of every label, we actually include the home brew recipe. It's all about sharing information and creativity.

 

Lester Koga: We want to make sure that we never lose sight of that passion.

 

Mike Seitz: Running your own business, it's just a huge responsibility. That's your livelihood. Bank of America has been a great partner with us basically since the beginning.

 

Lester Koga: Paul reached out and said,"What is it that I can do to help you?”

 

Paul Fuentecilla: When I started working with Barebottle, what impressed me was how knowledgeable and how passionate Mike and Lester were about what they were doing. My job is to help make their banking easier.

 

Paul: Barebottle’s a part of the Preferred Rewards for Business program, so as their business grow and as their relationship with Bank of America grows, the more rewards that they get to take advantage of.

 

Lester Koga: The more and more we’ve used our credit card, then the more and more rewards we get from just the normal things that we do for spending. That’s really helpful as weexpand.

 

Mike Seitz: We're going to be opening our second location down in Santa Clara. The positive vibe that people have being here is just so rewarding and I’m excited to bring it to more places. When we decided to expand, Paul was my first call.

 

Paul: I really believe that they have a great product, so playing a small part in their roadmap of growth is one of the coolest parts of my job.

 

Mike Seitz: We have the power to make an idea a reality and add to the community

 

Disclosure: 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 are used pursuant to license. Bank of America, N.A. provides informational reading material for your discussion or review purposes only. Interpretations in this release are not intended, nor implied, to be a substitute for the professional advice received from a qualified accountant, attorney or financial advisor. Neither Bank of America, its affiliates nor their employees provide legal, accounting or tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. © 2019 Bank of America Corporation

Local events provide unique opportunities for small businesses to capture excitement – and increase sales. The story of my career is filled with such events.

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Before beginning my journey as an entrepreneur, I played professional football for 11 heart-thumping seasons. In fact, in 2005 with Philadelphia, we made it to the Big Game. Today, as a business owner, I seize opportunities like big football games – and other, local events – to create an uptick in awareness, engagement, and sales. You can learn more about my business, BowTie Cause, here.

 

Here’s the playbook for turning an event into a touchdown for your business:

 

1. Define success. Understand what you want from participating in or sponsoring any event before you dive in. What’s your goal? Define it as specifically as you can, identify how you plan to measure success, and create a game plan to achieve your objectives.

 

2. Pick the right event. Knowledge is power, and the first step to leverage an event to benefit your business is to educate yourself. What about the event is relevant for your business? Engage where it’s most practical. For instance, if you own a record store and a music festival is planned in your area – be a sponsor. The important thing is that it makes sense for your business to be present.

 

3. Be true to your brand. Authenticity—from your brand’s message to its voice—is critical to connect with your target audience. Once you’ve identified an appropriate event, ensure your participation is true to your brand. If you own a T-shirt company that specializes in humor and a comedy festival comes to town, equip comedians with your best shirts to wear during their set; if a burger festival is on the calendar and you own a new restaurant, enter the competition; if a surf tournament comes to your local beach, sponsor a surfer and set up a pop-up shop near the event – just engage in a way that is right for your brand.

 

4. Join the conversation. There are many ways to hit a bullseye in this regard. One of the easiest is to get in on the digital dialogue – create content online paired with a trending event hashtag – and bring your brand to an active online audience. Take full advantage of social media. There are many ways to do this, from promoting targeted messaging to event attendees to streaming live video from the event. Engaging visibly online will draw attention to your business.

 

5. Consider working with a partner. If you are not resourced to plan for event engagement, consider partnering with a marketing or PR firm with values similar to yours. An experienced partner can play an important role in developing a truly impactful strategy – and help bring it to life.

 

Each business has its own story, its own goals, and its own way forward. By prioritizing relevance and authenticity, you can leverage the right event for your business to attract attention and win sales. Stay true to your brand and seize opportunities to connect in the most meaningful ways with your audience. And never forget, the way forward is your way forward.

 

About Dhani Jones

 

Dhani Jones is the owner of BowTie Cause, which empowers numerous organizations with custom bowties designed to support their initiatives. Before his journey into entrepreneurship, Jones played for eleven seasons in pro football as a linebacker in New York, Philadelphia, and with Cincinnati. Additionally, he hosted the Travel Channel series, Dhani Tackles the Globe and the CNBC series, Adventure Capitalist. He is a guest contributor to the Small Business Community.

If your small business is considering expanding into a new market—either geographic or demographic—a pop-up shop can be an excellent way to test the waters before you commit to a bigger investment.

 

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Pop-up shops are short-term locations typically open for a few weeks. While they are usually retail businesses, the pop-up concept can also work for service businesses, such as a yoga studio or beauty salon. Restaurants have even popped up in large urban markets like New York and Chicago.

 

 

What can pop-up shops help you do?

 

1. Create a physical presence: E-commerce businesses often open a pop-up shop before launching a permanent brick-and-mortar location. They may also use pop-up shops on an occasional basis to build buzz about a new product or take advantage of seasonal demand.

 

2. Test a location: If you’re thinking of opening a second location (or first), you could commit to a lengthy commercial lease and cross your fingers that the space you’ve picked is a good one. Or you could try out a pop-up shop for a few weeks to see if the location works before you sign on the dotted line.

 

3. Test-market new products or services: Are you considering adding a new product or service to your offerings? Use a pop-up shop to do real-world market testing, then use what you learn to modify the product or service for greater success before you launch it.

