A community bank is one of the best places to get a small business loan, or even a small business checking account. However, some of a community bank’s best offerings are things that money can’t buy. As the name suggests, community banks are community investors, and some of them go the extra mile to invest in their small business customers by providing free education and support services.
Free business resources: can your bank do that?
We’re willing to bet your big bank doesn’t have a free financial counseling service or a blog that highlights local businesses. We’re also pretty sure they won’t give you a free book by Warren Buffet. At your local community bank, however, this type of personalized customer service happens every day. If you haven’t switched banks yet, now is the time. To help you get inspired, we rounded up our top picks for small business resources at community banks around the country. If you live near any of the banks we mentioned, be sure to stop by, or check out your local community bank and ask them how they take care of their small business customers.
Best Business Forum – First Chicago Bank & Trust (Chicago, IL)
Whether you’re making friends or running a business, networking is essential. First Chicago Bank & Trust makes it easy for their small business customers to network online and swap ideas. Visit their website to log on to the i-BusinessForum, an “online Chamber of Commerce mixer” where users can promote their business, participate in forums and Q&A sessions, get advice, make connections and more. First Chicago Bank & Trust has branches in Chicago and Norridge.
Best Resource Page – TowneBank (Hampton Roads Area, VA)
No need to scour the Internet for the best small business resources. TowneBank did the work for you and collected articles, checklists, and links to state and national small business advocacy organizations. We especially like their collection of articles, which goes beyond the basics of business banking to address other practical issues like evaluating employees, marketing and monitoring your competitors. With awards of excellence from Greenwich Associates, and top SBA 504 loan production in Hampton Roads and Virginia, TowneBank is committed to meeting the needs of local businesses, organizations and individuals. They have 26 branches in Virginia and North Carolina.
Best Business Book – Willamette Community Bank (Albany, OR)
Willamette Community Bank may not have written their own business book, but they do want to help you make sense of their small business services and reward you for your time. Just schedule a meeting to discuss your banking options, and they’ll give you a free business book by a best-selling author. Books are handpicked by bank staff, so you’re be sure to get something will solid business advice. Willamette Community Bank has branches in Albany and Lebanon.
Best Financial Counseling – Union State Bank (Kewaunee, WI)
Ever wish you had someone to help you make sense of your business finances? In partnership with the Kewaunee County Economic Development Corp., Union State Bank offers financial counseling sessions for current and potential business owners. A CPA will answer your questions about QuickBooks, payroll and tax planning, and help you set accounting goals for the year. Union State Bank has branches in Kewaunee, Green Bay and Two Rivers.
Best Succession Seminar – Regent Bank (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Who will take over your business when you retire? How will you protect your assets? If you’ve found yourself asking these questions (as well you should), it might be time to think about your business succession strategy. In partnership with NOVA Southeastern University, Regent Bank customers can register for a free business succession seminar in November. You’ll hear from a lawyer, a CPA, a family business consultant and an investment executive about strategies for protecting your wealth in the long term and planning for the future. Regent Bank has locations in Boca Raton, Pompano Beach, Davie, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte and Palm Beach.
Best Banking Tutorials – Severn Savings Bank (Annapolis, MD)
Need help making sense of online banking, bill pay or remote deposit? Severn Savings Bank has free online tutorials for their small business customers so you can get help the second you’re stuck. We especially recommend their business Internet banking tutorial, which includes full screenshots to simulate a real user experience. Severn Savings Bank has branches in Annapolis, Edgewater and Glen Burnie.
Best Small Business Calculators – Liberty Bank (Middletown, CT)
You may have seen a loan or budgeting calculator before, but Liberty Bank’s Tool Box has all that and then some. This impressive, online financial calculator collection includes a special section of user-friendly calculators just for small business owners. They make it easy to get a general overview of how much it will cost to buy or lease equipment or start a business. They can also help you determine the value of your business or find an appropriate loan. Liberty Bank has 44 branches throughout Central, Eastern and Shoreline Connecticut.
Best Small Business Blog – First Community Bank (Lexington, SC)
First Community Bank’s First on Main blog is a great resource for bank news, of course, but it also offers honest business advice from real business owners. Plus, the writing is top notch. The blog staff has written detailed, thoughtful posts on local businesses, banker Q&As and financial services, but we especially like their new series, Lessons in Leadership, which chronicles bank co-founder Jim Leventis’ personal growth as a business leader. What can we say? We love a good story. First Community Bank has 11 locations in Central South Carolina.
Best Business Networking Group – Community Bank of Florida (Homestead, FL)
Community Bank of Florida’s Business Plus organization gives their small business customers (and community members) a chance to network with each other in person. All meetings include short educational presentations on ways to grow and improve your business. You may even get to do a short presentation on your own business practices! Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at Community Bank of Florida’s main office in Homestead. Community Bank of Florida has branches in the South Dade Region, Central Florida and the Keys Region.
Know another great small business program at a community bank?
Send us an email and tell us about them. We look forward to helping you spread the word.