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Running a business? Make sure you have a good lawyer, accountant—and banker!

Running a business? Make sure you have a good lawyer, accountant—and banker!

After 22 years in banking, I have seen countless businesses come and go. Some were victims of bad timing or economic downturns. Some were caught by unexpected changes in the competitive environment. But many were simply not prepared for the complexities required in running a thriving, successful organization.

So I have a simple piece of advice for business owners: Get a good lawyer, accountant, and banker before opening your doors. And preferably, start with the banker!

As your banker, I can tell you from the beginning if you have a workable business plan and if the financing you have envisioned is realistic. I can discuss the customers you want to serve, the other businesses you’ll be competing with, and how much you’ll have to invest of your own money to bring your dream to life.

After your business is up and running, your banker should become one of your most trusted advisors. As an unbiased outsider, I can give you honest feedback on what you’re doing well and how you may improve your business.

Here’s an example: one of my customers had been advised by his accountant to borrow more money to enhance his company’s cash flow. However, as I reviewed his finances, I realized that by consolidating his loans at INB, we could provide more favorable terms and improve his cash flow without the customer having to incur more debt. That was a good day’s work for both of us.

This kind of trusted role is based on a foundation of honesty and respect. And it is a role you should seek from the beginning.

If you’re not sure how to find the right banker, here are three easy steps:

  1. Talk to a business owner whose advice you respect to get a referral. Word of mouth – it’s always hard to beat.
  2. Interview the banker you’ve been referred to. Does the banker listen to you? Respect your ideas? Believe in what you’re doing? Have experience in your industry? Have the authority to make decisions on your behalf?
  3. Repeat 1 & 2 until you find the right match.

Certainly you need to make the best financial decision for your company. But you also need to make the best relationship decision for you as a business owner.

So get the lawyer, get the accountant—but most important, get the best banker you can find! You’ll be glad you did.

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