How This Wellness Center Owner Used Funding to Grow With Confidence

How This Wellness Center Owner Used Funding to Grow With Confidence

How This Wellness Center Owner Used Funding to Grow With Confidence

“Where’s the money coming from?” Shalonda Pettis had to answer that question after she launched Georgia-based wellness and weight loss center, Elite Wellness Solutions. While she self-funded her business in the beginning, it grew to a point where that became unsustainable.

“I thought I’d just pay for everything myself with all of my own money,” Shalonda remembers. “And I don’t know that that was the smartest thing to do.” 

While it was promising to see her business grow and serve her community’s needs, Shalonda soon found herself navigating rapid growth and funding roadblocks.

Bootstrapping a Business

Paying for business expenses on your own is a common approach. According to Forbes, less than half of small business owners applied for a loan in 2021, choosing instead to use funds like personal savings or income from a second job to support their business operations. 

When a business owner does choose to apply for funding, it’s usually only after they need to expand — something Shalonda can relate to. 

“All of a sudden, I needed more people, I needed more equipment, I needed more funding,” Shalonda recounts. “And it just happened really quickly.” Her community’s need for her business was obvious. She wanted to meet those needs by getting another suite and more equipment — but where was the money coming from?

Shalonda realized that financing would allow her to sustain her operations more easily and efficiently. “I learned along the way that it’s OK to get funding and to have enough to sustain yourself for rainy days,” Shalonda shares.

Small Business Funding Challenges

Traditional financing proved hard to get. 

“Big banks, they don’t look at small businesses the same way,” Shalonda says. “They were like, well, how much do you have coming in? And I’m like, well, have a lot going out because I just grew really fast. And so it’s not adding up right now, but I promise you it will. They don’t care about that.”

So Shalonda turned to Nav. She says that “Nav came at a very critical time. Not just because the funding was available, but because it was at a time where I needed validation that I didn’t make a bad decision and that I was still doing good for my community.”

But when is the ideal time to get funding?

According to SCORE, it’s better to apply for business funding before you need it. “The best time to borrow is when you have a strategic plan for the money and aren’t in critical need,” writes SCORE. Applying for financing ahead of time makes the process less stressful and can increase your chances of approval, as well as help make sure you get the best funding possible.

Unlocking Opportunities With Nav

“When I reached out to Nav, it was at a point that I really thought, I don’t know if this is going to work,” Shalonda said. “Maybe I have to close. Maybe I need to scale way back.” 

Luckily, Shalonda received financing from Nav’s trusted partners. “I got the funding that I needed,” she says. “I made payroll. Everybody was so happy. And we kept going and we’re still growing.”

Getting funding was about more than numbers in a bank account to Shalonda. She shares that the “yes” was to more than funding: “It was yes that you are validated. Yes that you are a great business for your community, and keep going.”

Along with her regular work, Shalonda hosts community events like wellness walks and partners with CVS’s Project Health to offer free screenings. This is what she’s most proud of that she gets to continue after getting financing. “The greatest accomplishment with the business is the community work,” Shalonda says. “It’s the work that I don’t even get paid for.”

This article was originally written on May 24, 2024.

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