Krystal Bonner: NBIC Celebrates Women’s Small Business Month

By Tyler Price

Continuing our celebration of Women’s Small Business Month, Krystal Bonner, lead designer and founder of Phoenix Forrester Events, also an informal mentee of our program, stopped by the NBIC for a little chat about why it’s important to highlight female achievement within the entrepreneurial world.

“It’s great, from a broader perspective, for women to know what other women are doing to start their businesses – to communicate on a larger scale how many women own businesses and are successful,” said Bonner.

Bonner said that having this platform is imperative for up-and-coming women. She believes it is important to witness and admire other people success – especially as a beginning entrepreneur.

One successful entrepreneur who helped encourage and inspire Bonner is our very own Angela Crane-Jones – the director of the NBIC.

“Meeting Angela truly helped me,” Bonner said. “She was and is the owner of several small businesses herself. She understands what that’s like, but also to be a woman in a male-dominated industry.”

“What I love about Angela,” Bonner continued, “is she’s so relatable and down to earth. If I had a question about any of these things, she’d answer me openly and full-heartedly.”

But, the truth is, women need relationships like Bonner and Jones’ not just because of the male-dominated nature of the business world, but also the immense pressure and stress which comes with owning a business.

“Being in small business sounds glamorous and great. But, it is hard work,” Bonner said. “It’s really lonely and can be isolating. And, sometimes, not appreciated very much.”

“So,” Bonner continued, “you need to think long and hard about what industry you are going into. Because you will be giving up your nights and weekends. You need to have passion so you can get back up when you are knocked down.”

However, even though the entrepreneurial world is intense and dog-eat-dog, Bonner is tough and was fully prepared by the NBIC.

“NBIC is very competitive. I like being a woman who is doing things amongst all these men,” Bonner said.

The NBIC also taught Bonner the value of fostering lasting relationships within the business world and how they can come back to benefit later in life.

“What I have learned as a business owner is that relationships are vital – they are the lifeline to your success,” said Bonner. “Every client I have received over the last 8 years, has been a result of word-of-mouth or a recommendation. Because the relationships I have built are strong.”

No one is discounting the fact that men are still incredibly important in the workplace. However, it is imperative for women to empower one another and nurture more relationships – all the while keeping the goal of equality in mind.

More women need to create jobs, said Bonner. The more women we have in the corporate structure, the more women we have making decisions – leading to more women being hired. The more women are hired, the greater opportunities for women to advance become. This is how equality will one day come to be – each and every woman making an impact on the whole of society.

Gender discrimination is intricate and institutionalized – but not unstoppable. Women simply need to focus on gaining more leverage.

So, if you are a woman, please consider becoming an entrepreneur in a field of your passion. It will be hard work and it will be stressful. But, you will feel accomplished and encouraged.

And, you will be creating more jobs for the economy and changing the world for all women.

Happy Women’s Small Business Month from us here at the NBIC.
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“Phoenix Forrester Events (PFE) is a boutique-style, event planning and logistics management agency specializing in strategy and creative design. PFE provides custom solutions to companies in multiple industries,” according to their website.

Their mission is “to serve as an extension of our client’s personality by creating and designing events that offer extraordinary experiences, unique to its audience while distinctly representing the culture, lifestyle and long-term goals.”

Shayna Rattler: The Corporate Attraction Coach

Shayna Rattler has earned her distinction as the Corporate Attraction Coach™ by empowering thousands of minority and women business owners (MWBEs) and corporate supplier diversity programs over a 10+-year business career. As a coach, consultant, speaker and author, Shayna has developed and taught tried-and-true strategies, which have enabled MWBEs and corporations to connect and prosper together, resulting in hundreds of key partnerships and millions of dollars in profits.

 

Shayna has created a business with a simple mission: to transform the way diverse business enterprises and corporations interact and collaborate. She does this not only by empowering and assisting MWBEs in finding larger companies with which to partner and assisting corporations in their efforts to find the suppliers and influencers that are a good match, but also by training participants on both sides to be better prepared for a successful partnership.

