Opportunities Are Endless With the Creation of Small Businesses

They shape our local community and the economy

Small businesses fuel innovation, create jobs, and serve their communities. They play a vital role in shaping society and offer opportunity and growth for their employees and the economy.

What Is a Small Business?

The Department of State describes a “small business” either in terms of the average number of employees over 12 months or average annual receipts. It is also noted that a small business:

  • Is organized for profit
  • Has a place of business in the U.S.
  • Operates primarily within the U.S. or makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes

“Small businesses are all around us,” says Jodi Ehrenberger, SVP, Business Banking Officer at Coulee Bank in La Crosse. “We can help you determine where your business would fit within the parameters of a small business classification.”

Why Are Small Businesses Important?

“Communities thrive on small businesses,” says Ehrenberger. Many small towns have locally owned restaurants, grocery stores, co-ops, and other retail stores. If you live in a rural area and one of the major employers goes out of business, it hurts the community. People lose their jobs and may be forced to travel greater distances to work. Those people may not have adequate transportation to travel to jobs in a different community. Property values can also decline if many businesses close.

Ehrenberger says, “The majority of businesses start small. While many businesses start small some grow into vital contributors within their community. Interestingly, small businesses are the basis of ingenuity and ideas. It’s exciting to watch those businesses grow and thrive.”

Are There Resources for Starting Your Small Business?

If you are ready to put your ideas into action, Ehrenberger recommends small business development centers. These are most often found on college campuses and can help you write your business plan, put together projections, and assist with financials. This step is essential for financial success and helpful for applying for loans and grants.

Another resource is SCORE. This organization offers business mentors. It’s a free service offered to any aspiring or established owners of U.S.-based businesses. Many of the mentors are volunteers who own businesses and can help you along your journey. Ehrenberger states, “When customers come to me to talk about starting a business, we talk about the different resources to help create action items to fund a business and build a network of people.”

How Do I Fund My Business?

Ehrenberger says you have a couple of options to help fund your business. You can apply for a small business loan (SBA Loan), get capital from investors, or apply for grants. Some small businesses have little overhead, so they don’t require loans or grants, however, some businesses need a significant amount of capital before they can start their business. If your business needs this additional capital to get started, you can take your idea, the business plan, and the financials and come to Coulee Bank to apply for an SBA loan.

Is Owning a Small Business Right for You?       

Having a passion for what you are doing drives the business. If you are passionate, you will do everything possible to make the business succeed. However, any entrepreneurial journey has many challenges. One challenge you may face is the significant time commitment. If you have small children or a family, the business may take you away from them. Some business owners struggle with wearing many hats. Ehrenberger says, “If you are offering a creative or technical specialty, you may struggle with the behind-the-scenes work like accounting, marketing, time management, hiring employees, and building a customer base. At Coulee Bank, we connect you with partners who may be beneficial to your success like accountants, lawyers, bankers, and marketing professionals.”

Before you start, talk with other business owners. Ask them about the benefits and challenges and weigh the options before you jump headfirst into a new endeavor.