In an industry dominated by male business owners, Leticia Giron has been in business for 21 years.
She’s the owner of Belleza & Beauty, a wholesaler of beauty equipment that sells to spa owners, doctors, and distributors. She self-financed the business using savings and credit cards until new competition threatened her business.
“I was buying all my equipment from a vendor who decided to increase his prices. He started showing up at the trade shows I would attend. I could not compete with his prices because he was buying wholesale. So I just told myself that it was time to do this thing on my own and decided to step up the business.”
Belleza & Beauty is doing well and gearing up for a great 2018 thanks to Leticia’s hustle and her ability to secure outside funding in the form of an SBA loan. We sat down with Leticia to discuss her experience getting the loan and how it’s helping Belleza & Beauty move forward.
Having emergency cash on hand can be your key to managing cash flow.
Getting Credit in Shape for a Loan
I invested a lot of my savings in the business, but I got to the point where I needed to start using someone else’s money to grow bigger and faster.
The first thing I had to do was get my credit in shape. I didn’t need credit before, so I didn’t really care about what was in my credit report. Luckily, I was able to get some advice from the Nav team.
On my business credit report, I detected a 120-plus day late payment reported by a company with whom I had a conflict delivering shipments to a trade show. They did not deliver my merchandise on time, and it was guaranteed that if the shipment didn’t arrive on time that you didn’t owe them anything. I was able to request a correction for that information. Because of that, my Experian business credit level went from a C to a B.
On the personal credit side, I had a number of outstanding items on my report that were supposed to be removed a long time ago. I disputed those items and cleared up the report. There were a couple credit cards I got to take advantage of the 0% introductory APR that were still showing a balance, so I paid those down, reducing my credit card balances and my scores went up.
Securing an SBA Loan
After cleaning up my reports, I called Shae-Lyn at Nav and she referred me to SmartBiz. SmartBiz had a promotion where they would credit you the closing cost of your loan if you qualified.
Nav connected me to Hui at SmartBiz. Hui was very efficient, I liked him from the very beginning because he disclosed all the steps that we were going to take and all the documentation that I was going to need. He was straight to the point and knew what he was doing. I started the process of getting an SBA loan in the middle of June and was funded by mid-July.
Putting The Funds to Good Use
I am using the funds to expand into a warehouse and start importing directly from the wholesaler. I had been buying all the equipment from a vendor, but things got a bit hairy when he decided to increase prices for me. He started showing up at the same trade shows I would attend, and became my competition. I couldn’t compete with his prices because he was buying directly from the wholesaler.
So I used the money to order supplies directly from the wholesaler. Production is already in place, so I expect to receive the equipment by mid-November so I can be ready for next year.
I am also working to establish more distributors and expand my business online, which will allow me to hire more people not only for trade shows but to move and prepare shipments at the warehouse.
Advice for Entrepreneurs After 21 Years in Business
In my opinion, customer service and financial caution are the keys to success.
Your client is the heart of the business, so if you treat yourself well you should treat your clients even better. There have been situations in which I had to lose money in order to keep that customer, and it turned out to be the right decision.
When it comes to being cautious financially, you need to know where the best place to put your money is when opportunity arises. If you spend too much, the opportunity can quickly flop. You have to count the pennies into your next investment and know that that’s the best place to put your money.
Pro Tip: Take charge of your financial health today with a FREE Nav account. We'll protect and monitor your personal and business credit, so when it comes time to find financing you're prepared on all fronts.