What’s your biggest concern as a business owner? If it’s related to managing your finances, then rest assured you’re not alone. The Allstate/USA Today Small Business Barometer, a survey issued to small business owners across the country, found that almost 50% of small business owners have sacrificed their own salary for the good of their business in recent months. As a business owner, you’re an expert in the products and services that you provide your customers, but it can be difficult to take care of everything yourself. There are a number of things you can do to help you save time and energy, but your best line of defense for taking care of financial matters is establishing a solid partnership with your local bank.
A dedicated bank rep from your local branch can make time to come to your business, get to know you and your employees, and suggest the best options to meet your needs, whether that’s equipment purchases, training or just good old-fashioned advice. Business partnership with your local bank can help unlock the mysteries of financial management so you can focus on what you know best – providing the best products and services to your customers. Here are a few areas where a trusted expert at your local bank can help you.
1. Online Banking
One of the most important ways a trusted banking partner can help you is through selecting and setting up a method for managing your money. In today’s digital world, the most practical method for businesses is online banking. One of the key benefits of using online banking is convenience – whether you’re in your office, on the road or at home, you can access your accounts to manage your cash flows on a daily basis.
2. Payment Processing
Payment processing is of course a major financial consideration for businesses. To maximize your sales, your infrastructure needs to be versatile enough to accept the type of payment your customers prefer to use, whether that’s cash, debit, credit or even alternative methods like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. There are a number of hardware and software configurations available depending on your needs. For example, if your business takes you on the road for a house-call to a customer or a sales opportunity at an industry event, then you’ll need the correct equipment to handle mobile payment transactions. Your business banker is an expert in payment processing and management options, so they can help you find the best fit for your business.
3. Remote Deposit Capture
If your business banking relies on a check-based payment stream, then you’re already familiar with the time it takes to trek to your local bank and deposit your checks. However, modern technology provides you with the option of taking care of this from your own office, at your own convenience. Many banks offer their business customers remote deposit capture scanners, which you can use to scan receivables and have them posted to your account online, all without having to physically go to a branch. Remote deposit capture scanners are similar to the equipment used by bank tellers, and there are a variety of hardware configurations available that can process higher volumes of checks more quickly, which can save you (or your bookkeeper) a lot of time.
If you’re busy enough that you want to eliminate the time and expense of processing checks in-house, then you can investigate whether your banking partner offers lockbox services. With this setup, all you have to do is have your payments sent directly to a specific lockbox, which your bank will retrieve on a daily basis and process for you.
4. Fraud Mitigation
In addition to making your life more convenient, your business banker can provide you added peace of mind, especially when it comes to protecting against the financial loss that can result from fraud. Every business is a potential victim of fraud, both from external sources and internal sources, and while it’s difficult to eliminate entirely, it’s possible to minimize risk through fraud detection services. Some local banks can help you set up automated systems that will notify you of any unusual or unauthorized pay disbursement from your accounts. Knowing that your accounts are under constant monitoring for potential fraud can allow you to focus more on managing your business making your life a little less hectic.
5. Business Credit & Debit Cards
Another area where it pays to have a trusted banking partner is navigating how to separate your personal and business expenses. One way to do so is by getting a business credit or debit card. Business cards tend to have higher credit limits, which will allow you to make more expensive purchases on equipment or other items you need as your business grows. Business credit and debit cards are also a convenient way to help you manage your employees’ expenses. If you have to send employees on the road and they incur expenses, charging them to a business card eliminates the need to reimburse your employees, which adds an extra level of convenience to ensuring your company finances are in order. You can even provide them with their own business card with a lower limit.
6. Commercial Lending
The best time to get a loan is when you don’t need it, so it’s critical to have a readily accessible line of credit open to your business before an unexpected expense comes your way. There are a number of different options available to you, including revolving lines of credit for short-term capital needs, such as covering payroll, or installment loans for funding long-term plans, such as mortgages or new equipment purchases. Consulting with your business banker can help you understand the pros and cons of various options as well as navigate the loan approval process.
The best part about partnering with local banks is that the relationship can grow with your business. As your small venture grows to employ a larger team, your rep can meet with you and your employees to advise them on how they can make the best financial choices in the office and at home. To make sure you’re considering the best options for your business, make an appointment with your local bank to discuss your financial future.
Written by Marlene Piche
SVP, Head of Branch Banking, Union Savings Bank