How do you define greatness?

Satturi Castle (Napa) 2014
Satturi Castle (Napa) 2014 Photo Courtesy: Vernita Naylor (JEGroup)

When we are children that is when we have the greatest potential because our dreams and hopes are limitless. Our aspirations seems to be within our reach.  We are inspired by ourselves and in what we believe. When we are a child, we can do anything.

As we begin to grow up most of those elements change as life begins to intermingle within our minds. There are those, however, that try hard to either maintain or revisit these goals; some succeed while others let them fade away. There is an old saying that ‘the most talents are in the grave, never to be untapped.’

As May, which is Small Business Month, is quickly ending make sure that you patronize those that have tapped into their greatness.  These individuals said No to carefully treading the water and Yes to taking more risks.  These individuals say I have a dream to fulfill instead of I don’t have what it takes. These individuals say if I build, they will come instead of where will the people come from.

Look all around you there are small businesses everywhere.  It is because of people like you that Starbuck’s, Target, HP, Apple, Uber, Whole Foods amongst others have grown. Keep on doing your part in supporting small businesses because it is these businesses that is keeping this economy thriving by supplying jobs which support families then spending is stimulated within the community. If you can’t find a small business check out American ‘Small Business Saturday’ Express ShopSmall link https://shopsmallnow.americanexpress.com/ShopSmall?linknav=us-loy-open-shopsmall-headermap, here is where you can locate a business within your area or within a reasonable walking, biking or driving radius.

So ask yourself how do I define greatness? Drop us a line and let us know.  Of all of the submittals we will choose a few comments to post, will it be yours?

Connect with us either via LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter to see what we are doing next.

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Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner Jabez Enterprise Group  (JEGroup)
www.jabezenterprisegroup.com

Top 100 at Google Washington, D.C. (Series 7)

Google Washington, D.C.

I wanted to save Google for last because their presence was felt and known throughout our three days in Washington, D.C. so welcome to Series 7. I was shocked to learn that they had a Google Washington, D.C. office and it was beautifully set up. On Day 2 we ended the day with a Google hosted Awards Program and Reception. This was such a great treat because not only were we able to get a chance to visit one of their many offices but we got a chance to celebrate the success of three businesses as they received the 2015 Small Business Award. Please join us in celebrating with Virginia McAllister, Iron Horse Architects who received the Technological Innovation Award; Chancee Lundy and Veronica Davis, Nspiregreen who received the Community Development Award and Beverly Hanstrom, Colorado Medical Waste who received the Sustainability Award. Congratulations ladies for helping to make this world a better, greener and sustainable place to live. If you want to read more about these ladies click here. Afterwards the party was on with great networking, music and excellent food. What a great way to end a business day.

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At the end of Day 3 we attended a Google Technology Training. The training “Let’s Put Our Cities On The Map” is designed to help business owners maximize their online presence with insider tips and best practices for online marketing. Here’s an overview about the training and how the program works visit https://www.gybo.com/business. On the business page you will see either “Check My Business” or see a search box with “Does Your Business Info Show Up On Google?” enter your business name and city. Your entry will determine if you already have a business presence on Google Maps. If so your information will populate quickly like Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup) did then you will have the ability to edit the information if needed.

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If your business does not currently exist on Google Maps you will see “Your Business Isn’t On The Map” then you will have the ability to add your business name and city. Once you have taken these steps you are on your way to enhancing your online presence using Google. In some cities you may have the opportunity to attend a Google Hosted Event designed to help you leverage your business online, create a free website and much more. If you are a business owner and interested in learning how Google can help you grow your business there are a wide array of tools and/or resources available visit Google Apps for Work.

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If you are one of the Business Capacity Building Partners such as SCORE, SBDC or one of the Chambers of Commerce there is a program designed for you visit https://www.gybo.com/partners. As a part of this effort your organization will be considered a Google Official City Partner where you will have the ability to help businesses within your area to scale up and maximize their online presence with free resources and hosted workshops using Google tools. As business owners there are a lot of tools and resources available to help us in our businesses ask for a referral in your network or social group.

