Online Small Business Banking

In the digital age every bank has an online presence, from my little credit union to the big national players. However, not all banks are geared toward serving small business via the internet and, while they all offer you a lot of promises and maybe a flashy new toaster oven, not all of them offer you the services that you need at a competitive price. Here’s what to look for and how to spot those that offer online small business banking from the poseurs.

Customer Service and Big vs. Small Banks

One thing that you may read is how important it is to “cultivate relationships” with your banker and how important your banker is in expediting and even deciding whether or not you get a loan. While this may still be true in the smaller banks, in larger regional or national banks you will never, ever meets the person who approves your loan. A buddy of mine who was a big shot at a major bank before ditching it all to go into the Peace Corps said that the big banks create a strong separation from the banker that you meet, who is basically a sales person, and the person who decides, who is basically an accountant. So skip bribing your banker with chocolate truffles or bottles of bourbon. In fact, if you already bought the “gifts,” just send them here and I’ll gladly dispose of them for you for free!

Similarly, once the recommendation for business people was to keep all their banking with one bank, in order to build up a relationship of trust with that bank. Now, however, the idea of relationship is breaking down and, thanks to the internet and the relative ease of online banking, small businesses can cherry pick the best services off a smorgasbord of banks just like the Bigs do. In fact, the biggest reason that I can see of deliberately keeping all services with a single bank is not having to remember more than one sign-on, password, and pin!

What Your Bank Should Be Able to Do for You

Business Checking Account

One of the essential elements of running your own business is treating it as a separate entity distinct from your own personal affairs or the affairs of your other businesses or investments. Failing to treat your business as a separate entity opens up numerous potential legal and tax consequences that could end up being very costly or even financially disastrous to you. Opening up a business banking account is one essential act that helps establish your business as a separate entity. For most business the key to the checking account is functionality, forget interest rates and a few dollars difference in cost. The key questions are:

  • Can you use the web site to pay pre-pay bills, transfer money, accept online payments and whatever other essential services that your business might need?
  • Are you able to easily download information from the online site to QuickBooks Online or whatever other accounting software that you might be using?
  • Do they have the highest level of online security that is convenient for you?
  • Are they relatively light on “hidden fees” that $5 and $10 you to death just to be able to perform regular, essential operations of your business?

Security

Small businesses run by new entrepreneurs often have lower standards of security and this is especially true when it comes to banking and banking online. The smalls just don’t have the expertise nor the payrolls stuffed with I.T. professionals to keep up with the Trojans and frauds that cyber-criminals use to prey upon the unfortunate, and the unwary. You want the highest level of security possible but without making it so inconvenient on yourself that you aren’t fully able to take advantage of the online services. For example, while I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala I often had to do my banking from internet cafes, and not always with my laptop that was impractical to lug around. When Chase, my original bank, changed the security so that I had to go through a complicated and time-consuming process every time I tried to access my account from a different computer I had to change banks (rather, I added a new bank) because that just wasn’t doable for me.

Loans and Lines of Credit

Loans are a prime area of shopping around and using the power of the internet to shave a fraction of a point off the interest rate. However, if you can’t pay the loan through an electronic transaction between the bank of your checking account and the bank that services the loan and make that payment for free then who cares about a little reduction of the interest rate. I like to look around for the best deal and then ask my primary bank if they can match it, just to keep my life as simple as possible.

Credit Cards

One of the easiest ways to make payments these days is by credit card and you will want at least one that is exclusively used for business purposes. There is no “best” credit card for small business and usually your bank will be able to provide you one. Keep in mind that you want one that is easy to set up and maintain electronically, that is widely accepted (especially if you travel for business), and has a high enough limit for what you need. Remember that building up credit for your business is just like building up credit personally, the better your history the higher your limit will be.

In Conclusion

Starting up a small business can be intimidating and the days when you could have a banker hold your hand and guide you through the process are long gone. The flip side of that is the incredible amount of information available to you at your fingertips. Another advantage is that you are no longer geographically limited, a world of banks is waiting to serve you! Just remember to keep in mind the services that you need, those that you don’t need, and those that you need but could be found at another bank for a better price. Happy banking!

What Can You Expect From the Business Consulting Process?

Consulting firms are getting popular now. Top dollars are being paid to these firms to come up with business recommendations and suggestions to prop up and improve the business management styles and decision-making processes. The role of the business consulting firm varies depending on the real needs and requirements of the company. But there’s one link that connects all these services and this link is common to all providers of these services- all these providers will get to know and understand the business.

Though there’s market for this kind of business and a number of businesses that tap the services of the professionals, still there are some people and businesses that don’t get the process and principle behind business consulting for best business practices. Getting confused with the services of a consulting firm is understandable but if you are in the business sector whether as a business owner or as a manager, it’s best to be aware of what business consulting is and the typical process that gets into the picture. The common understanding is that a consulting firm will take a look at the business and from there recommendations are forwarded. Though this is true, still it should be kept in mind that there are four more major steps that come in between these two. Here’s one look at consulting using a six-step process.

