Retha Nichole, Small Business and Life Coach, on giving entrepreneurs the push they need to succeed

Retha Nichole, Small Business and Life Coach, on giving entrepreneurs the push they need to succeed

Bham Now recently featured Forge member Retha Nichole in this article. Retha is a small business coach- read more about how she got where she is today!



Have you ever thought about starting your own business, but realized maybe the million reasons why it would be extremely difficult, and then just given up? Or are you a small business owner who just needs a little extra push here and some help with administrative tasks there? Enter Retha Nichole.





If you’re wondering, “There is one person who can do all of that for me?,” the answer is yes. Nichole has spent her life working hard to get to where she is today, and she wants to work with you to make your dreams and goals a reality.



What Does A Small Business Coach Do?



In short, a small business coach can do or be anything that you specifically need in your small business. On a day-to-day basis, Nichole does everything from helping with administrative tasks to setting up systems for her clients, and even encouraging them and helping them really focus in on their goals. She refers to entrepreneurs as ‘visionaries’ and describes her process of working to help her visionary clients focus on the here and now so they don’t get caught up in the future.





“Daily, I coach small business entrepreneurs on how to make their business more efficient and better. What i’ve found is, it’s not necessarily that small business people don’t have the ‘business gene’ — it’s that they need someone to keep them accountable. Most small business people are visionaries, and they want to do and run and be everything. But there has to be someone in their world that says “let’s stay focused on this, because this is where we are.”




How Does Being A Certified Life Coach Fit In?



“The reason I started to get into life coaching is because I found that for small business people, if there are pieces of their life that aren’t right, it hurts their business.”





Nichole explains that for many small business owners, their business is their life. So, while we may not think of one small thing in our daily life affecting our work life, it is not the same for entrepreneurs. When something is off in their day to day life, it can greatly affect their business. However, most people do not think that way — something that Nichole is hoping to change. She works to make entrepreneurs aware of this so that they can adjust and grow in their business as they need to.



Nichole’s Background



Nichole has had a wide range of jobs. She grew up in Texas, and after college, she worked as a flight attendant so she could travel. After that, she moved to Atlanta and worked in high end real estate. She eventually began owning her own real estate and learning about entrepreneurship and business-building.



From her time in Atlanta, she was “bit by the small-business bug”, but she also had another unique talent: she loved helping people in the field of small business. (It’s evident as soon as you meet her — Nichole is one of those wonderful people who truly wants everyone to succeed.)



Next Up: Coaching


She decided to put her passion and talent for helping others in the small business field to work and she created her own business, Retha Nichole. She works with all different kinds of businesses.



Following a move to Birmingham and the unexpected passing of her husband, Nichole decided to open a bakery. However, she soon learned how much personal life can affect business, and made the difficult decision to close the bakery.



She uses this real-life experience to help her clients maneuver the tricky work-life balance that is especially difficult for entrepreneurs. Nichole has since gone through many seasons of life and is now in the process of getting her life coaching certification to be able to help people even more.


You can learn more about her personal story via her website, Instagram or Podcast! Yep, she is a busy woman.



Hear Nichole Speak


Nichole speaks at Christian women’s conferences throughout the year. Some of the topics she speaks on are:

  • Finding your God-given purpose
  • Pursuing everyday balance
  • Finding God in trials and suffering
  • Living in community
  • Prioritizing abundance in Jesus


What’s So Great About Working From Forge?



Nichole has her own office space at Forge, and she loves the energy of the coworking space. In addition to the cool, modern space, Nichole shared that she loves being around others who are working hard to achieve a goal. “For entrepreneurs, we are in a world of the internet,” Nichole tells me. “So it allows you to work from home; and while I think you can be successful working from home, it takes a lot of discipline. There is something about being in a space with others that drives you and pushes you to be better. I chose to work at Forge for that exact reason.”

Birmingham’s Disadvantages are Advantages

Birmingham’s Disadvantages are Advantages

We loved this blog post so much that we snagged it (with their permission!) from our friends- Two Ravens. Dave Cowart wrote this one- be sure to check out the original post here!




