By Bill Reagan (File Photo)
For many business owners, understanding their financials can be a struggle. Figuring out financing for the startup or expansion of a business may be difficult to grasp.
This is a perfect example of why an entrepreneur should contact the Alexandria Small Business Development Center for help. Financial guidance is among the free services offered at the center.
Savvy business owners know that routinely reviewing their financial statements with experts makes them better managers. They know that it makes sense to do an annual fiscal checkup. They know at the first indication of needing working capital, an expansion loan or even a startup loan that the most efficient approach they can take is to work through their business plan and loan request with an expert. Some have equated this process with getting coached for an interview.
Our business analyst, Jack Parker, has been a part-time member of the team for 15 years. In that time — along with helping manage finances — he has assisted more than 235 business owners and startup entrepreneurs obtain loans or investments totaling more than $63.5 million.
As a retired banker, Jack knows what loan officers expect to see. They want requests that clearly show how a loan will be repaid and expect the applicant will provide sound financial projections supported by written assumptions.
Some bankers indicate they have greater confidence in requests that involved help from the center. Their experience is that center-assisted applicants typically are better prepared — and therefore pose less of a risk.
Thanks to our strong partnerships with local financial institutions, bankers often refer prospective borrowers to the center for guidance. Ten Alexandria banks are financial supporters of the center, and many of their lenders work closely with Parker to connect business owners with the right services. This includes helping business owners develop strong banking relationships, establish lines of credit and seek financing.
Being unprepared for a loan application can prove perilous. Many prospective borrowers might not realize that when a loan application is turned down, it can affect your credit rating.
Alexandria business owners have access to a free resource that can work with them to fine-tune their loan or line-of-credit application so that it answers almost every question a loan officer will ask. That way, they approach a lender with confidence in the plan they’re presenting and hold a much greater chance of being approved.
Whether or not a business owner needs financing, it behooves them to have a strong and confidential relationship with their bank. We are glad to have a resource to help Alexandria business owners develop such relationships and better manage the financials of their business.
The writer is the executive director of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center.