By Christina Dello Buono
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This story originally appeared in the San Francisco Business Times.
Reggie Borders had been trying to perfect his aunt's pound cake ever since he got his hands on the recipe. After baking four cakes for a fundraiser at his mother-in-law's local church, a dozen more orders sprung up. Pretty soon, everyone seemed to have a sweet tooth and Borders secured his business license a year later.
Pound Bizness was founded in Oakland, California, in 2018 by Borders and wife Nicole Felix-Borders and it quickly leap frogged into a small business. The husband-and-wife duo's greatest challenge was first understanding the foundation needed to build a solid business.
“Almost every day we learn something new and add an additional part of the foundation," said Nicole. “Once you attain the right resources and education, you can learn how to scale and what you need in order to propel your business forward."
For the Borders, it's important to pay it forward after finding success with their small business. The Pound Bizness co-founders have partnered with The David E Glover Education and Technology Center, the East Oakland Collective and the Black Cultural Zone to donate slices throughout the pandemic. They have also given support to other local entrepreneurs through their Pound for Pound scholarship, contributing a portion of their funds to college students just starting out.
“We're mindful of the impact our business can have now," said Reggie. “When you're just starting a business, you're not always going to get everything right, it's ever evolving, it's not static. That's why it's so important to find mentors to help you understand what's out there and what your blind spots are."
After going through a round of Currency Conversations at Chase for some financial tips and tools, the couple started working with Chase Senior Business Consultant Nykole Prevost through the bank's new initiative empowering minority entrepreneurs.
The initiative, part of the firm's broader racial equity commitment, is designed to help entrepreneurs in historically underserved communities with solution and business-focused resources. Senior business consultants serve as mentors to Black, Hispanic and Latino owners to help scale and grow their business with access to tailored education, community resources, industry expertise and banking solutions.
“When we first started, we didn't realize the additional services and relationships we'd need to build our business, and Nykole provided guidance on where to begin," said Reggie. “They taught what questions we should be asking our financial manager, which lead to new growth opportunities."
“By working with [our senior business consultant] Nykole Prevost at Chase, we were able to get guidance around the process to obtain our Minority Business Enterprise certification through the Western Regional Minority Supplier Diversity Council and certification from the U.S. Black Chambers," said Nicole.
Prevost worked closely with the Borders on accomplishing their goal to obtain their MBE certifications. Prevost reflects on their journey, “although we started with the MBE certifications as a goal, it quickly developed into ensuring each slice from Pound Bizness was accessible to all large partners. Since certification, I've been helping to empower Reggie and Nicole to scale more slices to a larger community."
When asked about Pound Bizness' future growth goals, Nicole said, “A slice of cake is an introduction to so many different types of conversations. We want to make Pound Bizness a household name and our business mentor at Chase is part of the journey."
For other entrepreneurs looking to bring their ideas to reality Nicole recommends “step back and work on your business, versus always working within your business. Getting your infrastructure in place is just as important as improving your product or service."
“This journey isn't going to be easy, and you can't do it alone," said Reggie. “Don't be afraid to ask for mentors and share your vision with your community, family and friends. It will take all of them to help you grow your business."
You can pick up a slice of cake at the Grand Lake or West Oakland farmer's markets, Karibu Wine Lounge by Wachira in Alameda, or D Monaghan's on the Hill in Oakland, California. Pound Bizness is also among local Black-owned businesses featured on Chase.com in celebration of Black Business Month.
These opinions, findings, or experiences may not be representative of what all customers may achieve. Pound Bizness is solely responsible for its products and for promotional statements about them, and is not affiliated with Chase or its affiliates.
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