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Banking 101 For (Very) Small Business Owners

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If you've ever looked for banking resources, you've probably noticed that many of them are oriented towards "small" business with hundreds of employees and revenue that might make your head spin. While this advice may be mostly applicable to companies of any size, very small businesses face a variety of unique challenges. If you are your business's only employee, or you only employ a few people, then many of your day-to-day challenges will be much different from those faced by larger companies. This makes finding a bank that understands your needs all the more critical.

Why Does Your Bank Matter?

Any business lives and dies by money, and no business owner is stashing their income under the mattress. At the most basic level, working with a bank you can trust is essential so that you know your money is always available when you need it. Simply accessing your business's available funds can be tricky if you make use of products such as employee checking accounts or rely on your bank for additional services, such as tax preparation or payroll. Working with the right bank ensures that you never need to worry about having your funds available when and where you need them, no matter the circumstances.

Choosing the Right Bank

If your banking needs are relatively straightforward, then there are three primary factors you should consider when choosing a bank:

  • Location
  • Existing relationships
  • Support

Although it may seem quaint in this digital age, having a bank with a convenient physical location is often crucial for small business owners. When a problem comes up, a nearby branch provides a site where you can go for help without being stuck on a phone line with customer support. Access to physical ATMs is often helpful if you commonly receive payments or make purchases in cash.

Even better, working with a nearby bank that you use for your personal accounts can have benefits. Existing relationships sometimes mean that you can gain access to financial products that would otherwise be unavailable. Small banks may be more willing to lend to existing customers, even if their credit scores are not outstanding.

Finally, be sure that you have a good understanding of how much support you want and expect. Do you prefer to receive financial advice, tax preparation, and similar services from your bank? If so, don't ignore the value of banks that provide these services for you. Working with a bank that provides support of this type can also help you to build a relationship with your bank, potentially offering more benefits over the long term.

Don't Take This Decision Lightly

Ultimately, remember that your bank matters. While you can always switch to another bank later, many benefits come from choosing a great bank and building a lasting relationship with them. When selecting a bank for your business, take your time and do your research. The time you spend establishing your unique business needs and finding a bank that meets them will pay off in a long-lasting and beneficial banking relationship.