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How to choose a bank

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SmallBusiness.com How-tos are step-by-step instructions for specific small business tasks. They are created and edited by readers like you. You can help edit this How-to or you can create your own. Find more How-tos at the SmallBusiness.com How-to Hub.

Overview

Choosing the right bank is an important part of running your small business, and you don't want to trust your money to someone before doing your research.

Questions to answer before chosing the right bank

To help in your search, ask yourself the following questions before deciding which bank is right for your business:

What is their specialty?

You wouldn't choose a real estate agent who specialized in rural property if you were looking to buy a loft in the city, so why would you settle on a bank before researching whether they specialized in small business? Talk to the bank manager or another representative to determine what kind of small business expertise they possess, and find out if they offer specialized services aimed at small businesses.

A bank that understands your specific niche is desirable, too, as not all small business issues are the same. Having someone who is knowledgeable in your industry will come in handy when discussing services your business needs.

What products and services do they offer?

Because the products and services a bank offers a business account might differ from what is available for personal accounts--and might differ from bank to bank--ask each bank you are considering for more information on several services you might take advantage of, including:

  • Do they participate in SBA loan programs or other government-guaranteed loans? What criteria do they hold for qualifying for their loans?
  • What is the minimum balance required and fees associated with a small business account?
  • Do they offer night deposits and online banking?
  • What interest rates do they offer, both on credit cards and loans?

How do they treat you?

While a friendly disposition might not matter to some people as long as they get the best interest rate in town, other small-business owners might feel more comfortable doing business with a banker around whom they feel comfortable and friendly. It's important to feel as though you are not just another account number, and cultivating a good relationship with your bank representatives will more than likely have a positive impact on your banking experience.

Summary

When researching banks, keep in mind that you are not obligated to pick the first one you spend time in. If you take your time and speak with several branch managers and bank representatives about what they can offer you, you'll eventually find one that best suits your business' needs.

See also