Find a banker who will be in lockstep with your needs

Ian Zimmerman

The economic picture remains positive for businesses throughout the Vancouver area. Meanwhile, across the U.S., 71 percent of decision-makers in companies with five to 500 employees expect revenue growth this year, according to the 2016 State of Small Business Report presented by Wasp Barcode. Even better, the more than 1,000 business leaders surveyed for the report have strategies to turn those expectations into reality.

Small business strategies to improve revenue growth in 2016 (per Wasp Barcode):

Improve existing customer experience and retention 43%
Invest in new customer acquisition activities and methods 28%
Invest in training or tools to improve employee productivity 27%
Expand into new markets 30%
Launch new products / services 31%
Hiring new employees 29%
Open new stores / sites / facilities 9%
Other 4%

I admire that business owners understand their companies and recognize the challenge revenue growth strategies represent. You know business planning often involves the kind of decision-making that can keep a person up at night. The growth strategies noted above overlap with the perennial challenges businesses face. And if they’re among the concerns keeping you up at night, here are a few questions to help you focus on solutions:
Do you plan to hire new employees? Are you intent on growing revenue and increasing profit? Would you like to expand facilities, upgrade equipment or invest in technology? Are you concerned about cash flow?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it’s probably time to talk to your banker. If he or she doesn’t already know the direction you have in mind for your business – or the decisions keeping you up at night – it may be time to consider working with a new banker.

Naturally, as a long-time banker I have strong feelings about banking relationships and the level of service you should expect from your financial experts. As your company grows and strives to make the most of market opportunities, it’s important that your relationship manager and his or her team of experts move with you.

The right partner will be in near lock-step with you as you gear up – or change gears. When the fit is right, your banking team has your future and your success in their sights, too, offering guidance along the way so you have the credit facilities and cash management tools in place when you’re ready to execute. By working with a community bank, you’ll also benefit from the speed and agility of local decision-making, rather than a formula-based software program or a committee across the country.

So, if you’re among the 50 percent of small businesses with plans to hire or the 44 percent intent on increasing IT spending this year, your banker can help you get there. Or if you’re like many owners who save for retirement, but delay succession planning, your banker can help you simplify that task as well. In fact, he or she can offer a range of tools and products customized for the size and nature of your business—and the decisions you face today.

With a positive outlook, clear objectives and an experienced banker at your side, you’ll be well-positioned to continue fulfilling your expectations for 2016 – and sleep well at night.

This edition of Tip of the Week was written by Ian Zimmerman, a senior vice president/business banking sales manager at Banner Bank. He can be reached at or 360.831.2579.