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Cabarrus Magazine

Latest 'Up Front' Podcast Celebrates Local Small Businesses

Sep 23, 2019 03:44PM ● By Jason Huddle

Read the full transcript below or click on the link to hear the entire episode!

Huddle: (00:00)
Welcome to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Event center, CERTEC Automotive, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman cosmetics and Edie's Salon and Your CBD store of Concord. I'm your host Jason Huddle. Welcome once again to another episode of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. I hope you learned a lot last week about foster care. I have received a lot of good feedback from it and I neglected to say something that I actually wanted to last week. A lot of people when we tell them that we are foster parents, most people say to me, I couldn't. I couldn't do that. I'd get too attached. I wouldn't want to give the kids up, and we felt the same way. I'm not shaming anybody for feeling like that because it's natural. You know, if you're human, you get attached to kids that need you, but my response to them is this, and this is what someone said to us one time. Well, that's the point. You know, why - why wouldn't you get attached? Would you want your kid, if they were in a foster situation, to be with a parent that didn't care, that wasn't attached, that didn't take interest or invest in them? Of course not. You would want a foster parent for them that deeply cared for them. And the question is, why are you a foster parent? Are you there for your gratification or for theirs? Because truthfully, we're supposed to be there for the children. So I wanted to make mention of that just leading off this week because I thought it was important. I was kind of kicking myself for not saying it last week and I ask you to please pray for those people that are investing in these children and frankly disrupting their own personal lives in order to change the direction of the life of a child. So I ask you to keep them in your thoughts and prayers. All right, enough of that. Let's move on to this week and this week we are celebrating small business. You know, I'm a small business. Many of you listening have small businesses or at least employed by one. And I wanted to take a special focus on that this week. Coming up next Saturday, is small business Saturday. It got me thinking, you know, we really don't talk about small businesses and how important they are. We get so focused on the big corporations, you know the big employers, the auto makers, the, the banks, those kinds of things. But really most of the businesses in fact, well over 98% of the businesses in the country are small businesses, which - which technically a small business by definition of the government is 500 employees or less. I kind of think of small businesses like you would think of small, you know, a few employees, maybe 10 tops, but 500 employees or less is the technical definition. But I wanted to talk about them and I realized that most of our sponsors on the show are in fact small businesses and I wanted to invite a few of them in today and give us some different perspectives. Give us different advice. Today on the show, we're going to be talking with Keith Laibson from Family Wealth Partners, a sponsor of our program. He's actually going to give us some great advice on what you can do during this upturn in the economy while the economy is doing pretty well overall. What are some things we can do to prepare for a time when the economy won't be so great, because it's going to happen at some point. It always does. And then also Edie Tolsen, who runs Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie's Salon as well as Two Blonde Chicks. She, uh, is going to come in and just give us a perspective of being a small business owner and what it means, what are the challenges that small business owners are facing today. And then of course, we're going to have Holly Sloop in. She's with Concord Downtown Development Corporation. They sponsor small business Saturday every month and put that on. There's some ways that you can go and, just by spending some money with some small businesses downtown, you can possibly win some money to spend downtown. So be listening for that as well. A lot of exciting things going on in downtown Concord. And Holly's going to come in to talk about that. So, of course, before we get into all that, let's get to shameless plug time.

Huddle: (04:25)
Hey, I noticed a lot of you are joining the Upfront with Cabarrus Magazine Podcast Facebook page. I encourage you to keep doing that. We now have our Renaissance Festival tickets in and I am ready to start giving them away. So basically, if you go onto the group page and you share a post from us or comment or ask questions, any kind of interaction on the page, we will enter you into a drawing for two tickets to the Carolina Renaissance Festival. It's starting in October. It's just a couple of weeks away. So make sure that you do that. Make sure that you join the Upfront with Cabarrus Magazine Podcast Facebook page, and maybe win some tickets to the Carolina Renaissance Festival. How's that for a shameless plug? It's a shameless plug that helps you out. So that is this week's shameless plug.

