Tag Archive for 'credit'

The facts on small business and banks

Listening to pundits and politicians, you’d think banks were intentionally hurting small businesses and the economy. When a Senator or “Talking Head” says, “This economy needs banks to start lending to small businesses again,” you might think they know what they’re talking about. They don’t.

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index is the gold standard of small business surveys. If you track the monthly results of Dr. Bill Dunkelberg’s work on his Index, as I have on my radio program for more than a decade, you will see that throughout the entire period since the Great Recession began in 2008, more than 90% of small business owners have consistently reported that their “credit needs are being met.”

It’s true that the big banks curtailed lending while getting their own balance sheets under control. But out here on Main Street USA, if your small business qualifies for credit and wants it, you can get it from either an independent community bank or credit union, if not from one of the national banks. The problem is not credit availability; it’s demand. Like everybody else on Planet Earth, small businesses are deleveraging.

We wanted to know a bit more about the banking relationships of small business owners, so recently, on our website and weekly e-newsletter, we asked this question: “What type of bank do you do business with?” Here’s what we learned:

Our respondents who do business with a “large regional or national bank,” were barely more than those who said they trade with a “local community bank,” coming in at 38% and 36%, respectively. The third option of our poll, “a local credit union” – which are increasingly proving their relevance to small businesses – was chosen by 15% of our sample. And finally, a little more than one-in-ten said they needed a bank.

A week later, in a companion poll, we asked our small business audience: “Are you happy with your current banking relationship?” Seven out of ten said yes and 17% said no. And the group who said they “would change banks if they could,” came in at 13%.

The results of our unscientific online polls are backed up by the findings of several highly regarded surveys, like Dunkelberg’s NFIB Index: Main Street small businesses are dealing with many challenges in this not-so-great recovery, but access to credit is not one of them.

Uncertainty is suppressing small business loan demand, not banks.

I talked more about banking relationships recently on The Small Business Advocate Show. Click here to listen or download my conversation on how happy small businesses are with their banks.

For more great SBA content, click HERE!

Working capital loans & independent community banks

Results of the The Small Business Advocate Poll from March 14:

The Question: As you grow your business over the next year, it’s likely that you’ll need a working capital loan to augment operating cash flows. If so, which of these options are you more likely to choose?

13% - National or large regional bank

31% - Independent community bank

22% - Credit Union

34% - “We don’t need no shtinking bank loan!”

Jim’s comment: For over a decade, I’ve been telling small business owners that their most reliable banking relationships, through thick and thin, would be one with a locally owned bank or credit union that practiced relationship banking. It’s good to see that of those who would currently consider using financial leverage, 80% would choose an option where relationships are valued more than a computer generated credit score.

Recently on The Small Business Advocate Show, Jim discussed the importance of having a relationship with an independent community bank with Gary Moore, founder of The Financial Seminary and author of several books, including Faithful Finances 101 and Spiritual Investments. It’ll only take 8 minutes to listen to what Gary has to say, he’s a pretty smart guy, and tell us your banking experiences - good and bad.

In praise of the independent community bank with Gary Moore

Small business capital acquisition even when the credit market stinks

This isn’t my first rodeo. The current recession is my 7th one to work in since 1969. As I have noted several times in the past few months, the single greatest difference between this downturn and others is the collapse of the credit sector resulting in a steep reduction of credit availability to consumers and businesses. In every other economic crisis since the Great Depression, when consumers and businesses wanted to make a purchase requiring some level of credit, there has always been a healthy and motivated credit industry standing by to help put purchaser and seller together. Not this time.

And this challenge is no respecter of size: Pharmaceutical players no less than Pfizer and Wyeth had to cobble together transactions from five banks in order to finalize their merger.

Thankfully there are some bright spots for established small businesses. Independent community banks are still lending to small businesses that have, or want, a relationship with those institutions. Credit unions are still hanging in there and expanding their influence with businesses. But for the most part, consumer credit firms and the big banks are MIA.

Notice my qualification word “established” in the previous paragraph. In my 2009 predictions, I said that, unlike previous recessions, the current credit dearth will not be kind to small business start-ups, which historically have relied heavily on the founders’ personal credit lines, including home equity, to capitalize their new small business baby. Consequently – and sadly – start-ups will not play as large a part in this economic recovery as they have in others.

Also in my 2009 predictions, I said that the Obama administration would deploy part of its stimulus efforts through the Small Business Administration. The president should expand the influence of this well established channel to help small businesses acquire the capital they need through their local banks, and I think this will come to pass.

Recently on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, iBank founder and Brain Trust member, Tom Markel, (www.iBank.com)talked about the state of the credit landscape, plus his own proposal for what he thinks President Obama should do for small businesses in his first 100 days in office. Be sure to listen to the wisdom of this important voice on small business capital acquisition, including his multi-step small business stimulus proposal for President Obama. And don’t forget to leave a comment.




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