Written by: Marlene Piche, SVP Head of Branch Banking, Union Savings Bank
One of your first considerations when exploring how to start your own business was likely where you were going to get the funds you needed for everything from financing a piece of property to buying everyday supplies. Whether you’re still getting your bearings or you’re a seasoned pro, finding a bank that can offer all of the small business services you need can be a challenge. Your first instinct might be to turn to a large nationwide bank, but did you know that a local community bank can be a big asset to your small business?
Here are 10 more things that might surprise you about banking local.
Local banks can offer the same products as the big banks, and more.
A common misconception about banking with a community bank is that they offer fewer products and small business services compared to large national banks. In general, most banks offer a similar array of products, but what you might not get from a larger bank is the ability to fit those products into your small business’s unique needs. When you are looking to start a banking relationship or make a change, meet with a member of your local bank’s business team to learn how flexible they can be.
Your community bank is tech savvy.
Whether you operate out of your home or manage multiple local small businesses, you rely on small business services that move as fast as you do. It’s understandable that you might turn to a large nationwide bank with the expectation that their size and dispersal will help your business grow. After all, the larger the organization, the better their technology will be, right? Not necessarily. Just like your small business, every community bank needs to find a competitive edge. In many cases, a community bank can offer the same innovative online tools as a large commercial bank, but with a more personal touch. These offerings include mobile banking, video resources, peer-to-peer payments and more.
Relationships matter at local banks.
With a large nationwide bank, you might find that you interact with a new person each time you call. As a small business owner, you know the importance of connecting with your customers on a personal level; after all, they’re valuable members of the local community, just like you. Find a local bank that follows an advice-based model and puts the relationships with their customers front and center.
Local banks are, well, local.
An obvious point, but also an important one. If you have ever called a customer service center at a chain clothing store, you know that the specialist on the other end of the line isn’t necessarily in your area, and that’s okay. Quite often, calling to ask about an item of clothing you purchased has little to do with the specific region or town you live in.
When you have a banking question for your small business, however, location can be critical. The customer service center of a large nationwide bank might be located anywhere throughout the country, meaning their experts might be able to answer your questions, but they may not see the full picture. A local community bank can help you understand financial decisions as they relate to your specific business and location because they live and work there, too.
Bank in one place, but gain access to the whole network.
In many cases, you can manage both your personal and business banking needs within a single bank. If you work with a large nationwide brand, chances are that even if you visit the same location for both, your personal and business banking teams do not interact. Managing all of your banking needs with a small bank means that not only do those teams interact, but they can likely advise you on decisions that impact both your personal life and your small business.
They’re giving back to the community – your community.
The support a community bank can offer to its surrounding areas directly impacts local small businesses, because the volunteer hours and money raised stay in the community – your community. Your business lenders might volunteer with you on the PTA, lead the local chamber of commerce or serve on the board of a community non-profit. Your cash flow management team might be running in your town’s 5k or helping build homes in your neighborhood with Habitat for Humanity. At Union Savings Bank, our Foundation has the opportunity to partner with and support local non-profits, many of which have special focuses on education.
If you need to bank internationally, they might not be the right fit.
If you frequently operate with several different currencies, a community bank might not be the best fit. You might also want to reconsider banking local if you require frequent and significant access to ATMs across multiple states. If you own and operate multiple businesses across the same state, however, a local bank can still be a great choice, using their market familiarity and expertise to help you set your growth and overall business goals.
Local banks want your small business to succeed.
That’s not to say that nationwide banks don’t want your small business to do well. But in the case that your large bank is headquartered outside of your state, they likely don’t share your level of passion for the local community. Your community bank is invested – literally – in the neighborhoods and other local small businesses around you. So whatever need your small business fills in your community, you can bet that your local bank is cheering you on as you pursue your goals.
Small banks know their stuff.
If your small business operates in a crowded market, then you know a thing or two about standing out from the competition. Your community bank does, too, which is why they equip themselves with knowledgeable experts who know their stuff. They’ll take the time to understand what you hope to achieve for your small business and can help you build a business plan, find a piece of property or buy when the inventory is available.
Choosing to bank with a mutual bank can work in your favor, too. Without the pressure and obligations from shareholders, mutual banks can keep your business and the local community in mind when making decisions.
Choosing a bank for your small business is a personal decision.
You worked hard to build your small business, and choosing the right banking partner to help you reach your goals is no small decision. As a small business owner, you are an essential piece of the fabric of your community, so finding the community bank that will protect that relationship and put your needs front and center is paramount to your continued success. If you’re ready to work with a local bank for your small business banking needs, we’re here to help. Contact us today.