When an entrepreneur decides to open a business, it’s often a way to fulfill a creative passion and share their talents with others. However, for the endeavor to be a success, it is crucial that small business owners stay on top of their finances and record-keeping on a regular basis.
“You can be the best in the world at your craft, but if you don’t have a strong business plan, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. You aren’t realizing the full capacity of your earning power,” said Anthony Montgomery, senior vice president for community economic development at Hancock Whitney.
To help business owners reach that potential, Hancock Whitney works closely with Small Business Development Centers in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and throughout Mississippi to help them create and follow business plans, identify financial needs and create loan packages and other funding applications.
“Every situation is unique. What makes Hancock Whitney’s Small Business Matters platform different is that it is tailored to entrepreneurs where they are,” Montgomery said. “When they are starting out, some may need more money for inventory, overhead, payroll or equipment. No two businesses are exactly alike.”
Montgomery said entrepreneurs can launch businesses using a variety of funding sources, including personal savings, loans from family and friends, cash flow from their other businesses, home equity, and other means. However, since those sources are normally limited, Montgomery said one of the key points of Small Business Matters is helping entrepreneurs create reliable and consistent revenue streams.
“The program is not just only helping them acquire funds, but also coaching them on how to generate revenue,” Montgomery said. “We have people to educate business owners about facilitating international and out-of-state business. We can help with procurement contracts to generate revenue. It’s about expanding beyond borrowing funds and using ongoing loans.”
Hancock Whitney and the Small Business Development Centers can also offer guidance to entrepreneurs about when they may need to bring in a financial expert, such as a certified public accountant or trained bookkeeper, to help them keep their business running smoothly.
“It’s really good to bring in someone if you identify that as something that’s not one of your own strengths,” Montgomery said. “I do think it’s important for entrepreneurs to build up those skills and try to improve, even if that means just having an understanding of the basics. You’ll be at an advantage. But, you may feel like you need someone to fill that void as well and there are certainly people out there who can help.”
Hancock Whitney and SBDCs have already begun scheduling both virtual and in-person Small Business Matters training sessions for early 2023. Montgomery said the sessions have proved particularly valuable for entrepreneurs who have been in business for five years or less and are looking to network with others who share their experiences.
“I encourage those business owners to learn about the resources that are out there for both one-on-one counseling and individual sessions,” he said. “The networking component is also important. You’ll meet others who have probably encountered similar issues and hear how they overcame them. It’s a way for everyone to learn and grow together.”
For more information, visit www.hancockwhitney.com/small-business-matters.