By Teresa M. Lundy
As a business owner, you always need to be looking for opportunities to grow. Growth requires new customers or more business from existing customers. Access to capital, programs to support business owners, and continued education are all critical.
These are important issues to consider when operating a business and putting yourself in a position to take advantage of opportunities.
Building and maintaining personal and business credit
As you work to build your business, it is vitally important to properly build your credit so you can access additional resources to grow your company. There are a significant amount of free resources and educational tools out there to show you step by step how to get a credit score above 700, which is required for approval for many types of credit. Those tools include Experian.com, Nerdwallet.com, Creditkarma.com, and IOS Apps such as Credit Sesame.
Having a few credit cards paid on time each month, while keeping the balance low can do wonders for your credit when you really need it to execute a new contract. Often, there is a delay between providing services or products and receiving the revenue from that business activity.
Create a banking relationship
As a business owner, you should remember that you are the customer for many of the services you need to run your business, including your banking needs. If you have a profitable business with one to two years of history, then your bank should be willing to work with you to extend a credit line, credit cards, and other financing where necessary to help you. If they are not, you should consider taking your business to another bank. You would be surprised that two banks in the same area, with the same information about your business, will likely treat you differently.
For example, a friend of mine had a business with over $250,000 in annual revenue. His bank wouldn’t give him credit. He spoke with HSBC Bank, and they offered him over $20,000 in personal and business credit to move his accounts.
Join a business accelerator program
Amazon has launched a business accelerator to help Black entrepreneurs grow their presence on their platform and sell more products.
Some of the benefits of the accelerator are $400 in advertising credits to increase exposure and help you find new customers. In addition, Amazon offers participants at least one year of education services, including access to mentors, experts and thought leaders to provide insight on how to grow your company.
The importance of continued education
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to use every opportunity to continue learning as you run and grow your business. Technology and social media are continuing to change at a rapid pace and learning how to properly use these platforms can be a business opportunity in and of itself.
In every type of business, there is a value in learning how to sell, distribute your product or service, branding techniques and how to properly handle business accounting.
In addition, as you grow from a $50,000 business to a $250,000 (or $1,000,000) business the quality and cost of professional accounting and legal advisors will go up. As the business owner, and the person working to create a profitable enterprise, it is imperative that you know enough to find the right service providers, including knowing what to look for, what questions to ask, and what such services entail.
Many people may think that the biggest challenge is in starting a company. From my perspective, anyone can start a company. But can they grow it to become the leader in their market, or even one of the leaders in their market?
With education, including free tools such as Google, it is much more likely that you will be successful.
I hope you enjoyed this special edition of The Business Corner.
Teresa M. Lundy is the principal and founder of TML Communications, a strategic public relations, crisis communications and community engagement firm serving corporations, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. Follow Teresa on Twitter at: @TeresaMLundy