In need of capital for your business or idea but don’t know where to start? If you are, you need the brains of Jada “The Business Lady” to help you answer all your questions about finances in starting and growing a business. She shares her personal journey from teaching herself to achieving something great and helping others become successful as well. She also offers her advice for women aiming to start a corporate venture. Learn more from Lady Jada’s amazing knowledge stocks as she talks about the three Cs of business funding, finding the right mentor, and helping find the right lenders.
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All About Finance: Funding Your Business With Jada “The Business Lady”
We’re going to talk about something that’s important to every business owner or entrepreneur out there that’s thinking about becoming a business owner. If you’re thinking about becoming a business owner, the one key thing that everyone needs to know and that’s about finance. Where do you get money? How do you get money? What do you actually need and who should you contact? The business lady is the person that I believe you should contact. I spend a great time with her, learning and understanding her business and her industry from my previous years of being in financing. I’m going to let her tell you a little bit about herself and give her back story and then tell a little bit about her business. We’re going to ask some questions so that you can have a better understanding and grasp of what it is that she does and how she may be able to help your business.
My name is Jada, The Business Lady. I’ve been providing access to business funding and business resources since about 2012 in Charlotte. What I do is if there’s a business owner that is looking to start, grow or expand their business, I typically research their business and match them to the lenders that I have in my network. I have access to over 400 lenders in all industries. Some of the services that we provide the term loans, lines of credit, SBA funding. We have equipment leasing, factoring, accounts receivable financing, purchase order financing. We even have other unique funding opportunities like 401(k) financing and book of business financing. With all of those, I’m able to pretty much create a package or tell our program to the individual business owner.
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I’ve always been self-employed. I started a business, owned businesses, managed a business and managed business owners. Originally, I was managing some businesses for a few people at an early age and I had a dream to open my own business. I wrote it all out. I did a couple of things and did my research for it. At the time, I was living on Section 8 with two small children. When I say small, one and three-years-old. Given the fact that I was also at the time on Section 8, a lot of the things that I will be communicating, no one where I was understood what that meant. They didn’t even know where to give me the direction for it. With the tenacity that I have, I decided to start doing a lot of research from my own self. In my first business living on Section 8 with two small children, at the age of 21, I ended up acquiring $150,000 worth of business loans, quick releasing to open my business. I started that but I wasn’t The Business Lady then. I just knew that’s what I wanted to do at the time.
When I was looking to start my business, there wasn’t a lot of resources at the time because I grew up in an urban environment. My mom, she always had her own businesses or side ventures going on, but she wasn’t a business owner. There weren’t a lot of business owners around. There weren’t a lot of people who could help me fulfil my dreams. It required a lot of research on my end. A lot of motivation and a lot of desire. Through all of that, I learned how to acquire $150,000 in business funding from myself.
Jada, I find that mind-boggling and absolutely amazing. When you said that you started with less than what most people would consider on Section 8, then you’re able to raise money to start your own business.
It was a challenge. It takes dedication and consistency. You have to educate yourself. I tell everybody educating yourself is important. I had no college degree. I knew what I wanted in life and I was willing to do what it took to get there. I knew for me at the time when I first had the desire, I was about nineteen, twenty years old and I had children already, I said, “This is not the way that I want to live.” I decided to educate myself. I reached out to a few people that I thought would be beneficial to me. At the end of the day, it was about my tenacity, about my motivation, about me being willing to put the work in.
Where did that inspiration come? How did you get it?
If you want to start your own business, educating yourself is important along with dedication and consistency.
I want to be humble enough and say I was born with it. I always was driven. I always had a goal and I always met goals. I tell anybody that when you have goals, you got to celebrate the milestones. For me, celebrating the milestones but continue to drive the wheel. A lot of people that were around me, if they fail or if they succeed or they reached a milestone a little bit later than what they desired or they fell a little bit short of their goals or they didn’t know, they would give up. For me, that was a celebration. It created the momentum that created more desire to achieve more. I tell people that to touch on a few things, I say you have to celebrate any accomplishments as the same as you would celebrate any failure because that creates the momentum to build off of. You have to first establish the foundation, then you do the framing. After you do the framing, you may do the drywall but in each step, you have to continue to motivate yourself.
If you are speaking to women, whether they’re black, white women, what would you say to them that they need to do to get started? What would be the most important thing and piece of information you could give them?
