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Trusted Advisors are Crucial to Entrepreneurs: #SFSBW2015 Interview: Emily Shanks, Bank of America

#SFSBW2015 asked small business owners and the organizations that support them throughout the year to share insights, best practices, stories and resources to help small business owners flourish. Today we talk to Emily Shanks, Region Executive for the Small Business Banking, Bank of America.

Tell me about your organization/role.
My title is Small Business Banking Regional Executive for Bank of America.  I lead a team of more than 200 Small Business Banking Managers and Small Business Bankers who are focused on the needs of our small business customers.  My territory includes California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

What is your organization doing to help small business owners navigate today’s increasingly competitive marketplace?DSC_7856
I’ve been with Bank of America for more than 25 years, and I’ve seen a lot of innovation and growth in this sector, which I’m really excited about. We are committed to having small business bankers on the ground who are really able to serve as valuable strategic partners to entrepreneurs; these bankers understand their respective markets and can help small businesses be better positioned to thrive.

What is your organization doing to attract and support women small businesses?
Over the last 40 years, women-owned businesses have become an increasingly important part of the U.S. economy, generating trillions of dollars in economic activity and revitalizing communities. However, many women face obstacles when it comes to gaining capital. Bank of America has worked with the Tory Burch Foundation to launch Elizabeth Street Capital, an initiative dedicated to ensuring women business owners have access to the resources they need to grow successful businesses. Additionally, Bank of America has a longstanding relationship supporting women entrepreneurs with NAWBO and will be presenting sponsor of their national conference for the third consecutive year.

What is one lesson you would like to share with small business owners—especially those who are struggling to change the way they do business in the current climate?
The most recent Small Business Owner Report found that 64 percent of small business owners feel that they are still recovering from the Great Recession; 63 percent of small business owners in the Bay Area feel the same way. Additionally, in San Francisco, small business owners are competing for talent with tech companies that offer fancy perks and hefty salaries.

I would encourage small business owners to work with their small business bankers or other trusted advisors to see what they can afford to change and where it might make most sense to allocate their dollars. Perhaps it’s investing in training current talent rather than hiring from the outside. Or it might make sense to look into mobile payment systems—it really depends on the business. Not all changes need to cost a lot of money.

What is the most important belief or principle that guides your work and the trajectory of your organization?
Be straightforward and passionate about what you’re doing. Understand why you’re making the decisions you’re making and understand how a series of tasks helps you meet your goals. I’m inspired everyday hearing about the success stories of small businesses throughout California that are thriving and creating new jobs.

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