There are plenty of articles proclaiming how great a place Birmingham has become. The food scene is world class! Shipt is showing what we’re capable of! The new mayor is going to fix everything! But nobody’s saying much about our disadvantages. Truth is, we have a lot—other cities have measurable leads in economic, educational, cultural, and societal measures. Our public image is shaded by the state as a whole. And regional cooperation is best measured under a microscope.



But don’t despair! In a bit of metaphorical judo, many of these disadvantages can actually be leveraged into advantages. One of the principles of judo is jū yoku gō o seisu, or “softness controls hardness”:



Resisting a more powerful opponent will result in your defeat, whilst adjusting to and evading your opponent’s attack will cause him to lose his balance, his power will be reduced, and you will defeat him. This can apply whatever the relative values of power, thus making it possible for weaker opponents to beat significantly stronger ones.



Instead of comparing ourselves to other cities and trying to emulate the paths they’ve taken, we should instead focus on what makes us unique and use our weaknesses as strengths. I’m not talking about finding the silver lining in a storm cloud; I mean actual, actionable changes we can make.



What are our greatest weaknesses? Size is an obvious starting point – we’re the 49th largest metropolitan area and the 104th largest city in the country. Population size isn’t everything, but it means we’re low on the list for outside investment, whether that’s attracting a corporate headquarters or a major sports team or even just niceties like the availability of same-day delivery or car-sharing. How do we use that as an advantage?





Since our city is smaller, we’re more likely to have friends in different industries. Sure, most people have lots of connections in their field, but we don’t have the density to support isolated bubbles like a financial district or a collection of tech campuses. This means that we’re more likely to be serendipitously exposed to the obstacles and breakthroughs of other industries, giving us the chance to treat our entire city like a huge Innovation Depot.




There are other advantages to being a smaller city. Cost of living is low, our worst commutes are laughable in other cities, and seeing familiar faces on the street can ward off the social isolation experienced by some people in large cities. The pace is a little slower, and people tend to be friendlier when there’s a chance you probably have a mutual friend. These factors can be crucial when recruiting against other larger population centers.



But why are we comparatively small? Growth in the metro area is slow, and it’s been getting slower for years. The city itself has actually been losing population. The good news is that we haven’t sacrificed our natural areas to develop real estate. Within a few miles of downtown, we’ve had Ruffner Mountain for decades and now we have Red Mountain Park. That doesn’t have to be the end of the story though. The same mountain that currently divides the city from its wealthiest suburbs has also shaped the city itself, both geologically and geographically, preventing sprawl in certain directions. Natural and historical areas in close proximity to downtown are still largely unspoiled and ready for enjoyment and preservation.



Industries that were previously a leading cause of the metro area’s growth are now declining or outdated. The steel industry has moved on, the financial industry has consolidated elsewhere, and we’re now home to only one Fortune 500 company. Those industries were the fuel that powered our economy and gave us the nickname “The Magic City,” and they occupied some of the prime real estate in town. They also employed many of the people that shopped and ate in the heart of downtown. Now that the furnaces and mills have closed and the shops and restaurants have moved away, all that land and empty real estate are available. The McWane Center and the Pizitz have revitalized empty department stores, Sloss Furnace is now a museum and the home to a successful music festival, Back Forty just opened a brewery/restaurant at the old Sloss Docks, and Amazon is building a fulfillment center on former U.S. Steel land. Just this week, DC Blox announced that they’re building a flagship data center at a closed steel mill a few blocks from UAB. It’s hard to imagine many other major urban universities having that kind of available land nearby. It’s important to focus on developing these previously-abandoned areas in a way that weaves young and innovative companies throughout the city.



Our airport is substantially smaller than others in the southeast. Ignoring the behemoth to the east, it still sees just a fraction of the boardings as Nashville, New Orleans, and Memphis – cities whose metro areas aren’t that much bigger than ours.



