Five Ways to Ensure Your Workplace is Inclusive

Studies show that inclusive workplaces are six times more innovative, creative, and productive. How do you ensure that your office feels inclusive enough for your employees to feel like they belong every day of work?

Celebrate employee differences

Inviting your employees to share their backgrounds and traditions in the workplace is a great way to show your respect of differences. For example, start highlighting holidays and special dates from all cultures represented in the workplace when creating company calendars and newsletters.

Invest in diversity training

Diversity training is a wonderful investment that will help employees understand how cultural differences can impact how people work and interact at work. It can cover anything from communication styles to respecting others’ identities to dealing with conflict.

Create pathway for employees to comfortably communicate issues

Open-door policies (literal or figurative) may sound intimidating, but it’s one of the best ways to build trust and improve communication with your employees. Be sure to establish boundaries and expectations for communication to flow smoothly.

Establish policies

Set policies and standards for how employees are expected to work together. Written guidelines are proven to reduce instances of harassment and discrimination. 

Do community service projects

Find community service projects in your area for your team to participate in monthly. Studies show that serving the community as a team boosts employee morale and helps create a positive working atmosphere where people feel like they belong.

A workplace that has mastered inclusion is where people are able to be their true, professional selves and bring everything they have to the table. Are you looking for 360 degrees of support, especially in the human resources aspect of business? Schedule a consultation today.

5 Ways to Shift Your Thinking From Tactics to Strategic

When you become a reactive thinker, you limit your personal and professional growth. Leveling up and becoming a big thinker requires you to think outside of the box and ask the hard questions.

Here are five tips on how to drop your tactical, limiting thinking and advance with a strategic, proactive mindset:

Stop micromanaging.

Not only does micromanaging damage the relationship with your colleagues, but it is a waste of your valuable time. Learn to delegate the small things and refuse to be distracted so you can focus on things that are in front of you.  


Block your time.

Reserve fifteen to thirty minutes every day to thoroughly plot out what you would like to accomplish today. This will help your direct your time and energy into tasks that matter the most. Make this a lifelong habit and watch your productivity and thinking expand.

Evaluate your skill set.

Strategic thinkers are always focusing inward and enhancing their mentalities and skill set. Consider reading self-help or industry-related books, finding a mentor, and determining exactly what you need to do to advance in your career.

Anticipate what’s next.

Additionally, strategic thinkers are constantly looking forward to the future. Seek ways that you can improve the day-to-day tasks within your organization. It doesn’t always have to be “business as usual.”

Prepare people for success.

Strategic thinkers are true leaders and they help position others for success. They understand that when everybody is on board with the same vision, work will get done. 

Strategic thinkers apply pressure to situations and events rather let things happen or shape them. They trust and manage their team well and focuses on efficiency. Are you ready to learn more about strategy to grow and scale your enterprise? Take our Biz Quiz to see which one of our programs is right for you!

Seven Steps to Creating A Strong Strategic Plan

Operating a business without strategic plans is like driving home blindfolded–you know what the destination looks like, but you surely will not make it there. Here are the seven steps you need to take to create a solid strategic plan:

Determine your mission statement.

Your mission is your “why” behind the plan. It’s the reason the plan exists.

Here is a good example of a mission statement: Our mission is to cultivate the growth and development of small business owners, with a focus on women, minorities, and veterans, through 360-degree business support, knowledgeable mentors, and a results-driven curriculum.

Develop your vision statement.

Your vision is considered your “North Star” statement. It answers the questions “what are we doing?” and “what do we aspire to look like in the future?”

An example of a vision statement would be this: “The Nashville Business Incubation Center is the leading business development and accountability partner in Middle Tennessee for small business owners to grow sustainable companies that create jobs and wealth.”

Perform a SWOT Analysis.

A SWOT analysis sums where your business currently stands. It evaluates your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This is simply an internal business evaluation and will help you think strategically about your next steps.

Create S.M.A.R.T. objectives.

Awesome objectives are S.M.A.R.T—they’re specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and time-based.

Examples of great objectives would be:

“XYZ Elementary School will develop new school uniform guidelines by August 2020.”

“XYZ Elementary School will recruit 20 new teachers by hosting three job fairs in April 2022.”

“XYZ Elementary School will raise $100,000 for the new playground by hosting two fundraising events in January 2021.”

Decide key metrics.