 

4. Build brand awareness: Companies hoping to expand to new demographic markets can use a pop-up shop to build brand awareness and generate word-of-mouth among a new customer base.

 

Secrets of pop-up shop success

 

You’ll have more success with your pop-up if you focus on one of the goals above, rather than try to do everything. Other steps to success:

 

1. Choose the right location: The ideal location will differ based on your goal. If you want to build broad awareness of your brand in a certain city, locate near an area with a lot of foot traffic. If you’re trying to attract students, a spot near a college or university would work. If your target market is upscale shopaholics, a spot in a popular mall might be best; if you want to reach hipsters who shun the “masses,” you could try an out-of-the-way downtown warehouse. To find potential pop-up locations, contact local retail property managers or visit pop-up property websites such as Storefront.com, PopupInsider and Uppercase.

 

2. Promote, promote, promote: Pop-up shops are all about excitement, exclusivity and the fear of missing out, making social media the ideal place to promote them. Start plugging your pop-up well in advance by sharing “Save the date” announcements, sneak peeks at what you’re planning and special offers for your followers. (Create a hashtag for your pop-up and use it in all your outreach.) Invite your email subscribers to the event. Reach out to influential members of the media, including relevant bloggers, to alert them about your pop-up and invite them to attend as guests of honor. Once your pop-up is underway, pass out flyers and use street signage, balloons and flags to catch the attention of passersby.

 

3. Make it memorable: A pop-up is more than just a temporary retail store—it’s a one-of-a-kind experience. Give visitors a reason to stop in by throwing a party! Live entertainment, interactive activities, makeovers, fashion shows, product demonstrations, competitions, and prize giveaways are all fun activities that will attract people into the store and get them talking about your pop-up.

 

4. Get customers engaged: Your pop-up shoppers are your best source of marketing. Get them to spread the word about your pop-up shop by creating Instagram-worthy spots for selfies and encouraging customers to share them on social media (with your pop-up hashtag, of course!). Ask customers to sign up for your email or text messaging lists and follow you on social media so you can stay in touch with them after the event. Finally, take advantage of the opportunity to get real-time customer feedback on your product or service.

 

A pop-up shop can be the first step to a permanent location or an occasional activity you use to attract new customers and expand your target market. Either way, this concept has plenty of potential for entrepreneurs who know how to make the most of it.

 

 

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

According to the LinkedIn 2019 business survey, the No. 1 “soft skill” business owners say they want is “creativity.” While this might be true in a survey, it becomes a little more complicated to consider and execute in the real world.

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First, not every business wants or needs creativity. (Franchises are technically about the absence of creativity, in some ways. Do what this book says to the letter.)

 

Second, there’s a vast distance between “wanting” creativity to flow at a company versus knowing how to guide and encourage the process while protecting customers and the business from any unintended fallout.

 

How to Encourage Creativity

 

Set Parameters - The first important detail to point out about creativity is that it’s a condiment, not a meal. It is vital to be clear whereyou want a team to be creative, and within which parts of the process. If you run a bakery, there might be a “lab” part of the business where once a week (or month), you open the kitchen during non-production hours and encourage some recipe exploration. But you would clearly separate that kind of activity from the production tasks required every day.

 

The parameters around creativity might include the following:

 

    • Which areas of the business are flexible for creativity
    • What types of problems creative actions are meant to influence or solve
    • What is off limits (putting up “guard rails” is a vital part of helping people stay creatively safe while protecting your business)
    • What expenses are considered reasonable to the process
    • How to operate the primary business separately from the creative process so nothing accidentally spills over

 

It’s strange to think of parameters as being the first part of building out a creative practice, but it’s also the part most people feel anxiety around. Eliminating potential to harm the business, the customers, or the creative process is very helpful.

 

Build A Healthy Creative Environment - Even if you simply want occasional brainstorming, it’s important that as a business owner, you set up simple ground rules for the creative process. Creative people have two types of mindsets when they’re coming up with ideas: one, being really innovative and free to dream, or two, being defensive and fighting off criticisms. With that in mind, here are a few tips to building a healthy creative environment:

 

    • With parameters in place, state clearly that the process is meant to be positive, and that you’ll limit any use of negative words like no/not/can’t/won’t/never and so on. (Keep reading.)
    • Adopt a “Yes, and” policy. When an idea won’t work, don’t interrupt the creative flow to say that. Instead, say “What else do you have?” or “Great. Give me three more ideas.”
    • Have physical space for creativity, including whiteboards, sketchbooks, colorful markers and other materials. Give people the physical tools to explore beyond just words in their head.
    • Share creativity and innovation videos from YouTube like TED talks on design or Disney Imagineer materials. Some people are secretly creative or latent innovators but simply need the right stimulus to get their plans in action.
    • Help your creative people break walls. If you run a car dealership, talk about “What if we sold subscriptions to cars? What would have to change? What if we sold scooters?” And so on. Sometimes, giving people a very different perspective on the business will yield completely new ideas and directions.

 

As a business owner, your role is to keep the operations running, but also nurture a space for new ideas. It’s very challenging to lead people through creative processes. Your role adapts to having to learn how to guide a very fragile experience. Creativity is less hammer and nails and more like dovetailing wooden joints.

 

Reward Creativity (and Failure) - It’s vital that people see their ideas yield future satisfying uses. When you think an idea might be worth a try within your company, celebrate that. It would also empower your people to work more creatively if you celebrated failures. Sometimes, even though an idea fails or can’t be implemented, a key learning can be taken from the experience. Be sure to celebrate and reward both experiences.

