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What the Banker Found Keep meticulous financial records from Day One, or pay the price later.

By Kate Lister

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

"Always dress for the job two levels above yours." That bit of advice came from my first real boss when I was a fresh-out-of-college newbie banker. She meant the advice literally. But over my corporate and entrepreneurial career, I've seen how important "dressing up" figuratively is, too, for a startup business.

If your goal is to qualify for a bank or SBA loan a year or two down the road, start dressing the part now. That means, among other things, having a good financial management system.

Back in my days as a bank lender, I was handed a credit file on a shoe store chain and asked to review the owner's latest loan request. On the surface, it looked like an entrepreneurial success story. Based on the performance of his first shoe store, the bank had loaned him money to expand. He used it during the following three years to add a dozen stores. This request was for an increase in his line of credit and a term loan to fund his continued expansion.

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