Success Behind the Scenes

For professional service experts in the region, prosperity is a team effort
City Of New Orleans At Night

We try to work collaboratively with clients to avoid any unintentional mistakes. Our work gives investors and others confidence…”

You might have heard the term “It takes a village to raise a child,” and as it turns out, the same is true of running a business.

Ensuring the smooth and efficient operations of any enterprise is never a one-person show: instead, it takes several teams of dedicated individuals working behind the scenes to provide the professional services every business needs to thrive. In Greater New Orleans, experts from industries ranging from law and consulting to banking and accounting all convene to help new and expanding companies secure the best possible outcomes for the local economy.

When an aspiring entrepreneur gets a great idea for a new business, one of the first hurdles to clear is securing funding. This is where local banks step up.

Alden McDonald, president and CEO of Liberty Bank, says the first thing they do is to match entrepreneurs with a loan officer to discuss both immediate and long-term needs. Loaning the money necessary to start a business is important, but it’s not the only way banks help corporate leaders. 

“A banker is a free business consultant,” McDonald says. “It’s a way entrepreneurs can have an independent review of their business plan and get an honest answer about it.”

The bank wouldn’t make money if it didn’t lend money, but they also want the loans to be repaid. As a result, they will do everything they can to honestly evaluate an entrepreneur’s plan and offer any suggestions to improve it.

McDonald adds that budding entrepreneurs should consult a local business center or a CPA for assistance in creating a business plan if they are uncertain how to do it.

“You don’t have to have a perfect plan, but you do need to have a plan in place to discuss (with your banker),” McDonald says. “The most common mistake people make is to come in unprepared to discuss their proposal.”

If it’s an existing business seeking additional funds for expansion, they should also bring in the past three years of financial statements. Keeping financial statements is important for any business, but because SEC and the Financial Accounting Standards Board regulations are subject to change, it can be hard for a layperson to keep up with up-to-date rules and practices. McDonald says he saw many companies miss out on recent PPP loans because they didn’t have the necessary financial records.

Luckily, banks aren’t the only source of financial knowledge and guidance for the entrepreneurial community in Greater New Orleans. Here, they can consult with experts from various industries to transform their approach to business.

Ernst & Young is a global professional services organization that specializes in assurance, tax and advisory services, and maintains a strong presence in the region. Brian Rotolo, Louisiana Managing Partner at EY, says it’s his job to help businesses navigate potential pitfalls and to act as a North Star for clients.

“Common mistakes generally relate to new accounting pronouncements,” Rotolo says. “We try to work collaboratively with clients to avoid any unintentional mistakes. Our work gives investors and others confidence that the financial info a company provides is fairly stated.”

From startups to mid-size and Fortune 500 companies, EY also provides guidance through everyday challenges and helps businesses realize new ideas and advancements. Their services include evaluating different locations for business expansion, helping clients understand various aspects of relocation, and strategizing on creative solutions to any general issues the company might be facing. Because technology plays a large role in business efficiency, E&Y has even helped clients develop innovative technologies like smartphone apps.

…all these moving parts – legal, financial, strategy, consulting and more – are equally important to a business’s longevity.”

And what behind-the-scenes team would be complete without experienced legal counsel? Local attorneys play a key role in setting up businesses for success, offering a detailed understanding of regulations and compliance requirements that will govern how a business operates, but which entrepreneurs might not always be aware of.

“The regulations and requirements are not the fun stuff, so to speak,” says Christopher Kane, a partner at Adams & Reese. While needs can vary depending on the specific business, Kane says one example of how he helps clients is with franchising, which is not only expensive but requires adherence to a number of compliance standards. Lawyers can also help clients understand incentives offered by parishes or states to open a new business. 

Kane says his process for discussing these or any other issues with clients is to keep their goals as the central focus, then to form a plan that will make those goals possible.

“We start off by asking what the barriers are to this being successful,” Kane says. “What are the regulations—state, federal, and municipal? How can we work within those regulations? How can we work to get them changed?”

Kane says that all too often, his firm is brought in after common mistakes have already been made. Not only can this result in legal problems, but can also result in missed opportunities that would have helped an entrepreneur achieve their corporate vision.

“With a good lawyer, problems can be avoided on the front end and money can be saved on the back end,” Kane says.

That philosophy applies across the board, as all these moving parts—legal, financial, strategy, consulting and more—are equally important to a business’s longevity.

It’s a good thing that no entrepreneur has to do it alone. It certainly takes a village—or in this case, it takes a region.