 

    • While people appreciate monetary rewards, be sure that praise and credit go to your creative types. Humans love to feel necessary and wanted.
    • Celebrate failures because if people see there’s not a huge penalty for getting an idea wrong, they’ll be willing to share even more ideas. Innovation is almost always hiding inside a crazy idea, not a safe one.
    • Be sure to keep the cycle of creativity flowing so a reward of being part of the process is that it becomes a facet of an employee’s role. Think of the retention implications of someone saying, “Yes, I install ventilation systems for this HVAC company plus I get to design better internal wiring as part of my job.” That invitation to innovation might hold someone’s interest more than the simple execution of repetitive tasks.
    • Offer some kind of annual creativity-based prize. Be loud about it. Make sure there are videos and an event and lots of internal coverage of the experience. We all love hanging our foil-starred homework on the fridge.
    • Consider adding a failure-based prize to the same experience, but one where you talk loudly about the positive lessons learned from such experiences.

 

Creativity Isn’t Operations. It’s WHY There are Operations

 

In any business, there are people who come up with ideas and people who implement and execute those ideas. It’s the same in most industries. To be the kind of company that has creative ideas and who gets ahead of the competition means making some shifts in how you lead and manage.

 

Creativity is a leadership-heavy activity, not a management-centric one. You have to learn how to collaborate, how to welcome diverse opinions, how to honor different backgrounds and methods and mindsets.

 

Before anything can be “the way we’ve always done it,” someone had to come up with that way. Creativity is the little green buds poking through the soil that eventually yield mighty trees. They require nurturing but what you get will be worth it for sure.

 

 

About Chris Brogan

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Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. 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. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

 

SBC Team

Celebrating Small Business

Posted by SBC Team Apr 17, 2019

Every Community has Something to Celebrate This Small Business Month.

Small Business Month is a time when we stop and take notice of all the vibrant businesses that make up our communities. The relationship owners have with their customers make up the fabric of their neighborhoods. That’s why we’ve collected our best articles, highlights and interviews to help other rising business owners with their online presence, social media strategies, and much more. Make sure to check out this page throughout the month to learn more and inspire ideas that help your own small business community grow.

Social Media Shoppers Visit Stores, Too.  Here's How to Find Them. Small Business, Big Presence: 5 Ways your Business Should Engage Locally Success Stories: How Tiny Doors ATL Became a Big Hit How to Encourage Online Shoppers into Your Brick-and-Mortar Store How to Make Your Local Business a Neighborhood Institution Using Micro Influencers to Drive Business in a Local Market Small Business Profile: The Spindle Floods, Cyberattacks and Reputational Threats: Is Your Business Prepared? Neighborhood Vendors: How hyper-local businesses stay in business today Why Planning for Uncertainty is a Must for Business Owners 6 Ways Small Businesses Have a Large Impact in Local Markets Schedule an Appointment Small Business Spotlight: More to Love Yoga Around the block in Atlanta with Myrna Perez Around the block in Nashville with Maneet Chauhan Client Spotlight: Denise Shelton, Founder and CEO of Community Bridge, Inc Small Business Spotlight: TheraPeeds Family Center Join the Conversation Spring 2019 Small Business Owner Report Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever Tips from a Pro: How to Score a Small Business Touchdown at a Local Event

Do you think it’s impossible for a small retailer to compete against e-commerce giants? It can be tempting to imagine the worst when almost half (49 percent) of all online purchases in the U.S. are made on Amazon, according to a recent survey, and 83 percent of consumers have bought something on Amazon in the past six months.

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Fear not! There’s still opportunity for independent brick-and-mortar retailers to fight Goliath. Here’s how you can battle the giants and come out on top.

 

Make shopping simple. Convenience is the primary reason 28 percent of shoppers use Amazon. While you can’t compete with bigger retailers on price, you cancompete on convenience. For example:

 

  • Streamline the payment process. Offer a range of payment options, including mobile wallets, so customers can pay in the way they prefer.
  • Shorten wait times. Almost half of consumers alwaysvisit a physical store when they need a product fast. To make it snappy, use mobile devices to process transactions from anywhere in the store.
  • Simplify returns. Clearly state your return policy and train all your employees on how to accept returns so the process goes quickly.
  • Offer click-and-collect. If you have an e-commerce website as well as a store, give customers the option to pick up online orders in the store so they can get them quickly.

 

Provide a personal touch. E-commerce retailers offer personalization via automated emails and recommended purchases delivered by artificial intelligence algorithms. Your store can offer that and much more. Here’s how:

 

  • Use retail loyalty software to gather detailed data about loyalty program members, and marketing automation to deliver timely messages, special offers and shopping suggestions.
  • Share customer data with your salespeople so they can make personalized suggestions or alert shoppers when a particular product is available. Some 79 percentof shoppers say personalized service affects where they buy.
  • Hire employees who genuinely like people and provide training that empowers them to help your customers.
  • Educate your employees about your products so they can explain options, offer suggestions and help customers make decisions.
  • Equip your team with tools they can use to provide a better customer experience, such as inventory management software to show shoppers what’s available.

