Win FREE Tickets to Women’s Networking Summit

CBR is proud to present this amazing opportunity for career women in the Charlotte area! Nikki Pounds, Owner of HR Unequivocally, will be hosting a Women’s Networking Summit on March 30th, to celebrate the brilliant minds behind Charlotte’s woman-lead businesses.

General Admission tickets are $65, but 3 lucky people can win a *FREE* ticket here, on, by filling out the form below.

The ideal attendees are career women (business owners or not) who want to learn more about the importance of investing in their personal brand and their overall financial, physical and mental wellness. They will learn how other women have overcome obstacles to become industry experts in philanthropy, personal branding, real estate, holistic wellness, and purpose-driven communication.

The event will be held in the Harvey B Gantt Center for African-American Culture & Arts at the Levine Center For The Arts.  See the details here!

Your tickets include:
– Summit Admission
– Champagne Welcome
– Exquisite Lunch
– Swag Bag
– Insight of 4 Diverse Industry Expert Speakers
– Tour of the Harvey B. Gantt Center
– Parking
– Endless Networking Opportunities
– Gifts & Prizes

Emerging Leaders Q&A: Jarod Latch, Spiracle Media

The Emerging Leaders Q&A series spotlights business owners who have participated in the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Program. Each featured business owner completed this extensive training with over 100 hours of classroom time and one-on-one counseling. Since its inception in 2008, the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative has trained over 5,000 small business owners, creating over 6,500 jobs, generating over $300 million in new financing, and securing over $3.16 billion in government contracts.

Here is an Emerging Leader’s story.

Emerging Leader: Jarod Latch
Title: Co-Founder, Director of Creative Content
Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Vimeo

What is Spiracle: Spiracle Media is a video content agency focused on video production and storytelling. Since 2011, we’ve been creating content that supports the voice of our partners by using our journalistic background. 

Our award-winning team provides services in the areas of strategy, creation, aerial video and photography, and education. We’re built to tell stories.

About the Business: Spiracle Media was started in 2011 by three former sports anchors in the Charlotte market. Our initial focus was on helping professional athletes leverage their social media platforms in order to connect with fans and control their message. “Become your own media outlet” was an early phrase we adopted. Our first major partner was Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

Soon, we began working with businesses to develop their online presence. Around 2013, we pivoted to video production and storytelling. We have grown from a small shop of three people to twelve.

Spiracle Media was recognized in 2018 as one of the Best Places to Work in Charlotte and as a Fast 50 company by the Charlotte Business Journal. The team has also won various national and international awards for video storytelling.

The Emerging Leaders Experience

Q: How did you get connected to the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program, and what was your biggest takeaway?

My business partner, Tim Baier, saw a post online. The program provided me with a great opportunity to step away from the day-to-day in order to focus on 

the big picture. Each module provided valuable insight, leading to a more defined plan moving forward. 

Q: How have you been able to apply what you learned from the program at Spiracle Media?

I have been able to focus more on the things that matter. Prioritization is now much easier. More details when it comes to what financials to watch has been a big plus. The module that included leadership was probably the biggest help. It made me hungry to push my own limits.  

Q: How has the program helped you grow your business?

The program has allowed me to realize that the things we are battling at this stage of growth are totally normal. With that in mind, I am able to move forward with more confidence and less stress when it comes to tackling our pain points.

Q: When it comes to educational programs like this, what advice would you give to fellow entrepreneurs so they get the most out of the experience?

Do your homework. You get out of it what you put in. If you’re going to be a part of something, give it 100% or don’t participate. We all have the same amount of time. It all depends on what you choose to spend that time on. A learning experience like the Emerging Leaders program provided more benefit than can be initially processed. It will continue to give back.  

For more info on the Emerging Leaders program, visit the SBA’s website at is your one-stop destination for all things entrepreneurship and business. Check out our partners to see all the incredible resources available to small business owners in the Charlotte region.

AMP Up! Charlotte Now Accepting Applications for Second Cohort

Back for its second year, AMP Up! Charlotte is accepting applications for their 2019 cohort. AMP Up! Charlotte is designed to prepare Charlotte-area minority business owners for growth and expansion through business development services, mentoring, targeted training, and access to large corporations for contract and procurement opportunities.

