Operating a small business in the 21st century is no walk in the park. Ask any small business owner what keeps them up at night and you’ll likely hear a range of concerns from issues with sales, to problems bridging a gap in payroll, to the rising cost of health insurance.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Research Foundation recently released its ninth survey of Small Business Problems and Priorities and of the 75 potential business problems assessed from a large sample of small business owners, the top 10 most severe were as follows:Cost of health insurance
Federal taxes on business income
Uncertainty over economic conditions
Uncertainty over government action
Frequent changes in federal tax laws and rules
State taxes on business income
Locating qualified employees
In my role as a bank relationship manager, this is typically the first question I ask my clients. I want to know what keeps them up at night — and often, the persistent thoughts are not necessarily bad, but a reflection of exciting times ahead.
Whatever the issue, my job is to devise the best financial solution available for each client. For example, perhaps you’re a business owner who needs a plan of action to manage the upcoming off-season. Or perhaps you’ve decided to expand your business and hired a new, full-time employee and need help to cover the shortfall until the expanded workforce begins to pay for itself. For both of these situations, a revolving line of credit may be a good option to consider. With a revolving line of credit, you’re able to make sure your needs and expenses are met exactly when you need them and at your own discretion.
Recently, I had a client who had outgrown their office space and was faced with an impending move. His dilemma: continue to rent or invest in his own brick and mortar? This customer and I have a strong working relationship and through ongoing, honest communication, we were able to bring capital and planning together and design the financial solution to achieve his overall business goals.
This client also had a great advisory team with whom we worked. There were many calls between myself, his CPA, his attorney — all of us wanting the same thing — the best financial solution for our client that would serve him now and protect his wealth in the future. Sometimes, our job is a tough one, and we have to give our clients advice they don’t want to hear. But, I’ve found if our working relationship is a strong one, the lines of communication can stay open, and we can work as team for the good of the customers’ short and long-term goals.
If you’re a business owner and have not found an advisory team who will give you both the good and the bad, then you need to keep looking until you have the right people in place. Over the years, increased competitive pressures and regulation have spurred two main ideologies within the banking industry in regards to the way they approach their customers. One is a “transactional” focus that many large commercial banks have adopted and the other is a “relationship” focus, a common core philosophy for many community banks.
It’s important to note all banks engage in both transactional and relationship banking to a certain degree, but each bank has a different strategy when it comes to how important one is over the other. Be sure you know what your bank’s strategy is when it comes to how they rate the value of your relationship.
Denise Denison is the vice president relationship manager of BankSouth in the Savannah Market. She can be reached at (912) 373-1761 or DDenison@banksouth.com.