Elevate NW Conference 2020 Spotlight: Bank of America

By: Corinne Lumens Posted: 08/07/2020

Get a sneak peek of advice from our stellar speaker, Aaron Stuesser

Small Business Spotlight header - Aaron Bank of America

From solopreneurs to companies that employ tens of thousands of people, we all play a role in building relationships that create an environment where small businesses can continue to flourish and innovate. Join us for the third annual Elevate NW, a conference dedicated to the growth and success of small businesses in the Seattle metro region.

Below is an introduction to Bank of America's Vice President and Small Business Bank Manager Aaron Stuesser who is featured in our first Elevate NW webinar, Access to Capital.

Listen to the full Access to Capital webinar recording from Aug. 10 here.
Learn how you can benefit from the rest of our Elevate NW Conference, Aug. 10-13, here.

Tell us a little about your company and yourself.
I started in the financial industry in 2006 and have held many roles inside and outside of consumer banking, but always customer facing, and after shifting to focus specifically on working with small businesses in 2015, first directly as a small business banker myself then to leading a team of small business bankers, I have found my passion for working with small business owners that are the backbone of our community. 2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for many, and small business owners have seen much of the worst of it, so I appreciate the opportunity to help them in any way I can.

What are your "Next Steps" for recovery?
Getting to a point where small business owners can operate in a capacity that allows them to re-open and serve customers in a safe and effective manner is going to be key to recovery from the pandemic. Many small businesses have found creative ways to pivot their business model by going online, or expanding into outdoor spaces, even mobile business operations that are helping to keep them moving forward and in many cases finding new ways to modernize their business and to stay competitive with larger businesses that aren’t able to be so nimble in changing business models.

How should a business owner go about planning their “Next Steps” and/or what do you recommend for “Next Steps?”
There are a number of steps that we talk with clients about as they reopen their business, the first is connecting with their customers to tell them what their plans are. Customers need to not only know that you are open but how you plan to keep them safe so they can continue to support you, if changing business models or offering new services, ensure that your regular and best customers know too so they can advocate for you. Communicating with your staff is key too, they need to understand what your plan is, how they fit into it and how they play a part in keeping the business running as well as the consequences of inaction or failure to follow the right steps. Reputational risk is a concern for any small business owners, and it can cause even more problems in an environment where the impact could have larger economic and medical implications.

How has your business helped/supported Seattle’s small and medium business community during the pandemic?
Our team of small business specialists worked tirelessly to help our customers through the PPP process, and will soon help with the forgiveness process too, but now that PPP is nearing the end of its application phase we have been able to shift the majority of our focus to advising and consulting business owners on how to navigate these unique times and help them not only survive but thrive now and in the long run by focusing on their key needs regarding adequate cash flow, focusing on their employees, planning for future improvements to the business and ensuring that they can easily bank in an environment where in-person help may not always be available or reachable for at-risk individuals who can’t visit their bank in person.

What’s one piece of advice you have for someone looking to start or grow their business, especially considering the current climate?
Be creative, think of ways to flourish now that can be expanded into the future when we have moved beyond all of this. There are many business owners now who have found new ways to engage their customers and grow their business that will separate them from their peers if executed effectively

To hear more from Aaron Stuesser and many more, join us for our annual Elevate NW conference:

Elevate NW Conference 2020
Monday-Thursday, August 10-13

This year, the conference will be held virtually. There will be a one-hour session each day, Monday – Thursday. The sessions Monday-Wednesday will feature panels on specific topics and we’ll wrap up the conference with our featured keynote speaker on Thursday. We’ll also have a structured happy hour on Wednesday afternoon to help you connect with fellow attendees.

Elevate NW Conference Highlights:

Session One Aug. 10, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Access to Capital

Session Two Aug. 11, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Pivoting & Future Proofing Your Business

Session Three Aug. 12, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Best Practices for Reopening

Session Four Aug. 12, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Happy Hour & Connect

Session Five Aug. 13, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Keynote Presentation