“Failure to plan is planning to fail” is an adage we’ve all heard, and there’s good reason for that. When it comes to businesses, planning requires communication and goal-setting with your business banker at the table.
Part of Your Success "Entourage"
Think of your business banker as you do your attorney, accountant and financial planner (if you have one). Collectively, they are your business’s success entourage. To succeed, all of them need to understand your business goals, concerns and the issues that keep you up at night. The more your banker understands you and your business, the better able he/she is to offer solutions or strategies as your business evolves and grows. These may include recommendations for banking products but go far beyond that into opportunities for networking, idea generation and best practice insights. In addition, by working closely with you, your accountant and attorney, your banker can anticipate upcoming regulatory or legal changes to tax laws or interest rates that could affect your business.
When Key Things Occur, Reach Out to Your Business Banker
There are many things that should prompt you to contact your business banker regarding setting or adjusting goals. Many of these stem from reaching a point in your business’s life cycle when it has the chance to grow aggressively. Prompts may include:
- Thinking about expanding your business into a new territory,
- Considering the addition of a new product line,
- Contemplating adding staff,
- Considering the purchase of a building versus renting,
- Reaching a certain revenue goal and needing direction on what to do next.
Whatever the prompt, if you’re facing challenges or opportunities that affect your business operations, reach out to your business banker.
Goal-Setting is Always the Right Time to Work with Your Business Banker
In addition to communicating with your business banker at times of opportunity, it’s important to communicate about ongoing business goals. Setting and sharing one-, three- and five-year plans are equally important as your banker can provide direction and insights into cash flow cycles and proformas allowing you to make good, strategic decisions. Meeting with your business banker regularly – at a minimum bi-annually, but quarterly is ideal – provides opportunities to account for market or industry changes and to check in on the progress of solutions and strategies.
Check-ins can answer very simple, but revealing, questions:
- Where are you now?
- Where do you see your business going next?
Why Investing Time with Your Business Banker is Worthwhile
- Financial insights and access to resources. Business bankers can help you anticipate capital needs and even begin steps to procure financing if needed. By analyzing your cash flow, balance sheets, assets, receivables and payables regularly, your banker can assess how healthy your business’s finances are so you set and take steps toward goals.
When you meet, your banker can provide you with expert financial advice, answer your finance questions and help you find solutions to financial problems. They can be integral in helping you strategize ways to grow your business and reach your financial objectives, including providing access to much-needed capital. This is the case for both short-term working capital and longer-term capital for purchasing fixed-assets and acquisitions that are integral during a window of opportunity.
Business bankers are knowledgeable about the Small Business Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, Wisconsin Business Development and other programs with resources to financially aid your business. It’s your banker’s job to stay up to date on these resources, as well as new technology and products that can make your business life easier. Further, a regular account review provides an opportunity to evaluate business's expenditures and identify ways to save money.
- Sharing of best practices. Business bankers are also knowledgeable as a result of the experience they’ve gleaned from helping other businesses across industries with real-life scenarios and takeaways on what worked and just as importantly, what didn’t. Bankers can identify common trends that can benefit each business.
- Offering accountability. Each year, your business sets different goals and plans, and these periodic meetings with your business banker are opportunities for accountability and assessment on what went well, what didn’t and why. Reviews of financial statements are a reflection looking back but always with a look to the future as well.
As with many things, it’s always best to overcommunicate versus undercommunicate when it comes to your business banker. By having ongoing conversations, you help to build an intimate understanding of your business so your banker can provide the best guidance and advice for your business’s livelihood.