Huddle: (05:19)
Stay tuned. As soon as we get back from these messages from our sponsors, we're going to be talking with Holly Sloop from Concord Downtown Development Corporation. Stay tuned.

Commercials: (05:28)

Huddle: (05:28)
Welcome back to Upfront with Cabarrus Magazine. This week we are celebrating small businesses and I have invited in to the studio, for the third time now, Holly Sloop from Concord Downtown Development Corporation.

Sloop: (07:34)
Thank you for having us again, Jason.

Huddle: (07:35)
Absolutely, and thank you for your sponsorship of Up Front. So I wanted to bring you in Holly because first of all, Concord downtown does something called small business Saturday every month. What is that?

Sloop: (07:47)
So small business Saturday is just another way to recognize our small businesses and our locally on businesses. And it's really more of a promotional event. So, um, if you spend any amount of money at one of those participating businesses, you get entered into a drawing to win $100 and downtown Concord dollars to then spend back at those participating businesses. So it's just a fun promotional event for us to remind people that shopping local is important.

Huddle: (08:18)
And this is every month.

Sloop: (08:20)
This is every month on the fourth Saturday. And then we kind of do it big on the November one for the national small business Saturday. Um, the businesses really get involved and that'll be coming up here soon in the Fall.

Huddle: (08:32)
So come to downtown Concord, go spend some money with one of the participating. How do you know what are the participating business?

Sloop: (08:39)
So we have them listed on our website. Um, you can also give us a call, (704) 784-4208 and I didn't mention our website, which is So you'll be able to know which businesses are participating. But really it's pretty much everybody downtown. If you're eating at a restaurant or if you're purchasing something at a retailer, they should have those slips up front and let you know of that promotion you'll be able to enter.

Huddle: (09:06)
Great. So let me ask you this. In this day and age of point and click next day shipping, don't even have to leave my house to get groceries anymore. How important are the downtown retailers to cities like Concord?

Sloop: (09:22)
Well, they are extremely important. They provide local jobs and just for example, uh, downtown has created through the small businesses, 30 jobs just this year alone.

Huddle: (09:35)
So that's 30 people working thanks to downtown Concord.

Sloop: (09:39)

Huddle: (09:40)
Awesome. I understand there are a couple of events coming up as well. You guys have a murder mystery scavenger hunt coming up October 19th what's that? What's that all about?

Sloop: (09:51)
So we did this last year and it's back by popular demand. Um, we sold out. So, um, be sure to get your tickets, but we do have murder mystery scavenger hunt coming up October 19th, and that's a Saturday, um, from four to eight. And this is a really cool event, especially if you want to get to know what's in downtown. This is an opportunity where you can register. It starts at Red Hill Brewing, and then you get a map and you get to go around to the different merchants. And, um, they will hide clues within their businesses that you have to find. And then once you get those clues, you will come back to red hill. Try to put them together to solve the mystery, and then again, have a chance to win, um, downtown dollars.

Huddle: (10:36)
So is there a limit on the number of tickets that you're selling for this?

Sloop: (10:39)
There is a limit. There's only so many people we can, um, get up there in red hill. Um, so if you haven't already purchased your ticket, you definitely want to go ahead and do that. You can get those at or again, you can give us a call and they're $25, but that includes two drink tickets to Red Hill as well as the materials needed to solve the mystery.

Huddle: (11:03)
So then in November, the Hops and Heat Beer and Chili festival is coming up, which we're actually going to be talking about in the October issue of the magazine. Um, and by the way, it's sponsored by Cabarrus Magazine in Part. Um, just wanted to throw that out there. Shameless plug, you know, but tell us about Hops and Heat.