 

Claim your place in the community. Your physical presence in the community is a key differentiator. Here are some ways to play it up:

 

  • Emphasize your independent spirit. Tell your story in your marketing materials. Why did you start your store? Why are you so passionate about what you sell? What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
  • Encourage customers to shop local. Almost 90 percent of consumers say independent businesses strengthen local economies. Remind customers that supporting your store also means supporting the community through sales taxes and employment. If your community doesn’t have a Shop Local organization, start one.
  • Get involved in your community. Give back by volunteering for local charities and participating in community organizations. Sponsor a local sports team. When people see you care, they’re more likely to buy from you.
  • Create community at your store. Hold in-store events such as book signings, musical performances, or classes for customers. Use social media to build bonds with your real-life community online. 

 

Enable discovery and delight. Online shopping can’t match the element of discovery that retail stores offer. Try these tips to delight your customers: 

 

  • Curate your merchandise. Instead of the endless options giant ecommerce sites offer, streamline your selection so customers can choose from the very best.
  • Appeal to the senses. Use sight, sound, smell, and touch to make your store a place where customers enjoy spending time.
  • Keep ’em coming back. Change your store inventory and displays regularly so there’s always something new to discover and shoppers will return more often.
  • Be unique. Almost 40 percent of Amazon shoppers say they’d go elsewhere if a retailer carried unique products.

 

Nearly 86 percent of retail sales still take place in brick-and-mortar locations. Follow these tips, and hopefully, your store will be one of them.

 

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

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Staying zen in the early days of a small business startup can be tough. Steve McGrath, owner of YogaSource, knows first-hand the tools required for successful organic growth. On this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” stretch your mind and learn tips every small business should know when expanding.

 

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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.

 

 

Narrator:                    Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.comand Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com. Here's your host, Steve Strauss.

 

Steve Strauss:           Today we're speaking with Steve McGrath, owner of YogaSourcein Los Gatos, California. YogaSource is the largest and most-awarded yoga studio in Silicon Valley. Independently owned since 2002, the studio offers 130 weekly yoga, Pilates, and revolution cycle classes with world-class teachers.

 

                                  Steve, great to have you with us.

 

Steve McGrath:         Thanks very much. Great to be here.

 

Steve Strauss:           So, let's start at the beginning. Why don't you tell us a little bit about YogaSource?

 

Steve McGrath:         My wife, Linda, opened the studio in March 2002, and thankfully we met through yoga shortly after that. I became involved in the business pretty much that way, really supporting her dream and her entrepreneurial drive. I manage a lot of the day-to-day maintenance of the studio, the development of the business, the marketing, and a lot of the things that are often not quite so easy to manage, which is the customer service elements of the business, and of course the maintenance and literally keeping the business running.

 

Steve Strauss:           Tell me a little bit about the early days of YogaSource. How did you grow it? How did Linda grow it when she started, because the start-up phase is always challenging for people.

 

Steve McGrath:         She opened the studio as a young 24-year-old. Went out and got an SBA loanand started from scratch. I came along about six or eight months later and was immediately involved in the studio. We sat in a very small space. We had 800 square foot practice space. We could fit 28 people maximum, literally kind of mat to mat.

 

                                   Like any small business, we grew organically. Small classes became medium size, and we got 10, 12 people. Then a few months later we had 15, 20 people. And eventually after a couple of years, the classes were packed, and we added more classes. We added more styles of yoga, and then of course expanded into the larger and larger spaces over time and moved the business into a bigger location.

 

                                  Despite our size now, we're still looking for opportunities to grow. We're about to open a second location in Morgan Hill, thanks in large part to the support of Bank of America and the SBA.

 

Steve Strauss:           Nice.

 

Steve McGrath:         Yeah, you know it's sort of that classic organic growth story. We don't take credit for all of it, of course. It always frustrates me when you hear business people describe themselves as geniuses when they've taken advantage of what sort of market offers.

 

Steve Strauss:           One of the things I love about what you're doing is you do something that I suggest to small business owners often, and that is to create multiple profit centers. Mainly you have one way of making money in your business, but what great businesses do is they create a second and a third way so that when one part of your business is down, the other is up, and vice versa.

 

                                  It seems to me that's what you've done at YogaSource. You started with yoga. Now you have Pilates. You had one location. Now you're going to have one in Palo Alto and one in Los Gatos, so you are definitely creating multiple profit centers. Has that been a conscious decision on your part?

 

Steve McGrath:         Yeah, it has, and actually there's even more elements to it within that matrix of the business. If you look at our business, in the early days we had that very small location. When we were considering moving to a larger location, we wanted to look and say, "What are the aspects of this experience that we're delivering at this small location that we can take and we can move across to the larger space?"

 

                                   And one of the things we had a few lines of clothing that we were custom making for ... you know, t-shirts and yoga pants. We thought, maybe if we included a bit of retail, we could really benefit from that, and so we built retail into our model into our next location, our second step, as it were in expansion. And what retail allowed us to do was it allowed us to differentiate from all the other yoga studios around because back in 2005 when we expanded, most yoga studios were a case where you sort of roll up to the door of the studio and your instructor comes huffing and puffing around the corner on their bike and says, "Sorry, guys. Sorry, guys. I'm late. Let me just open the doors for you."

 

Steve Strauss:            Right.

 

Steve McGrath:          And it's not a great experience. Where we are in Los Gatos, there's a very high expectation of a very high quality service, and so we said, "well, we need to keep the doors open all the time—we need to have staff on location all the time." And one way to pay for that is by having a retail store, so a retail component to the business where the profitability of the retail can help the business, but it also can pay for those employees who are at the front desk selling, and they happen to be always there to check into classes.