 

Business owners working with Shayna become “business-ready” for corporate partnerships, while corporations are able to strengthen their programs and the bench strength of their current and potential suppliers. Therefore, Shayna’s Corporate Attraction™ methods and strategies help both small business owners and corporations not only find and connect with one another, but also to facilitate and cultivate the most beneficial connections.

 

She is the person to turn to if you want to grow your small business by working with corporate clients and sponsors because she has done so herself.  This experience has also given her tremendous insight into corporate supplier diversity and marketing. She also provides support and guidance to large corporations like IBM, Unum, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Palmetto Health to drive improvements in supplier development and to advance the organization as a whole.

 

Corporate Attraction™ is all about just what the name implies—ensuring both sides of the small business / corporation partnership is attractive to each other.

 

Shayna is an instructor for Steve Harvey’s success institute and has been featured in major media outlets like Wall Street Journal, Black Enterprise, and Enterprising Women.

New Federal Regulation Will Impact Small Businesses

In less than six months business owners – of large and small enterprises- will have to prepare for a new law, the Overtime Rule. Effective December 1, the regulation seeks to create a fairness for employees by being provided greater compensation for their workload, or shift their workload allowing for greater free time.

In plain language, this Rule will encourage employers to pay overtime after 40 hours or increase employee compensation to nearly $50,000 year. Of course, it is not quite that simple so business owners are encouraged to seek counsel from their attorney or accountant.

However, what is clear is the intention behind the law. It will work to improve company culture and enhance quality of life.  The extra time off work will give people more time to participate in extracurricular activities, personal development, and familial tasks that will lead to a more productive team member.

As we prepare for the new rule to take effect, we should also consider reviewing our overall Human Resources process. This is a great time to review the five mistakes below, according to Entrepreneur.com, and make some necessary adjustments.

  1. Rushing through the hiring process

The reason small businesses speed through the hiring process is to get the work done. There are times when the job description is vague and policies and procedures are not outlined.  Taking your time allows for analysis of the current process – identifying what works and what should be nixed. Slowing down the process also creates a culture of efficiency over speed. “27% of more than 6,000 HR professionals reported a single bad hire costing more than $50,000” according to a 2013 CareerBuilder survey. That money could go to increasing salaries of your current team, and adding greater responsibility.

  1. Employees and contractors are misclassified

Boy, oh boy the blurred line of employee versus contractor can get your business into serious trouble. Do you know how your current team is classified? Knowing the differences between the two could save you thousands. So what should you do? Be very clear in the beginning about the terms of the relationship you are engaging in. For now, you should take an inventory of all of your current relationships and set boundaries going forward.

  1. Employee handbook is outdated

Somewhere on your computer you have an employee manual that has not been revised in several years and probably doesn’t reflect the company you have today.  Behind accounting and having your legal affairs in order, the policies and procedures manual can drastically cut out a lot of employee confusion and violations. As an example, your book should explicitly outline the way overtime is handled. Does it need to be approved? How does your team keep up with their hours? What happens when someone works more than their allocated hours? See! You need an updated employee manual. To do that effectively conduct regular meetings to discuss new terms, receive feedback, and update everyone on the changes.

  1. Little or no employee training

In a small business employees are sometimes asked to dive in head first without understanding their role, company culture, or office politics. As an employer take the time to invest in your employees through a uniform onboarding. The employees will appreciate your investment in them and channel their productivity for the benefit of the work environment.

  1. Inadequate documentation

Put everything in writing. Are you having some employee challenges? Write it up for your own records. Do you have an evaluation process? If not, create one that provides feedback – constructive and positive. But when having things in writing is most important is when an employee leaves or is terminated. Having a record of performance, or lack thereof, can be the difference between spending any extra revenue on bonuses or a lawsuit.

