Tennessee Entrepreneur Deana Taylor is channeling years of expertise into her new business, Strong Minds, Strong Bodies (SMSB) Solutions, a fitness and wellness service designed for corporate compensation packages.

With a biology degree from the University of Memphis and experience as a fitness specialist for Shelby County Government, health and wellness coordinator for Raymond James, and various nonprofit roles, Taylor is well-versed in the dynamics of physical health.

From 2011 to 2020, Taylor showcased her entrepreneurial spirit by running her own health and wellness coaching business, working with companies like Cigna Healthcare. Her journey from home workouts to professional health expertise highlights her commitment to transforming corporate health benefits.

“This seemed like the perfect moment to build upon the foundation laid from 2011 to 2020 and truly establish a business,” Taylor said. “Especially now, after the Great Resignation during the pandemic, there’s a growing recognition of the importance of work-life balance and the critical role that health and well-being play in the lives of employees. It’s time to take that understanding and turn it into action within corporate America.”

Deana Taylor
Deana Taylor runs SMSB Solutions fitness and wellness service designed for corporate compensation packages.

Taylor is using her extensive health and wellness industry connections to engage with small businesses, highlighting the benefits of adopting wellness programs. These benefits include lower absenteeism, higher job satisfaction, and a better quality of life for employees.

Taylor is exploring options for both in-person and virtual wellness retreats and suggesting innovative ideas such as therapeutic gardening spaces for employees during breaks. These approaches are designed to enhance well-being and are backed by research.

Going forward, Taylor is committed to furthering discussions and encouraging companies to adopt the Strong Minds, Strong Bodies wellness solutions into their operations.

To launch SMSB Solutions, Taylor was directed to the Entrepreneurship Team at Communities Unlimited (CU) by the Women’s Business Corporation’s South (WBEC South).

Taylor teamed up with CU Training Coordinator Latoyia Morgan to turn her business concept into reality. Together, they completed the business model canvas and all the necessary steps to fully develop her business idea.

Taylor has thoroughly developed her business model and is now working on making it a reality. In March 2024, she and Morgan designed a logo, developed a pitch, and obtained estimates from an app developer.

"Communities Unlimited has been wonderful. They guided me from the basics of managing my finances to the finer details of running a business, like office rent and salaries. They provided tools to clarify my mission and vision, making my business goals tangible and achievable. I've committed to our weekly meetings because they keep me accountable and ensure I'm progressing towards establishing a real business.”

— Deana Taylor, SMSB Solutions

Morgan referred Taylor to CU’s Lending Team for a small business loan to start an app and cover startup costs.

Taylor, working with Small Business Lender Candence Brooks, aims to finalize the loan within the next few weeks.

Morgan enjoys working with Taylor as she gets closer to making her business a reality.

“It was a bit shaky at first, but Deana quickly found her footing,” Morgan said. “We walked through the business model canvas, defining her goals and strategies. She got excited as everything started to come together — identifying key partners, planning out customer targets, and even discussing potential funding for an app. As we laid out the steps, including her LLC and prototype, her vision transformed from ideas to actionable plans.”

Taylor thanks Morgan for suggesting the idea of hosting an annual Corporate Wellness Walk at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis. This event aims to bring together corporations to promote health and wellness, featuring health sector vendors during benefits enrollment. Taylor prioritizes personal health, particularly for those in high-stress jobs.

She plans to start talks with corporate leaders this summer to organize the first walk in early fall. Her ultimate goal is to launch SMSB Solutions by 2025, anticipating increased health priorities at the beginning of each new year.