Angelique Rewers of The Corporate Agent helps small-business owners with their strategies and helps them land large and lucrative clients. Here’s how credit cards helped her with her business so she, in turn, could help other business owners.
Emerging entrepreneurs often have a hard time securing large and lucrative contracts since most training programs available to small-business owners don’t offer such expertise. Angelique Rewers knew this and decided to help budding entrepreneurs secure large clients like Facebook, Google and Microsoft (to name a few).
In 2010, Rewers launched The Corporate Agent. Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, her company helps a diverse span of small-business owners and self-employed professionals win corporate clients through a range of robust training, mentoring and consulting programs.
“We are now celebrating our 10-year anniversary, which is pretty exciting,” says Rewers. “Over that time, we’ve served business owners in more than 72 countries. Collectively, we estimate they’ve earned hundreds of millions [of dollars] in revenue from their corporate and business-to-business clients. The best part about that is knowing they are out there making a positive impact in the world.”
Rewers’ own journey began in 2006, when she launched a boutique consulting firm, working exclusively with corporate clients. Then she spoke at a conference for small-business owners, as a favor to a colleague.
Immediately afterward, she was inundated with questions from the audience about how her firm landed contracts with so many big brands. Some of the attendees were insistent, asking her to advise them on how they could do the same. Realizing there was a need among small-business owners, The Corporate Agent was born. Since then, Rewers has utilized credit to ensure her business continues to grow and help other entrepreneurs.
What was the start of your venture like?
I was very fortunate in the early days because my initial focus was on landing opportunities with corporate clients. If you set up those business opportunities the right way from the get-go, then those clients will typically buy from you over the long term. And that’s exactly what happened to my firm.
Most of our clients were working with us on yearlong projects and contracts, and those typically grew into multiyear relationships. That kind of continuity gave us peace-of-mind around our revenue.
In fact, that’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about helping small-business owners and self-employed professionals land these kinds of corporate clients. Doing so creates predictability and instills confidence in their business.
Any expenses catch you off guard?
Of course! Surprise is the middle name of business ownership. One that stands out to me the most is when I started my first company. I landed a corporate customer my very first week, but it came with unexpected business expenses – including an urgent business trip and a requirement to carry business insurance.
I only had personal credit cards at the time because I wasn’t expecting things to take off so quickly, yet I knew the importance of keeping my personal finances separate from my business finances.
So, as soon as I hung up from the sales call, I reached out to Amex and got set up with a Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. It was great because there were cash back rewards, no annual fees, plus American Express gives you access to great perks when you’re traveling.
By establishing a good track record with that card, I was later able to get a dramatic increase in my credit limit. That allowed me to invest for the first time in a business mentorship program – which is what put me on the path to create the incredible company we have today.
What about business credit cards?
We use the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card strategically. We charge every expense that we can in order to maximize the rewards, which are significant when your company grows.
Some of our biggest items that we charge include travel expenses for all of our employees and team members, monthly subscriptions to cloud-based software tools, office supplies, computers and other technology, third-party vendors, sponsorships and marketing expenses.
Another key way we use credit is to offset timing issues. Sometimes you have an expense related to a customer deliverable, but you don’t receive customer payments until later. Plastic can help you bridge those gaps while earning rewards.
After a decade in business, is there anything you wish you could do over?
I genuinely believe that every decision leads us to our next breakthrough. But from an academic perspective, my biggest so-called regret is not growing my team big enough earlier in the business – and doing far too many things myself. While I had key team members for certain things, I was slower to delegate other tasks.
You hear this lesson learned from business owners all the time. I would even bet this tops the list of regrets. The thing is, when you are in the startup phase, the knee-jerk reaction is to do the stuff you’re good at and hire people for the things you don’t know how to do.
But ironically, the quicker you clear your plate of darn-near everything and just focus on the strategic business building, the faster you’ll grow and the bigger impact you’ll have in the world. This is also why it’s so important to have a mentor. A mentor is going to help you make these strategic shifts a lot earlier and you’ll grow at a much faster rate.
Can you share any plans for The Corporate Agent?
Some of that is top secret! But I can say that our future is all about growth – specifically continuing to grow our membership-based community of small and diverse business owners and self-employed experts who sell their services and/or products to corporate customers. As this community continues to grow, so too does the value of being in that exclusive community.
We are also increasingly focused on expanding the opportunities for small business owners and corporations to work together in innovative ways to solve some of the biggest business challenges the market is facing right now.
What would you tell an entrepreneur who is just starting out?
Get a mentor. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. Being an entrepreneur requires an entirely new mindset and a whole new set of skills. And it’s a heck of a lot more expensive to gain those mindsets and learn those skills through trial and error and dumpster fires.
There are experts out there who have proven systems for everything you need and want to accomplish in your business. Experts who have been there and done that. Experts who can help you shift your mindset to think like a CEO. Experts who can see the blind spots you can’t. Don’t bargain with your success. You are your most valuable asset – so invest in you.
And can you offer any advice about using credit?
You have to think differently about borrowing money as a business owner than as a consumer. It’s one thing to say, “I’m not going to use a credit card to buy a pair of shoes I can’t really afford right now.” It’s quite another thing to say, “I’m not going to borrow money in order to grow my business.” The latter mindset can be incredibly expensive when you consider the massive opportunity cost.
Here’s what I mean by that: We’ve watched business owners struggle for years because they don’t know how to proactively win clients – and yet, had they strategically borrowed money to get the training they needed to build out that skill, they would have not only paid back that investment, but also made significantly more money in their business over that time. And the one thing we can never get back is time.