Population vs. Enplanements (commercial boardings) by City



Tourism is a strong industry in those cities, but there’s clearly a lot of opportunity for growth. The good news is that people there who are looking at the future, realizing they have to innovate, and are already making plans. Enjoy the short security lines and easy parking while it’s not too busy.



Nobody on the outside is paying attention and expectations are low. It’s time to work together to leverage our disadvantages while still doing things our own way.










Recap: 3 Massive Mistakes Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Make When Managing Their Time

Recap: 3 Massive Mistakes Business Owners and Entrepreneurs Make When Managing Their Time

We recently hosted a Lunch & Learn with Dave Jesiolowski- he focus on the mistakes we make when managing our time. We snagged this post from Forge Member Jacqui Jones. Check out the original blog post here.




Wednesday, November 7th, I had the opportunity to attend a great lunch & learn at Forge in Birmingham, AL lead by Dave Jesiolowski.  I had to be at this one because as I scale my business, time management becomes a tricky thing.  When he started by saying, “I know we are all lacking in vitamin E, execution” I knew I was in the right place.



He gave the things that we as entrepreneurs do that plummet our time management.  There, of course, were portions where I felt “I’ve heard this before.”  But there were moments of “aha!”  Hopefully, it will help you the way it helped me.


Mistake #1: You don’t know your “why.”



I get up and go to my desk at Forge every single day.  I’ll be the first to say; I’ve never just written down my “why.”   I have a “why,” but I’ve never taken time to clarify it in the way that Dave described.  He encouraged us to post our “why” everywhere.  If there is a different “why” in different spaces for you, give yourself those reminders.  You may have a “why” for home and one for work.  Maybe you even have a “why” for the space where you get dressed.  These reminders speak to your reason for staying on track.  If my “why” for showing up at work by 745a every morning is because I want to grow my company to a size that can employ others and make a difference in the lives of those in my community, I need to give myself that reminder.  If my “why” for leaving my work bag in the car is so that I can achieve uninterrupted and distraction-free time with my family, I may need that reminder.



In his book, “One Decision Can,” he has created what he calls success formulas.  The formulas ask important questions that lead you to a well-defined “why.”  I bought a book and can’t wait to get into and create my own.  (I promise to come back and review my experience.)




Mistake #2: You have too many distractions and temptations. 



This reason was one of those things I had heard before.  But, you really can never have too many reminders that distractions are everywhere.  Dave talked about how marketers are amazingly efficient and creating distractions in people’s lives all day every day.  Though that’s my industry, I didn’t hang my head in shame.  The agencies he was speaking about will have ads showing up in your mailbox from a google search you made last week.  I’m good.  But, I’m not on that level of creating distractions.



For myself, however, I found a dilemma.   A part of my job is notifications.  I don’t manage as many accounts as I once did now that my team has grown.  But, I do still have a few.   So, this one, though a common time management call-out, may be a challenge for me personally.  He even talked about how we let people take over our calendars with the “do you a minute” and “can we talk this afternoon” type approaches.  I am guilty of letting people take over my calendar daily.   Dave made it clear that if I want to reach the goals I’ve set for the day, I have to be willing to say “no.”



Mistake #3: You don’t have accountability.



You may be thinking that this is a more common call-out as well.  It was, but it wasn’t.  We know that we all need accountability, but he was talking about new methods of self-accountability.  He mentioned that during coaching sessions he has clients create a scorecard for their perfect day.  He said, “we do things for pain or gain.”  Because of that, on the scorecard, you put what you gain by doing a thing and what pain you’re caused when you don’t.  Having a scorecard and keeping a record should allow you to be able to track more specifically why you’re getting the results that you are.



Your scorecard appears in all spaces.  If you’re trying to lose weight and you are tracking what you eat every day, looking back over the week or month of your detailed tracking should show you exactly what habits are leading you there.  I thought this was a great way to put it.   It spoke, not only to tracking your actions, but to analyzing your data.  That’s the part that I feel most people miss.  I know I do.



