Biz Expert Q&A: Business Start-Up Advice You Can Bank On

What are bankers looking for as they assess which entrepreneurs they will lend to and which they will not? While there are many factors unique to the specific entrepreneur or venture being considered, according to Shaun Coard, Sr. VP/Business Banking Manager for Wells Fargo, there are some things that all aspiring entrepreneurs should remember when starting a business.

On Saturday, August 28, 2010, Wells Fargo will present a small business seminar at syndicated radio personality Steve Harvey’s Hoodie Awards at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Panelists will include U.S. Small Business Administration Analyst Jacqueline West, Editor-in-Chief Alfred Edmond Jr., Wells Fargo & Co. Sr. VP/Marketing Manager Robert Ruffin and Wells Fargo & Co. Sr. VP/SBA Lending Thomas W. Burke.

You can learn more about the seminar and follow the seminar discussion on Twitter by searching for the #WellsFargo hash tag. You can also gain valuable information by checking out Wells Fargo’s African American Business Services web page. In the meantime, Coard, who manages a team of six bankers who work with owner managed companies to offer financial solutions for their businesses, shared with basic advice for new enterpreneurs who want to position their ventures for success even in tough economic times.

  • Prepare your own business plan and follow it. When it comes to dealing with bankers, having a business plan is not optional. More importantly, this document is too important for you to completely delegate to someone else to put together for you, even though it’s good to seek expert help. After all, you’ll be the one who will have to explain your business plan to lenders. “If you need assistance with the preparation, visit your local Small Business Development Center for free advice,” says Coard. “You will save yourself money and understand your business plan well enough to communicate it to any potential investor or banker.” For more advice on business planning, check for Biz Plan Insider each week at
  • Consult with an attorney and a certified public accountant in forming your business. Finance and legal issues are the two areas where you cannot afford to get by on “bootleg” expertise. “The attorney will make sure that you remain legal.  The CPA will insure that your ‘books’ remain clean by properly recording all business transactions,” Coard explains. “I tell everyone that they should never underestimate the value of a good CPA.”
  • Establish credit in the name of your company as early as possible. One of the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs make is failing to or putting off establishing business credit separate and apart from their personal credit. “As a start-up, you may need to prepare to establish this credit as a secured credit card,” Coard says.  “Never use your personal credit to ‘finance’ the operations of your business.  Once you do so, few creditors will re-finance that credit in the name of the business.  It is easy to get over extended personally when you use your personal credit for business purposes.  Unfortunately, this will have a negative impact on your FICO score.”