Many first-time small business owners see their relationship with their business bank as being entirely one way. They deposit money, they take out money, they write checks – all the interactions focus solely on what people think of as traditional banking services. This isn’t surprising, given that large national and regional banking chains work very hard to cultivate just this type of a relationship with their customers. It often comes as a surprise to many business owners that their bank can be a huge asset in terms of small business development.
Your banker can be a huge source of value when it comes to small business development. Above and beyond simply helping you with your business needs, most bankers that deal primarily with small businesses can offer advice, guidance, and valuable insight that is hard to come by anywhere else. These additional services aren’t on the bank’s website, and you won’t find them in any brochure in the lobby. Nevertheless, they can be among some of the most powerful and important services your bank provides.
Chances are your banker has seen a lot of business plans over the years. Often, they’ve also seen which ones are successful, and which ones are most likely to fail. This kind of business plan assistance can be incredibly helpful to formulating a business plan and working out the kinks. Because many small business bankers review business plans for loans, and then have the loan repayment information to confirm whether the business succeeded or failed, they can be invaluable in looking for flaws or holes in your business plan, and can help you shore up possible weaknesses.
Writing a small business plan is very difficult and time consuming, and many small business owners simply don’t know where to start or what needs to be put in them. While professional services exist solely for helping with business plans, these services often carry a significant cost, and rarely have the same ability to track success and failure as your banker. So whether you’re writing out your business plan for the first time, or sprucing it up and updating it in preparation for seeking financing, consider running it by your business banker and get some valuable business plan assistance.
You have a business, you’ve been generating record sales month after month, and now it’s tax time and you need an accountant or bookkeeper. Or maybe you’re looking to close a big deal and need an attorney to help you review the contract. Or maybe your office network has gone down and you need someone to come in and get things back online ASAP. Small businesses often run on the strength of their support services. Finding these support services can be difficult, though. Without referrals from a trusted source, it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed by the myriad of professionals all fighting over your business. Predicaments like these can be a roadblock to your small business development, if you are not able to efficiently remedy such issues.
This is another area where your small business banker can point you in the right direction in terms of small business development. Especially at a local community bank, your banker is likely very plugged in to the professional services community. Bankers often have the advantage of being able to interact with a huge variety of professionals, and often have a good idea of who is working with whom and how that relationship is going. In fact, asking your banker for a recommendation is often better than going out and asking other business owners. Why? Because bankers have a wide variety of clients, and talk to people in all sorts of industries and professions, letting them get a broader picture of the people they recommend.
Want to get an idea about how the retail sector is doing in your community? You can go out and do your own research, hire a professional firm to conduct some surveys, or ask your banker. Bankers, simply by nature of their job, often have their fingers right on the pulse of their communities. While they would never disclose any confidential or proprietary information, watching accounts open and close and loans come and go gives them some pretty good insight into the state of the local economy. Talking to your business banker is a great way to prepare for expansion or contractions, identify new market segments, or determine if your business will be financially viable in a new area.