How I Setup My Business Bank Accounts

Breaking down the process into small individual tasks

The small tasks involved in starting a new business can often times add up to become a seemingly overwhelming process when looked at in their entirety. It is important to remember that most of these tasks really are small, and looking at them as such makes things seem a lot easier. In this article I will focus on what I looked at in my situation in order to setup my business banking accounts.

Prior to setting up my banking accounts

To get to this point I had to complete a series of other small tasks in order to have everything ready for setting up my business banking accounts. This included setting up my business address, completing my limited liability company paperwork and receiving my LLC paperwork back from my state’s secretary of state office, and applying for and receiving my Federal Employer Identification Number from the IRS.

Since at this point in my business creation I do not have any real income being generated, I needed to keep all my initial expenses as low as possible. In this case it means finding a business banking structure that will not have excessive fees and preferably have no fees at all. The last thing I want right now is to spend money setting up my business on things like recurring unnecessary banking fees.

What I needed in a business banking account

I started out with a little research using the internet on what was required to setup business banking accounts. There is quite a lot of information available which can be easily found, so I will just document my steps in the decisions I made for my particular setup. There were a few things besides low monthly fees that I wanted from by business banking account.

1. A local convenient branch location

2. A national chain with many locations

3. A good on-line banking service

4. The ability to add on a multitude of business services down the road

5. Low or no recurring monthly business banking service charges

A convenient branch location

The good news is that I was able to find all of these things in my community. I needed a local convenient branch location because I do not want to have to travel all over the place to perform my banking tasks. This is a matter of time-management for me, and in the past I have chosen poorly with personal bank accounts because I thought I would do most everything on-line and not really need something close or more convenient. While I do perform most of my personal banking on-line, I still find myself wishing I had chosen a closer bank when there are times I needed to physically go to the bank. Depending on the types of deposits I will need to make, I envision myself needing to physically go to my business bank in the future much more than I need to for my personal banking needs.

A national chain with many locations

I wanted to choose a national bank with many branch offices because if I decide to personally relocate or setup a business in another location, the chances of having a local branch of the same bank is much more likely with a larger national financial institution. This would mean I would be able to keep the existing accounts with the same bank and not have the hassle of starting over with new accounts at a different bank in order to maintain the same convenience of having a close branch location.

A good on-line banking service

Having a very good on-line banking service is definitely one of the major considerations I had in choosing my bank. In today’s day and age, I want and expect very good on-line banking services including on-line bill pay, statements, account funding transfers, consolidation of all accounts into a centralized site for easy viewing, and most importantly built in functionality to download my accounts easily into financial software such as Quicken or Quickbooks.

The ability to add on a multitude of business services down the road

The ability to add additional business banking services or having a business bank which is easily scalable was also a consideration I had concerning the bank I would choose. This is an area which was not the highest priority at this time because I figured that if the bank I chose met the other qualifications then they would also have the ability to easily scale my business accounts to meet the needs of my business down the road. Merchant services and other business financial services would be some of the things I envision needing in the future.

Low or no recurring monthly business banking service charges

Last on my list would be one of the most important considerations I was having at this point early in my business setup. Low or no recurring monthly business banking service charges with the need to only maintain a low balance in my business banking accounts is a must at this time. I would not be opening my accounts with a lot of money, and I did not want what money I was depositing into my accounts to be eaten away at by service fees. I needed an account that would allow me to have a low minimum balance at the same time avoiding as many fees as I could. Many banks have accounts with no minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees for personal banking accounts, but this is usually not the case with many business banking accounts.

So how did I do?

I ended up opening a business banking account with Chase Bank. They had a convenient branch location close to my home and right across the street from my business UPS Store mailbox, which incidentally is my official business address at this point (See my article on Getting My Business Address.) They met my listed criteria for convenience, and also are a well recognized national financial institution with many branch offices throughout the nation. This means the likelihood of finding another branch close to me if I chose to relocate is much greater. They have a very rich on-line banking service that met all of my requirements for on-line banking abilities, and easily integrated with my Quicken software. They offered many business financial services which were available to me, but at this time I do not require them. It is nice to know I can get these services in the future with them. Most importantly, they were able to structure my accounts so that I do not have any monthly service fees or minimum balance requirements, NONE!

How did I avoid fees?

They had a program where I could open a business classic checking account which would normally have fees unless I maintained an account balance that was more than I would have been maintaining. I could avoid the fees by applying for a business credit card account and linking it to my business checking account. As long as I made at least one transaction a month on the business credit card account then I would not have any business checking account fees. I know the question many will be asking. What about the business credit card fees? Well I made sure the business credit card did not have any annual fees or other hidden fees also. It did not. Believe me I asked many times. There were also other benefits to having a business credit card which initially I did not place as much value on. These benefits included establishing a credit rating for my business which was independent of my personal credit history. This is important because in the future, the business may one day be able to obtain loans without personal liability of the loans by me for the business. Another benefit of having a business credit card is better protection for on-line purchases and fraud when using a credit card versus using a debit card on-line.

Making sure I have at least one transaction a month on my business credit card was easy enough. I simply set-up my internet hosting provider to use my business credit card for the monthly hosting fee of the business. This ensures that even if I choose to use my checking account checks or debit card, which was also free of fees, I will always have at least one charge on the credit card to meet the bank’s requirements for waving all of my business accounts’ service charges. Not a bad deal in my opinion.

What paperwork did I need to setup my accounts?

