Posts

3 Reasons Mom & Pop Businesses Are Still Cool

Mom + Pop’s are the bootstrapped businesses that have made it work for generations across all cities including Nashville. They are not closing their latest round of funding, launching a hot new app, or building a new AI device instead they are ensuring the buildings you walk in each day are safe, you have proper lights to see and a clean place to conduct your affairs. Just the little (big) stuff. They are the ones behind the scenes making the IT in Music City happen. They are the firms laying the bricks for those new condos and high rises, they are running the electric, ensuring we can communicate and protecting assets when the rest of us are sleeping. They are the backbone of Nashville economy and a mainstay in NBIC’s portfolio of businesses. They are why we do what we do.

When NBIC started in 1986, small business and entrepreneurship wasn’t a “cool” term or one that people were running out in droves to do.  When you look back for a while, big box retailers and Fortune 500 companies seemed to be the dominant players. However, mom and pop’s have always played a major role and are making a comeback according to Forbes, by generating over 50% of the US Gross National Product (GNP).  As Nashville continues to grow, we wanted to share a few reasons why mom and pop’s are still endearing and a critical part of the city’s make up.  

  1. A Personal Experience. When you think of your local small businesses, store front or restaurant, there is probably a favorite person you enjoy seeing when you visit or that one person that knows exactly what you need when you walk in the door. You can’t beat a personal relationship or business where everyone knows your name.
  2. Real-time Response. Online shopping is great and of course has it’s place, however there is nothing like being able to touch and feel the products, food, apparel, etc. you are looking to buy. Plus, the ability to ask questions directly to the people who are supplying the goods and services is priceless.
  3. Local Economy Driver. Small businesses are still the backbone of Nashville and other cities. They employ the youth to retired veteran and help cultivate community each day. According to News Channel 5 via Paychex, one of the nations largest payroll providers, Tennessee ranked number one in the nation in small business employment with a 1.2 percent growth last year.

We’re Official & A Big Thank You!

Last Tuesday, NBIC revealed it’s new home in Germantown. It was so great to see our partners, sponsors, graduates, clients and friends come together to celebrate our new center space. Thank you for always being the support NBIC continually needs to help fulfill our mission of growing businesses “from tiny acorns to might oaks”.

Our new center move will allow us to focus on helping “mom and pop” businesses grow by meeting them where they are. Through our new co-working space addition, dedicated desks, and workshop series we will be able to address barriers encountered by women, minority, and veteran firms.

Also, a special thanks to the Nashville Chamber for presenting the ribbon cutting. We are especially thankful for two of our Alumni, Brenda Odom of U-Kno Catering and Emanuel Roland of Roland’s Photography for their generous donations.  Ms. Odom provided all of the delectable appetizers and homemade tea (that should be bottled and sold, asap). While Mr. Roland brought out The Roland Experience and allowed guests to take a tour of his mobile headshot experience. Additionally, thanks to Kirbee Miller of Kinimi Kitchen for providing her famous Cajun Pop Popcorn.

See event gallery for a complete look back:

 

 

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.

A Client Story | Spring Clean Cleaning Services

Interested to know how a company grows and lasts in Nashville for over 20 years? You have come to the right place! Spring Clean Cleaning Services, a current NBIC (Nashville Business Incubation Center) client, is a great example.

Darren and Karla Frieson, the husband and wife team behind the janitorial company, are continuing to make residential and commercial properties shine. NBIC sat down with Karla Frieson to learn about their business beginnings, why NBIC was their best choice, and their recommendations for business resources other entrepreneurs can incorporate. There are definitely a few aha moments below that you should check out!

Fun Facts About Spring Clean Cleaning Services:

  • They are a 20+ year-old minority and service-disabled veteran janitorial company offering cleaning, upholstery, and landscaping to their commercial and residential clients, along with carpet cleaning to residential clients.
  • They were honored as a 2014 Nashville Business Journal Small Business Awards as a finalist.
  • Some of their clients include: Department of Veteran Affairs, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tyson McGhee National Guard, ITT Technical Institute, Metro Southeast, Veterans Administration, Bridgestone/Firestone and The City of Berry Hill.

Why NBIC?

We wanted to grow. We needed processes and wanted to learn the best advertising options to put in place. NBIC was the natural choice to get us there.

 

As a Nashville born business, what do you think about your new “It” city?

My husband and I are actually Nashville natives and grew up in East Nashville. It is really unbelievable to see all of the growth happening in the city. I am also a real estate agent that survived the housing market crash and now can experience the benefits that the growth of the city has to offer.

So, you guys are a husband and wife team taking the janitorial world head on, was that always your plan to work together?

I didn’t think we would be working together, but I saw a need that I could help Darren fulfill. He was constantly out in the field on projects and I knew I could help with the the back-end/operations of the company. The ability for me to step in to this role just made sense and it is history from there. It is also a lot of hard work, but worth it!

We know you celebrated your 20 year business anniversary in 2015. What was the biggest “aha” moment you have experienced since starting your company?

The biggest “aha” moment we learned from Angela Crane-Jones, and it includes one simple word…NETWORKING! We truly realized how important making connections with the people you meet on your business journey and that it is a huge necessity.  Being at the right events, getting your name out there and establishing relationships goes a long way to reaching your business goals.

spring-clean-cleaning-services-team-photo

What is the one business tip you would give to new entrepreneurs starting out in Nashville?

Do things the right way in the beginning by connecting with an incubation program like NBIC or other business support organization. It is more than just getting a business license; you need to know about insurance, finding the right accountant and proper bookkeeping system, paying your taxes and much more. If you can connect with the right organization in the beginning, some of those hard learning lessons can be avoided.

Okay, so what would you say are the top things you love about NBIC?

  1. Angela Crane-Jones: (the superwoman behind NBIC, in case you are one of only a few that didn’t know). She really helped us with so many different aspects to grow our business and made us be accountable to our business and vision. Whatever she said was “gold” in our eyes and I did each task without hesitation, because I trusted her and saw the passion she had for helping small businesses.
  2. Relationship Building aka Networking: As I mentioned before, we really learned a lot about connecting with potential customers and other businesses. Creating genuine relationships are an integral part to any businesses success.

What’s next for Spring Clean Cleaning Services in 2016?

We are looking to diversify; offering other services and expanding into other states.

To learn more about Spring Clean Cleaning Services visit – http://springcleanllc.com/

Events

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria