When Talibah Bayles was starting out in her career, she worked for the federal government in Washington, D.C. on the Senate side and as part of the Department of Justice. At one point, she was assigned to small business outreach and foreign affairs. She read letters, met with groups and briefed the senator on issues. Little didn’t Talibah know that the tables would one day turn and she would be the one providing insight on issues on behalf of her community of small business owners.
A NAWBO Virtual member who joined earlier this year and attended the 2020 Virtual Advocacy Days, Talibah is founder and CEO of TMB Tax and Financial Services, a company that provides financial support services to small businesses. She started her firm in 2006 while she was still working in D.C. but has focused exclusively on it since relocating back to Birmingham, Alabama, two years ago.
“I made a lot of great connections in Washington, D.C.,’” she says. One of her former colleagues—now a Facebook friend—is staff director for Senator Marco Rubio, chair of the Senate Small Business Committee (pictured below left with Talibah). “She noticed all the things I’ve been doing. I’m on the city’s Small Business Council and do a lot of advocacy for women and minority business owners. Advocacy for small business owners comes naturally for me; I’m just extremely passionate about it.”
That’s why when this former colleague presented Talibah with the opportunity to return to D.C. to testify in front of the Senate Small Business Committee, she couldn’t resist. “I was amazed at having such a large platform for doing what I love,” Talibah says. “I was speaking about my experience with minority access to capital under the CARES Act funding umbrella from my purview of being on the front lines helping small business owners with loan packaging.”
During this time of COVOD-19, Talibah has consulted with small business owners to help them obtain funding and pulled together required documentation to show things like payroll and tax compliance. As a service provider who has had success with Small Business Administration disaster funding, she was also able to tap into her own experiences to provide recommendations for how to move forward in terms of what small business owners will continue to need. This includes access to early information on what’s being discussed—whether it’s another round from the Paycheck Protection Program or long-term lending options—so they can be prepared should a law pass.
Talibah testified in person in late July. It was her first time sitting on the panelist side of the table, and she was the only one there in person (the other three panelists chose to do it virtually). “I was definitely nervous being the only person in the room in the direct line of fire with the senators, but once I got in there and the senators were all so nice, my anxiety settled and it was an awesome experience.”
Since then, Talibah has remained in touch and emailed Senator Rubio’s staff members several times to serve as a continued resource. She has even spoken to them about furthering their relationship with NAWBO. “People might think that you get lost in the traffic or sending a form letter doesn’t matter,” she says. “The senators specifically assign staff to those issues. Both sides truly want to hear from their constituents and are always looking for real stories and testimonies from people with real businesses. It absolutely does matter.”
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How Talibah Came to Belong…
A former colleague from the Mobile Black Chamber of Commerce introduced Talibah to NAWBO. Talibah had been traveling to different chambers to teach QuickBooks classes and this colleague happened to be at one. She and other NAWBO Virtual members were in the process of working to recruit members to form an Alabama chapter powered by NAWBO HQ. “She’s been in NAWBO for some time and reached out to me earlier this year to ask if I’d be interested in joining, and I said, ‘Count me in!’ Talibah says. “Their energy is so steady and refreshing! I’m extremely excited about the opportunity and doing everything I can to recruit more women and allow them to see the value of an organization like NAWBO.”