Does this all seem so complicated? Well, it is. And as a small business owner you should have support as rules, regulations, and laws directly impact your business and its finances. The Nashville Business Incubation Center provides mentoring, accountability, and consulting with subject matter experts that can carefully guide you through this type of process. To learn more about how your business can participate in the traditional incubator or Incubator Without Walls, virtual incubation, visit www.NBIConline.com.

A Client Story | Organic Brilliance

 

What inspired you to start Organic Brilliance?  

I am always inspired to create healthier products to help a loved one in need, and I create products that don’t currently exist on the market in a pure, beneficial and healthy form.

Rich & Thick HAIR is my first hair care product line for our new company, Organic Brilliance.  I was inspired to create this product line because my mom was using a product that I felt was harmful to her hair and scalp.

My mom had used harsh chemicals on her hair for many years and her hair was thinning. She showed me a product she was using to topically fill in her thinning hair and make her hair look instantly fuller.  The product was a powder made with keratin (wool shavings), DMDM hydantoin (formaldehyde), ammonia, and dyes, etc.

After searching on line and in stores, I was very surprised that I could not find an instant hair powder or hair thickener in her hair color that did not contain harmful ingredients for hair and scalp.

I created Rich & Thick HAIR initially in the Light Blonde shade for my mother, and that inspired me to go on to create the entire line of healthy instant hair filler fibers in several hair colors. I named our parent company Organic Brilliance as I hope to create many more high performance, pure and healthy hair care products.

organic-brilliance-Three-Bottles

What makes Organic Brilliance different?

Our flagship product line, Rich & Thick HAIR is a fine powder made only with 16 Certified Organic botanicals, 3 Wild Harvested botanicals, and naturally sourced silk peptide proteins.  It is an instant, topical, dry hair styling product.

Rich & Thick HAIR is a perfect dry shampoo in your hair color, it is a truly healthy root touch up, it adds fullness and body to limp hair, and it effectively and naturally fills in thinning hair.

Rich & Thick HAIR is offered in 16 hair colors, and the colors are made from the botanicals themselves with NO dyes!

It is a dry fine powder that resists sweat, wind and rain. Rich & Thick HAIR is so unique and innovative that it is now Patent Pending.

Are you a Nashville native?

I am not a Nashville native.  My family lived in foreign countries an traveled the world as my dad was in the Air Force.

Nashville is being called the “It” city…why are you loving Nashville, right now?

I love Nashville because it is an international city.  People from all over the world visit our city, and we are changing and growing in amazing ways. I love our rich heritage of music and the arts.

What would you say has been the biggest aha moment during your business journey, so far?

There have been so many aha moments for me in this business. I would say that the biggest ones had to do with realizing that prayer, asking God for help every step of the way, kept me on track to finding the answers I needed in choosing the ingredients that went into the final formulas.  Also, I prayed for years to be able to make a bigger difference in the lives of children who are hurting. I think another big aha moment for me is when I realized that this could be the answer to my prayer to be able to give much more.

3 things you love about NBIC that others may not know?

  1. I think that the first and best thing about the NBIC is our Executive Director, Angela Crane-Jones. Angela has wisdom, knowledge and insight into business development and has been very helpful to us from the moment we met her.
  2. Another thing we love about the NBIC is the way the resident businesses are so helpful and friendly.  We are like a family, and we all reach out to help each other in various ways.
  3. We are very proud to be a part of the NBIC, and we have found that the program has a great reputation in the city.

Is there one business resource or tip you would give to readers just starting out in their business?

Honestly, it would be to surround yourself with professionals of integrity and knowledge in your type of business, stay humble and open to learning, and never give up on your dream.

You researched and tested your product for over 2 years, what was the biggest thing that kept you motivated during this time?

I think every little discovery that a botanical actually worked better than harmful chemicals and looked beautiful was very rewarding each time it happened. Creating a product and starting a business around it is a marathon, not a sprint.  You have to celebrate each little step of progress and not grow discouraged because there is a lot of unglamorous work involved.  It also takes courage.  Growing up in a military family, I have always been aware of the risks taken by our soldiers, sailors and airmen.  I have always pushed myself to have the same kind of courage in any endeavor.

