Motivated business owners are coming together in nearby Germantown.
No community exists in a bubble in this interconnected city, Lawanda Horton reminded us at our last sit-down with Mission Incorporated, the Germantown consultation firm guiding us in our first year as a non-profit. She recommended we check out a “Galvanizing Germantown” meeting happening the very next day, in Citizen’s Bank right there on G-town avenue. “You’ll be surprised at all the great people, ideas, and energy you’ll find, “ she told us, “You’ll come away with enough stories to fill a dozen newspapers.” We were sold!
Galvanizing Germantown did not disappoint – although we did start off with a faux pas when Steve and I sat together. “This is a networking meeting, “ William Hughes (moderator and a Financial Wellness Coordinator at Citizens Bank) reminded the room, while looking directly at us: “How do you expect to meet new people if you sit with someone you already know?” D’oh!
Steve got up and shot across the room, while I shuffled over to the smiling face of an impeccably-dressed woman with a neat stack of papers in front of her. “I’m Ron!” the guy next to her reached across to offer his hand, “I’m taking classes at PhillyU – er, Jefferson,” he said, “I’d love to talk about marketing, branding, whatever!”
The woman beside me introduced herself as Crystal Eldridge an interior designer who was working on expanding her business. Ron, it turned out, was with Tabor Community Partners and also developing his own web-oriented business. We met realtors, administrators, social justice advocates, financial counselors – even an outreach coordinator for the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. Andrew Trackman, executive director for Germantown’s Community Development Corporation, was on-hand, as well.
An amazing amount of positive energy fused the room for 8:30 on a Tuesday morning (must be the free coffee & donuts!). Once everyone was settled, William called the meeting to order with a little pitch for some Citizen’s Bank programs that might be of interest to local business owners. Andrew gave a brief update about the CDC’s upcoming “For the Love of Germantown” benefit (April 26) and their “Second Saturday” fest (May 12). And then onto the meeting’s key speaker…
Now, something about guys in suits asking me to think about my “credit score” immediately makes my eyes glaze over. So when Daemon Wesley introduced himself as a credit expert, I braced myself for a sales presentation on services we didn’t need.
SURPRISE! Daemon’s thoughtful PowerPoint (available here) was at once helpful and inspiring: he outlined a step-by-step plan for building credit as a business. “Even if you never use it,” he explained, “Establishing business credit can help you find investors, grants, and other funding that’s separate from your personal assets.”
Most small business owners – us included – rely on our personal accounts to pay staff, vendors, and taxes. Daemon broke down exactly how any “LLC” can get listed with Dun & Bradstreet (the biggest business reporting agency) and begin building financial credibility. “Businesses can have a much greater need for capital than a consumer does,” Daemon said, “When you’re ready to grow, it’s important to rely on business credit, not your own finances.” Approval limits are much higher for business lending, with easier terms too.
Well, alright then! Daemon of course plugged his consultation services to anyone who needed help, but the plan he laid out was so clear and specific we were immediately able to get started on our own.
Big thanks to Daemon and to William, who said he’d been trying for the past year to find a speaker who could address questions about business credit he’d been fielding from group members. “This is exactly the kind of information you guys have been asking for, “ he told us, “I’m glad everyone came out to learn today!”
What a productive meeting! We hung around with everyone a good while afterwards, trading contact info and catching up on exciting projects in the works all over Germantown and NW Philadelphia. Lawanda was right – we got a ton of story ideas. And we also felt a wonderful burst of support and enthusiasm from this little burg next door so highly motivated for positive change.
GALVANIZING GERMANTOWN: Information and networking for our corner of NW Philly. Next meeting is May 15th, 8:30am in the conference room at Citizen’s Bank (5500 Germantown Ave). Back entrance of the bank, thru the parking lot. Questions? Contact Tiffany Smith, branch manager, at Tiffany.T.Smith@Citizensbank.com
Join NW Philly Professionals Network Meetup to connect with other local businesses in East Falls, Wissahickon, Germantown, and other developing neighborhoods in our area.