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Southwest Louisiana’s economy may be dominated by oil and gas, but the region’s rhythm is found in small businesses. This diverse network of mom-and-pop businesses pulses to the heartbeat of Southwest Louisiana, and in order to get a small business plan off the ground, business owners must seek financing options to make their dreams a reality. While there are tons of online lenders that promote a quick decision with a click of a button, there are also community banks around every corner that are locally owned and operated and therefore have a better sense of what financing works for what business in our unique area.
“Small business owners play a crucial role in fostering local economies, contributing to job creation, and enhancing community development,” said Logan Fontenot, Business Banking Specialist at First Federal Bank of Louisiana in Lake Charles. He works with small businesses on a daily basis to see how a community bank can help foster growth in the local economy. “When it comes to financing a small business, there are various options and strategies to help fuel their growth.”
“First and foremost, establishing a comprehensive business plan is paramount,” Fontenot commented. A well-thought-out plan not only outlines the company’s goals and strategies but also serves as a crucial document when seeking financing. Financial institutions and investors often require a clear understanding of how their funds will be utilized and what return can be expected.
“Maintaining a strong credit profile is crucial for accessing favorable financing terms,” added Fontenot. “Small business owners should prioritize timely payments to vendors and lenders, as a positive credit history enhances credibility and increases the likelihood of securing loans at lower interest rates.”
It’s important that small business owners realize that while online lenders offer speed and flexibility for financing, it often comes at a higher interest rate. Brick and mortar community banks provide stability and local service, and they are employed by your neighbors and potential customers.
A community bank can offer the same products as the big banks but with the addition of personal service. “We can offer everything from real estate loans for your construction to revolving and non-revolving lines of credit designed to assist in seasonal inventory purchases. We are also a participating lender of the Small Business Administration’s SBA loan program,” said Fontenot.
Engaging with the local community is an often-overlooked yet powerful strategy. Establishing strong relationships with other businesses, customers, and local organizations not only fosters support but can also lead to collaborative financing opportunities or community-based funding initiatives.