By Jennifer Coyne, Bayport Credit Union
Running a small business is no easy feat. While many different factors contribute to your success, there are three “must-haves” to keep your business running smoothly: an experienced accountant, a skilled lawyer and a great banker. Each is equally important. One of the most significant ways you can save your business money is by being organized and stable. By adding these people to your team, it allows you to focus on your business growth and maximize revenue.
Accounting is essential for any small business. Finding the right accountant will help you track your business’s performance. The accountant will make sure the staff is being paid and taxes are being filed properly. More importantly, this professional will identify and analyze trends and patterns that affect your earnings, allowing you to plan accordingly and minimize the amount of taxes you pay.
It may be pretty obvious why hiring an accountant is a good idea, but what about an attorney? Many small businesses make the mistake of waiting until they need a lawyer. Running a business is full of potential legal pitfalls. Regardless of the business size, many business owners don’t grasp the need for a lawyer for issues such as real estate settlements, collections, bankruptcies, contract reviews, compliance documents and employment issues. As a result, contracts are vague or incomplete, and clients, contractors and associates may be able to take advantage. Not only can an attorney review contracts and help you address specific problems, but by making your lawyer part of “the team,” he or she can also better understand your operations and help solve potential problems before they become real big ones.
And the banker
The last leg of business is most important and one that you will use every day you’re in business: a bank or credit union. At a bare minimum, your small business needs a bank account to keep your personal and business finances separate. However, there is so much more to consider when choosing where you set up your business account. Items like service options, technology and pricing all play a role in getting the most out of your account.
Product and service availability can vary drastically from one institution to the next. Also, you may think only the big banks will offer all the bells and whistles to keep your business account running smoothly. Credit unions have as many options. Choose a financial institution that is local, offering face-to-face interactions with business banking professionals as often as you need and providing local lending decisions based on our Hampton Roads economy.
As a small business owner, you wear many hats. Your time is valuable, and trips to the bank or credit union probably do not fit into your schedule. Be sure you choose a financial institution that can support your banking needs in person and online. Not all financial institutions offer mobile access to the features you use most, such as initiating direct deposit for your employees, receiving alerts for account activity, depositing checks with your phone and even setting up user privileges for different members of your staff. Be sure to check out both their online banking features and their mobile online banking options.
And finally, pricing! Your business banking relationship should benefit your business, not drown you in fees. Many business owners feel that banking fees are just “par for the course,” but they don’t have to be. You can find banks and credit unions that offer options on one or all of their business checking accounts, allowing you to avoid a monthly maintenance fee. Find an institution that offers the lending options you need, including lines of credit or installment loans as well as what you may need in the future to continue growing.
Just like all three legs on a stool are needed for stability, the three legs of business are critical to the success and growth of your company. And as a small business owner, having the right “team” can make the difference. Be sure to do your research beforehand and find local professionals who offer the services to respond to your small business needs.
Jennifer Coyne is vice president of business banking for Bayport Credit Union. She can be reached at 757-873-4037 or by email at email@example.com. Bayport’s web address is www.bayportcu.org.