Sloop: (11:24)
Thank you guys so much for your sponsorship. That will be Saturday, November 16th and that's from one to five. The cool thing is we're moving it onto Union Street. This year we're going to be adding lots of vendors. We already have more breweries and the Chili competition is heating up. We are still taking competitors. So if you think you have the best Chili in town, be sure to register. Again, that's on our website. And this year there are cash prizes up grabs. So not only trophies and bragging rights, but cash prizes. So, um, we're really looking forward to that

Huddle: (12:01)
This year, Holly, I'm coming and I'm going to win those cash prizes. There's not going to be a competition so I'm sorry for everybody else that's entering, but it's all mine.

Sloop: (12:10)
Okay. We'll see what the public votes [laughs]

Huddle: (12:14)
And you can also buy - if you don't like beer or if you're not a beer drinker, Uh, you can also just buy a Chile only ticket as well, correct?

Sloop: (12:21)
That's correct. There are, um, beer and Chili tickets for sale for $30 and the Chili only tickets I believe are 20. And we do want to remind people it is a fundraiser. So, um, we hope you'll come out and join us. There will be live entertainment all afternoon. The event is Saturday, November 16th from one to five and we will also be adding vendors this year. So come on out.

Huddle: (12:47)
Holly Sloop with Concord Downtown Development Corporation. Thank you so much for coming to the studio today and we look forward to seeing you both at the murder mystery scavenger hunt and at Hops and Heat.

Sloop: (12:58)
Thanks for having us.

Huddle: (12:59)
We'll be back in just a moment.

Commercials: (13:01)

Huddle: (14:55)
We are celebrating small business this week on Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine and I have another sponsor in the studio today. Edie Tolsen, who runs Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie's Salon as well as Two Blonde Chicks consignment shop and she does a great job with both stores. Again, I wanted to bring her in to give us the perspective of a small business owner. Edie, first of all, thank you for your sponsorship and thanks for coming into the studio today.

Tolsen: (15:25)
Thank you for having me today.

Huddle: (15:26)
So Edie, tell me about being a small business. First of all, how long have you been a small business owner?

Tolsen: (15:31)
Since 1989

Huddle: (15:33)
Okay. So we're in our 30th year now.

Tolsen: (15:37)
Yes. I can't believe it cause I'm only like 35 yeah.

Huddle: (15:40)
So since five years old.

Tolsen: (15:42)
Yeah, pretty much.

Huddle: (15:43)
You look great. Um, so in that 30 years, and I don't expect you to get super detailed, but what are some struggles that you have encountered over that time period? Cause we've, we've definitely had some ebbs and flows as far as the economy is concerned in the past 30 years, right? So what are some struggles that you've gone through?

Tolsen: (16:01)
I think the hardest thing is to keep enough staff working in the stores. Enough product cause it's blowing off the shelves and then the part people don't see would be all the paperwork that's involved. It's a lot of headache. But thank God for computers. They help with that. And then 30 years that has flown by so fast because it's something I enjoy in the beauty industry. We've got the makeup, we've got nails, we've got hair, clothing, jewelry, shoes is everything a woman wants. So if I wasn't doing this, I would be out shopping.

Huddle: (16:40)
You bring up a great point because a lot of people when they start their own business, they know their trade well. I'm sure you know makeup and hair and clothes very well. In fact, every time I see you, you look immaculate.

Tolsen: (16:53)
Thank you.

Huddle: (16:54)
So I know that you know that part and most people know their own industry well, but what they don't know are the things that they don't know. So they don't know necessarily how to do the books. They don't know necessarily how to do the marketing or how to make sure that people are coming in their door or how to deal with employees. These are things that you kind of learned through the school of hard knocks. Right?

Tolsen: (17:17)
Right. That's, that's the best way to put it. The school of hard knocks. That's it. But I think if it's something you enjoy, and I've been doing makeup since shortly after birth, you know, it's, it's like my whole life. So it's something you enjoy, you learn it and you just get through it.

Huddle: (17:34)
What about those times when the economy hasn't been so good? What are some adjustments that you made in order to get through those? Those times?