Once again thanks to John Arensmeyer, the Small Business Majority team and Google for such a great wealth of information, networking and the opportunity to be chosen as one of the Top 100 Small Pioneering Businesses Nationwide. This is our last series of the Small Business Leadership Summit and if you missed any of the Summit Series you still have time to catch up: Small Business Leadership Summit Mixer (Series 1), Access to Capital (Series 2), Technology and Minority Entrepreneurship (Series 3), Taxes and the Economy (Series 4), Chat with Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) (Series 5) and Summit at The White House (Series 6). If you have any comments and/or questions about the Small Business Leadership Summit 7-Part Series please contact us at services@jabezenterprisegroup.com.

Connect with us @JEGroupBiz on Twitter, or Jabez Enterprise Group on LinkedIn or Facebook to see what we are doing next or to see your post. For economic development for your business’ growth pick up your copy of Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps: An Interactive Guide to Government Contracting today in paperback or on Kindle.

If you need a consultant to help take you to the next level in your business or need some training on supplier certification programs, building supplier-buyer-prime relationships or on government contracting call us at 1-800-865-0701 or email services@jabezenterprisegroup.com remember these services are designed to help you with your ideal corporate or government partners.

We appreciate you taking the time to connect with us and look forward to connecting with you again soon.

VNaylor Original 1 Cheek Cup_MG_1853 3.12.14 (Dawson Imagery)

Vernita Naylor Founder/Owner Jabez Enterprise Group  (JEGroup)
Author, Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps

All photos courtesy of Vernita Naylor, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup) Unless Otherwise Noted.

Summit at The White House (Series 6)

Rhea Aguinaldo (Small Business Majority (SBM)), Christin Evans (The Booksmith) and Vernita Naylor (Jabez Enterprise Group – JEGroup)

Here we are at the White House on our last day of this world wind adventure. To kick off Day 3 we received a welcome from Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama with a video address from Silvia Burwell, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Then we got a chance to interact with other members of the Obama Administration from Robert Holleyman, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative; Mark Mazur, Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, U.S. Department of the Treasury; Seth Hanlon, Special Assistant for Economic Policy, National Economic Council; and Jason Furman, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers to Joe Goffman, Associate Assistant Administrator & Senior Counsel, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

During this half day session at the White House we obtained insider information of what was coming through the pipeline from the Trade Agreement, Taxes, and The Economy to The Climate Change all of which was of great interest to us as business owners. Later, we were able to ask specific questions surrounding policies as well as discuss other matters that concerned us. One suggestion came from a Southern California business owner concerning energy efficient products. It was suggested that there should be a federal credit issued for using energy efficient products. As we all know that if something like this would become a federal law we would then be able to create a more green, healthy and sustainable environment for future generations.

As the session is ending and we head back to Google-you will hear more about them in Series 7 which is our last series-John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO, Small Business Majority closed out the three day Summit. Let me say that as one of the Top 100 business owners that received this special invitation we obtained a lot of perks during our three days in Washington, D.C. from meeting other business owners from other States, interacting with members of the Obama Administration and having Google as the Title Sponsor to not only being the voice for other businesses but getting our own voices heard.

I have been asked constantly did we get a chance to personally meet President Obama and First Lady during our time in D.C.; unfortunately we did not, but despite not having this occur this was still a great opportunity for all of us. If you are interested in finding out more about the Small Business Majority click here. If you missed any of the Summit Series you still have time to catch up: Small Business Leadership Summit Mixer (Series 1), Access to Capital (Series 2), Technology and Minority Entrepreneurship (Series 3), Taxes and the Economy (Series 4) and Chat with Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) (Series 5).

Connect with us @JEGroupBiz on Twitter, or Jabez Enterprise Group on LinkedIn or Facebook to see what we are doing next or to see your post. For economic development for your business’ growth pick up your copy of Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps: An Interactive Guide to Government Contracting today in paperback or on Kindle.

If you need a consultant to help take you to the next level in your business or need some training on supplier certification programs, building supplier-buyer-prime relationships or on government contracting call us at 1-800-865-0701 or email services@jabezenterprisegroup.com.

We appreciate you taking the time to connect with us.

VNaylor Original 1 Cheek Cup_MG_1853 3.12.14 (Dawson Imagery)

Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner Jabez Enterprise Group  (JEGroup)
Author, Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps

All photos courtesy of Vernita Naylor, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup) Unless Otherwise Noted.

