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Choose the Right Banker for your Business - 6/13/2012 -

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to grow a business. The small business world is not for the faint of heart – the recipe for success typically requires a team of support that extends far beyond the entrepreneur and includes investors, partners, customers, and, of course, financial professionals.

"If you’re an entrepreneur looking to establish a relationship with a financial institution, don’t underestimate the importance of finding the appropriate institution for your needs. Even though all banks are made of bricks are mortar, the internal foundations aren’t identical across the board,” explains Mike Harmison, President and CEO with Lakeside Bank.

If you have a small community business, you will probably want to find a bank which markets to entrepreneurs such as yourself. Find an institution that is proud to serve as lenders to small and mid-sized local businesses.

It’s also important to get referrals. "When doing virtually any kind of business, getting referrals from people you trust is a good idea. Ask other small business owners about their banking experiences. Just because someone else owns a small business doesn’t necessarily mean that they want the same things from their banker, but talking to them will certainly help you figure out if their banker has what you’re looking for,” says Harmison. "Accountants, attorneys, trade associations and vendors can also serve as good referral resources, in addition to your business peers.”

Don’t be afraid to shop around to various financial institutions to find a good fit, Harmison said. You’re the one with the growing business, so your interests should take precedence.

So, what makes a good banker for a budding business? Someone you are comfortable talking to, and someone you can trust. In the lending business, honesty is key, according to Harmison. "And that is true on both sides of the relationship. You and the bank are partners. You are both keenly interested in the success of the business. You will have to commit to being completely open with each other about the ups and downs of your company. You need a banker who makes it easy and comfortable for you to share information.”

"It’s also beneficial to have a representative who believes in your business and truly wants you to succeed,” says Harmison. "When you have someone who is giving you objective, honest support, it can make all the difference in the world. It also helps develop a relationship of trust.”

"And after you choose a bank, be sure to get to know other people around the lending institution, in addition to your primary financial professional. You want to make sure you’re not only comfortable with your representative, but also the bank in general. You may want to use them for other financial needs,” Harmison says.

For more information on business banking, call Lakeside at (337) 474-3766.


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