The information that I give everybody, even my children is write your vision and make it plain. When you write it down, it becomes tangible. It becomes a real living, breathing thing. For me, I have notebooks upon notebooks. Even then since I was a young child, I wrote out everything. I wrote it out and the writing creates a picture for me. It was a visualization. If you don’t know where to start, sometimes the vision will open up new opportunities that you’ll be able to see and create a bigger picture. I call it the yellow brick road. A lot of times people don’t know where to go, but once you create the vision of the end result of where you want to be, the road lights up. That’s how it happened for me. I’m not going to say that it’s just me because anybody that I mentor, I coach or I help them build their businesses. The first thing I tell them is, “Do you have that written down?” If they say no, then you don’t want it bad enough. You have to create, you have to see that image in order to see that image. She didn’t know how to get to the Emerald City, but she just wanted to get there. She decided that it was her desire to get to the Emerald City so she can get to Kansas, the road lit up for her. That’s my life story.
What you’re saying is that it doesn’t matter where you start, write it down, make it plain. Don’t worry about the capital per se, because once you make it plain, it will show up through your efforts and your hard work. You’re a mentor to others that’s looking to do better and go further. Your mother had many types of businesses, but you didn’t quite qualify them that way. Could that had been where you started or got that entrepreneurial spirit?
Definitely and we talk about this often in my family. My mom always says that her father was a barber. He always aspired to be independent and owned and operated his own business. My mother, she did have jobs, 9 to 5. She would always have side ventures and in those side ventures she would often make my sisters and I participate. She was a seamstress, she did taxes on the side. She always had something going on. It was mostly not because she wanted to be a business owner. It was because she was more of a creator.
I’m reflecting back, Jada. When I first met you, I met you at a place that I love. Jada is extremely successful in what she does in helping people. I was complimenting her on her beautiful car. She’s always had a smile. The first time that we met, she was so standoffish and mean and rude and she’d given a different impression of herself, which is the impression that I have been getting ever since I’ve met her. That first night, I’m going to let her explain that.
For me, I have this saying that I do not have conversations with fools. I hate to say it as bluntly as that, but it’s something about energy and vibration in any type of social settings. With the industry that I’m in, it draws a lot of fools, people that are not as motivated as me. I say this without sounding cocky, but it’s important that when you have a dream, you have to be able to go all-in head first. You have to literally give blood, sweat and tears. In a lot of general conversations, I try to gauge those to see what direction they’re going because you can’t just say, “I can do business funding.” When you say you do business funding, everybody comes out the woodworks with their uncles, mamas, daddy and everybody wants to talk about business funding and the drive is not there. In those certain situations, that’s why I can be a little bit standoffish to a degree in social settings. That’s only because I take what I do serious and I expect others to take what they do seriously.
Jada, it’s interesting that you said that because I remember when I was in the industry, I did the same thing. I think that’s probably why I noticed it but it’s a filter. I noticed that what you had filtered through the sifter. You sift through and you’re like, “This person is serious,” You are looking for people who are serious about their business. It used to be for me. I won’t speak for you but allow me to, if you don’t mind, that they are serious about their business so that they don’t waste your time because you know you can help them.
I honestly don’t even want you to waste your time. Time is very important. That’s the greatest asset we have. A lot of times if I’m having a broad compensation with somebody and they go into talking about their business, I ask them direct questions because you’re running around them all Berry Bush, and you don’t even have a clear direction of where you’re going. You’re not only just wasting my time, but you’re also wasting your time. A lot of times, even in the initial conversation, if somebody’s saying, “I have a business idea,” or they know what I do and they come and they say, “I have a business idea. That’s what I’m thinking about.” I said, “How long have you been thinking about it?” That’s the first question. The second question is always, “What have you written down?” Because you haven’t made it real to yourself yet.
Jada, did you teach yourself or did you ever mentor? Could you tell me a little bit about that?
I did a lot of the teaching myself. There was no structure, there was just a desire. I researched and researched. Along the way, when I was trying to start my business or I had a desire to do my business, I actually went and worked under someone else. At the time I thought it was a mentorship. I found out throughout the times because I was smart. I knew how to do things, that it was more of a situation where it would benefit her more than it’d benefit me. That’s why I tell people, “Keep your eyes open on what’s the difference between somebody who’s supposed to be your mentor or somebody who is benefiting from the things that you can do.”
Can you give me an example of what went wrong in the mentor-mentee relationship?
