Consider a small business owner on the verge of a breakthrough that could catapult their business to the next level, but who needs money. Without a capital infusion, this person won’t be able to hire the people or buy the needed equipment they need. This entrepreneur knows they need to secure a loan from a bank, but they’re dreading the process. Why?
For them, the banker represents an obstacle and not a conduit for solutions. They won’t know their banker, and their banker won’t know them. While that isn’t a deal-breaker, it can steepen their climb to success.
The lesson to be learned here is that the time to start a relationship with a banker is not when you need money; rather, it’s when you don’t. Had the small business owner introduced themselves to a banker when starting their business, built a relationship, and kept the banker apprised of progress, the need for money becomes the next logical step that both parties expect. Along the way, the owner and the banker could’ve worked together on any number of issues, clearing the path for a loan discussion.
This scenario plays out too many times, mainly because small business owners don’t understand the importance of banking relationships beyond the critical point when they might need to borrow some money. Not only are they missing out on a wealth of information and resources, but they also lose the opportunity to develop an advocate who can help them inside their bank and community.
The fact is, it’s never too early to start a relationship with your bank officer, even if your business just got off the ground or still exists only on paper. It may come as a surprise to business owners to know that bankers are just as eager to start a relationship with them. Nothing is more valuable to a bank than a loyal business customer, who may need as many as twelve to fifteen different banking products and services throughout a business life cycle. In a highly competitive market, banks know they must earn loyalty and gain it by offering valuable guidance and advice.
What You Need to Know About Commercial Bankers
To understand the value of a commercial banker, you need to understand the wealth of knowledge they can bring to the relationship. They know how to manage:
- Cash Flow. Managing cash flow is what bankers do best. Whether it’s recommending cash flow management solutions or providing advice on cash flow techniques, bankers are equipped with knowledge and tools to help you increase, smooth out or better utilize your cash flow.
- You and Your Business. It takes a relationship, but once it’s underway, your banker will know you and your business better than anyone else. Not only do they become vested in your success, but they can also offer you guidance tailored to your specific business and personal needs.
- People. Your banker is likely to be your best networking opportunity. Bankers know many people in the business community, and they build their influence by introducing their business owner clients to their network.
- Credit. Building business credit is not easy; It takes time. Your banker can guide you along the way.
- Technology. We live in a whole new age for small businesses, which formerly had to get by with rudimentary tools to help them manage their cash. New technologies have created scaled solutions for small businesses to manage their cash in the same way a large company does. Your banker has access to these state-of-the-art resources and can customize it to your needs and budget.
- Businesses Needs. Bankers can be a barometer for a business’s needs, always looking for trends and solutions for their clients. Those things can include fraud prevention solutions, human resource services, local marketing, and ecommerce.
The essence of a solid banker/business owner relationship is trust and integrity, which is built over time. With it, you can enhance your business’s prospects significantly. When started early, the relationship has time to flourish before the critical needs arise, which can then be addressed as partners.
Learn why Alpine is great for business banking by reading about our full suite of available checking accounts and loan services here.
About This Author
Alpine Bank Staff
Alpine Bank is an independent, employee-owned organization with headquarters in Glenwood Springs and banking offices across Colorado’s Western Slope, mountains and Front Range.
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