 

                                  So we immediately approached Lululemon, which is one of the ... at the time was the brand in yoga apparel.

 

Steve Strauss:          Sure.

 

Steve McGrath:         And asked to be a distributor, and we are now their largest distribution partner worldwide.

 

Steve Strauss:           Wow.

 

Steve McGrath:         They partner with yoga studios and gyms with a very limited line of clothing, and we currently are their largest partner worldwide to sell their basic black yoga pants. So it's been very successful for us.

 

                                   We've also developed other revenue opportunities. We have a very well-developed retreat program where we take people to exotic destinations like Tulum near Cancun. We go to Bali. Linda takes a yoga and art retreat to Paris. This year we're going to Florence, Italy, where she takes people to do yoga in the morning and do art visits in the afternoon with a guide from someone who is a practitioner at the studio.

 

                                   In addition to that, we are a teaching institute. So we are an approved teaching institute by the Yoga Alliance, who are the governing body for yoga, which basically means we have the ability to run training programs to educate students and teachers in our own style, empowering them to become yoga teachers themselves.

 

                                   So we have lots of streams of opportunities and revenue parts of our business.

 

Steve Strauss:           That is definitely multiple profit centers.

 

                                   I'm wondering if you could give us two or three tips about what's worked in your business that you think other small business owners could learn from. What might they be?

 

Steve McGrath:          I think, number one, I would say to people focus on the experience that you're delivering for your client. Many small businesses get caught up in what their competitors are doing, which is a natural tendency, but I think you really need to focus on the experience that you're delivering.

 

                                  We, early in our process ... we took kind of a page from my experience with marketing at HP where you look at the customer experience. How are people aware of your studio? How do people select your studio to visit? What is their experience when they walk in the door the first time? How do they continue to sign up and experience classes? And as they develop in their experience, how do you continue to inspire and challenge them and deliver that experience?

 

                                   And so, focusing on all the elements of that experience and literally going through an exercise of documenting how you want people to talk about your business in each part of that experience will help you build out that experience. And don't worry about competitors. If you are doing the right thing with your experience, then people may go, but they'll come back if you're filling their needs.

 

                                  The second thing I'd say is don't be scared of taking calculated risks. Look for those trends in your market. We saw yoga developing as an exercise modality and took some risks to expand into that bigger space. That helped us double or triple almost overnight. We tripled our business by adding more classes in a bigger location. We added a second practice space so we could have multiple classes at the same time.

 

                                   And I think the third tip I'd say is if possible, as soon as you can, invest in real estate. Be your own landlord. Try and avoid that burden of paying someone else rent and investing in their property. Try and own your own building or your own location as early as you can.

 

Steve Strauss:           Steve, if you could do anything different, if you could talk to yourself or your wife back in 2002, anything you might suggest that you've learned along the way?

 

Steve McGrath:          I think it's really important to acknowledge your weaknesses and look for support where you need them. If you're an artistic, creative, extroverted, big-picture type personality ... I mean, that's terrific, and if that's the business you're in and that suits your business, that's great.

 

                                   But don't be shy to find people who can keep your feet on the ground. Find a good business advisor to help you on those sort of boring accounting kind of business decisions. Balance is very, very important.

 

Steve Strauss:           Steve, if listeners want to find out more about you or your business, where should they go?

 

Steve McGrath:          Just go to YogaSourceLosGatos.com.

 

Steve Strauss:           YogaSourceLosGatos.com.And I also want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to work not just in your business, but on your business. So keep up the great work. And for more great small business tips, check out Bank of America’s online small business community at BankofAmerica.com/SBC. That’s BankofAmerica.com/SBC.

 

                                  For Bank of America and ForbesBooks, I'm Mr All Biz, Steve Strauss.

 

Narrator:                    Thanks for listening to the “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.comand Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com.

One of the great things about being in business for yourself these days is that there are a lot of helpful resources to be found. Back in the day, especially the pre-Internet day, entrepreneurs were mostly on their own. They would rise or fall based on what they knew or – more accurately – did not know.

 

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Not now. Today, not only are there more resources, but they are also far more readily available. Not knowing, and not having help, is mostly a thing of the past.

 

In particular, there is especially a lot of help for women and veteran small businesses aimed at encouraging small business ownership among these groups. Here are some of our favorites:

 

Resources for Veteran Entrepreneurs

 

What with their ability to follow a mission, their commitment to teamwork, and mastery of follow-through, veterans make great entrepreneurs. Here then are some of the best small business resources available to them:

 

SBA Veteran Programs: Not surprisingly, that best friend to small business, the Small Business Administration, has a lot of resources for the veteran entrepreneur. For example, Operation Boots to Business is a program for military service personnel transitioning to civilian life.

 

The Veterans Administration: Similarly, the VA has a great small business resource center, the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal. Offering help for everything from starting, to financing, to growing a business, this is a great place for the fresh and seasoned veteran entrepreneur alike.

 

Veteran Entrepreneurship Courses: According to Bunker in a Box CEO Todd Conner, “Bunker in a Box is designed to be a first-stop for exploring entrepreneurship.” Using videos, online tutorials, and articles, veterans can embark on 14 “missions” that teach entrepreneurship. Along the same lines, but in person, Patriot Boot Camp offers entrepreneurship training programs in various cities nationwide.

