5 Things learned from Small Business Owners

I didn’t realize the true importance of small businesses until I had the opportunity to contribute to the SmartBiz small business blog.

Small businesses put up impressive numbers. Today, the United States has 28 million small businesses that employ more than 120 million people and account for 54% of all U.S. sales. Also, according to the SBA, small businesses have generated 66 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s.

I’ve interviewed over a dozen entrepreneurs over the last 10 months about obtaining an SBA loan to fuel growth and save money. Interviewing small business owners about their challenges, hopes for the future and plans for success has been enlightening. Here are 5 observations about small business owners, funding and the future.

Every path to entrepreneurship is unique

  • The timing was right for small business owner Terry Trumbull to turn entrepreneur. Laid off from a construction job, Trumbull took a position as a delivery driver for a wholesale meat distributor. When the owner was ready to retire, he asked if Terry was interested in buying the business. Trumbull took out a second mortgage on his home and became a small business owner. Trumbull has had a successful wholesale meat company in Michigan for 31 years and has no regrets.
  • Romantic gifts led Claudia Gee to the business she’s run with her husband for over 20 years. “When we were dating, my husband would bring me balloons and flowers. I would save all of the balloon foils and hang them on my wall,” Gee says. “When we went to a trade show for small businesses we came across a balloon business and decided to give it a shot.”
  • Asha Waterstreet turned her passion into a small business, Tasteful Additions. Formerly an airline executive and stay-at-home mom, Waterstreet was faced with a question, “What’s next?” when her daughters moved away. “I knew that I wanted to do something I loved”, she says. With a passion for cooking and flavorful food, Waterstreet came across a small store that sold exclusive oil & vinegar products and fell in love with the concept. She returned to Rochester, New York to open her own store.
  • Like many entrepreneurs, Bob Slinskey’s business ownership dream started as a part-time adventure. An employee of the Pittsburg Post Gazette since 1976, his eyes were opened when the newspaper went on strike. “I thought, what am I going to do now? I was at the mercy of my employer.” He established The Clean Team, Inc. as a part time venture while still working at the paper and eventually was able to quit his full time job and become a small business owner.

Uses for SBA loans vary widely

  • Triple D Towing provides towing services in the Dallas-Fort Worth. Owner Milton Martinez used SBA loan proceeds to pay off two small loans with sky-high rates. “I’m saving $15,000 – $18,000 dollars overall,” he says. That’s money I can put back into growing my business or into savings.”
  • Waterstreet used the funds from her loan to grow product lines, renovate her existing space, hire employees and establish an online presence.
  • Wholesale meat distributor Terry Trumbull will use his funds to keep up with growing demand for his services. “I need to hire an employee and buy a new refrigerated truck.”

 Many small business owners shop around for loans

  • Public Relations professional Henry Feintuch was unsuccessful when he tried to secure a loan. “I tried 2 other business banks over the last year who had positioned themselves as business friendly and flexible but I was still unable to find a loan. I wasn’t desperate for cash but I wanted to grow, do a business acquisition and scale up.” He was able to get the funds he needed with a $100,000 loan from SmartBiz.
  • Harvey Ginsberg, owner of Corporate Graphic Solutions, needed funds to keep afloat when the economy took a downturn in 2008. “During the recession, money was given to bail out the big guys. It seemed like the entrepreneurs who are so important to this country were forgotten. People like me couldn’t find places to borrow,” he says. The bank underwriters told Ginsberg that they were looking for more stability before lending funds. He says, “I could fill a wall up with all of the declines I got from banks. I had the required documentation but it didn’t matter.” Harvey quickly qualified for a $150,000 SBA loan from SmartBiz. He’s using the money to reduce debt and is saving roughly $1,600 a month.

SmartBiz has made small business loans easy 

  • Randy Jaques is the owner/operator of The Tree Guy in Utah. He initially didn’t think that an SBA loan was a good fit. “I was told that SBA loans take forever to fund and that it can be a real pain to qualify. That wasn’t my experience at all.”  Randy’s dedicated SmartBiz Relationship Manager helped guide him through the process. “If I had any questions or needed help with the paperwork, she was always available. The whole process went smoothly.”  Jacques secured an SBA loan for $105,000. In addition to working capital, he leased equipment that will help him run his business more efficiently.
  • Roby Darcus, founder of DJ’s Business Supplies in Southern California is another small business owner who was reluctant to start the SBA loan process “I’d heard that SBA loans were too difficult and I doubted that I would qualify.” He was unable to get funding from a traditional bank and decided to give an SBA loan a try. Working with SmartBiz Relationship Manager Elizabeth Crumb, he found the process much simpler than he thought it would be. “Liz was great. She walked us through everything and kept my spirits and hopes up.  Our first email contact was in August and my loan took only about 30 days to fund.” Darcus secured a $151,000 SBA loan from SmartBiz at 6.5% APR for a 10 year term.

Small business owners love what they do and are optimistic about the future.

  • PR exec Feintuch is interested in expanding his business soon. “I’m looking to do acquisitions with three other companies. The future looks good!”
  • Clean Team owner Slinskey is prepared for a successful future. “I secured a $100,000 SBA loan for working capital and will use the funds to buy new equipment and hire additional staff. “I see more business coming my way soon and I wanted to make sure I was ready for it,” he says.
  • Entrepreneur Scott Stein runs two robust small businesses and is poised for growth with the help of an SBA loan from SmartBiz. “I want to interview for telemarketing positions that I’ll be hiring on a 1099 basis…I’m excited to expand.”
  • Small business owner Andrew Todd is the founder of TriFytt Sports.  With a full service sports complex being built in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, he’s ready for explosive growth and has no plans to slow down. “Thanks to SBA loans from SmartBiz, we’re excited and ready to open on schedule.”

Are you a small business owner in need of funding to save and grow? Visit the SmartBiz website today. Use the promo code “BLOG” when you register and find out in about 5 minutes or less if you qualify for an SBA loan.