Bank on it: Small business wins with a local partner

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Rapid changes in banking have left small business owners and entrepreneurs wondering whether to seek big national banks or smaller local institutions. Financing your small business is not about the bank’s size; it’s about the culture. We asked commercial and small business experts at Business First Bank to explain the financing market for small businesses. Michael Nizzo, market president of Business First Bank, explained how they help finance and grow local businesses.

“Startup companies can have a tough time securing the right financing from banks—because to many banks, new ventures are seen to be very risky.” It is not enough to verbally approach a lending institution and tell them what you need. According to Nizzo, researching and preparing a detailed business plan is the best way to get started. Nizzo says, “Banks want to see that the business is properly capitalized and is prepared for unexpected problems that could occur.”

“Even a startup with the best concept will fail
due to a lack of capital, not their idea.”

—MICHAEL NIZZO, Market President, Business First Bank

A large national bank will typically herd loan applicants to an online application that simply passes judgement on their metric ratings instead of assessing the proposal as a whole. “To an experienced small business banker, this is more than just a credit decision,” says Craig Livingston, senior vice president and senior banker with Business First Bank. 

Not all local lenders can help small businesses the way Business First Bank does—some banks are too small and approve only collateral-based loans. “We are just right for small business,” added Shane Lacombe, senior vice president and senior commercial banker. Right-sized regional banks like Business First are more invested in their local clients because they live in the community with them. “We see our clients at the grocery and at church. We are neighbors and we value this important role in growing Baton Rouge businesses,” explained Livingston. To learn more, contact the experts at