Chat with Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) (Series 5)

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In Series 5 we are winding down on Day 2 at the National Press Club. As a part of the Top 100 Businesses chosen nationwide we got a change to get up-close and personal with Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) at the National Press Club. Before giving you more information about our chat with Administrator Contreras-Sweet, we want to say thank you to our Keynote Speakers: New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. Senator Gillibrand spoke about women entrepreneurship and how paid family medical leave is improving State to State while Senator Klobuchar discussed immigration reform and workforce development. Remember, don’t forget to read Small Business Leadership Summit Mixer (Series 1), Access to Capital (Series 2), Technology and Minority Entrepreneurship (Series 3) and Taxes and the Economy (Series 4). 

Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet was extremely personable and engaging as she spoke with us about several things that was important to us as business owners from inspiration, innovation and access to capital to the SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative. She provided us inspiration when she told of her journey to America. She came to America from Guadalajara, Mexico as a child with the inability to speak English. Once Maria began to learn English, embrace the encouragement of her family and began to gain her footing in America she established great success and prestige. Maria held several positions within the financial industry and one of her greatest accomplishments was founding, ProAmerica Bank in Los Angeles. Prior to being selected by President Obama as the Administrator for the Small Business Administration (SBA) ProAmerica Bank’s target market was the small to medium businesses within the Latino community. Maria’s goal was to bring business empowerment and to help the Latino community scale up as business owners.

As it pertained to innovation she told us that anything is possible it all depends upon how you look at it. Not only is Maria an example but she provided us several other examples of how people used what was around them to make a difference. Let me share a few of them with you:

  • Specialized spoon for those living with Parkinson’s, the spoon minimizes the shaking effect when eating
  • Sustainable mushroom products to replace Styrofoam products
  • Weekly quilt classes on Youtube that helped the business owner to increase sales and to become a solid brand

Maria created a new name Smart Bold Accessible for the Small Business Administration (SBA) because she envisioned a different and better path for SBA and its services. In this vision she notes a few things that can be either changed and/or improved immediately to fit into the name that she has branded for the SBA. Maria is working diligently to see it happen. She has taken on the financial industry again by seeking programs to improve access to capital and contract opportunities especially for Women Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs). For better resources in acquiring access to capital for business owners there is the SBA LINC. SBA LINC is a system that is similar to the Match.com process. Like Match.com you, the business owner answer specific questions in which you are then matched more precisely with an approved SBA lender that would best suit your business needs from staring a business and tenant improvements to working capital.

In order to help Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) to scale up Marie has taken the charge to improve the programs that focus on women. Marie realized that women were one of the most disadvantaged and underrepresented businesses and knew that in order to level the playing field that there were several elements that needed to be changed and/or improved. Marie is working on more set-aside programs for women businesses.

Another great opportunity that Marie mentioned was the SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative that is similar to being certified under the SBA 8(a) Program. The Initiative is a seven-month training program designed to help growing businesses deal with the challenges of scaling up.   The program is free and hosted in special areas depending upon host funds.

There are so many things that one can do to scale up from incorporating a new marketing strategy and partnering with another like business on a particular contract to either adding and/or improving an existing product or services. Share with us what you are doing to grow your business. We would love to hear from you. Of all of the submittals we will choose a few comments to post, will it be yours?

Connect with us @JEGroupBiz on Twitter, or Jabez Enterprise Group on LinkedIn or Facebook to see what we are doing next or to see your post. For economic development for your business’ growth don’t forget to pick up your copy of Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps: An Interactive Guide to Government Contracting today.

VNaylor Original 1 Cheek Cup_MG_1853 3.12.14 (Dawson Imagery)

Vernita Naylor Founder/Owner
Jabez Enterprise Group  (JEGroup)
Author, Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps

All photos courtesy of Vernita Naylor, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup) Unless Otherwise Noted.

Small Business Leadership Summit 2015 Taxes and the Economy (Series 4)

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SERIES 4 – DAY 2 NATIONAL PRESS CLUB Welcome to Series 4 where we will talk about taxes and the economy but before we begin make sure that you get a chance to read Small Business Leadership Summit Mixer (Series 1), Access to Capital (Series 2) and Technology and Minority Entrepreneurship (Series 3).  As we are heading midway through the series we want to say thank you to the Small Business Majority team for such a great honor in being a part of the Small Business Leadership Summit 2015.  The Summit provided the business owners a wealth of information that has been instrumental in helping us to scale up in our business efforts.

