Business banking isn't a hot topic -- but having a good bank is crucial to your business's success.
Small business banking is a topic that sometimes gets short shrift. With interest rates only just beginning to rise and business services at big banks closely resembling one another, small business media coverage tends to focus on more interesting topics such as technology, operations and company culture.
Because the banking news is static, it's easy to forget how critical banks really are in the day-to-day of a small business. However, trying to differentiate competing banks is a difficult task. National banks tend to match one another too closely in the pricing and structure of their small business products, while local banks vary too widely based on local conditions. Still, there are a number of basic qualities that make a bank the ideal choice for a small business:
Banks are the main source of funding for many entrepreneurs, providing loans and credit products suited to many different needs. A bank that is serious about pursuing relationships with small businesses will offer financing options for every stage of a small business's development.
The easiest way to determine which local banks are active supporters of small businesses is to speak with their bankers in person. Brick-and-mortar banks have a significant advantage over online banks or lenders in this respect. If you're interested in banks that participate in government-backed financing, the Small Business Administration also provides information on the most active SBA 7(a) lenders through its online resources. One example of a highly active small business lender is Wells Fargo, which has $459 million in outstanding SBA loans as of January 2017.
However, smaller banks tend to offer better service than national banks like Wells Fargo because they're able to concentrate more of their attention and resources in their immediate neighborhoods. Though they may not have as much capital available, you'll find that local banks tend to be more flexible and accommodating towards your business's specific circumstances. While online lending has made great strides in recent years, your best chances of getting a competitive loan rate are still with your local banks.