Comprised of the StreetWise ‘MBA’™ curriculum created by Interise, the 2018 pilot program readied 15 local MBEs for contracting opportunities with the upcoming NBA All-Star Game. This year, AMP Up! Charlotte is partnering with the Charlotte Douglas International Airport and will be focused on contracting preparation at the airport and other anchor institutions.   

The 2019 AMP Up! Charlotte cohort is limited 20 business owners and applications must be submitted by Friday, March 15th.

Is your business eligible? To apply for the AMP Up! Charlotte program, your business must:

  • Be an ethnic minority business owner with 51% or greater ownership of the business
  • Have $175,000+ in annual revenues
  • Have one other employee besides the business owner(s)
  • Have been in business for at least 2 years

To learn more about AMP UP Charlotte, attend the free open house event on Tuesday, February 19th.  Click here to register.

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, apply for AMP Up! Charlotte here:

3 Benefits of Skilled Volunteering for Small Business

Group of diversity people volunteer charity project

As the holidays near, small business owners are approached with many opportunities from local charities, like sponsoring food drives and donating goods or services for fundraising events. They’re also inundated with the stress of seasonal business fluctuations and year-end administration, making it hard to consider giving up time and money for what might seems to be a self-serving dose of warm and fuzzies. The truth is, the benefits of giving back don’t – or at least shouldn’t – stop at you, the business owner, it should affect your entire business.

The following is a guest blog provided by our friends at Apparo. Dedicated to connecting community involvement to business value, Apparo is our community expert for creating volunteer programs that positively impact your business.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the term used to describe how companies give back to or improve the community. In Charlotte, small businesses are stepping up to the plate to show their CSR in many ways, including in the form of donations to charities, employee volunteering, ethical labor practices, and more.

Through this process of do-good work, local small businesses not only help their community – but they also reap a few benefits.

Consider these three main benefits as you think about how your small business can be an active player in the Charlotte community, beyond its traditional business model.

Engaged Employees

The way an organization treats the community suggests good things to its employees about how it perceives and respects them. Employees that feel respected by their employer feel more comfortable bringing their most authentic self to work which, studies show, leads to increased engagement. Additionally, according to a survey produced by Apparo in 2017, organizations that encourage their employees to volunteer through pro bono work during paid business hours create motivated employees who feel that their company respects their personal development. These employees also feel energized by the opportunity to be creative with their skillset for a good cause.

Loyal Customers

Consumers think consciously about the products and services they buy. In a Nielson survey, 66 percent of participants said they pay more for products and services from socially responsible companies. When examining the population of participants willing to pay more, 56 percent said “a brand being known for its social value” was a top purchase driver.

Positive Public Attention

Effective CSR can position your small business as a leader in the community, and a positive role model for others to follow. Besides, when companies stand out for the good work they’re doing in the community, the media gains interest. With an abundance of not-so-pleasant stories circulating in the papers, it’s nice having a positive news story to share. Not to mention, there are plenty of awards up for grabs for companies who promote good in the community.

Clearly, charity work is much more than just a dose of warm and fuzzies. The benefits of engaged employees, loyal customers, and positive public attention, far outweigh the cost of commitment. Connecting with a local cause is a powerful way to create a strong internal culture, reach out into the community, and build a better brand.

For more information on how Apparo links technology businesses with local charities, visit

CBR Named Non-Profit of the Year by LGBT Chamber

We are so very excited to announce that the Charlotte LGBT Chamber has named (that’s us!) as the 2018 Non-profit of the Year! And people, we are thrilled.

According to the LGBT Chamber,

“This award is given to a non-profit member or partner with a proven track record of success and involvement with the business and professional community. The recipient has a strong involvement and a commitment to building a diverse and equitable community through business. The continued work of CBR has been amazing to witness and we are proud to be a part of the organization. Through your efforts of literally bringing everyone to the table and giving them a voice and bridging the divides, we see growth, opportunity and a solid future for small business owners.”