Tolsen: (17:42)
Recession and depression proof is the cosmetic industry.

Huddle: (17:47)

Tolsen: (17:48)
I know. Isn't that amazing? Women will go without groceries and they'll take that money to go buy makeup.

Huddle: (17:55)
I wonder how other children feel about that.

Tolsen: (17:57)
Yeah, they, they just forget about that part.

Huddle: (18:01)
Yes. They have to get over it.

Tolsen: (18:03)

Huddle: (18:04)
What are we having for dinner tonight? Um, I got some-

Tolsen: (18:06)
Eye shadow.

Huddle: (18:07)
Eye shadow. Mascara. So what do you think are some misconceptions that people have about business owners?

Tolsen: (18:15)
They think you just sit back and rake in the dough, but you don't cause some weeks you might not draw a salary to cover expenses for that quarter or you might have someone stop up your toilet and the plumber charges 600 bucks to come unstop your toilet. So things like that eat up your profit. So you do have to put aside money like we were talking about earlier for that rainy day, right? Whether it's your personal business, your home or your stores.

Huddle: (18:47)
I don't know that I've, I may have even said this on this program before, but I remember you see trade shows come through about start your own business, like a pick a franchise. Basically it's like a trade show for franchisees and they come in and, and these people are in this environment and they're being interviewed and they're like, we're so excited about starting our franchise. We're going to be able to work when we want and we're going to be able to take a vacation whenever we want. And that's just simply not the case.

Tolsen: (19:15)
Yeah, it doesn't work that way. I was headed out of town for just a couple days away with my husband and I was like 20 minutes out and we get a phone call that the toilet had backed up, which made it come up through the overflow system in the break room. And my staff was wonderful and dealt with that. So that I could have a couple of days off.

Huddle: (19:38)
That's awesome. That's good to have a good staff. I'm telling you what, you cannot put a price on that.

Tolsen: (19:42)

Huddle: (19:42)
And having good support staff that knows when you need a break too. Business owners need breaks just like everybody else. Maybe even more so. Uh, because, as you said when you walked in the door here, it's a 24-seven thing. You never stop thinking about it. I know I've had dreams where I was working in my dream so I wake up and I feel like I've already been to work.

Tolsen: (20:03)
Yeah, If I do nails past seven o'clock at night, then I dream about nails all night long. And when I wake up I think I'm off.

Huddle: (20:12)
You think, oh, it must be Saturday by now.

Tolsen: (20:15)

Huddle: (20:15)
Right. Tell us about your business a little bit about what you guys do. Cause you have two, as if one isn't enough, you have two right?

Tolsen: (20:22)
Actually I have three. I have Merle Norman cosmetics in Morganton too.

Huddle: (20:26)
Oh okay. Well I did not know about that. So thank you.

Tolsen: (20:29)
And our consignment store just got voted by the reader's choice award from the newspaper as number one consignment store graduations, and then I got voted number one nail tech. Yay! So on top of all the beauty I do nails.

Huddle: (20:43)
If people want to come and see your store, where can they come?

Tolsen: (20:48)
The Merle Norman and Edie's Salon is 1044 Copperfield Boulevard, suite 111 and they can also eat lunch right there at the new restaurant that opened. So the parking lot is pretty full, but just take it on around and we're right there facing the street. And then the Two Blonde Chicks Fine consign is about a 30 second drive from the cosmetics store and you can find Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Fendi, Prada, oh gosh. Just all kinds of goodies. One right after another.

Huddle: (21:19)
Edie Tolsen, from Two Blonde Chicks and Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie's Salon, thanks for coming in and sharing your perspective today.

Tolsen: (21:25)
Thank you very much.

Huddle: (21:26)
All right, stay tuned. We'll be back in just a minute.

Commercials: (21:28)

Huddle: (22:45)
Welcome back to this final segment of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, and I have with me here today, another sponsor, Keith Laibson from Family Wealth Partners. Keith is coming in today to talk to us a little bit about what business owners can do to plan for the future. Keith, first of all, thank you for your sponsorship of the program and thanks for coming to the studio today.