When you have goals, you got to celebrate the milestones while continuing to drive the wheel.
A couple of things. She was awesome. She had a program that she had developed. To give more details on the business, she had a cosmetology school and I was managing a couple of hair salons. I was 21 years old at the time. She brought me in and was like, “You should be an educator. Everybody talks about how much you teach. I’ll help you get your educator’s license.” I came into her school and it was like, “I need you to teach this class and teach this class.” I said, “Okay.” I was working under her, but the benefits were still to her and she knew a lot of the research I did about funding and things and I would share those with her.
When it came time for me to expand and look for assistance to expand, it wasn’t any motivation there. It was more of her deterring me as much as possible because it was benefiting her. Those are some of the things that as I talked to my clients and they say, “I have a mentor,” I say, “Is there some mutual beneficial relationship?” In most mentor situations for me, the mentor shouldn’t always be gaining. That’s the purpose of being a mentor unless there is some type of agreement. For me, when I mentor, I usually go in and say, “This is just what I want to do. I see something in you. I want to encourage you and I want to help you grow.” That wasn’t the situation with my first original mentor. It was more of, “That sounds like a whole lot.” It brings me back down to where I can constantly stay a worker.
For someone reading, what would you say to them about picking and choosing a mentor from what you’ve already learned?
Are they motivating you to grow past what you even see as capable for yourself? Along the way I’ve had motivators, but in mentorship and motivators, are they motivating you to pass where you even see yourself? It’s very important.
Jada, The Business Lady, I know everyone’s anxious to know, including myself. The audience wants to know how can you help them with the lending process.
The lending process is very challenging to navigate if you don’t understand it if you don’t educate yourself. Typically when you go into a bank, this is one of the biggest things that I hear, “My bank said they can give me $20,000. I’ve been with them ten years. My bank said just come on in.” They don’t understand that the people that are working in the bank, they get paid by the numbers. The goal is to get as many applications as they can. A lot of times you go into the bank, they don’t tell you the criteria, they don’t tell you the type of programs available because they’re very limited. In all honesty, they do not like to lend to small businesses. By the time we have that conversation, I said, “If your bank says you can get $20,000, go see your bank.”
They’d come back to me and say, “They gave me $2,000. They gave me $3,000.” With me, I help them navigate that process. It’s almost like a matchmaker without the dating. They come to me and they say, “I’m looking for this type of funding.” I inquire about their project, ask a few pre-qualifying questions. What is your credit? What revenue are you generating? Do you have any collateral? The major thing for business funding, which is also the industry that I’m in, is the alternative lending space. Alternative lending is a broad term, but it means that there are private equity firms, mutual funds. There are alternative lenders that operate the same as banks. There are also other lenders that pull their funds from conventional banks, but they are more willing to partner with business owners.
That process typically goes if you’re looking for any type of funding like I said, I’ll inquire about what it is that you have. After I do that, then I will do the whole matching. I pretty much leverage the relationships that I’ve had and I get you approved. The approval process is pretty simple. You submit your application. I do all of the upfront work, I do all of the negotiating on the terms. I have all the prevalent conversations. I even create the story for my clients. A lot of times when you have someone like me, I have the relationship, so I have the ability to create that story.
You’re able to help them by being the matchmaker. You are matching them up, teaching them and guiding them through that minefield to help them get the maximum amount of monies that they can possibly get so that they can grow and expand their business. If it was me and I come to you and give you everything that you asked for, I could walk away and be comfortable in your hands that you will get everything else taken care of.
There are two things that I try to let people know. In the business funding world, it’s apples and oranges to personal funding. One, people are so reliant on the third banks. Number two, everybody generalizes everything they know about funding into what they’ve learned about personal funding. In the business funding world, the only three things that are a criteria for any type of approval is cashflow, credit or collateral. We call them the three Cs. That’s Cashflow, Credit or Collateral. If you’re in the personal funding space, then you have to deal with things like utilization. You don’t have to deal with certain things like debt to income ratios. Those are not important. In the business funding world, do you have cash? Do you have a credit? Do you have collateral?
If you have one of those things, it has to be very strong. If you have two of those things, you pretty much qualify for just about all of the alternative funding programs that are available. If you have all three of those things, you’re golden. You can get what you want. In that space, at first, I have to educate because it’s a switch on the mindset when it comes to personal funding. That’s why most people are not approved because they go into it seeking funding with the mindset of their acquiring personal funding and it’s completely different.
