Monday, May 1, 2017

Heavenly Flowers Too and Heavenly Flowers 3 - Amityville, NY

Heavenly Flowers Too and Heavenly Flowers 3 - Amityville, NY

After years spent working in her sister’s flower shop, Maria Cruz invested her savings to open a floral business that she named Heavenly Flowers Too (after her sister’s shop, Heavenly Flowers) in Amityville, New York, in 2009. She brought passion, experience and fresh ideas, but lacked knowledge in critical areas like credit management and bookkeeping.

Despite her challenges, six years later she used her savings to open another shop, Heavenly Flowers 3. Soon, though, the excitement of entrepreneurship turned to angst: An equipment failure, coupled with an unusually slow summer season, left Maria in search of small business loans to cover working capital and replacement equipment. 

She tried traditional lenders but faced ongoing difficulty in obtaining a financing. So, she took out a loan from a high-cost online lender without fully understanding the consequences. She was soon buried under daily $550 loan payments, and her business was struggling to stay afloat. 

Luckily, Maria came to Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF). She quickly received an EGF SmartLoan™ to refinance her online debt into a loan with more affordable monthly payments. Immediately, her debt payments were reduced to just $990 monthly, which drastically reduced the strain on Heavenly Flowers’ finances and cash flow. EGF’s Business Advisory Services team then began working with her to improve her business’s financial standing to ensure that the next time she sought capital that she would have a strategy and a reliable place to turn. 

Maria’s BAS team recommended a comprehensive plan. First, she attended an intensive EGF workshop on financial management. She received one-on-one coaching from an EGF advisor to learn how to create financial projections and a break-even analysis, as well as how to better manage and improve her personal credit. EGF even put Maria in touch with a QuickBooks™ consultant through its Consulting Corps program, at no cost to Maria, to coach her through setting up the program and formalize her financial reports. BAS also helped her understand her personal credit and the importance of paying off debt. As a result, Maria has paid off all of her derogatory accounts. Today, Maria is working closely with the BAS team to prepare for an SBA loan—a financing source that is now well within sight thanks to EGF’s support.

“My first thought about this process was, ‘What’s the catch?’ But there isn’t one,” Maria said. “You call them, they call you right back. You email them, they email you right back. They’re always there, no matter what you need. I’m their biggest fan.”