We couldn’t be prouder to represent the Charlotte business community and the commitment that our partners have to its success. To the LGBT Chamber, thank you so much for this great honor we promise to continue fostering an entrepreneurial environment where the American Dream can be realized by all members of our community.


CBR will be recognized at the LGBT Chamber’s Shimmer, Shine & Success Annual Meeting & Awards Gala on December 18th at the Westin in Uptown Charlotte. Special guests include Kendra Johnson, Executive Director of Equality NC and Moria Quinn, COO of Center City Partners. For tickets and event FAQs, click here.

Business Rumors, Debunked: “I don’t need a plan to start a business”

Starting a business is a dream that many people share. You have a great idea, you’ve done a little research, and opening your business seems pretty cut and dry. You’re ready to go, right?

Not quite. In order for that dream to become reality, it’s important to have a breakdown of how you’re going to start and grow your business in a step-by-step roadmap. Developing a well thought out and descriptive business plan is more than just an essential step to starting a business, it provides guidelines that will keep your goals on track. While there are no guarantees in the business world, developing an organized plan can make an enormous impact on the rise or fall of a business from the get-go.

For further insight, we contacted Gary Byrd at Charlotte SCORE to answer some common questions that aspiring entrepreneurs have about creating a business plan. Charlotte SCORE was established in 1965 and has over 75 mentors that provide free counseling to Charlotte area business owners and entrepreneurs. Here’s what Byrd had to say about business plan development:

I have a plan for my business, but nothing formal or written down. This should be enough to get started, right?

Gary Byrd, SCORE Certified Mentor: No! A well thought out, articulate and written out business plan is indispensable to any business.  It is your yardstick for determining what your goals are and how well you are achieving those goals.

What information do I need to include in my business plan?

Byrd:  Each business will have unique requirements, but some are universal. The following are some of the basics that you should have in your business plan.

  1. A clear statement as to what your product or service is.  
  2. Who are your potential customers and why might they want/need your product or service. Remember nothing happens until someone buys something.
  3. What is your message and how do you propose to reach your customers with that message? (Marketing)
  4. How will you stay engaged with your customers?  It is much cheaper to keep an existing customer than to get a new one. (Customer Service)
  5. How much will my product/service cost to produce and what will be its selling price?
  6. What do I need to deliver my product/service to my potential customer? Employees? Buildings? Raw materials? Services?
  7. Who are my partners? Raw materials providers? Wholesalers? Lawyers? Accountants? Bankers?

Where do I find the information I need for my business plan?

Byrd: There are a number of excellent business plan templates available on the internet and in any bookstore.  I suggest that you might start with the SCORE Business Plan Template for a Startup Business. You can find the template by clicking here

How far into the future should my business plan go?

Byrd: Most financial organizations will want to see a three to five-year projection.

Why are business plans required to secure funding?

Byrd: A well-written business plan shows that you have done your due diligence to confirm that your business will be successful and therefore capable of repaying any loan.

What if my business plan doesn’t work?

Byrd: Your business plan will be indispensable in determining what went wrong and more importantly, how to fix it.

Is there anyone who can help guide me through creating a business plan?

Byrd: We are fortunate in having a number of organizations in the Charlotte area that can provide assistance in preparing a good Business Plan, just search the web.  I can personally recommend the local SCORE chapter, which has over eighty experienced volunteer mentors who donate their experience and time to help you. Check out and click on Request A Meeting for a free consultation.

Thanks, Gary! To learn more about the free business mentoring services available through SCORE, contact the Charlotte branch today

Do you have a business rumor you’d like debunked? Tweet us at @CBRbiz.

2018 Tax Reform Tips and Suggestions

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which was approved and signed on December 22, 2017, affects both individuals and businesses filing in 2018, and in a big way. The IRS recently released Publication 5307 to help taxpayers learn how this tax reform impacts them, but what does this mean for you as a business owner? Let’s talk about that.

As a Business owner, you should be prepared to work with your employees and make sure that they’re withholding enough money from paychecks to avoid large amounts due to the IRS at the end of the year. This recent tax reform also affects your estimated quarterly taxes sent. Be sure to adjust this according to the new guidelines.