That brings me to an interesting question because when I was in the business before, we had to provide three years of financials of the business, three years of financials personally, as well as three years of tax returns both ways. Has that somewhat changed?
If you don’t know where to start, the vision will open up new opportunities that you’ll be able to see and create a bigger picture.
It has not changed. It just depends on the program that you are seeking to get. If you are seeking a program where you’re getting term loans, if you’re seeking a program where you want extensive lines of credit, that’s what they call full documentation. In the funding world or any type of banking world, that’s called a full doc. In full documentation, of course you’re going to have to provide all of that, but that’s when you get those premium programs.
I also noticed that when I first started out and I remember the first time that I had a bad experience with a bank, I shouldn’t say it was bad because I got the money. I went to the bank and they asked me what was it that I wanted to do as if I knew all their programs. If someone comes to you, you will take them through and you will teach them the programs and help them navigate that. They won’t feel like I felt at the time like a dummy sitting back saying, “I don’t know what you have. I didn’t know what I need.”
The most important thing and I was going to touch on that also. There are lenders that just have their sweet spot. I call them sweet spots because they have theirs. You don’t know it, but they have their sweet spots. Because I have the relationships and I manage those relationships. The first thing that I do is I match them with someone. If you have a trucking company, I’m going to match you with lenders that love trucking companies. If your revenue is low, then I’m going to match you with companies that you don’t have to gross $30,000 and $40,000 a month or it would be a $2 million or $3 million business. If your credit is not so great, I’m going to match you with those lenders that credit is not a requirement, as long as you have strong revenue.
A company, even if they may have some challenges, when they come to you, you’re like their guardian angel.
I’m going to get them approved. The benefits of that is if I can’t get them approved, then I will help them with a funding strategy that they will be approved in the near future.
What are some of the books that you like to read or podcasts that you listen to?
I have three books and every entrepreneur that I come across, this is what I recommended to them. I’ve read dozens of books, but the three that I think are most influential to entrepreneur or business owner’s life is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. One of my favorites. I read it often. There is a segue book that is almost like an instruction manual to Think and Grow Rich because it’s intense. As you’re living your day-to-day life, it’s like, “What do I do now?” There is a book called You are Born Rich by Bob Proctor. That’s also my favorite. He teaches you what you’re supposed to do on a daily basis to maintain that mindset. A lot of things are focused so much on mindset.
I would say those are my two favorites on mindset because the mindset is the most important when you’re going to dive into any endeavor. You want to say it’s capital, you want to say is network. No, it’s mindset. Once you get to that point of mindset, you also have to understand how opportunities work. When it comes down to opportunities, there’s a book called The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. That’s the most important book to my transition into understanding how to seize opportunities. My sons have read it, my friends have read it. I encourage everybody to read that. I feel like before you even get to the point where you are understanding opportunities and how they’re working, you still have to create that mindset first. Those are my three top recommendations for reading.
What would Jada say to her younger self?
I would say believe in yourself more and celebrate failures. The, “Believe in myself more,” sounds like a contradiction because I’ve always believed in myself. I always believed in the tenacity I had to achieve goals and make things happen for myself. My business organically developed from that. I never promoted myself or stood from the rafters and say, “This is what I do.” I feel like for me, not only did I miss the opportunities because I missed opportunities where I could be a help to someone else. I’ve helped tons of people through my network and strategic partnerships. Thank God I’m probably a 99.9% referral business. At times in the past, I did not promote myself or push and say, “Let’s transition from call Jada to call me.”
A lot of my opportunities came from, “Call Jada, she has the answers,” but not so much from call me. I tell any entrepreneur, anybody that has to go believe in yourself, promote yourself. There’s a saying that I love the most, that says, “Work hard as hell and then advertise.” On the celebrate failures, that also always throws people off a little bit. My whole business is based on failures and I’m able to help the people that I help because of failures. There was a time in my life that if I failed, I would get back up. That’s why I’m successful. I would beat myself up and get back up with the mindset of, “What other choice do I have?”
When I transitioned my mindset to being grateful and being thankful because of the failures and the lessons that I learned, the downtimes actually minimized. The downsides actually turned quicker into upsides. I tell anybody, “When you fail, celebrate that.” I always tell the same for everything. There was two things my mom told me growing up after I started my business. The first one growing up was I would be so mad at myself, I would get back up, she would say, “Did you do your best?” I’ll be like, “Yes.” She said, “What are you complaining for?” I come back about something else and she’d say, “Did you do your best?” I say, “No.” She would say, “What are you complaining for?” That’s what I tell myself on a daily basis. If you did your best, what are you complaining for? If you didn’t do your best, what are you complaining for?
