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How to work with your business banker
A relationship with a banker can provide extra support to your business. Learn how to best use it.
Last year, I interviewed an entrepreneur on my radio show who couldn't get a loan for years even though his business was cash-flow positive. He applied for credit again and got turned down, again. Then he did something that made all the difference: He forged a relationship with a business banker.
This time, his banker sat down with him and explained why his application was getting declined. The entrepreneur needed to provide more supporting documentation of his financial position, and he needed to clear up an issue with his personal credit history. Just months after following this advice, he got a loan.
Your business banker: A critical team member
A good relationship with a business banker can:
Help you diagnose problems: As you would expect, your banker can point you to suitable deposit accounts and credit options for your business, but your banker can also help you identify problems and seize opportunities. For instance, your banker can help you identify problems with how your business manages its cash flow. Your banker can help you with creative solutions like setting aside funds during busy times to survive seasonal lows, or establishing and utilizing a line of credit.
Show you what lenders look for: Some small business owners might have some work to do to build or repair their business and personal credit profiles. Your banker can provide guidance to help you clean up and build your credit.
Maximize your time: Your banker can make things more convenient for you by letting you schedule appointments online or may possibly visit you at your place of business. You also can leverage the latest technologies to manage your accounts, thereby freeing up some of your valuable time.
Connect you with bank resources: Your banker may have access to a network of people and services that can help you pursue opportunities. Your banker could also set you up with the appropriate payroll service or direct you to online resources like the Business Plan Center.
Choosing the bank that's right for you
The first step is to pick a bank that you feel comfortable with, and trust your gut. When you interact with your banker, see if they are curious about your business and able to grasp your revenue model — even if they don't know everything about your industry.
Once you've chosen your bank, be sure to:
Build a long-term banker/customer relationship: Take the time to get to know your banker, and let them learn about you. Be honest about where your business is, where you've struggled, and where you've succeeded.
Check in: Try to talk to your banker each quarter about your goals and the changing fundamentals of your business.
Use a credit check service: Run a check of your credit at the government provided free site like AnnualCreditReport.com. Then collect the results and ask your banker for recommendations on how to improve your creditworthiness.
Plan your future: Look ahead and consider where you plan to take your business. Ask your banker for guidance and listen to it.
Lastly, if you like your business banker, recommend him or her to people you know. Help your banker build on your success. Never forget that business at its best is about people helping other people.