Step one is learning about the business. This is a given and a must for consulting. The consultant should have a good understanding of the business, from its operations to needs before recommendations can be drafted. Different consulting firms will have different approaches in doing this step. One approach is to take survey the business and interview key people in the organization. A survey will involve a tour of the office or plant to learn about the business. Interviews will be given as well to understand the products or services and to learn about management styles and the decision-making process.

Step two is to find the problems of the business. The problems that will be listed are not just the ones that are seen and observed by the business owners or employees rather the consultant will also find these problems from the consultant’s perspective.

Step three is the identification of opportunities. The principle behind consulting is that for every identified problem, there’s an opportunity waiting to be tapped. These opportunities should be discovered not just by the consultant but by the business owner as well.

Step four in business consulting is analysis. This step calls for the consulting company to analyze and study. This is the part where the problems and opportunities will be reviewed, and a listing will be made stating the problems and opportunities that will be prioritized. Future problems will be identified a well by the consultant. The analysis that can be provided by the consultant will also result to delivery of conclusions and these are all based on verifiable facts and figures.

Step five is the provision of solutions based on the problems and the facts provided. A good business consultant should offer a game plan to the business owner or managers that they can follow. The recommendations that can be made by the consultant will definitely help the company change the business management direction or improve on it.

Step six is the receipt of the feedback and adjusting the plan or strategies if necessary. Right after the submission of recommendations and conclusions to the business, the next step considered by many consultants is to let the business grow and see from a distance while the company makes use of the designed plan. By observation, the consultant should note some changes or issues that may have crop up along the way. This is also the time when the business owner or manager will also offer some feed back about the plan. Based on the feedback provided, the business consultant can do the necessary adjustment to improve or change the game plan.

Different consulting firms will have their own ways of undertaking the consulting business, but you can be sure that some of these steps will be reflected in their own approaches as well. At the end of the day, business consulting is about knowing the business and recommending solutions.

Dany Cooper

Small Business Consulting – Putting a Plan Into Action

Small Business Consulting – A Very Crucial Element in Business

Small business consulting companies offer a wide variety of services. These services can be utilized before a company begins to operate. In order for a business to be successful, there are many things that should be done from the start.

The small business consulting, research, planning and training can be done in any area of the business. A consultant is considered an expert in the area they specialize in. The services and advice they offer are based on experience and knowledge. It is important for a company to work with a consultant that knows what they are doing.

Customer service is probably one of the most important areas of a business. If a company doesn’t have customers, then the business ceases to exist. One of the small business consulting services that can be offered focuses on the customer. A consultant can offer customer service training and customer loyalty training. Some people may think there isn’t a difference between the two, but the truth is, there is a huge difference. Customer service helps get a business off the ground, and customer loyalty helps keep it that way. To put it bluntly, a customer will pay their payment, but a loyal customer will make their payment on time.

Another important small business consulting service is branding. A consultant can help with the branding of a company, which will create public awareness of the business and their product. When branding is done properly, it can provide consistency in advertising and marketing. Branding can also help a company’s product standout against their competition.

Every business needs an excellent leader. Developing good leadership can be obtained with the use of small business consulting. The consultant can provide leadership training, management team development and employee training. All of these things go hand in hand when it comes to having great efficiency. When a company is run by a person with great leadership, this can allow the company to stay ahead of the competition.

Even after small business consulting services have been used and results are obtained, they can still be used as a method of prevention. For example, a company used small business consulting for employee training and leadership development. By continuing to use these services, the company can increase their chances of profitability and growth.

Procurement is another area that can be handled with small business consulting. A company needs to make sure that they are getting the product they asked for at the right price and in the time they need it. Procurement is practically handled on a daily basis. A consultant can help with things such as developing a procurement strategy, cost reduction, and value purchasing. By assessing procurement, a company be assured that they can provide their customers with the product they offer, at a fair price and have it there when they want it.

Small business consulting involves problem solving. Consultants are often referred to as problem solvers. When a company has a problem that arises, it needs to be handled as efficiently and as quickly as possible. Many problems may go unnoticed because the person in charge has a lack of time. A small problem can turn into a huge one very quickly. It is wise for a company to have someone on hand that can address problems as they occur to keep this from happening. If a company has someone to help with potential problems before they even open, this could help them in the future. A business needs to start out with as few problems as possible. A consultant can help with the problematic areas of the company, giving the manager or owner the time they need to focus on other areas of the business.

Small business consulting services can be used either short-term or long-term. It really depends on the nature of the business and how many issues exist. Either way, having a consultant as a right hand man can be very beneficial for any business. Many business fail because due to lack of knowledge and experience. These are two key components that a consultant has. Small business consulting can help a company rise to the top. It can ensure that the company has all of their ducks in a row, so to speak. If a person owns a company that is having issues or if a person is looking to open their business, it would be a wise investment to seek assistance from a small business consultant. By having a consultant on their side, it is sort of like having their own little insurance policy. A consultant can ensure the company that they will do everything to reach the goals the company has set. The company’s mission then becomes that of the consultant.

If you would like to learn more on small business management consulting, you can click the link below.