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 nbiconline.com. 

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.

Five Ways to Prepare Your Business to Participate in Nashville’s Equal Business Opportunity Program

The Equal Business Opportunity (EBO) program will be live July 5, 2019. This is a historic stride as it relates to minority-owned and women-owned business participation.

The legislation will formally establish the Equal Business Opportunity program and require Metro Nashville to implement race and gender conscious subcontracting goals, based on market availability, for all public contracts. This is a major shift from the current ordinance, which allows for a race and gender-neutral subcontracting program.

Here are five steps you must take to maximize your participation in the very first business equity package that will absolutely benefit small businesses owned by ethnic minorities and women:

Do your homework.

In order to fully understand the importance of this legislation, you have to know the history behind it. The city’s very first disparity study was completed in 1999. This was a result of advocacy streaming from many leaders in the Nashville community, such as Marilyn Robinson, president of the Nashville Minority Business Center.

Additional studies were completed and several strategic campaigns took place until Mayor Briley announced that these contracting disparities will not occur on his watch.

If this is your first-time hearing about the Equal Business Opportunity ordinance, never fear. Google is near. You can learn more about the timeline by reading news articles and visiting the official Metropolitan Government of Nashville website.

Join organizations.

Joining organizations of women and minority business owners will help you understand what the program is about and what it is not about. Your membership will introduce you to a world of discussions and perspectives that you may not have considered. Organizations that actively fight against this type of discrimination include the Nashville Minority Business Center, Nashville Black Chamber of Commerce, Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and the Nashville chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Get connected digitally.

Staying connected on social media and subscribing to newsletters will help you remain updated on this iconic legislation. You will also be invited to community meetings where you can learn more about how you can participate.

Try connecting with the Metro Nashville Office of Women and Minority Business Assistance, the Nashville Business Incubation Center (of course!) and other business development organizations to gain more insight.

Find a mentor.

Many of our alumni have had success in the public contracting process. If you’re wondering how the process works or what you should expect, try reaching out to business owners who’ve already gone through the process. Their knowledge and resources will be invaluable to you as you begin this journey.

Apply for ELEVATE.

ELEVATE is one of our newest offerings designed to demystify the public contracting process for small business owners. We’ll offer this program in two distinct tracks – one for business owners who work in professional services and one for business owners who work in construction or construction-related fields.

This offering directly prepares qualified women, veterans, and minorities to compete in the public contracting process. With our proven model, the businesses who complete this program will be well prepared to scale and procure with Metro Nashville as well as other government entities at the local, state, and federal levels.

To embark on your entrepreneurial journey, or scale your company, register today for one of our latest offerings.

Five Digital Marketing Steps for Small Business Owners

One of the first skills that a successful entrepreneur must master is marketing. However, times have drastically changed and an online presence is needed to stay on top of your customer’s minds.

Promoting your business online does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. All it takes is a strategic plan backed by action. Whether you simply need to increase sales or provide better customer service, here are five simple do-it-yourself (DIY) marketing strategies that will help you reach your business goals and objectives.

Build your own website. First things first, you need to create a website for your business to remain competitive in today’s market. You cannot afford to NOT have one. Having your own website will help you communicate with prospective and current customers. There are low-cost, simple web design platforms, such as WordPress and Wix, that have unique features and the versatility needed to help you reach your business goals. Both platforms provide tutorials to teach business owners how to complete the steps necessary to build a solid web presence.

Create email campaigns. Email marketing is a highly effective strategy that will help you reach multitudes of your customers. There are many options when it comes to email marketing platforms. Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and Emma are platforms that are versatile, simple and cost-effective. Another benefit of creating an email campaign is that you will be able to make strategic decisions based on visitors’ behaviors in your emails and website.

Write blogs. Blogs are a fun and easy way to engage with your customers. Writing articles is also an effective way to show off your expertise and direct prospective and current customers to your business’ services. There are countless blog topics–you can write about best practices within your industry, top 10 lists, and much more.

Use Facebook advertisements. Facebook is the preferred platform for marketersto run paid advertisements. With Facebook’s advertisement feature, you’ll be able to define your business’ target audience, track your campaign, and set your budget. It is crucial that you do research on your company’s demographics and define your goals and objectives before creating an ad on Facebook.

Create awesome graphics. Graphics make or break a business’ online presence. You can create your very own designs–all you need is a computer, a creative mind, and a free to low-cost graphic design tool website, such as Canva. Bonus tip: hire a marketing specialist to create a visual style guideline book to help your employees adhere to your company’s brand.

June is the Entrepreneur DIY Marketing Month, and we challenge you to make the most out of it. Market and promote your business by following through on any of these five strategies. Schedule an appointment with one of our consultants and take your business to the next level.

Happy Marketing!

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: