We had the chance to talk to Marsha Barnes, Certified Financial Educator and Founder of The Finance Bar. We wanted to learn more about the first mobile personal finance hub located right here in Charlotte.
Charlotte Business Resources (CBR): Marsha, thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your business! What exactly is The Finance Bar?
Marsha Barnes (MB): The Finance Bar is a premier mobile hub offering one-on-one consultations, instructional sessions, and e-learning guided courses personalized for couples, women, or young adults seeking to make smarter financial decisions and savvy financial investments. In addition to our traditional consultations, The Finance Bar also has a virtual members club (an affordable alternative to one-on-one consultations), and a free Expense Manager Android mobile app.
CBR: How did it get started?
MB: The idea for The Finance Bar was based on two things – passion and my desire to change how people felt about money. The mobile concept is unique, innovative, and totally outside of the box. This was my way of exploring the needs of our community away from a traditional commercial space. The Finance Bar had its official launch in November 2014. Our local media outlet, WCCB News Rising, was so gracious in allowing me to unfold The Finance Bar LIVE during their morning news segment. I’m forever indebted to their generosity.
CBR: How did you decide to be mobile rather than have an actual store-front?
MB: I was on the search for more of an innovative and forward thinking idea to introduce personal finance to the community. The mobile factor allows me to serve the community in many ways. I am able to create campaigns for the homeless by dropping off food or items that as a whole we are aware that they need. I am also able to work with clients that don’t have access to computers or laptops. The bus is equipped with laptops, a printer, and the necessary tools to guide clients on their journey to financial wellness. Some of the challenges that come with being mobile occur during the cold winter months. Since the bus is basically metal it can get quite frigid on there. I am currently working towards tackling the costs of a heating alternative to avoid or limit this in the future.
CBR: Who do you serve?
MB: The Finance Bar currently serves couples, women, and young adults with our target market being ages 21-45. Do we turn anyone away? Absolutely not. The more people that are knowledgeable about their finances the better our economy becomes. I believe that overrides the importance of having a specific “market of people that we target.” We offer face-to-face and virtual one-on-one consultations, and e-learning sessions. The Finance Bar also has a virtual members club which is a super affordable alternative to the consultations. There is also a FREE expense manager App available to Android users. The goal is to make the IOS version available during the Spring of 2015.
CBR: What challenges did you face while starting this company?
MB: I had zero knowledge of how to operate a mobile business, nor did I know how to drive a bus! As long as the possible was possible I was game for the adventure!
CBR: Do you have advice for new businesses?
MB: Do your research and connect with people that are already successful at operating a business that has similarities as yours. Be an open book and soak up as much knowledge as your brain can endure. Don’t be afraid to take the leap. The universe will conspire to make your wildest dreams come true. Discipline, action, and endurance describes my journey.
CBR: How has your business experience been within the Charlotte community?
MB: Charlotte has embraced The Finance Bar. We are a community that thrives on Food Trucks; therefore, I’m excited to offer up the benefits of communicating how we can changed the landscape of our finances by changing our way of thinking and doing.
CBR: Would you change anything about your business if you could go back to the beginning?
MB: I would probably price the heating system that I mentioned earlier. Ha ha! Seriously, I wouldn’t change a thing. I launched less than a year ago and have accomplished many things and connected with people that I never thought I would. Entrepreneurship and the journey is an amazing experience!
CBR: Do you have any plans for the future?
MB: Absolutely! I am working on The Finance Bar #2 for kids. I would LOVE to offer resources to our local school system where the component of teaching personal finance is often missed.
Thank you Marsha for taking time out of your schedule to talk to us about The Finance Bar! You can learn more by visiting their website! You can also follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, and downloading their mobile app from the Google play store.