Lastly, what can Music City expect from Organic Brilliance in 2016?

Now that we have our Patent Pending status, Music City can expect us to become much more visible in local salons, on social media, and on radio, etc.   We are just now launching our product Rich & Thick HAIR and expect to expand rapidly through the hair and beauty industry.  Nashville is a fabulous community and part of what makes it that way is the giving nature of the people who live here.  When our neighbors face a crisis, we jump in and help.  We absolutely want to do our part in giving back.  And we plan to begin moving forward with our goal of helping children in crisis.

A Graduate Story | U-Kno Catering

What inspired you to start U-Kno Catering?

I started out on the restaurant and meat & three side of food-service while doing catering out of my home with my family. I knew I could do this on my own and decided to open my own meat & three business which had a catering arm.

Once I learned my true passion was catering, I officially launched U-Kno Catering in 2005. My initial thought was to target corporate clients vs. social clients. This focus is what brought a lot of the growth into the business.  Meharry and Vanderbilt were some of my first clients. I also joined different organizations along with getting certified by TMSDC (Tennessee Minority Supplier Development Council).

Now, only 15% of my business is social, from weddings, church events, baby showers and non-profit organizations.  I am not a wedding caterer but I do, do weddings.

Nashville is being called the “It” city…why are you loving Nashville, right now? I feel the growth has helped many small businesses in Nashville, not just in the food industry. I think it has complemented everyone.

You celebrated a pretty awesome milestone last year, your 10-year business anniversary. What would you say was the biggest aha moment you experienced during this time?

Well, I guess my aha moment would be, when we were awarded our first contract with NES and went from catering to cafeteria management. It wasn’t my initial focus but definitely a part of my career history. The opportunities were out there for minority businesses to go into this aspect of the food industry and I was able to position our business to gain this contract. We were awarded the contract in 2009 for 5 years and renewed our contract for another 3 years. Having this contract on our resume allowed us to obtain other cafeterias in the state of TN. We went from one to four cafeteries in less than 5 years.

3 things you loved about NBIC that others may not know?

  1. They taught me how to be a successful entrepreneur. I knew catering and my kitchen but not the whole aspect of the business side. I needed that mentorship to understand what I was doing and NBIC helped with that.
  2. I don’t know everything. If you go in thinking you have it already figured out, you will not succeed. But you need seasoned people in the corporate environment and people to listen to you and help find solutions. That is what NBIC provided for me.
  3. Financing. I was going up for a contract and had never been bonded before. This was a huge component to winning this contract and NBIC helped me with getting the finances to get bonded. This was a major piece of getting our first contract with NES.

Is there one business resource or tip you would give to the readers just starting out in their business?

NBIC is a great resource! Tennessee State University (TSU) is also a good resource, as I interned at NBIC while attending the University.

Everyone is a foodie these days but the food industry is probably one of the hardest for many to become profitable and have longevity? What is one barrier that you faced and how did you make it work for your good?

Strong competition. I was able to sustain my business over the years by providing the same quality meat & three, southern with a twist style product. I didn’t change, I may have upgraded but I kept our consistency the same. Like food trucks, they have one product they stick with and do it very well. I am not trying to compete with other food businesses out there. I am doing what U-Kno Catering does best.

For those looking to get into the food industry, which startup entry would you suggest? Personal Chef, Catering, Food Truck, Restaurant? 

I would suggest they start out job shadowing within the restaurant business. You are allowed to see all aspects of the food-service business. Catering has a lot of moving parts, but the restaurant business allows you to learn the front of house, back of the house and how to treat customers.

Lastly, what can Music City expect from U-Kno Catering in 2016?

We want to restructure our business for continued growth. I want to focus more on the cafeteria side of the business. Our clients currently, include TN Tower, Dept of Labor, IRS Building Cool Springs, and of course NES. Our goal is to gain more contracts so we can work smarter not harder.