EXPERTS LANE n SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Grow Your Plant By Malaya Dantzler-Bryan She has been in business for just over a year and during her advisory session we began strategizing the next steps in growing her business. One of the pain points discovered during our conversation was, of course, her need for more capital. She also realized, after doing much research coupled with the knowledge from our discussions, that it was time to transition from a home-based business to her own office space. She could easily see the numerous benefits of having her own office… i.e. meeting clients in her own conference room instead of taking them out to lunch, having a space where potential customers could come in “off the street” for consultation, and presenting a more professional image to her clients. Another realization point was that if she ever wanted to apply for business lines of credit, she would need to show that she operated out of an actual office building and not her home. This was the next natural step in growing her business from a small startup to the national powerhouse that she envisions. So why did she have so much trepidation as she was touring potential office buildings with her real estate agent? This comes from one of our most primal emotions that often get in the way of our dreams both personally and professionally: FEAR. Could she afford what essentially was a second rental payment? What if she didn’t bring in enough money one month? Would she even really use this new office? After our discussion, she realized that these haunting thoughts were mirroring the same apprehensions she had when initially starting her business. I asked her, “When you created a business from nothing into a 8 IBA Success Magazine n VOL 5, Issue 2 profitable steady income, what makes you think you can’t grow what you’ve already planted?” You have to plant and nurture the seeds of your own success. If you are still working out of your home, I encourage you determine your next step to success and if it is branching out of your kitchen table with a laptop, getting a small office space may be a viable option. This decision could be a crucial step in legitimizing your business and perhaps the most important step in establishing your business credit. If you ever hope to expand your business, and you’re not personally wealthy, you will want to have an established credit line separate from your personal credit. Some of the other steps that will ensure you are on the right road to achieve your goals through business credit development would include: • Establish your business formation – Incorporation or an LLC (Limited Liability Company) This separates your personal credit from that of your business. • Get your federal identification number (EIN). This free service is offered by the IRS and serves as part of your business identity. • Open a business bank account. • Get a dedicated business phone line and make sure it is listed under your full business name. You may also want a toll-free number. There many reputable companies that offer great phone packages. Do your research! You may be able to leverage this number as part of your marketing efforts just as I did with 1-833-ASK SBCS. • Establish an office outside of your home. This further helps to separate personal from business. • Register with Dun & Bradstreet to receive your DUNS number. This is a nine-digit number that is used to identify each physical location of your business. This free service is required for all businesses to register with the federal government for contracts and grants. • Apply for a business credit card. Unfortunately, you may have a higher interest rate than on your personal cards. Think of it like when you got your first credit card. Many cards offer benefits exclusively geared towards businesses though. So be sure to do some research on which card is best for you. TIP – Don’t apply for any business credit until you have your business fundamentals in place. • Find vendors who are willing to let you purchase on credit and pay those vendors back early. Be sure you use vendors that report to business credit agencies. This is a great, and quick, way to grow your business credit score. • Finally, monitor your business credit score as you would your personal one. Be sure the reporting is accurate and look for any anomalies. You’ve planted your business, now you just need to grow it. With a little time and a lot of work, your company will continue to grow into the business you’ve always dreamed of. Taking that next step is scary, but you’ve come this far. Don’t stop now. Get that business credit so that you can expand and go to the next level. Much like when you first opened your business, you have to believe in yourself and know that you can do it. Plant the seed and grow your plant. Malaya Dantzler-Bryan is an expert in small business development with over twenty years experience in assisting small and disadvantaged businesses. Her passion for helping "the underdog" led her to open her own business where she champions the rights of small businesses across the state of Florida. Small Business Contracting Source, Inc. www.sbcsinc.com T here comes a time for every small business owner when they must take stock of where they currently are and where they want to be. It is easy to become stagnant if we are not constantly growing. But how do you know when to take that plunge into the next phase of your business? Honestly, you can never know for sure. It requires both a leap of faith and a belief in yourself. Sometimes you just have to do it. I was discussing this with a client last week who is on the verge of branching out and considering renting her own office space.