A guide through the murky waters of the business banking world
We can all agree that one of the most basic goals a business has is to bring in a profit. That profit is the income allowing you to keep your doors open, and hopefully continue growing and expanding. A practical question every business owner must face is what to do with that money. It’s a precious commodity, and you don’t want to trust it to just anyone! But in the current economy, there are many different business banking options available, from credit unions to local banks to national banks.
There’s quite a bit of debate about what type of financial institution is better, but no matter which route you decide is best for your business, here are 6 things you should pay attention to as you make your choice:
This is vital, and should be the foundation you start with. Building a strong relationship with your banker will be one of the best things you can do for your business. Make that your first criteria for choosing where to do your business banking; don’t let clever marketing distract you from prioritizing the necessity of relationships. When things go wrong or you need advice, having someone you can trust as a resource is invaluable. Look for a banker who’s not only knowledgeable about their industry, but someone who’s familiar with your industry, and knows the local business scene well.
Banks are businesses, too. As a small business owner, you likely look for ways to be involved in contributing to the growth of your local community. Partner with a bank that has the same values. It’s important they know what’s going on in the community they’re a part of, and that they work to support it.
We don’t always think of checking accounts and credit cards as products we buy, but that’s exactly what they are. And every financial institution has their own “lineup” of products they offer to their customers. Do your research on the banks and credit unions in your area. See who offers a product that best lines up with your business’ specific needs.
In addition to basic account options, most financial institutions also have additional “perks” they add on to sweeten the deal. Pay attention to these – you might find one that’s really beneficial for how you do your banking! Things like online banking, special rewards debit cards or credit cards, mobile banking apps, free check orders, and free checking accounts are all little details that may make a big different to you.
Of course, everything always has a fine print – especially in the banking world, it seems. While shopping around for a bank or credit union, be careful to read the fine print, and don’t hesitate to ask clarifying questions if you need to. “Free” checking accounts are sometimes only free after meeting a certain list of criteria. Ask ahead of time how much various fees are, and what would cause them to be applied to your account.
This is an especially important point to consider if you’re looking at a local bank or credit union. Big banks have branches and ATM’s just about everywhere; that may not be the case with a smaller institution. Also inquire about what hours support is offered for online or other banking needs; smaller banks may not have a 24/7 phone number.
When it comes down to it, the most important consideration you can make is finding a financial institution you can trust that will meet your specific business banking needs best. There isn’t a one-size-fits all answer; it’s up to you to determine where you will find the best success. And when in doubt? Ask around for input from other business owners. Knowing someone who knows someone is often a good place to start.