It was scary for Nancy Beck to open her own business, but her dreams proved bigger than her fears. After Nancy graduated from Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Pipestone, she worked as a nail tech in Marshall.
“When I started as a nail tech, I immediately fell in love with the job,” Nancy said. “I love talking.”
While she was creating nail designs, Nancy would dream about how she’d set up her own salon if she had the chance. In 2015, with help from Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Microenterprise Loan Program, she swallowed her fears and opened the doors to Polish Nail Lounge in a small space in downtown Marshall with one part-time employee. Now she has five full-time staff and another part-time employee, plus a new location near the college.
“We’ve gotten overwhelming support from the community of Marshall,” Nancy said.
Polish offers waxing and eyelash extensions in addition to nail services. Nancy’s sister Keo Rasmussen works a few hours on the salon floor in addition to a full-time job at U.S. Bank, and she manages the bookwork for Polish. Keo has taken advantage of the technical assistance offered by SWIF to improve her business management skills.
All microloan clients have access to free QuickBooks training, management and marketing assistance and other training opportunities for the life of the loan.
“A loan from SWIF isn’t just a transaction,” said SWIF Entrepreneurship Finance Specialist Selina Berning, pictured at left with Nancy. “We build relationships and try to understand what each business needs to succeed. Businesses are an important part of what makes our communities in southwest Minnesota vibrant.”
Among the ups and downs of running her own business, “finding good employees is probably the most challenging part,” Nancy said. “It’s hard, and keeping everyone happy is hard too. It’s not always rainbows and sunshine.”
But that initial fear of opening up shop has subsided. With the end of her loan payments in sight and four years as a business owner under her belt, Nancy envisions having a few more locations in surrounding towns and, eventually, working less. That will give her more time to be with her husband and her 4-year-old daughter. She also has a stepson who lives in Texas.
“We’ve made it,” Nancy said. “Or we’re almost there.”