 

 

Resources for Female Entrepreneurs

 

While women face unique challenges when it comes to business, they don’t have to go at it alone. Community, funding, training, mentoring and much more are available both on and offline. Check out:


The SBA: Any woman looking to launch a career in entrepreneurship should begin their search by going to the SBA Office Women Business Ownership Home Page
SCORE: At SCORE, either online or off, you can get free, confidential, expert business mentoring from coaches nationwide.
Female entrepreneurship training: IGNITE straddles the line between veteran and female entrepreneurship. Designed especially for female veterans, IGNITE is a one-day entrepreneurship training event offered in cities nationwide.

National Association of Women Business Owners: NAWBO has chapters throughout the country that sponsor educational meetings and networking events. NAWBO's website includes online entrepreneurial training and resources.

Entrepreneurship Websites: The internet is full of sites designed to inspire, educate, and empower women. Some offer free content, some are membership sites, and some are geared toward conferences or education. Popular sites include Woman Owned She Owns It the Female Entrepreneur Association. You can find others by searching for websites and blogs for women entrepreneurs.

 

        • Check out this collection highlighting how to embrace the unique challenges women face and thrive as small business owners.

 

Financial Resources for all

 

All entrepreneurs should know about the funding options available from the Small Business Administration. The programs below are great options, whether you are a woman, veteran or any other type of small business owner:


The 7(a) Loan Program: This bread-and-butter program is one of SBA's primary lending vehicles. It provides very favorable terms on loans to small businesses                unable to secure financing on reasonable terms through normal lending channels. One important thing to note is that the SBA does not make loans itself. Instead, it guarantees loans made by private financial institutions – banks, credits unions, and so on.

SBA CAPLines: Need working capital? This is the place to go.


Microloans: The expedited SBA Microloan program offers small business loans, up to $50,000.

 

CDFIs: Also known as local loan centers – provide capital, mentoring and financial advice supporting small businesses, affordable housing and nonprofit organizations operating in lower income communities.

 

 

Yes, it is fun to start and grow a small business, but it also can be lonely and difficult. Fortunately, there is plenty of help available today making it less so.

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss

  

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

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A small business credit card can be a smart starting point for businesses and entrepreneurs to establish a financial identity. Learn how your small business can get the most out of credit cards on this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street.”

 

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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.

 

 

Narrator:                    Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.com and Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com. Here’s your host, Gregg Stebben.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America. Today, we're going to talk about small business credit cards. Are there benefits to having a credit card for your small business that you don't know? We're joined by Rieva Lesonsky. She's one of the influencers at Bank of America's Online Small Business Community at bankofamerica.com/sbc, and she's also President and Founder of GrowBiz Media and smallbizdaily.com. Also, with us is Kevin Condon. He's the Head of Consumer Deposits and Small Business Products at Bank of America. Thank you both for joining us.

 

                                   This is really such a fascinating topic, because we all know about personal credit cards. We all have them, but I'm not sure small business owners always stop and appreciate what additional value a credit card for their small business can have for them. So, let's start with this Rieva. If I'm a small business owner, why should I get a small business credit card? And I guess that's really two questions. First, what will a small business credit card let me do that a personal card won't, and how is a small business credit card different from my personal credit cards?

 

Rieva Lesonsky:        That's such a great question, Gregg. The basic bottom line of this is, you need to lead two separate financial lives as a business owner. You have to have your business life and your personal life. So, a small business credit card is going to act as the separation between that. It's going to help you establish your business identity. It's going to help you build business credit history. If you ever want to get a loan in the future, you need to have a business credit history, not a personal credit history.

 

                                   A credit card, a business credit card, is going to help you do that. It's going to help you keep track of your business expenses, so you know what you can write off at tax time. And it's going to give you access to money when you need it, kind of like a business line of credit, but it's easier to get. And I think that thing that people don't understand the difference says, “I'll just use a personal card and use it as a business,” but business credit cards come, often, with higher credit limits.

 

                                  That's, like I said, a line of credit, so you can spend more money. They help you build that credit history, like I said. And, if you have employees, they help you keep control on employee spending. You can give your employees cards, look for an issuer that gives you employee cards for free, and you can set limits on those employee cards. So, any travels, they may have a higher limit than an employee with a card who's just there to buy the office expenses.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And it also lets you see, in almost real time, exactly what they're spending money on. So, if there's a problem, you can stop it much faster. Those are really great points. Rieva, thank you.

 

                                  Kevin, you and I have talked about this before on the show, but I want to come back to it. I remember you telling us that, a great way to build credit and trust with the bank, if you ever want to take out a loan, is to start with a small business credit card, correct?

 

Kevin Condon:           That's right, Gregg. In banking, we refer to the five C's of credit frequently when we discuss credit with our clients. Those five C's are capacity, collateral, capital, conditions and character. A business credit card is a great way for you to establish that last factor of character. Now, when I'm talking about character, I'm really referring to your personal integrity, your industry experience, and your credit history. Yours, and the people closely tied to the success of your business, so the people on your teams, your partners, and so forth. A business credit card is a great way to demonstrate your trustworthiness, and your credit worthiness in the future to a bank while earning rewards on your purchases that are relevant to your business.

 

                                  Using that card to make sensible purchases, and paying off your balance in full, and on time every month shows us at the bank, that you have a track record of fiscal responsibility and you're a strong candidate for larger scale lending, such as a business line of credit in the future.