I will have a one-on-one call with Dave in the near future, and I’m excited to do so.  Coaching is an important part of growing and developing as a business owner, but even as a person.   This is something I’ve always known as a coach for business owners and entrepreneurs as it pertains to marketing and developing a strong brand foundation.  But, as I said in “Entrepreneurship Starts in the Mind,” there is more than doing the work that one must consider if you want success… repeatedly.



Spotlight on: Mindy Rohr, Experience Manager at The Pizitz Food Hall

Spotlight on: Mindy Rohr, Experience Manager at The Pizitz Food Hall

Thanks to Bham Now for another feature! This article was written by Lauren Bedford- focusing on Forge Member Mindy Rohr. Read more about Mindy’s role as the Experience Manager at The Pizitz!



Have you been to one of the recent events at The Pizitz, like Moonlight Movies or Flashback Brunch? Chances are, you had a great time. You can thank Mindy Rohr for that.


Rohr is the Experience Manager at The Pizitz Food Hall. While she has a background in Event Planning, this job takes that to a whole new level. Not only is Rohr responsible for the event itself, she is also responsible for the operations and all the behind-the-scenes work like social media and marketing.



Lexington To Birmingham



Rohr was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. Always a fan of finding the best restaurants and shops downtown, she started a successful Instagram account and blog called Love, Lexington that she used to highlight the businesses in town. Eventually, this budded into a pop-up style night market called Market 301. The market highlights local makers and shops and, even though Rohr transplanted to Birmingham, the market is still up and running.



I believe it is her love for local shops and the excitement to highlight small businesses that makes Rohr so successful in Birmingham. Ours is a city that loves to support small business and local shop owners, so she is a perfect fit.





Social Media Maven




As a large part of her career budded out of of her popular presence on social media (namely Instagram), I asked Rohr a few Instagram-specific questions. First I wanted to know what her advice would be to someone who is interested in breaking into the marketing / media field via social media. Here’s what she told me:



  • First, pick a platform and stick with it. For her, it is Instagram. For others, it may be Twitter or Facebook. Finding out where you excel and which platform targets your demographic is an important first step.
  • Good photography is CRUCIAL. She really stressed this point: “If you aren’t a skilled photographer, do some research and learn how to take great photos. Visual content is so important.”  Especially on a platform like Instagram, engagement comes from visual content first and foremost, so make sure it is quality.




“People Want to Feel Comfortable”



Rohr stressed the fact that she always wants her content to have utility. When she started out writing for her own blog, she knew that she wanted to include details in her write-ups. For example, when she visited a new restaurant she shared what was on the menu, what she ordered, what people were wearing, where the parking was, etc. She has taken that mindset with her to The Pizitz Food Hall.




With all of her Instagram posts and social media shares, Rohr aims to answer people’s questions. The day before we talked, she received a question from someone asking about vegan options at the food hall. Rohr is not vegan, but she went around to each food stall and compiled a list of vegan foods that she then shared. The attention to detail that she puts into marketing, events and everything else with the food hall is key to its success.






Foodie First



“The Birmingham food scene is booming. We don’t cook at home a lot so we have gotten to know the local food scene pretty well. Most of our friends turn to us for ideas of where to go when they have a date night or want to try a new spot.”




(Note: Rohr and her husband Jesse started the Instagram account @badass_bham. Check out the account for Birmingham food scene highlights!)



In talking to Rohr, it’s clear that she is a foodie. She loves to try new restaurants around town, so of course we got to chatting about food. She and her husband recently moved closer to downtown, so they have much more walkability to restaurants and bars. Lucky for her, she works at the food hall, with a variety of choices at all times. So, what would she eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner from the food hall?





A full day of eating at The Pizitz Food Hall



(Please note: this is Rohr’s ideal eating day. Calories don’t count in dream worlds, thank you very much.)


Breakfast: Croque Madame from Alabama Biscuit Co.


Lunch: A burger with a fried egg on it, plus a side of both tater tots and fries from The Standard.


Dinner: Poke bowl from Ono Poke, dumplings from mo:mo, and a glass of rose from The Louis. If she’s not feeling rose, she loves the $5 happy-hour Old Fashioned.