The IRS has recommended three easy steps to prepare for the upcoming tax season. Sharing these tips with your employees will help ensure a smooth tax reform transition for everyone. They’ll thank you for it.

Gather Your Documents

It is best to gather all needed documents before sending in your tax return. Some of these forms include: W2’s, 1099’s and 1095-A’s. It’s always a good idea to have the previous 3 years tax returns on hand in case of an audit.

Choose E-File & Direct Deposit

Electronic filing is the quickest and easiest way to avoid errors when filing your tax return. The best ways to e-file are:

If you’re getting a tax refund, choosing direct deposit to your bank account is the fastest and safest method of return. You will receive your money quicker, and you won’t have to worry about a lost or stolen check.

Renew Your Expiring Identification Number

If you have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), you should check the expiration date. Any ITIN not used on a federal tax return in the past three years will expire Dec. 31, 2018. Also, any ITIN with middle digits 73-77 or 81-82 will need to be renewed by the end of 2018. You can renew your ITIN by using Form W7.

Being proactive to understand how the new tax reform affects everyone will help you and your employees avoid surprises or penalties.

To learn more about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, visit

Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce Positions 8 Local Businesses For New Corporate Partnerships

We’re excited to share this recent release from our friends at the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Congratulations to these Charlotte-area LGBTBE certified businesses!

CHARLOTTE, NC – Eight local businesses have been awarded LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE®) certification through the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) Supplier Diversity Initiative. The NGLCC is the nation’s exclusive certifying body for LGBT owned and operated businesses. More than twenty additional LGBT-owned businesses in Charlotte are working on gaining their certifications. The CLCC is working to assist with certifying these, bringing the number to almost 30 by spring of 2019.

The Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce (CLCC), Charlotte’s local affiliate chamber of the NGLCC, offers this valuable certification at no cost to all Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce business members. Additionally, CLCC mentors interested local businesses through the NGLCC certification process and provide certified business with local support and resources for finding, engaging and winning more business.

The eight
businesses awarded LGBTBE® Certification are:

CLT Geek Inc.

Higher Ground Consulting Group, LLC

Miles Enterprise Solutions 

Styles by Joshua

Susan Brittain Consulting

Your Custom Catering & Events


Uroboros Mediations, LLC

LGBTBE® certification requires a business be majority (at least 51%) owned, operated, managed, and controlled by an LGBT person or persons who are either U.S.citizens or lawful permanent residents and exercise independence from any non-LGBT business enterprise.

This certification will allow certified businesses to participate in corporate procurement and with NGLCC Corporate Partners like IBM, Wells Fargo, NBA, JP Morgan Chase, PGA, AmericanAirlines, TIAA, and more. A complete list of Corporate Partners is available on the NGLCC website.

Nate Turner, owner, Your Custom Catering & Events, noted he expects “to see at least a 40% increase in corporate business” now that his business is certified. Susan Brittain, owner, Susan Brittain Consulting, says she “is excited to be a part of the NGLCC network and looks forward to serving our partners and participating in the NGLCC offerings.”

Ciara Lilly, President, Higher Ground Consulting Group, LLC and Chair of the LGBTBE Certification and Supplier Diversity Committee for the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce remarked, “This certification gives LGBT business owners, like myself, access to procurement opportunities with Fortune-ranked corporations and government agencies eager to include more LGBT businesses in their supply chains. Equipped with the right strategy and the support of the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce, I anticipate new doors of opportunity opening for our certified LGBTBEs.”

“As a diverse group of over 1,060 certified LGBTBEs, we are stronger together” said Daniel Pentecost, Founding Director, CLT Geek, Inc.  “I expect to establish additional vendor and contractor relationships with fellow LGBTBEs to allow us to serve our clients more efficiently and increase our capacity to provide exceptional Concierge style support.”


The Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce (CLGBTCC), formerly known as the Charlotte Business Guild, was organized in 1992 to establish and nurture a network of business contacts and friendships, encourage fellowship and support among business, professional and charitable pursuits, and provide and promote positive role models in Charlotte’s Lesbian and Gay community.