Laibson: (23:08)
Oh, you're welcome. And thank you very much for having me here. I love to do it.

Huddle: (23:12)
So Keith, let's talk about the fact that right now the economy is in a boom, but we were saying before the Mic turned on, booms don't happen forever and neither do recessions. But while the boom is happening, business owners still need to plan for rainy days and rainy days can be what we went through in '08, or they can be temporary. Like you lose a huge account or a salesperson goes down and your best salesperson goes down and you've got to compensate for that. So first of all, what some things that business owners can do to plan for those kinds of rainy times?

Laibson: (23:49)
Great question. As a financial advisor, my biggest thing I focus on a lot with business owners, and even families, is cashflow and cashflow planning. And what I'd recommend a lot of business owners do is run your projections and your expenses at a lower rate than your expected revenue. So for an example, I might suggest your expenses, total cost is 10% less than what you expect your revenue to be. Therefore, if you have a lean period and your revenue drops 10% you're not in the hole.

Huddle: (24:27)
Right. Okay. So if we've accomplished goal A, which is to operate, which really that's any businesses' goal, is to operate at less than what you're spending because you want to have a profit. But what can I do with those profits to make sure if my revenue does drop that as you said, I'm not in the hole.

Laibson: (24:45)
Sure. So if you're running your expenses that say 10% less than your expected revenue, then usually easily be able to bank that surplus real simply by if you have a business account, a checking account, you could set up a money market at the bank and just manually transfer that surplus over monthly into the savings account. You can set up an automatic draft from your business checking account to a business savings account. And keep in mind, in one month if you're operating 10% less, that might not be always 10% every single month equally. So it might be a particular month where you have a particular expense that popped up or an annual bill, or you own a building, you have a tax bill that comes up. So some month that might be less, but generally you should be able to take that monthly surplus and bank it in cash to build up. And then slowly, if you feel more comfortable as that savings account builds up, then maybe incrementally increase your expenses by maybe adding a new truck or adding a new employee or adding a new benefit. But don't do it in a way that when you do that, if it takes way too much of your margin, you then want to have that cash built up that you've been saving all these years to compensate should your revenue to go down. I hope that makes sense.

Huddle: (26:04)
Yeah, absolutely. So what you're suggesting is a straight up savings account for your business, not necessarily taking a profits or revenues and throwing them into an investment fund.

Laibson: (26:16)
Sure. Because sometimes you need things in a short term. So if it's an investment fund and invested for potentially, if you're thinking growth with that comes volatility. And so if you're banking money for a rainy day or your banking money because there are unexpected things that will happen during the course of the year and you need to use capital, well you don't want that capital exposed to volatility because then you're taking that capital back out at a loss. So yes. Can I just address one more thing, a point you made made earlier. Um, you made a great point, Jason, about booms not lasting forever. And one of the things I see small business owners or business owners do during good times is they just add on back to that expense is less than your expected revenue is during the boom period or a good period. They're just adding on new expenses and then, you know, whether it's buying a new truck, new equipment, and adding new- new staff. And next thing you know, not necessarily a bad period, but the boom gets back to a norm and then all that margin is gone and they could find themselves in a bad spot should a recession occur. So realizing that booms don't last forever and still maintaining that margin. And then realizing all that boom is there that can give you more money to bank during the boom and then maybe employ that money shrewdly over time as a wise decision.

Huddle: (27:37)
I mentioned at the top of the segment about what if your top salesperson goes down? Are there things in place that you can use? Say my rainy day fund isn't built up enough and I lose my top salesperson for an extended period of time. Are there options available to me to be able to go out and get somebody else while I'm waiting for my salesperson to get better?

