By John Darin
May is Small Business Month, celebrating the importance of small businesses to our national and local economies. Small business owners and their entrepreneurial spirit are a cornerstone of our economy and our local communities. In Connecticut, they comprise 97% of business and employ half of the state’s workforce.
Small Business Month also recognizes that small businesses have unique needs. Every business needs a bank and there are certainly several national brands to choose from. But, just as there are many options for your personal banking, there are local alternatives that may be beneficial for small businesses.
Community banks were instrumental in helping small businesses make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. Early during the pandemic, when the first round of Paycheck Protection Funding was exhausted, the U.S. Small Business Administration approved more than 1.6 million loans to support small businesses, totaling more than $300 billion. About 60% of those loans were handled by community banks.
Like small business, community banks are important to the success of local communities and can offer benefits that large national brands can’t.
Personalized service – When you go into or call a local bank, you’re getting attention from the same people every time – not a call center agent located across the country. You’ll save time because your bankers know you and your business, creating deeper bonds because they see your business as a personal relationship, not an account number. As a result, they will go the extra mile to give you personalized attention.
Faster action – Time is money. As a business owner, getting answers from your bank quickly is important. Because community banks aren’t spread across the country, their decision-making process is often simpler and faster because it happens locally.
Lower fees – Many community banks offer lower fees or better terms and interest rates than their national counterparts. For small businesses, every dollar saved or earned makes a difference.
Local for local – Local banks are proud of their local communities and tend to be very active in local activities. They know the local business and support various organizations and events that support the local economy and benefit both businesses and residents. This helps build their communities and create a better place to live and work, which help attract new residents and businesses. As a small business, the local community is important to your success, and community banks play a big role.
Know your customer – Every business is unique. Personal attention combined with local intimacy also gives community banks a chance to really know their customers and their business banking needs. As a result, they are able to provide a higher level of care and service that caters to each individual business. That knowledge can also play into your bank’s decision-making because they are able to factor in what they know about your business, you as the business owner, and the local community. It becomes about more than just entering data into a formula.
Small Business knowledge – Community banks understand small businesses. Remember that they are, in fact, small businesses just like you, so they have an inherent first-hand knowledge of what it takes to succeed as a small business. That knowledge translates into a service mentality designed to help small businesses succeed, rather than trying to force them into cookie-cutter approach designed for large enterprises.
Business services – Community banks have built service portfolios to meet your business needs. They aren’t a one-trick pony and offer a variety of business banking services. From commercial loans and business lines of credit to retirement and employee benefits management to online banking and much more, don’t think that just because they are smaller, your community bank isn’t well-equipped to serve your business needs.
As a small business, you know you have specific banking needs. You also know the large national brands aren’t as agile or flexible when it comes to meeting your needs – they can’t be. So, when you think about your financial needs, remember there are local alternatives to those big brands that can be a much better fit for you. Find out exactly how The Milford Bank can help your business by getting to know one of our local professionals today to learn how they can help make running your business a lot easier.