5 Business Growth Tips Your Banker Should Share With You
Financial institutions can play a vital role in building a small business. The bank or credit union you partner with should serve as a guide as you work hard to build a steady cash flow. But not all financial institutions are proactive in sharing solutions that are often readily within reach for even the busiest small-business owner.
We spoke with Annette Campista, vice president and regional director for Umpqua Bank, headquartered in Portland, Ore., who shares how many business owners suffer because they don’t have key information and experience that can make a big difference in their growth. Campista recommends keeping in mind these five things that financial institutions often neglect to mention.
1. When it comes to bookkeeping, don’t ‘wing it.’
New businesses can’t afford many mistakes, especially when it comes to their accounting practices. In some cases, businesses are starting out without a full staff, forcing them to try to learn bookkeeping as they go. Many business owners make the rookie mistake of giving this work to an inexperienced family member or friend. Some companies may use an experienced bookkeeper who simply has trouble learning to work with a new accounting system or a bank’s online platform.
The best banks will train employees virtually, teaching them to use features like ACH payments (debit and credit transactions), wire transfer, and remote deposits. This training also gets employees up to speed on pulling the reports needed to monitor cash flow.
“Business owners are extremely excited to know that we're taking another task off their plate by providing training for a new employee,” Campista says.
2. Your financial consultant should know your industry.
When choosing a financial partner, businesses should ensure they’ll be working with someone who understands their industry. A manufacturer, for instance, needs a banker that understands when gross revenue reaches a point where they can add additional employees or buy new equipment. Campista says she often finds that businesses are simply doing what they’ve always done, with current employees training new hires. By advising owners, experienced bankers can provide a fresh perspective.
“We engage the business owner by providing a holistic analysis and business review to ensure we set them up for future success, and quite frankly save them time and money,” she says.
3. Don’t underestimate the importance of your personal credit.
Many business owners assume their personal and professional finances are separate, but that isn’t always the case. Lenders can have a difficult time helping businesses obtain credit if the owner’s personal credit rating is lacking, even if a business is well established or making a lot of money.
“Personal credit matters, even if your business is in the black,” Campista says. “If it comes time for needing a loan or a line of credit, you could be in some trouble if your personal situation has been a challenge.”
4. Check in with bookkeepers regularly.
With so many other things to juggle each day, business owners can often deprioritize monitoring their financials, dismissing it as something they’ll let their bookkeepers handle. Unfortunately, this can easily lead a business to waste valuable money since they aren’t tracking how much of their income goes toward unnecessary expenses.
“I’ve had customers not realize they had spent a lot of money bringing food in for their staff,” Campista says. “They actually spent over $10,000 buying lunches through the year.”
5. Don’t get caught in the banking fee minefield.
Fees are an unavoidable part of doing business, and Campista compares it to navigating a minefield. As businesses grow, they can easily find they’ve outgrown their current account features and their account activities can create extra fees. When conducting annual account reviews with each client, Umpqua’s bankers look for ways to maximize business objectives with minimal fee friction, looking at transaction history, payment practices and debt structures for possible savings and peace of mind.
“A savvy banker will very quickly assess and reduce (fees) as quickly as possible, which creates a true partnership with our business owner,” Campista says.
Choosing a financial institution is a big move for any new business. By finding a bank that will partner with you to ensure you have what it takes to succeed in the long run, you’ll be giving yourself a head start on building a business that will thrive.
This article was created and commissioned for Umpqua Bank, Member FDIC.