Birmingham Weather and A Great Job



Of course, Rohr loves living in Birmingham now. Although she was born and raised in Lexington, Birmingham has become her home. What’s her favorite thing about Birmingham? The weather! Apparently, Lexington is one of the most overcast cities in the U.S. — who knew?



“We moved here in early May, and every morning I would walk outside to sit on our porch and drink my coffee because I just couldn’t get over the perfect, sunny weather.”





Another one of her favorite things? Her job with The Pizitz. She told me all about the history of the building — did you know that The Pizitz Building was the home of the very first parking deck in downtown Birmingham? And of course, it’s the first ever food hall in Birmingham as well. In addition, there is a basement! Rohr was telling me how excited she is for the new Sidewalk theater to be built downstairs. There will be 2  theaters, and each will seat 100 people and have a concession stand as well as a bar. Construction will start soon (get excited Bham!)



Overall, it is the community aspect of her job that Rohr notes is her favorite:



“I love being downtown and being able to meet and work with the owners of the food stalls. I love being able to share all my favorites with my friends and make connections in the city.”




3 New Birmingham Business Concepts

3 New Birmingham Business Concepts

On September 18, we hosted our second pitch night at Forge. Your Big Idea is a place for entrepreneurs to share their new business concepts in front of panelists and an audience to receive valuable feedback. We love celebrating the growing small business community in Birmingham! We want to tell you more about these 3 new businesses.


1. It’s Poppin! Vintage

Keisha Paige Drammeh recently moved to Birmingham from Detroit and she’s settling into the entrepreneurship community here! In both Detroit and Atlanta, Keisha sold vintage clothing online but she’s looking to start something new in the Magic City. It’s Poppin! Vintage will be a sustainable cultural arts boutique for young kids. Keisha has a talent for finding used clothes and recycling them.



Vintage vs Modern: The Need for Sustainable Practice

  • 64% of Americans reported they throw out used clothing instead of donating
  • 62% threw clothing away because they didn’t think anyone would take them
  • 26 million lbsof clothing & textiles go into land fills each year yet 95% could bereusedor recycled



Keisha focuses on recycle, reuse and repurpose! There are no art programs in Birmingham that specify in sustainable fashion so Keisha will be filling in this gap. She has secured a location in East Lake for these classes but she is still working through details to begin the program soon! Be sure to follow her on Instagram and see updates of her progress!


2. Access BHM


Kennan Henderson is the Founder and CEO of Access BHM– a new way to earn rewards for helping the Birmingham community! Birmingham citizens want to improve their community but they don’t know how. Access BHM is a way to generate local charity, philanthropy and activism. It’s also a method for promoting local businesses and entrepreneurs.



Join the Access BHM club to get access to everything from free meals around town, to free activities like local runs, bowling, rock climbing, daycare and even free access to some of the biggest and brightest events in Birmingham. Access BHM members hold the power to choose what events they host and sponsor each month. The top 3 ideas are voted on by members!



We can’t wait to see Access BHM as it grows! Check out there Instagram account here.


3. S(w)ervice


Thomas Walker started S(w)ervice– an auto-tech startup company that provides digital service experiences to independent auto shop owners and their customers. S(w)ervice makes auto maintenance easy! They help auto shops maximize engagement value by providing faster and easier customer experiences with auto valet.



4 Key Services that Solve the Digital Gap Between Auto Shops and Customers:

  1. On- Demand Auto Valet
  2. 1:1 Customer Communication
  3. Data and Social Insights
  4. Meaningful Outreach



S(w)ervice focuses on:

Revolutionizing the customer experience for automotive retailers.

Developing digital experiences that break socioeconomic boundaries.

Repurposing routine car maintenance transactions into a purposeful opportunity to serve.


Thank you Gatehouse Law for sponsoring September’s pitch night. We love hosting Your Big Idea and look forward to the next one on October 16! RSVP by clicking here. Your Big Idea is free and open to the public!