Think of a friend, a family member, a business partner, or a customer. Close your eyes and picture them in your mind. Ready?
If you were introducing them to someone new, what would you say? It might be something like: “This is John, he lives just down the street, he has three beautiful daughters, and loves going to their soccer games.” You would try to make the connection by telling a story and finding common ground.
So here’s the question for small business owners: Does your bank know your story, your goals, your challenges? Do they know your name? Is there someone at the bank who listens, whose opinion you value? You can’t afford to answer “no” to any of these questions.
In these difficult times for small businesses it is more important than ever to have a good relationship with your bank. When was the last time you had a conversation with your branch manager? Is there a business banker or someone other than a branch manager assigned to your relationship? Who tells your story and works for you within the bank?
So where to start? Invite your branch manager or relationship manager to visit you. In most cases they would love to learn more about your small business. Make sure they know:
- How you got here
- Why you do what you do
- The most rewarding and most challenging elements of your business
- What you want your business to be when it “grows up”
Get your banker’s e-mail address and keep them updated on major developments in your business. By avoiding surprises and building trust you can make sure your banker is your number-one fan.
One easy conversation starter with your banker is to talk about money. They say that “cash is king” – the lifeblood of your small business. That dream you have for your life’s work will be financed by cold hard cash.
So three things to think about:
- How does your business generate cash? More specifically, do you get paid in cash, checks, credit cards, or transfers?
- How does it flow internally? Who manages it and how do you keep track of it?
- How and when do you pay your bills?
Take some to think about each of these. The answers will tell you a lot about your small business and form the basis for a great conversation with your banker.