CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Walk into a small office with red-and-black décor in a strip of locally-owned businesses in east Charlotte, and you will find a business owner whose sole mission is to help others see their potential.
“We take them from hustling to hiring that’s what I say,” Shey Morton laughed.
Morton’s Business 911 helped more than 100 local business owners create LLCs in 2020. According to the IRS, an LLC, or a limited liability company, is a business structure allowed by state statute. Each state may use different regulations, you should check with your state if you are interested in starting a LLC.
Most of the businesses Morton has helped are in the Charlotte area, and all of them are minority-owned.
Morton offers people, with little-to-no business savvy, training, work sessions, branding and marketing help, and assistance with creating business plans. The prices are a fraction of the cost of what similar companies charge.
“For the people I help, you know, I feel like I’m being obedient,” Morton said, fighting back tears. “I want people to win and know that they can do it. It doesn’t matter where you started, it’s where you end up, so for me, I just wanted them to know they can do it.”
Over the last 10 years, minority-owned businesses accounted for more than 50% of the 2 million new businesses started in America, according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The same study found that despite that growth, minority business owners make up 18% of the businesses overall yet are 32% of the population.
Morton’s mission is to help close that gap in the Charlotte area.
“For our customers and for us as business owners, we want to be legitimate because we want to be able to get some of this money that’s rolling out of the sky for small businesses,” Morton explained.
One of those small business owners is Joshua Proby. Under Morton’s guidance, Proby created a clothing company, a trucking company and started a nonprofit called Peace 4 Poverty.
“It’s vital right now for people to know they can believe in themselves,” Proby said. “To be able to come to those who look like you to get that help and get that support is vital.”
Morton said that is exactly why much of her focus is on Black- and women-owned businesses.
“When I was starting out, nobody wanted to share that information with me,” Morton said. “When I was looking for people to educate me, I was looking for people who looked like me.”
Morton vowed once she had the business acumen and experience, she would give back.
In addition to the 100 LLCs, Business 911 offered guidance and support services to 600 other business owners last year; 1,200 in the last two years.
Morton is proud of those numbers, jokingly referring to the businesses as her “babies.”
But she believes there’s still a lot more growth ahead for her and for the people she helps.
“It means smiling faces on Facebook in front of salons, it means businesses who have had truck driving companies, it means people who have been able to employ people,” Morton said. “It means sustainability.”