The second thing she told me that transitioned my life after my biggest failure when I closed my salon, my cosmetology school and I was in my twenties, my kids were still here. That was my first big business. I closed it and I was so upset. She’s a wonderful person because her empathy level is whatever. She said to me, “Take it like this. You finally got your college education and you don’t have any student loans.” Those are the two things that transitioned my life to where I decided to learn to celebrate my failures. Learn to believe in myself a little bit more. Every time I celebrate my failures, my downside switched to upside almost immediately. I starte to see opportunities as opposed to challenges.
You had some failures and you overcame those failures, but for the audience, someone else who may have had a failure, what can they expect? The myth is you won’t be able to get alone or you won’t be able to do it. Can you help that person? Can you tell us a little bit about that failure and how you rebound to give someone else some inspiration?
The first thing with failures is to take full responsibility. In addition to celebrating them, that’s unheard of. I always have a downtime in myself because it’s natural to feel bad after failure. You just don’t want to dwell in it. I take some real serious time with myself and I take full responsibility for it. A lot of times when people fail and they say, “My staff didn’t do this, my friends didn’t do this, my mom didn’t love me enough.” You take full responsibility for it. When you take full responsibility, it creates a platform for growth. After I go through that phase of taking full responsibility of it, I celebrate all of it because that’s how you transition. That’s how you see the opportunities. I get grateful for it.
Taking full responsibility for failures creates a platform for growth.
In getting grateful in it, that’s when I say, “What did I learn and where can I take this to in the future?” For a business owner that fails or anybody that fails, the first thing is take full responsibility of it fast, celebrate fast and then you regroup. When you take full responsibility, it creates a platform for you to go back in and dissect the things that went wrong. If you don’t take responsibility, you can never do that. If you’re trying to get back into business, those will be the first steps. After that, execute. It’s that simple. It’s nothing else to that. Whatever you dissect and you came up with whole full plan, this is where it went wrong and this is what I need to do this time, execute and then come see somebody like me.
Seeing someone like you after I’ve had a failure or two, the credit may be a little spotty. Business isn’t going too well or I’m starting up again. You can help someone like me at that point.
I actually like businesses that are in the startup phase and start-over phase. They’re a lot more fun for me because the slate is clean. Change management and coming in and rebuilding a brand, that’s a little challenging because a lot of times, the business owner has not completely let go. It’s their baby. They don’t want to throw the baby out. That can be a little bit challenging. When you are in a startup or even start over phase and you do the first steps, which is take full responsibility of it, celebrate the failure. It’s a clean slate of platform for you to come in and see somebody like me and we can have something to build a solid foundation of. Most times it’s okay to tell the house down. I recommend that often. Let’s go back in and let’s break it apart so we can be able to dissect it.
I’ve had many business failures before I got to where I am. If you don’t know, most of my audience already know. Being one of fifteen people that ran publicly-traded companies but before that, I had lost everything and was even thinking about committing suicide and taking my own life. I didn’t want to have anything else to do with business. I got an opportunity to help some people and they said, “Can you do what you say you can do?” At that time, I was in finance and everything. In 2008, when everyone was getting their credit lines cut, I was able to help someone get an unlimited amount of credit and everyone was shocked. I recall when I started and how I learned to do it, I had to do it by hard knocks. What a blessing to have someone like yourself to be able to help someone so that they don’t have to go through that learning curve by themselves, but can go to you and you can help them navigate them through that.
It’s important. Sharing is caring. When I see someone that’s driven, I’d rather pour into that person. A lot of it comes from the fact that when I started out, there was nobody to pour into me. It was important to me that I pour into other people. I love the money. Let’s be clear. It’s great money. However, I love the fact that to see somebody’s face when I called them back, first, they do the whole dance with, “My bank said this,” and then they go see their bank and the bank gives them $2,000 and then they call me and I said, “This is what I need.” They say, “That’s all you need?” I’ll say, “I’ll call you back in about 48 hours.” I say, “I got you $50,000.” They’re like, “$50,000 real dollars?” That’s it for me. That’s a high that I love.