 

Gregg Stebben:         All of that's really perfect, and one of the things you mentioned, rewards. I just want to highlight that, you and I actually did an interview, and folks can hear it at forbesbooks.com/bankofamerica. We actually did an interview, specifically, about how to take advantage of the rewards tied to a small business credit card. Folks may want to go back and listen to that again, because there was some really good information there. Back to you, Rieva. I want to ask you about the kinds of things I should think about, or consider, when I'm looking for a credit card for my small business. What's important? What should I be considering here?

 

[Learn more about the Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card]

 

Rieva Lesonsky:        Well, the first thing you should look at is, does it make you pay a fee or not? Sometimes the fees are worth it, because you may get extra benefits. But there's a lot of business credit cards out there that you don't need to pay an annual fee on, and that really helps because you know you're saving money. Then you want to make sure that you match any rewards that you're getting with what you do. If you don't travel, if you maybe take two business trips a year, then don't get a travel rewards card. There's other cards out there that will give you some kind of reward, or bonus, based on what you do you.

 

                                   So, think about what you need. Do you need flexible payment options? Do you need travel protections, discounts, a cashback card? You want to make sure that there are tools to help you keep track of the expenses. Then, maybe, look for card with as low and APR as you can get. I know APRs are a little higher these days, but still look for a card that is giving you the lowest interest rates that you can get right now.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And you mentioned fees right up front, but, again, once you've evaluated what the rewards are, and how they're going to benefit you,that is the right time to then consider whether the fee actually makes sense for you. Are the rewards, or the benefits, so much greater than the fee, that it makes sense, or should you move onto a card that doesn't have a fee?

 

                                  Kevin, I want to ask you a question that assumes, now, we've listened to this much of this podcast. We've gone out. We've applied for our business, our small business credit card.Now we have it. What are some good practices we should keep in mind to make sure we're getting the most out of it? And, frankly, also making sure that we're staying out of trouble.

 

Kevin Condon:           A great question, Gregg. You know, being a responsible cardholder is really straightforward, if you follow just a few simple tips. First and foremost, make your payments on time every month. We all get busy, and distracted, and we've all forgotten, in our personal lives, about an upcoming payment at some point. But these days, there's plenty of tools at our disposal to make sure that that never happens. I'd recommend arranging automatic online payments from your checking account, or setting up email and text alerts, to remind you when those payments are due, so you won't miss a payment.

 

                                   Second, be conservative about the purchases you make on your card. Youshould never charge big purchases that you don't think you'll be able to afford to pay off, right now. And try to keep your balances below 10% of that credit line. Sometimes people fall into the trap of making purchases based on future income expectations, and if that income doesn't end up materializing, they can end up in some trouble.

 

                                   Next, just be practical. Monthly expenses like gas and office supplies for our businesses are great ways to build payment history without overextending yourself. Avoid those impulse purchases and splurges just because something goes on sale. Make sure you're being practical.

 

                                   Fourth, pay off your credit card in full each month, if you can. Making purchases and consistently paying our cards off, on time, can demonstrate to a bank that you can manage your payments, and keep your credit score healthy, which will allow you access to that line of credit we talked about earlier.

 

                                   And lastly, don't forget about making sure you're capitalizing on any rewards you may be eligible for. Gregg, like we talked last time, make sure you're layering those rewards. Making your purchases where there are loyalty rewards programs at specific merchants, taking advantage of those credit card rewards, and then any other rewards programs your bank may offer, so you don't leave money on the table.

 

[Discover valuable rewards that grow along with your business.]

 

Gregg Stebben:         You know what I really like about this is that, from what you're both describing here, a credit card for your small business, it really has benefits today - those sort of logistical benefits, that Rieva talked about. It can help you manage expenses, see where you're spending, see and control how employees are spending money -but there's almost a network effect here, as you described Kevin, because this can do all kinds of things for the future of your business. It can really help you build your credit, build a relationship with a bank, and do all kinds of other things, including maximizing the value of those rewards.

 

                                   I really want to thank you both for joining us. I've been talking with Rieva Lesonsky. She's one of the influencers at Bank of America's online Small Business Community at bankofamerica.com/sbc. She's also president and founder at growbizmedia and smallbizdaily.com. Grow Biz Media is at growbizmedia.com, as well. Kevin, Kevin Condon is the head of Consumer Deposits and Small Business Product for Bank of America. And for more great small business tips, check out Bank of America's online Small Business Community where you can see things from Rieva, and lots of other influencers like her. It's at bankofamerica.com/sbc. Thank you both for joining us.

 

Rieva Lesonsky:        Thank you.

 

Kevin Condon:           Thank you.

 

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

 

 

Move over, Millennials: A new generation is about to shake up offices near you. Generation Z is getting ready to enter the workforce, with the oldest members between the ages of 18 or 23, depending on your definition (Bloomberg and the Census Bureau say the first Gen Z’ers were born in 2001, while others such as Pew Research dates its beginning to 1996).

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How will Generation Z transform workplace culture? While it’s still early, here are some insights into how this age group thinks, the way they work and what they expect from employers.

 

They’re money conscious: Generation Z grew up seeing their parents struggle during the Great Recession and, like millennials, many are graduating with high levels of college debt. No wonder financial security is top of mind. In a recent survey, more than one-third of Gen Z respondents plan to start saving for retirement in their 20s—and 12 percent have already started! Offering solid benefits packages—including retirement plans and health insurance—will be key to attracting Gen Z employees. Offer college loan repayment assistance and you’ll really win their loyalty.