Laibson: (27:58)
Yes. A a big risk to a business if you have partners and or key people, key sales person, key operations person is the loss of potential business in revenue due to not only a disability or a death of that key person or partner. So without a doubt we recommend all small businesses address that. You can meet with an attorney and draft what are call key man agreements that says how the business will react in those situations and what the business will do. Um, and then yes, there are insurance policies in the disability world. Uh, one is called disability business overhead insurance that if say a partner or an owner gets disabled, um, for a certain period of time, the policy will then kick money into the business to then use that money to pay for rent overhead at least payroll expenses. Um, you also can get disability key man insurance.

Laibson: (28:58)
So if a key salesperson gets disabled, same thing with life insurance that a key person dies. Uh, you can get life insurance policy on that key person. So the benefit comes into the business to then use that money to hire somebody else or to make up for lost revenue. And same thing in the disability world. If a key person gets to sable, again, especially a salesperson, you have all that lost revenue, I'd disability key person in policy will then infuse capital into the business to replace that lost revenue or hire someone and get that person trained up. So yes, there are ways we can easily address that through key man. It's called key man planning for sure.

Huddle: (29:35)
Very informative. Now. Keith, are you also in insurance too? Because it sounds like you're pitching that too.

Laibson: (29:42)
Well, no, not necessarily pitching that. I have an extensive advisory background. I've been doing this for over 20 years and so I have and do help people with this discussion going over the issues, looking at the vulnerabilities and their business and then partnering with them and the attorneys that they needed to draft the documents, but also many years in my, early in my career I did start at an insurance agency and I have my life license and so I, in working with clients and financial advising all the time dealing with disability and life insurance, I've maintained that license and do have an extensive background and I am a broker so I can shop all the different companies and so yes, I can help people implement and put in disability, business overhead, disability buyout, key man insurance, all that kind of stuff as well.

Huddle: (30:29)
I had no idea. You learn a new thing every day. Keith Laibson with Family Wealth Partners. How can they get in touch with you if they need to talk to you about business needs or just personal financial planning?

Laibson: (30:40)
Obviously you can give us a call at the office at (704) 782-9064 again, that was (704) 782-9064 or feel free to look us up online at that's

Huddle: (31:01)
Keith, thanks for coming in today.

Laibson: (31:02)
Oh, you're welcome. Thanks for having us.

Huddle: (31:04)
I'd like to thank my guest today, Holly Sloop, Keith Laibson and Edie Tolsen. I appreciate them coming in and chatting with us, giving us a perspective about small business. I wanted to concentrate on small business today because I feel like, in the media, unfortunately, and Edie touched on this, people think that because you're a small business owner that you have all the time in the world, you have all the money in the world and basically if you take a hit, it's no big deal. Well, let me tell you, small business owners are the backbone of this country. They do not have all the money. They have no time and quite frankly, they sacrifice their paychecks so you can get yours, so please don't lump them in with the corporations and these billionaires that have more money falling out of their pockets than we could hope to see in a year. Okay? That is not what a small business owner is. Small business owners work very hard every day and as I said before, they are the absolute backbone of the community and if this podcast reaches the ears of any lawmakers out there, I encourage you to start thinking about small businesses when you're creating laws that affect businesses, the taxes you impose, the regulations you impose, most times they're not good for small businesses and you're breaking the backbone of America. All right, enough about that. Next week we are going to be talking about history lives in Concord, just like the print edition of the magazine, we're going to close out the month by talking about some great things that you can do. All you history geeks out there. We're going to be talking about some great things that you can do in the community, including the Carolina Renaissance Festival, which is getting kicked off the first weekend of October, and will be running weekends through November 24th. We're going to be talking to them about what's new this year, as well as some other great things in the area, so please make sure you tune in next week for up front with Cabarrus magazine. I'd like to thank my sponsors, Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Event center, CERTEC Automotive, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie's Salon and Your CBD store of Concord. Please remember to support those that support us. I've been your host Jason Huddle, and we'll see you next week.

Episode 28: Celebrating Small Business

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