CLGBTCC works tirelessly to promote our Members through marketing initiatives, public relation campaigns, and cooperative advertising that reach local, regional, national, and global markets. CLGBTCC maintains affiliations and partnerships with the Charlotte Business INClusion, Charlotte Chamber, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Charlotte Business Resources, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and Small Business Administration.

For more information about Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce, visit:


The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is the only national not-for-profit advocacy organization dedicated to expanding the economic opportunities and advancements of the LGBT business community. With more than 140 corporate partners, and 59 local, state, and international affiliate chambers, NGLCC is the largest LGBT business development and economic advocacy organization in the world.

The NGLCC Supplier Diversity Initiative connects LGBT businesses with the tens of millions of corporate dollars being spent in the LGBT community each year. Today, the NGLCC has nearly 140 corporate partners who recognize the LGBTBE designation when making procurement decisions and who all share a commitment to ensuring diversity in their supply chains.

For more
information, contact our Supplier Diversity Chair, Ciara Lilly at


Small Business Concierge Program Offers Free Mentoring Support for Local Entrepreneurs

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just call up a business expert whenever you needed help?  Spoiler: you can! Our friends and partners at the Mecklenburg County Office of Economic Development provide the Small Business Concierge program, a *FREE* mentoring-based service that will help entrepreneurs connect to local resources to start and grow a business in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Led by Mark Stewart, the Small Business Concierge (SBC) program is an incredible resource for business professionals in Mecklenburg County and surrounding areas. The County’s goal for the SBC program is:

“To provide FREE expert assistance in supporting the entrepreneurs of Mecklenburg County with the highest standard of customer service that will foster growth and vitality to the business community.”

The SBC program is designed to connect business owners and entrepreneurs to the business resources available throughout Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, and the State of North Carolina. The program offers one-on-one guidance with Mark in person, over email, or by phone. Mark will also have open hours, including weekends, where you can find him at various locations across the county including the Women’s Small Business Center, CPCC, and the CharMeck Library.

What types of business questions can Mark and the Small Business Concierge program help you with? Well, to list a few…

Don’t worry, we’ll be sure to share the locations where you can find Mark in 2019 to our calendar, and on Twitter. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to him directly at or by phone at 980-314-2987 or 704-589-9404.

Business Rumors Debunked: “All I Have To Do Is Register With The Government And I Will Get Contracts”

For some business owners, contracts with federal and local governments are the backbone of their annual revenue. Oftentimes, securing one contract with a government agency opens doors with other departments providing a steady stream of opportunities for your business.

While there’s a constant need for small business services in government, we found that a lot of entrepreneurs think getting in with the government is as easy as registering in the agency database. To learn more about what is *really* required to get a government contract, we turned to our friends at Charlotte Business INClusion, an organization committed to enhancing competition and participation of small, minority and women-owned firms in City contracting.

“It takes more than just registration to get contracts,” said Sam Montanez, Program Specialist for Charlotte Business INClusion. “You should attend project pre-bid meetings, attend networking and capacity building events, and most importantly build relationships with the City Procurement staff making buying decisions.”

Just like when securing private contracts, building relationships with decision-makers is critical to getting your business noticed in the vendor lineup. If you’re not sure how to get connected to the right people, start by browsing the Find a City Vendor tool on the Charlotte Business INClusion website for organizations you know – they may be able to help you make a connection. Spoiler, you can also see what other businesses like yours are registered for and potentially compete against you for certain contracts.

It’s also important to be sure that you have the proper certifications for your business in order to be eligible. For example, most trade services like plumbing or electric require an industry-issued license. If eligible, you should also become a certified Minority Women Small Business Enterprise (MWSBE) and pay close attention to the City’s goal-setting process for MWSBE participation.

Don’t worry, Charlotte Business INClusion can help you navigate the certification process. They offer several continuing education and professional association scholarship programs to help certified small businesses prepare for government projects bids. You can contact them at 704-336-4137 or by visiting them online at

To see all available opportunities, visit the State of North Carolina Interactive Purchasing System as well as the City of Charlotte Contracting Opportunities webpage. When you’re ready, you can register your business with the City of Charlotte by clicking here. If you have questions about certifications or the bidding process with the City of Charlotte, contact Charlotte Business INClusion, or tweet us @CBRbiz!