 

They’re digital natives: This is the first generation that has always known smartphones, social media, and the internet. They’re comfortable with all types of technology and expect your business to be up-to-date with the latest tech tools. Gen Z will have little patience for practices that waste time or natural resources (paper). If you’re not quite there it’s a good opportunity to take advantage of their know-how to up your business’s technology game.

 

They struggle with soft skills: Gen Z can text in their sleep and know the meaning of every emoji, but common business interactions such as writing and responding to emails or making phone calls or having face-to-face discussions may be new territory. Gen Z employees tend to interact online more often than IRL – in real life. They’re less likely to have held jobs in their teens than previous generations because more were in college (or doing extracurriculars to get into college) at that time. You may need to provide some training to get entry-level Gen Z workers up to speed on their soft skills.

 

They work hard.They may not come fully polished on day one, but the Gen Z demographic grew up competing for everything from social media status to college admission. As a result, they’re a driven bunch, willing to try new things and learn new skills. Seven in 10 members of Generation Z say it’s more important to be curious and open-minded than to have specific skill sets. Don’t be afraid to challenge Gen Z employees with “stretch goals.”

 

They need support. They’re eager to take on challenges, but Gen Z isn’t overconfident or cocky. In fact, this generation suffers from high levels of anxiety. One-third of Gen Z say mentorship is the most important benefit a workplace can offer, and 65 percent say they need frequent feedback from employers to stay in their jobs. Use frequent check-ins to boost their confidence and help them grow into their roles.   

 

They’re collaborative loners. Anxiety, social or otherwise, means Generation Z employees do some of their best work solo. However, they also express a desire for human interaction as part of teams. An office space that incorporates both private workspaces and communal areas will support Gen Z’s need for both solitude and collaboration.

 

They value authenticity. Even more than millennials, Gen Z expects the workplace to embrace their authentic selves and support causes they care about. As the most ethnically diverse generation in American history, it’s no wonder “equality” is the number-one cause they care about. Your workplace needs to welcome all types of people in order for Gen Z to be their best.

 

I’m not a big fan of lumping people into categories. (When Generation X entered the workforce, they were derided as “slackers;” millennials were mocked as entitled. Both of those demographics have turned out pretty well.) The best way to make the most of Gen Z employees: Treat them like unique human beings.

 

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

A passion to change lives and make an impact on at-risk communities drove Denise Shelton’s transition from Department of Corrections warden to CEO.

 

Shelton retired from the Washington, D.C., Department of Corrections in 2002 and formed Community Bridge, Inc (CBI). Her company was built “with the goal of empowering and rehabilitating local residents by providing viable, progressive employment and trade skills development.” Community Bridge is now a full-service facility management company that employs 200 people and services six wards in the District of Columbia.

 

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Starting a business that could serve as a legacy was critical to Shelton. Not only as something she could pass down to her daughter and grandchildren, but to have a lasting effect by empowering, teaching and supporting others. As a second-chance employer, Community Bridge is changing lives.

 

Shelton is CEO of CBI with her daughter, Shawn Nance, serving as President. Her grandson already has goals to continue the legacy by being Community Bridge’s CEO when he grows up.

 

Family has been the basis of CBI from the beginning. When Denise’s daughter joined the business early on, and after she gave birth to her second child, CBI had to get creative with their office space. And as such, the first CBI office was a “mommy van” that allowed Denise and her daughter to drive her children around while still having the ability to discuss the business and have meetings with one another.

 

Working with her mother has been amazing, says Nance.

 

“Denise Shelton to me is unstoppable. At the end of the day, she is my No. 1 partner.  She has changed the course of her life to make sure I was okay.”

 

 

 

 

 

Watch our other spotlight videos:

 

Video transcript:

 

Title: Denise Shelton, Founder & CEO, Community Bridge, Inc.


[Denise Shelton] Starting Community Bridge, it has been part of our mission to make sure that we change lives. We wanted to do something more than just open a business. We would hire directly from the jail to the community, so that's how we started out. Whoever we hired, we wanted to make an impact.

 

[Denise Shelton] Community Bridge is a full service facility management company, and we do snow removal, landscaping, and janitorial.

 

Title: Shawn Nance, President, Community Bridge, Inc.

 

[Shawn Nance] It started off with a parking space and a mommy van where we had meetings, because we didn't have a building. At that point, we had no roof, two lawnmowers and two contracts. We went having one truck and a trailer to going down to purchase four or five more trucks the next day, and all of a sudden, we, we had a business.


[Shawn Nance]Bank of America for Community Bridge started day one, that was part of the foundation.


[Denise Shelton] As a small business owner, it's very important that I have a bank that supports me, and Bank of America made that walk with us, and made it easier.


[Shawn Nance] The same people that gave us the opportunity when we didn't have anything are the same ones that are our partners today.


[Denise Shelton] I'm passing down this family business to my daughter, who's then going to pass it down to my grandsons.


[Shawn Nance] That's a huge responsibility, but it's one that she's prepared me for.


[Denise Shelton] When I see how she has grown, and her commitment and dedication to Community Bridge, it reminds me why we went in the business, and what's important.


[Shawn Nance] To see her as a woman, to see her as a business owner has been one of my joys in life.


[Denise Shelton] When we talk about a legacy, for me, something that's going to empower other people, and teach other people, and support other people, and I hope that it continues down through my legacy in generations. I have the power to build a legacy for my family.

 

Endpage:

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 are used pursuant to license. Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation.

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