Finding the best bank for your small business is one of the most important steps you’ll take as a small business owner. Ideally, your bank will be a partner as your business evolves, helping you navigate changes in your industry and finances. As we have seen with the 2020 pandemic, the bank you choose for your business can mean the difference between staying afloat or closing your doors. With a strong history of valuing personal relationships with our customers, Fremont Bank employs experts in small business who make your success their mission. Follow these guidelines to make sure you choose a bank that will be the right fit for you now and also in the future.
Step 1: Start with Your Business Goals
Every bank should be able to offer basic products and services. But when researching the best bank for a business account, there is much more to consider.
The best small business banking accounts will also support your company’s goals, both short- and long-term. These goals can be financial and overall business goals. Map out these goals over the next five, ten, or even twenty years as a first step.
Step 2: Consider the Services Your Business Will Need
Once you’ve established your business goals, think about the types of services you will need to meet them. These could include lines of credit, small business loans, payroll, retirement accounts, and more. If you’re unsure of the services you might require, below is a list of the top services that most small business owners will need now and as their business grows.
- Credit Cards – The best business credit cards for your business will align to your spending habits. Consider if you plan to pay in full each month or pay charges off over time. Your bank should offer multiple small business credit card options with valuable features like no annual fees, 0% introductory APR, and reward points.
- Loans – Even if you don’t need a loan now, you might in the future, so it’s important to consider the bank’s lending authority and types of loans they offer. Not all banks are small business-friendly or offer competitive interest rates. In fact, some have higher interest rates for small businesses or could have unforeseen requirements during the loan application process. The best banks for small business loans will offer SBA loans, which are designed specifically for small businesses.
- Accounting & Cash Management – Accounting and cash management can be one of the biggest challenges for small business owners, especially those who lack a financial background. Accounting for small business can be as simple as paying vendors or receiving payments from customers or as complex as planning payroll for future hires. Make sure your bank has cash management options that satisfy your current needs and any that may arise in the future.
- A Personal Relationship with Your Banker – Having a relationship with a banker is often overlooked but immensely valuable. For example, during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, many business owners valued having a relationship with a banker whom they know and can call for help. Larger banks with tens or hundreds of thousands of clients are not always able to address individual needs in a timely manner or offer support with a unique situation, even when the circumstances are high stakes. This may not be on your radar from day to day, but it can make a huge difference for your business’s success.
If you’re unsure what services your business needs, meeting with a small business specialist from the banks you’re considering will be illuminating. Explore how s/he envisions your goals coming to life and the services s/he recommends. Ask yourself if this vision aligns with your business goals.
Step 3: Consider Benefits You’d Like:
- Ability to Bank in Person or Online – As a business owner, your time is valuable. Make sure your bank offers the ability to get things done either online or in person. Having this choice will help you be more efficient in your day-to-day and long-term financial management.
- Location Proximity to Your Business – If you want to bank exclusively in person, examine the bank’s locations for ease of use. If you prefer to bank over the phone or online with fewer in-person trips, the bank’s location isn’t as important.
- Experience in Your Business’s Industry – Familiarity with your industry means the bank will better understand your business needs and will be more prepared to advise you on an ongoing basis. Along with this, consider the bank’s experience in your community. Nuances that come with local banking can often be overlooked by national banks.
- Customer Support Accessibility – Is someone at the bank available to help you during the hours you do business? Make sure that in-person, phone, or chat/email support is available to you when you need it.
Step 4: Finalize Your Decision
Now that you’ve clearly laid out your business goals and considered the services and benefits your business needs, it’s time to interview banks. Meet with a small business specialist and get a feel for your local branch. Your relationship with your bank will likely be long term, so you want to make sure you choose a banker and a branch that suit your needs.
During your initial meeting, and before committing, make sure to review the following elements associated with your new business account:
- Fee Structures – These can include service fees, ATM fees, management fees, and more. Is there anything unexpected or that won’t work with how you manage your business?
- Perks & Incentives – Are there any incentives for new customers or customers who currently have a personal account that are opening a business account? Perks shouldn’t make or break your decision, but they can be nice to have.
- Features Your Business May Need in the Future – If you have any big plans on the distant horizon, make sure you discuss them with your potential banker now. This will help you avoid having to switch banks in the future if you find that they cannot satisfy your needs.
Ready to get started with small business banking? Fremont Bank small business specialists can help you through the process, starting with establishing your business goals, all the way through making your final decision. Contact us at (866) 222-7215 or Business.Services@fremontbank.com to begin envisioning the future of your small business.