The dream of starting your own small business can bring on a wave of complex emotions. Excitement, fear, a sense of adventure, doubt and the list goes on! It can be a thrilling yet scary ride for someone to embark on alone, especially when searching for the right funding options, business consulting that fits their needs and continual training to ensure they are the best owner they can be.
Where does the Utah Microloan Fund come in? We can assist you in each of these areas and help ease the anxiety of starting your own small business. You might ask how? Here is a brief list on the ways the UMLF can set you up for success.
When you’re on the hunt for a low-cost small business loan there are several routes you can try. Your first instinct might be to approach a traditional bank. A typical bank will usually require at least two years of business financials for a business to be considered for a loan, which makes it hard for startups to be considered for funding. If you can qualify for a bank loan we encourage you to start with our local partners who can give you a lower interest rate. Many people don’t qualify for a traditional bank loan, so we fill that gap! If you have previously been declined from a bank but have a great idea you may be a good fit for us. While we consider factors like credit score and collateral a lot of what we do is based on a solid business plan and your personal character. We try to look at the big picture when it comes to businesses instead of just one factor. A co-signer is also a great option in getting you approved. If we can’t make it happen for you, we try to work with you on a one on one basis to get you ready to try again or refer you to one of our awesome community partners.
Whether you are looking for help on how to best apply for a loan or assistance after the fact, we have many resources to help you succeed. Through our Program Manager of Lending we provide one on one consulting to prepare you for our loan committee and get you in the best position to be approved for a loan. This can include helping improving your projected cash flow statements and business plan as well as asking the tough questions needed to get you 100% ready to ask for your loan and present to the credit committee. If you need additional help we have amazing partners who are ready and willing to provide assistance to match your unique needs.
Lastly, one of the big reasons borrowers choose the UMLF is our ongoing training. Just because you received your loan doesn't mean we're done with you!
So if any of the above sounds good and you are ready to start your entrepreneurial adventure let's get in touch! Write us an email, give us a call or stop by one of our loan orientations to learn more about how the UMLF can help you get your venture off the ground as we've been helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1991!
It’s that time again, time to announce the UMLF Small Business of the Month! October’s winner is none other than Snap Shop Photo. Owner Sasha Taylor has grown Snap Shop Photo to two locations, is a freshly-minted Benefit LLC and was recently awarded with the Women’s Business Center of Utah Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award. We sat down with Sasha to catch up, learn more about her passion and to hear where it all began. Check out our interview below.
About Snap Shop Photo: Snap Shop Photo creates beautiful images through amazing experiences because fun is their superpower. Sasha’s vision has always been to create a studio where every person is welcome, every interaction is positive, and every photograph is a true reflection of the individual. Because of Sasha’s vision, they are more than just a photo studio, they are a people company loved by the Utah community.
UMLF: Sasha tell us about yourself. What’s your background? What made you want to start Snap Shop Photo?
Sasha: First and foremost, I am a mother to five beautiful children and a wife to a wonderful woman. I shamelessly love reality tv, hate beets, and own more shoes than anyone ever should. I have had enough major hardships in my lifetime to write an entire series of books, or at least one best seller. I keep saying I will write it - someday.
My passion for photography began as spending the summers of my teen years in Las Vegas, where my grandpa, a retired Chicago Fire Department photographer, would teach me how to use an SLR film camera, photographing everything from cactus, to burros, and even the lights of Vegas. But, right from the beginning, I preferred photographing people. In 2001, I graduated with a degree in Visual Art and Design and Photography. I was immediately hired as an adjunct professor at Salt Lake Community College in the photography department. Sharing my passion for photography in this way was extremely rewarding and I really found a home in teaching. After 4 years at the college, I took a position as the Education Director for Pictureline, a high-end photography retailer, and developed a complete photographic education program for them.
Snap Shop Photo really is a dream realized. I have owned my own studios before, but I havenʼt been successful in the past for many reasons. Mostly, because I had a terminally ill child who was in and out of hospitals, surgeries, and treatments for 19 years. That eventually required me to move my family to St. Louis so he could receive a heart transplant. My son passed away in 2016 and my youngest child graduated high school in 2017. So, it was the right time to take all the things I had learned from my failures of the past and create the studio I have always wanted. My vision has always been to create a studio where every person is welcome, every interaction is positive and memorable, every photograph is a true reflection of the individual, and every client leaves happier than when they arrived.
UMLF: Every business has its high and lows and being an entrepreneur is no easy feat. Tell us about a challenge you faced as a small business owner and how you overcame it?
Sasha: The biggest challenge I have faced is maintaining relevance. In a world where everyone has a camera in their hand at all times, It is difficult to maintain clientele. We are constantly coming up with new and creative sessions and processes, so the product we offer canʼt be duplicated with a cellphone. Every business has to constantly be looking to the future and find innovative ways to grow.
UMLF: You recently became a Benefit LLC, congrats! What inspired you to make the switch?
Sasha: I have always felt a need to help people. I have been through a lot in my life beginning at a very young age and have been on the receiving end of generosity and compassionate service. I knew that when I opened Snap Shop I wanted to not just make money, but I wanted to make a difference. I first learned about BLLCʼs during my Banking on Women course through the UMLF. I quickly realized that it was the perfect way for me to create a company I would be proud to own.
(* To learn more about a Benefit LLC and why Sasha became one, watch her video here.)
UMLF: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are just starting their journey?
Sasha: The thing I go back to the most when I reflect on my journey as an entrepreneur is the importance of continually learning how to be a better business owner. It is amazing to me how much I learn that I didnʼt even know I didnʼt know. Every time I attend a workshop, networking meeting, business educational programs, or meet with one of my mentors, I learn ways to make my business journey better. Better for my clients, my employees, my vendors and most of all better for me. When you stop learning you stop growing. And when you stop growing, your business stops growing.
UMLF: How do you believe the Utah Microloan Fund has helped you and your business?
Sasha: The UMLF has been an integral part of my business growth. From the amazing Banking on Women program, to providing capital I needed to grow my business. The staff is so supportive and willing to help and share their knowledge and resources. I am so grateful for their commitment to the small business community.
To learn more about Snap Shop Photo, to schedule a photoshoot or to just go meet this superstar and her staff in person, visit her website and locations listed below.