Your key metrics should be tied directly to your goal. They can be considered milestones, such as the start of a new program or the launch of a new location, and/or quantifiable measures, such as revenue profit growth.

Establish an action roadmap and execute.

Create visual action roadmaps that include timelines big-ticket agenda items, initiatives, and key elements. They will help you zone in on key areas so you and your team achieve the goals and objectives.

Establish an implementation and monitoring plan.

The plan will only work if everyone is doing their part. Consider purchasing a project management software or hiring a highly skilled project manager. Develop a solid monitoring process to ensure that your employees have open and honest communication and full understanding of what actions must be taken for the plan to be successful.

You MUST learn how to plan strategically plan to have a successful business. Everything you do for your business starts and ends with your strategic plan. Ready to take the huge leap into entrepreneurship? Schedule an appointment with Angela Crane-Jones today.

Five Barriers to Accessing Business Credit & How to Overcome Them

Having access to business credit is critical to the success of your enterprise. It allows you to build strong business credit, which leads to improved relationships with suppliers and vendors, increased sales, better terms, and better financing. Here are five barriers standing between you and the business credit you deserve: 

Missed payments

This is a no-brainer. Just like your personal credit score, your business credit score will suffer if you fail to pay back the amount you owe on time monthly. The only solution is to repay on time, or even better, repay early. 

Too much debt

If you have previously applied for too many credit accounts within a short period of time, your business credit score will be down in the dumps. Space out your applications, pay off your debt, and borrow responsibility.  

Lack of incorporation 

In order to establish business credit to obtain loans, you must set up a registered business entity. There is no legal or financial separation between you and your business if your business structure is a general partnership or sole proprietorship. Consider one of the following structures: 

  • C-corporation  
  • S-corporation  
  • Limited liability company (LLC) 
  • Limited liability partnership (LLP)  

No Employer Identification Number (EIN) 

Having an EIN is critical because the IRS uses them to track businesses for tax purposes. It’s your business’ social security number, and it will help build your business credit. Apply for one on the IRS website. It’s free! 

No established phone number or address 

This may seem insignificant, but establishing a phone number and address for your business solidifies its existence and helps you get placement in business directories. Credit report agencies often pull information from these directories, so be sure to add the correct information consistently.   

Don’t panic–these are common obstacles that many small business owners face. Once you break down these barriers and resolve these issues, you will have established business credit and your enterprise will grow right before your eyes. For guidance and accountability, schedule a consultation today at 

Seven Steps to Prepare for Business Ownership

Business ownership is a journey with never-ending lessons. However, many people cut their journey short due to a lack of preparation. Here are seven steps to prepare for business ownership:

Solve the problem

In order for a business to be successful, it must solve a problem. Identify what problem your potential business solves. Make sure your product or service is a “must-have” item as opposed to a “nice to have” item.

Ask for help.

Seek mentorship from a seasoned entrepreneur in your field. Look within your own network of professionals–or even better–register for one of our Events and gain powerful connections with notable entrepreneurs in the Nashville community.  

Assess your finances.

Research shows that 42% of small businesses fail because they run out of money. Do not let that happen to you–consider your coins first! Determine how much capital you already have, how much you will need, and how you will go about obtaining the rest of it.  

If you plan to seek investor funding or financing, start writing a business plan and create a stellar pitch. Do your homework on the costs associated with your business.

Draft a business plan. 

A business plan is the strategic and comprehensive written description of what your business is all about and what will bring to the marketplace. It will help you get on the right track–financially and structurally. Consider having a second pair of (professional) eyes review your business plan before delivering it to stakeholders.

Determine your legal structure. 

The most common legal structures for a small business are:

  • sole proprietorship
  • partnership, corporation
  • “S” corporation 
  • limited liability corporation (LLC)

Consider which entity structure offers the best tax, financing, and financial benefits for you and your business. Seek the guidance of an accountant to assist you in making this important decision.

Set up your location

The location of your business is critical as it affects your costs, sales, and so much more.  Before settling down, consider these factors of the location:

  • demographics 
  • competition
  • accessibility
  • reputation and history
  • infrastructure

Assemble your team

If you’re hiring employees, start outlining all of the positions you need and the duties and responsibilities of each position. If you plan on outsourcing, draft your independent contracting agreement and start your search of qualified team members.

Embark on your business ownership journey on the right track. Schedule a consultation with the best and brightest at the Nashville Business Incubation Center today.