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On Day 2, we are still at the National Press Club as the series continues and we are halfway done with our day.  Let’s hear what is being said about taxes and the economy from a business owner’s perspective in Panel 2.  Panel 2: Taxes, Budget and the Economy: Creating the Environment for Small Businesses to Thrive facilitated by J.D. Harrison, Small Business Reporter, Washington Post and including Mike Roach, Co-Owner, Paloma Clothing; Mike Brey, Owner, Hobby Works; Bill Beach, Chief Economist Senate Budget Committee, Republican Staff; Professor Caroline Bruckner, Executive in Residence, Accounting and Taxation Managing Director, Kogod Tax Center, Kogod School of Business, American University; and Evan Schatz, Staff Director Ranking Member Patty Murray, U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions.

Each legal business structure (sole proprietor, limited liability and corporation) has its benefits and it all depends upon several factors from State location and type of goods or services provided, to your vision and goals for the business. This panel addresses a concern that Sam Hughes, President, Capital Real Estate Group had in his letter to me for the Summit, the tax rate.  Here are some highlights of what was discussed in Panel 2:

  • Mike Roach, Co-Owner, Paloma Clothing indicated that sole proprietors should be treated like any other business structure because they are operating similar to other business types;
  • The national tax codes should be changed to be beneficial to all business types and to help level the playing field. We as business owners know that these codes are put in place to do the opposite and are more beneficial to big businesses. Do your part and get your voices heard by contacting your State representative;
  • Several major online retailers are getting benefits due to the Marketplace Fairness Act while small business owners are being taxed heavily for the goods or services that they provide;
  • What is the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA)? According to the MFA Website: The Marketplace Fairness Act provides the authority for online and catalog retailers-despite its location-to collect sales tax at the time of a transaction – as in a storefront retailer transaction.  The caveat is that States are only granted this authority after they have simplified their sales tax laws. To see more visit http://marketplacefairness.org/what-is-the-marketplace-fairness-act/
  • States have fiscal pressure by raising taxes but should it be on the backs of small businesses that in some cases can’t hide behind corporate tax laws?

For economic growth and development what type of CRM or SAP tools are you using?  If you don’t know what CRM or SAP tools are you should? Systems Applications Products (SAP) is the umbrella in which other software components such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) reside.  These software systems are designed to help your business run efficiently.  Especially if you are a mobile company and continually on the go or working in the field.  Having access to these types of resources are ideal.  The type of software that you need depends upon your business type.  Here are some benefits for using these types of tools:

  • Inventory
  • Sales management
  • Operations
  • Human Resources
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Tracking
  • Marketing
  • And Much Much More

In today’s market it is best to work smarter and not harder, why not start today with a simple adjustment beginning with your tablet or even your smart phone.  Tell us what tool that you are using to incorporate into your business to scale up?  We would love to hear from you. Of all of the submittals we will choose a few comments to post, will it be yours?

Connect with us @JEGroupBiz on Twitter, or Jabez Enterprise Group on LinkedIn or Facebook to see what we are doing next or to see your post.  For economic development for your business’ growth don’t forget to pick up your copy of Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps: An Interactive Guide to Government Contracting today.

VNaylor Original 1 Cheek Cup_MG_1853 3.12.14 (Dawson Imagery)

Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner Jabez Enterprise Group  (JEGroup)
Author, Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps

All photos courtesy of Vernita Naylor, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup) Unless Otherwise Noted.

Technology and Minority Entrepreneurship (Series 3)

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Minority Entrepreneurship Panel (Breakout Session)

SERIES 3 – DAY 2 NATIONAL PRESS CLUB
Technology and Minority Entrepreneurship

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Minority Entrepreneurship Breakout Session Attendees

Day 2 at the Summit continues after our morning panel: Access to Capital (Series 2). If you haven’t read Access to Capital (Series 2) yet please make sure that you do so because you are missing a treat. Next, as we move on to Series 3 you will hear about our breakout sessions. We had a plethora of morning and afternoon breakout sessions to choose from they ranged from Women’s Entrepreneurship, New Capital Opportunities: Crowdfunding, Freelance and Micro-Enterprise Economy, Workforce and Technology to Minority Entrepreneurship. These intimate specialized sessions were instrumental to us as business owners because they gave us the ability to work in small, concentrated groups to allow us an opportunity to voice our concerns.

In this series you will hear about the Minority Entrepreneurship and Technology Breakout Sessions that were personal to business owners Michelle and Todd Trotter of Trotter Industries, LLC and Remy Meraz of Maven Experience respectively. Michelle and Todd Trotter attended the Minority Entrepreneurship session which was facilitated by Rhea Aguinaldo, Manager of Entrepreneurship/Northern CA Outreach Manager (Small Business Majority); Christine Chin Ryan (Synergy Consulting, Inc); Marcia Davalos, National Hispanic Outreach Manager/Southern California Outreach Manager (Small Business Majority) and Tim Gaudette Colorado Outreach Manager (Small Business Majority).

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Michelle and Todd Trotter (Trotter Industries, LLC) Photo Courtesy: Trotter Industries, LLC

The Trotters had the opportunity to provide their experience as being a subcontractor in the janitorial industry. For them having the ability to have their voices heard was paramount for them in moving forward in their business. Access to government contracts is a concern of Samuel Hughes, President, Capital Real Estate Group, in his letter to me for the Summit. We hope that in hearing about the Trotter’s experience, as well as some tips from me will not only help Sam but you the reader in leverage this information:

We attended the Minority Entrepreneurship break out session and during the session the panel asked a question about bidding practices and what were some of the issues that we had experienced. We told them that the Janitorial Service industry has high competition, and we noticed that the same company always got the bid award every time the contract was up for renewal and/or bid. We’re inclined to think that maybe someone is getting paid under the table because this particular company has been awarded the same contract for 25 years. It’s unfair that we are certified as a minority business and we still have not been able to get awarded this contract. We provide quality services and this should mean something, not how much you can pay to get the contract.   We are the subcontractor for the prime and we do all of the work but do not get credit for it! As a subcontractor under this prime we buy all of the supplies to get the job done! After all that’s what’s done as a subcontractor, we were not given the opportunity to be a prime because the buyer believes that we are not big enough. Little does the buyer know is that we have the ability to operate as a prime because we are actually already doing it. We believe that this needs to change by giving more opportunities to subcontractors after they have been working on a contract with a prime after a few years.

We appreciated Michelle and Todd Trotter, Trotter Industries, LLC for taking out the time from their busy schedules to tell us about their experience at the Small Business Leadership Summit 2015. If you want to know more about them visit them at http://www.trotterindustries.net/, email trottermilwk@aol.com or call 414-446-1604.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself to help leverage your business and to gain access to contracts with both government and corporate entities:

  1. Who are your top three ideal customer(s)?
  2. Do you know what it takes to partner with them (i.e. supplier diversity certification)?
  3. Do you have the products or services that interest them?
  4. Can you provide solutions for them with your products or services?
  5. Can you successfully provide the deliverables as required (i.e. local, State, regional or national)?
  6. How do you establish a relationship with your ideal customer(s) (i.e. call, register, etc)?
  7. Do you have a solid capability statement?

First, if you are unable to fully answer any of the questions thoroughly then you need to begin working from there. Secondly, like Marcus Lemonis (The Profit) says People, Process and Product determines your capabilities as a business owner. Lastly, people do business with those that they trust; this is why referrals and word-of-mouth is so effective in anything from philanthropy efforts, getting a job and choosing a restaurant to a vacation destination. Trust and relationships are instrumental in getting a contract just like anything else in life.

