With a strong background in Community Development and Financing of Public Improvement Projects, Oscar Novelo brings his talents to the Oregon SBDC Capital Access Team. This is his story
What brings you to the Small Business Development Center Capital Access Team (CAT Team) ? I enjoy working with business owners because I gain fulfillment from helping them optimize or grow their business.
What is your real world experience? Much of my career was spent in community development, financing affordable housing, commercial development, or public improvement projects. I transitioned into small business financing; first as a credit analyst, then as a portfolio manager, and finally as a lender. I have helped finance everything from lines of credit to equipment purchases, and commercial real estate. I have also used SBA guarantee and state guarantee programs.
What is your favorite part about being an SBDC Cat Team Advisor? I enjoy helping entrepreneurs either obtain the financing they need, preparing them to access capital, or exposing them to financing options they may not have known about before.
Tell us about a time that you were most proud in your role as an advisor. I was most proud when I helped a small business owner obtain a $50,000 line of credit that allowed her to work on a $400,000 Federal contract. She had been rejected by her bank because they used an algorithm to make a funding decision. With common sense digging and supporting documents, we were able to convince a lender to approve the line of credit. She is now grossing $3,000,000 a year.
What kind of transformation do you see in your clients during your work with them? I see clients learn about the various financing options. I also see them obtain the best financing options for their situation. And I see them be better prepared for future growth.
What skills are needed in order for someone to achieve success in small business? There are many, however, because I focus on financing, I’m partial to the financial side of things. I believe that a business owner needs a good understanding of their balance sheet and income statement. This means that — although they don’t have to be accountants — they should be conversant about their financial statements and be able to explain why certain line items trend a certain way from year to year. This also means that they should have, at minimum, an accounting system in place from day one.
What do you think clients struggle the most with when it comes to getting financing for their small business? I think that when we discuss business finance, people may think that the discussion is complex. However, financing a business loan or a commercial real estate acquisition normally boils down to one or two ratios that — if explained correctly — anyone can understand. The math is simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
How do you help them with this? Growing up, I never considered myself a mathematical genius so when I explain things, I like to break them down in digestible parts that I could understand.
If you could give one piece of advice to all your future clients, what would it be? Don’t be shy about asking questions. There is no dumb question. Ask for help before it’s too late to do anything about the problem.
How do you keep yourself knowledgeable and up to date on trends and industry standards in order to deliver the best quality of service? I keep up with Federal and State legislation that affects small business financing. Laws such as the Community Reinvestment Act direct bank regulators on how to measure bank performance, and thus incentivize banks on how to approach small business lending. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform & Consumer Protection Act (Section 1071) will also impact how lenders are evaluated, and thus, how they are incentivized to lend to small businesses.
What do you do for fun? I love to travel with my wife, whether it be short trips or long ones. I love to explore good food. And I like to ride my bicycle