Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dressed in a suit, my business plan in hand…

So today’s entry doesn’t have anything to do with clothes or pregnancy. It’s a valuable read to those of you thinking about starting your own business and needing to obtain and secure a SBA (Small Business Administration) loan.

Today I was delightfully surprised to see a very special person walk through my store’s doors. I didn’t recognize her at first because her hair color was different and for goodness sake, it’s been 7 years since I've seen her last! It was Jessica, my SBA loan officer for my very first Pickles store in Dallas. I know this doesn’t sound too exhilarating but she really IS one of the reasons Pickles is here today. I was always dressed in a suit, my business plan in hand, and sometimes my infant with me, as I went to all the big banks asking, begging, for a business loan. You know which banks I’m talking about…BofA, Chase, Wells Fargo, etc. And one by one, I got rejected by each of those banks because I wasn’t able to check “YES” to one of their 5 criteria. I soon realized that I was just another business plan at each of these big banks. I had no choice but to broaden my search for moolah. I decided to try some smaller neighborhood banks and banks that were in the business of lending for small businesses. Heck, I didn’t have anything to lose and by this time, my skin had gotten really thick.

Dressed in a suit, my business plan in hand, and sometimes my infant in tow, I planned on hitting all 3 banks in one day but ended up rescheduling the latter 2 because the first one actually took more than 20 minutes! Each of these smaller banks had people who actually wanted to talk to me about my business plan and what my vision was for Pickles. And as a direct result of this face time, I was able to ooze my enthusiasm and passion for my business. These 3 interviews were by far the most intriguing to me, and apparently to them too because 2 of the 3 banks offered me SBA lending. Jessica was the first of the 3 smaller bank loan officers I met. She was also the first woman…that might not mean anything but I can’t help but to think she “understood” the need for a maternity store like Pickles in Dallas. She genuinely seemed interested and instantly sold on my concept. I found out today that she fought for my SBA loan and Pickles. I am so grateful to her because I really felt my dream slipping away with every funding rejection. So, remember to SELL your concept, SELL your business plan, and SELL yourself!! It goes further than you can imagine AND I promise, someone will listen and believe!


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