First I have to say the customer service for setting up my business banking accounts was top notch! I just walked in to the branch office without any appointment and a representative from the business banking department met with me immediately. I made it clear from the beginning that I was small-time when it came to my business at this point. They still treated me like I was a larger business. They took the time to explain everything and answered my many questions. I was approved on the spot for a business credit card with a very nice limit. I plan to never even carry a balance on the card, but it was nice to see I qualified for a respectable line of business credit.

All I needed to set-up my accounts were my personal identification, the employer identification number I received from the IRS, the certificate of filing from the Office of the Secretary of State from my state, and my LLC operating agreement. All of these documents, except for the personal identification of course, were part of the LLC package I received when I filed for my LLC using LegalZoom.com. Everything was in order and I had everything with me to complete the task without having to make any additional trips to the bank for further documentation.

Conclusion

By breaking down the tasks involved in setting up a business, you can decrease the seemingly complicated event by making it merely a series of small uncomplicated steps. In this step of setting up my business banking accounts, I knew what I wanted to accomplish and what I needed before I ever walked into a bank. By having my paperwork in order and by doing a little homework before hand, I was able to complete this task without it being a headache or a frustrating event.

Using Your Small Business Marketing Tools to Differentiate Your Business

Perhaps the most important quality for your small business marketing materials is that they are different. If you do nothing else right in your small business marketing, at least be different.

Why is differentiation so important? Because, in most industries, there are hundreds – if not thousands or millions – of other businesses that claim to provide the same service or sell the same product as you do. If you don’t differentiate your business from all those others, the chances that you’ll get many customers are pretty slim.

Some common ways to differentiate your business are:

Superior service

Greater product availability

Higher quality

Better performance

Greater durability

Prestige

Technology leadership

Satisfaction guarantee

Lower cost

Faster delivery

More customer support

But even if you are very different than your competitors – you offer superior service, greater durability, or a satisfaction guarantee that beats all others – it won’t matter unless your prospective customers know about it.

That’s where your small business marketing strategy comes in. Businesses have been using their small business marketing strategies to announce how they’re different from their competitors as long as they have been using small business marketing strategies. Think Maxwell House’s “Good to the last drop,” Campbell’s Soup’s “Mmm, mmm good,” or WalMart’s “Always low prices.” Those highly successful taglines not only get prospective customers to remember the company name, but also convey a message about the difference between that company and others.

To make differentiation a part of your small business marketing strategy, you first need to understand your competitors – you can only explain how you’re different from them once you know what they’re like. Learn what your competitors offer, how they differentiate themselves, and – most importantly – what your prospective customers think about them (if you know what qualities your prospective customers see as shortcomings in the other companies in the market, you’ll have a good idea of the market gap you can fill).

Once you’ve decided how you are different from your competitors, you need to tell your prospective customers about it. Building that differentiation into your tagline can be a very effective start. Then include that tagline, along with your logo, on every piece of small business marketing collateral you have. Another small business marketing way to publicize your differences is to write a press release. Explain how you’re filling a need in the market that no other company has filled.

Once you’ve differentiated your company and used your small business marketing tools to publicize your differences, you have to follow through on your promises. If you say that you’re the cheapest – or the highest quality, or the friendliest, or whatever – then you better be just that (nothing turns away a customer like a failed promise).

How to Perform a Business Bank Account Comparison

With all the financial institutions in the world clamoring for more and more business, hype is at an all-time high in the financial district. Terms and conditions that are applicable to certain trial dates can lead to confusion once these “free trials” end and can leave the business owner feeling used and defeated with an account that no longer suits their needs. Fortunately, there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure that your company gets the account it needs by performing a bank account comparison.

Company Size and Business Account Options

The business checking options will vary depending upon the size of your own. Incentives that hook small businesses aren’t necessarily applicable to big corporations and vice versa. Each size of business requires a different set of account options in order to optimize financial support and services.

Small businesses tend to make fewer transactions than larger corporations and therefore greatly benefit from a preset limit of free transactions. Typically with this type of package, once the preset limit is reached, a small fee is charged to each applicable transaction thereafter. Some business accounts even offer an interest earning option that is beneficial to businesses with low to moderate transaction volume. Conversely, larger businesses require a moderate to high number of transactions and usually pay a small monthly fee to allow for this difference.

Minimum Balances

Small business accounts tend to forgo monthly minimum balances but usually sacrifice interest earnings for this advantage. Moderately sized businesses usually have accounts that require a minimum daily balance or a monthly averaged balance that exceeds a predetermined limit. Minimum balances for larger businesses tend to be slightly more complicated; these can be determined by an average daily balance, average combined deposit balance, or average combined deposit balances and outstanding credit balances. The specific amounts are different for each institution, be sure to contact individual banks for detailed information.

Maintenance Fees

Many business owners neglect to factor in maintenance fees when performing a bank account comparison. This usually isn’t a big deal for a small business account since most do not have a monthly maintenance fee. However, moderately sized and larger businesses must take these fees into consideration when comparing business accounts. Nowadays, most financial institutions only charge maintenance fees if the balance falls below a predetermined minimum limit. Once again, the amounts of these fees vary by institution so be sure get an accurate number when comparison shopping for an accounts.

Business Type

Even though you may own a certain sized business, not all accounts suggested for that sized company will suit your needs. Some business accounts are geared toward non-profit organizations, community groups, and public agencies while others lean more toward small or growing businesses. Research and investigate each business account you consider to determine the right business checking account for your company.

Business bank account comparisons can be confusing and daunting chores; however, if you take into account your business size and style with business account options you desire, it should be a relatively easy task to choose a business account that will carry your company well into financial security.

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