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Choosing a bank when starting a small business

Posted on: June 16, 2014 | Author: ATB Business & Agriculture

The founder of JACEK Chocolate Couture shares how she found a bank that fits.

5 quick hits from Jacqueline

Favourite business: Pierre Macolini

Dream title: Purveyor of Joy

Must start my day with: A list of things to do.

One word my employees would use to describe me: I just asked them, and they said "kooky" because I have the most bizarre phrases.

If I had $1 million I would: Open a store in Banff.

When I started JACEK Chocolate Couture from my basement, there were so many details to work out (like product development, packaging, a website, marketing, etc.), that choosing a bank was very low on the list of priorities. In fact, I didn’t spend any time researching the best fit for my business. I chose to open a business account with the bank that I was banking with personally but really had no relationship with.

Initially, my view of banks was that they are only there for transactional purposes (debit/credit), and that they are mammoth institutions who are not really focused on helping small businesses grow due to the high-risk nature of start-up companies. My perception was that my business was not big enough for the bank to truly care, or spend time on, and the truth is that I didn’t really understand the value of having a relationship with a bank.

This perception changed when I met a banker who was serving small business from a finance perspective. He understood the drivers of an entrepreneur, and was truly willing to help. Some of the most valuable benefits of having a relationship with the bank (and my banker) have been the demystification of financing jargon, having someone I can call about new ideas for growth, and ultimately taking away the "finance confusion" I used to have so that I could focus on what I do best—designing chocolates.

In changing banks, I gained not only clarity on financing for growth but also a trusted advisor.

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