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Technology Breakout Session Photo Courtesy: Remy Meraz (Maven Experience)

Next, is the Technology Breakout session the panel included Jenny Backus, Google, Head of Strategic Outreach & Engagement; Senior Policy Advisor and Zachary Davis, The Glass Jar. Now let’s hear from Remy Meraz of Maven Experience as she tells us what the Technology session taught her as an ecommerce business owner:

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Remy Meraz (Maven Experience) Photo Courtesy: Remy Meraz (Maven Experience)

The biggest challenge I have faced as a tech startup is the lack of variety in Internet providers in my region and the unreliability of the telecommunications infrastructure in the US.   After doing some research, I have come to understand that the reason for this can be traced back to the laws currently in place.  Prior to launching my company, the Maven Experience, an online education and entertainment company, I never gave much thought to the importance of information technology services and/or providers. In fact, I took it for granted. When I worked in corporate, I had the convenience of relying on the IT department of the company I worked for. Now, when I have a service related issues, I must deal with my Internet provider, who are not always the most reliable or responsive to my needs. Now that I am running a startup that relies 100% on the Internet to operate and generate revenue, that telecom infrastructure has become a vital organ to scaling our business successfully.  Slow or zero access to the Internet can literally paralyze our operations for hours or days at a time, something we’ve experienced on a regular basis since launching in April.    It was encouraging to see that Google and policymakers have invested interest in the technology needs of small businesses.  Participating in the Technology breakout session has allowed me to look at and explore the laws and policies surrounding technology, telecommunications, and e-commerce and their effects on small businesses.  As small businesses continue to voice their needs, I hope the laws of our nation will evolve accordingly. The digital economy is here to stay and it is evolving at a rapid rate, quicker than the laws and policies are able to keep up.  It’s time for our policymakers to make this a priority. 

In the article it was mentioned about Google having a vested interest in helping small businesses and they are doing so with their introduction of Google Fiber. Google Fiber offers fast internet speed up to 1 gigabyte for about $100 per month. To find out more about Google Fiber or to see if the services are located in your area click here https://fiber.google.com/smallbusiness/.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Remy Meraz, Maven Experience visit www.mavenexperience.com, email remy@mavenexperience.com, or call 619.977.9626. You can also connect with her at Twitter: @remymeraz | @mavenexperience Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/themavenexperience.

What are some of your thoughts on the access to government or corporate contracts or prime vs subcontractor relationships? How has technology affected your business? We would love to hear from you? Of all of the submittals we will choose a few comments to post, will it be yours?

Connect with us @JEGroupBiz on Twitter, or Jabez Enterprise Group on LinkedIn or Facebook to see what we are doing next or to see your post. Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps: An Interactive Guide to Government Contracting today.  

VNaylor Original 1 Cheek Cup_MG_1853 3.12.14 (Dawson Imagery)
Photo Courtesy: Dawson Imagery

Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner Jabez Enterprise Group  (JEGroup)
Author, Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps

All photos courtesy of Vernita Naylor, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup) Unless Otherwise Noted.

Small Business Leadership Summit 2015 Access to Capital (Series 2)

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Rhea Aguinaldo (Small Business Majority) and Vernita Naylor (Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)) National Press Club

SERIES 2 – DAY 2 NATIONAL PRESS CLUB Morning Sessions

Day 2 morning sessions at the National Press Club. Our day started at 7.a.m and ended at 8 p.m it was power packed, let me tell you all about it. Despite the time zone differences for several of us we were happy and elated to meet so many other business owners throughout the U.S. We met in the foyer of the hotels and waited for the buses that would transport us to our first stop, the National Press Club.

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Panel 1: Access to Capital

Panel 1: Access to Capital

At the National Press Club John Arensmeyer, Founder and CEO, Small Business Majority opened up the morning with a Welcome and Opening Remarks. Panel 1 Access to Capital: The Key to Entrepreneurship and Economic Development facilitated by Amy Cortese, Journalist and Founder, Locavesting Media included Connie Evans, President and CEO, Association for Enterprise Opportunity; Brayden McCarthy, Head of Policy & Advocacy, Fundera and Catarah Coleman, Co-Owner, Southern Girl Desserts. This panel addressed a concern of Hazel Hector, Founder and Executive Director, Jubilee Mobile Institute, Inc in her letter to me for the Summit, access to capital.  Here are some highlights of what was discussed in Panel 1:

