Start Me Up:  How Community Banks Help Startups

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When people dream of starting their own business, they point to many different motivating factors:  pursuing a passion, financial goals, and being your own boss. They don’t dream of getting into business so they can learn the ins and outs of business finance, but they’ll need to do that eventually. In fact, they should do it before they even open their doors. Community bankers can help startup owners learn about business finance, help connect them with others they can partner with and, most importantly, provide the ongoing financial guidance and financing to help boost their chances for success.

Your Nearby Business Coach

A Forbes article once described banks as natural-born incubators for business, exactly because of their ability to both provide business knowledge and their existing connections to additional mentors and potential partners.

You can learn a lot about starting and running a business from community bankers. Not only will they know how to share key knowledge regarding business financing with you, they can also discuss handling issues that can hold back some talented entrepreneurs from getting started.

Student debt, for instance, makes many potential startup owners hesitate, because they’re not sure their new business would provide the future cash flow necessary for paying back their loans. A loan officer at a community bank could discuss this objectively and help with the forecasting.

The range of topics that bankers can help with is large. As community bankers, they’ve already worked with a variety of businesses. Even if yours is new to them, chances are they’ll be able to draw on similar experiences to help you along. In any case, their guidance in understanding business finances will help you take control of your future.

Instant Network

Starting a new business shouldn’t be a solo effort. That doesn’t mean that you absolutely need a co-owner to get into business. It means you should feel comfortable asking others to help you succeed. And one of the best ways to do that is to leverage your business network.

But what if you don’t already have a network to leverage? No worries. Community banks are a smart place to start. That’s where you’ll find bank managers, loan officers, and other specialists who are already well connected in the area.

While networking, be sure to serve as a valued resource to those you connect with. It is better to give than to receive, and the community bankers will very much appreciate that you’re helping those in their existing network.

Financing Success

In business, especially for startups, cash flow is king. A community banker will help explain how to forecast cash flow in a way that allows you to invest wisely without getting caught short. After all, when you’re putting all your effort into running and building your business, the last thing you want is to have your momentum killed by a cash-flow crunch.

Now, let’s say that your startup is humming along. Cash flow is totally under control and predictable, but you need to invest in a new building, vehicles, or some other capital equipment to get to the next stage. Again, the community bank’s loan officer can work with you to identify the best way to finance this growth.

And, one day, if you choose to sell your business, the community bank will still be there to help you get your house (or restaurant, or factory, etc.) in order, so you’ll get the best price at acquisition.

The Takeaway

Starting a business is a common dream. It’s not for everyone, but if it’s for you, get some help from a nearby community bank. You’ll have a much better chance of understanding the business you’re going to be in and extend your business network along the way.