How I Flipped a Bus and Turned It Into a Business

This entrepreneur put the bus in business.

As someone with over 17 years of experience in the finance industry, one would think that my career path would continuously lead me up the corporate ladder. That was the plan, and I was on my way, moving from one leadership role to another.

I’ve always had a passion to learn more about how money works, and I wondered how I could best serve individuals outside of my corporate job. I just didn’t have a clear vision of what that would be, but there’s a saying that goes, “Start where you are and use what you have,” and that’s what I decided to do.

Click to read more about whether or not you are ready to start your own business.

Putting in the Work

My community became a platform that allowed me to conduct finance workshops and learn more about what people were experiencing financially. I had a desire to hear real-life stories and soon learned about how people were being impacted by layoffs, the rising costs of living and the need to earn more income. Layoffs were something that my mom, dad and one of my closest friends had all experienced, so I knew firsthand the impact this could have on someone financially and emotionally.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Around this time, food trucks were becoming wildly popular in my city of Charlotte, N.C., due to the rising costs of commercial space and an eagerness to do business in a different way. Seeing the success of food trucks sparked the realization that if food could be put on a truck, it was possible for me to create a financial education space on a bus. That moment solidified the vision that I had longed for. That’s when I decided to flip a school bus and turn it into a business.

More on Entrepreneurship: 12 Fast-Growing Industries for Starting a Business

The Process

I’ve been asked on numerous occasions if I created a business plan, how long it took me from idea to creation and even how much I’ve earned from the bus. The truth is, it took me less than a year to get the bus up and running, and I didn’t follow a traditional business plan. One of the reasons that I decided to take this route is because there wasn’t anything in the market that was similar and I wanted to close that gap. My goal was to meet people where they were on their financial journey — literally. From non-profit organizations to corporations, college campuses to shelters, my mission was to bring financial wellness to the places where the conversations were not being had.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

I began a search at bus lots and Craigslist before finding the perfect bus. I purchased it from a pilot who originally planned to use it on his farm. My next step was to get the bus to a mechanic to research if there were any mechanical issues. After the initial legwork work was completed, I was off to get it fully designed inside and out.

With a concept of having small groups or individuals to join me on the bus, I went with a layout that would allow my clients to comfortably walk into and sit in the bus. The light and airy colors visually opened the space and created a calm atmosphere. Bright yellow accents and polka dots gave the inside personality and warmth. The outside was painted a lovely mint green with The Finance Bar logo on it. With the bus squared away, I started connecting with my community through reaching out to local organizations and offering to set up The Finance Bar at their locations.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Present Day

Today, I have pop-up workshops at schools, organizations and corporate sites, teaching financial literacy with understandable concepts. I also have an office location where I meet and coach clients. Through my online forum, The Finance Members Club, clients ask financial questions that I answer daily. Every day, I help my clients explore their spending habits to reveal why they are not meeting their financial goals. A common thread among them is portraying a lifestyle that they cannot yet afford and caring more about how things look, rather than what they are. Budgeting can be a hard topic to tackle because many people feel they are missing out in some way, when they are making wiser decisions for the long term.

My coaching clients receive a workbook packed with content and templates to help them clearly understand their unique financial journeys. I also include two virtual one-on-one sessions with me each month to ensure my clients are staying on track. Unlimited texting access allows clients to get real-time support before making purchases. I enjoy helping people, and The Finance Bar has allowed me to share my wealth of knowledge with diverse audiences. From students to entrepreneurs and working moms, The Finance Bar equips people with the knowledge to make important decisions that will enrich their everyday lives and secure their financial future.

Make Your Money Work Better for You

Click through to read more about 20 best and worst cities to start a business.

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About the Author

Marsha Barnes

Marsha Barnes is a sought after certified financial social worker and educator with over 17 years in the banking and personal finance industry. Marsha is the founder of The Finance Bar, the first financial educational hub on wheels and coaching suite where she helps women and couples move from financially existing to financially thriving.

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