  • For banks small businesses are seen as high cost risk factors
  • There are about 8,0000 businesses denied daily for funding
  • Women represent one out of every 23 loans
  • Women businesses grow slower than men
  • Women businesses do not seek loans or funding for their businesses
  • There are several non-traditional funding sources available to small business owners: Kiva and TILT Forward that do not use FICO Scores but other scoring factors; Lending Club (peer-to-peer lending based in San Francisco); RapidAdvance in partnership with SBA and Credit Unions
  • Additionally, several companies offer business credit cards to help grow your business and some of them offer low interest rates and flexible payment plans
  • It is in your best interest to seek funding before you need it, than when you need it. If you wait until then you will be susceptible to seek any type of funding presented to you.
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Catarah Coleman (Southern Girl Desserts) and Panel 1 Moderator: Amy Cortese (Locavesting Media) Photo Courtesy: Hipitia Lopez (Empanada Fork)

Let’s hear from Catarah Coleman, Co-Owner, Southern Girl Desserts as she tells her story about her funding experience:

My partner, Shoneji and I began to seek a small loan in 2012 to cover expenses for our build out as we prepared to open the doors to our mall based bakery. We were denied. Then immediately we were approached by a customer who informed us that we could receive $40,000 within three days with no collateral. We tried it and it worked; it was so easy! That loan we were able to pay back within six months with no problem. Then we decided that we needed some working capital and went to our bank for the loan. We thought that since we had been using some of the small business products that they offered (i.e. payroll) and was depositing an average of $50,000 a month that it would not be a problem getting a loan from them but we found out that this was not enough. Again we were denied by them.

Ironically, we had been receiving several types of literature, emails and phone calls from other lending sources offering us quick cash. Since we had previously been able to pay off our previous loan quickly and the process was easy, we decided to accept one of the several offers that we had received. This offer was accompanied by a broker. The broker allegedly performed the research and provided us the best type of loan for our needs, so we were told. Once again we were able to quickly secure another loan, but then things changed. This loan in particular began to interfere with our cash flow. The payback rate began to defeat the purpose of acquiring working capital in the first place.

Let you tell you why this arrangement was not good for us. There were two loans with a payback rate of 30 and 90 days. Every dollar and cent from the merchant side to the daily ACH withdrawals was drowning us. Shoneji and I were so stressed because I was getting married and we still had to manage payroll. We had to do what it took to stay afloat and still pay back the loans that we had acquired for working capital; which actually did not turn out that way after all. We did not know what to do but one day we received a flyer that changed our lives from Opportunity Fund.

At first glance the flyer from Opportunity Fund seemed the same as the other funding information that we had been receiving but with one caveat upon thoroughly reading their literature I felt that maybe we should give them a call. I don’t know how but I felt that it was worth a shot. “I felt as if Jesus himself was on the other line and my faith was restored! I knew I was on the phone with someone who wanted to help and was going to do their best to do so.” It took about two years, but September 2014, our initial loan with Opportunity Fund helped to save our business, sanity and to bring things back to normal. We found out later that those two loans put us at a 56% interest rate; we would have never been able to get out of that bind at the rate this arrangement had us going.

Shoneji and I will forever to grateful to Opportunity Fund for coming when they did.   Now we only have an 8.5% interest rate after Opportunity Fund got all of this funding fiasco cleared up. And none of those other loans show up on our credit report! We knew Opportunity Fund was different because they offered low interest rates, longer terms and Eric and his team had a genuine concern about the financial health of our business, and this is why they are so special to us. We were able to experience a human side of lending.

I advise anyone to ask questions before they sign anything! Make sure that they explain everything clearly and that you truly understand what the pros and cons are of the loan. Don’t feel pressured to accept the loan terms, if they want your business they will make the necessary adjustments.   And if they don’t that lender does not have your best interest at heart.

This was one huge learning experience for us. We knew that baking cakes and pies would take us on a journey, well it has and we are better for it. “Be present in all aspects of your business, it could determine your longevity!”

Thank you Catarah and Shoneji, Owners of Southern Girl Desserts, for being candid about your lending experience. If anyone is interested in learning more about Southern Girl Desserts visit http://www.southerngirldesserts.com/, email catarah@southerngirldesserts.com or shoneji@southerngirldesserts.com. Also you can connect with them on Twitter @Dessertdivas, or on Facebook or Instagram @southerngirldesserts.

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VNaylor Original 1 Cheek Cup_MG_1853 3.12.14 (Dawson Imagery)

Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner Jabez Enterprise Group  (JEGroup)
http://www.jabezenterprisegroup.com/

All Photo Credits: Vernita Naylor (Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)) Unless Otherwise Noted.