Darla Beggs, 2014-2015 Chair, National Board of Directors, National Association of Women Business Owners
Darla Beggs shares her perspective on Gallup's report on lending to diverse segments and how it relates to NAWBO members.
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At Wells Fargo, we believe that success of small businesses are the foundation of healthy, vibrant, American communities. That's why serving small business owners is one of the most important things we do.
Yet we also know that many small businesses across the country, including those in diverse communities, are still recovering from the great recession. Serving diverse and women-owned businesses is a priority for us, and we know more needs to be done to help these businesses grow and prosper. It's also clear that we, as well as those who support small businesses in our country, need to better understand the challenges facing diverse and women business owners.
For this reason, we turned to Gallup to conduct a groundbreaking study. Gallup surveyed LGBT, veteran, women, and diverse small business owners nationwide to better understand their motivations for starting a business, their funding needs, and their attitudes towards credit. We learned about how small business owners address funding needs and their perceptions of the financial institutions. We heard about their desire for resources, education, and tools to help their businesses succeed.
In this video, Darla Beggs, Chair of the National Board of Directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners, shares her perspective about the study and how it relates to NAWBO members.
Perhaps one of the things that I thought was most interesting about the survey about women business owners and NAWBO members in particular is that they're willing to accept that they don't know things, and they appear to be willing to open up and be educated in that way.
I tell people all the time, "Recognize what you don't know, and find experts to help you with that." So one of the many programs that we offer at NAWBO is working with organizations such as Wells Fargo to make sure that our members are educated and understand the importance of getting credit, the importance of having the money to run your business, and what is involved in that.
One of the reasons that women business owners — NAWBO business owners — tend to run smaller businesses is because we're focused on different things. We're not necessarily focused on how large we can grow our business. We're focused on how large we can run our business; how well we can run our business. What do we need to do to be successful and happy in our own lives? Our employees to be successful and happy? Our families to be successful and happy? And how, and what we can do to give back?
Our members often do not understand the importance of using credit and using a line of credit, and working with a banker or a personal lender on some level to help grow their business. They are afraid to take on more than they can handle, more than they can deal with. We're afraid of taking that next step. We're afraid of hiring that employee, whether we don't think that we can afford to pay him later. We're afraid of getting that bigger office space because we're afraid of that lease, and again, we're afraid to ask for money. I think that's an educational issue.
Women need to understand better the opportunities and the reasons that you want to ask for money, the reason that you want a line of credit. I think that it's very important that, in order to grow your business and increase your capacity, that women business owners need to be aware of three things.
Number one, capital. Capital as in money. You need to look for organizations, business lenders, other people who can help you figure out what it is you need. What is your true cost? What are your net profits? What are your taxes? What are you taking home at the end of the day, and what do you need to grow your business?
Number two, community. You need to look for organizations that will provide education and support, and maybe connections and relationships to find those folks who have the capital access, such as NAWBO.
And number three, you need to look at capital, as in your state and federal capitals. Who are your elected officials? How are they voting? What are they doing? Are they saying one thing and voting a different way, or are they truly supporting small business owners in our opportunities to grow our business?
The primary thing that financial institutions can do to help women small business owners grow their business is just continue working on the lines of communication. Break it down in simple terms. Help me understand the paperwork I need. Help me understand what my costs really are. Help me understand what I need to do so that when I come to you with my packet requesting credit, it's pretty clean and clear and concise. There's not 1,000 questions that need to be answered. There's not a lot of details that have to be tied up. It's what I need to present to you to get the credit I need at the time I need it.
Sometimes people think business bankers are sort of like the person when you walk in the store and they hound you constantly about wanting you to buy something. And the reality is, when you work closely with your business banker, what you learn is they can be your best friend. You know, I myself, we've forgotten to transfer payroll on more than one occasion, and my business banker called me and said, "Hey, you know, we gotta move money. We gotta move money quickly." And so he prevented me from having issues with my checking account and with my employees' payroll because I was busy. I was running my business. So I know when I sit down and talk with him, he is not out for anything other than my best interest. He is there to help me and help me be successful.
Most women business owners love what they do and enjoy doing it, and that's evident in the Gallup poll in that more women were in business because they love what they do more so than to make money, it appeared. But women are very optimistic. They want to grow their business. They want to hire new employees. They want to be able to give back to the community, and our NAWBO members are among those who want to do that.