Small business owners have a lot to look out for today—inflation, supply chain disruptions, and employee recruitment are all top of mind.
As of June 2022, inflation is currently at 9.1% year-over-year according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Supply chain disruptions have affected a reported 61% of small businesses and hiring is harder than ever—approximately 72.8% of recruiters are struggling to find good candidates.
For small-and medium-sized business owners, any one of these issues can cause business disruptions, and when one appears, it’s usually a signal that more are following. The effects of these disruptions are disproportionately felt by Black, Hispanic, and minority owned businesses.
When challenges arise, there are steps you can take to prepare your business for long-term success, today and in the future. Here are four things every small to medium sized business should do to prepare their business for an uncertain future:
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• Small to medium sized businesses have plenty of things to consider: inflation is at 9.1%, 61% of businesses have been affected by supply chain disruptions, and 72.8% of recruiters are struggling to find good candidates. With so much uncertainty, we want to provide small to medium sized business owners with some tactical steps they can take to plan for future success in an uncertain market.
• Step 1: Establish a relationship with your bank – and a banker – to make sure you have access to the resources you need.
• Step 2: Reevaluate your vendors, and see if you can reduce or adjust any of your current fees and rates.
• Step 3: Keep all your financial statements in order, accurate, and up-to-date so you can make sound business decisions.
• Step 4: Work with your bank to assess your true need for borrowing money – and ask them to assist you with selecting the appropriate lending product for your situation.
Establish a Relationship with Your Bank
Small businesses benefit from an established relationship with a bank at all times, but the benefits can be even more valuable during times of uncertainty. Having an established banker can also prove invaluable to your business. Your banker acts as a partner who’s familiar enough with your business to offer appropriate services and can help you understand how various lending products can help to address your business needs.
In addition, banks have an established network that you can use to your advantage.
Your bank can refer you to outside resources that serve a more advisory capacity to your business. For example, the Small Business and Technology Development Center in Durham, NC is committed to providing startup and existing entrepreneurs with the information and tools needed to develop business ideas to become viable, sustainable, profitable, and successful. Other examples include the Small Business Center at Durham Tech, Infinity Bridges, and the Carolina Small Business Development Fund.
A community bank will have the knowledge and connections to assist you with your needs as a small business owner. This is one of the reasons we stress the importance of this relationship: it affects your bottom line and helps you find success—even in less than ideal market circumstances.
When it comes to selecting a bank, in particular, you should look for a relationship that’s trustworthy and dependable. A good banking relationship provides small business owners with access to additional resources that help you get ahead.
Evaluate Your Terms (and Relationships) with Vendors
Small businesses use many different vendors. One way to reduce costs is to evaluate current terms and renegotiate better terms if possible. When this is not possible, it can be beneficial to find new vendors that can better meet your needs. It’s a good idea to periodically research what similar vendors in your market (and beyond, now that so many businesses are online) are charging for their services.
It is important to note that your bank should be considered as one of your vendors. We recommend small businesses reach out to their bank for options to reduce account fees and rates on new lines and loans.
Get Your Financial Statements in Order
Keeping accurate records is vital to a business that wants to understand its current financial condition and create a plan for future success. Financial statements should capture all revenue, expenses, assets, and debts. In addition, you should document cash flow in and out of the business. Having this information clearly detailed allows owners to make sound business decisions.
Rising inflation is leading to higher costs and steeper fees in the economy. These increased expenses and rates make it crucial for small businesses to have a good idea of how their business is performing financially. This way, as a business owner, you can ensure you’re making responsible decisions.
Assess the Need for Borrowing
Having a good relationship with a banker becomes even more important when you consider the financing needs for your small business. There are many reasons you may need to borrow, and talking with a banker can help you determine the right loan product for your needs.
With interest rates on the rise nationally, small businesses should evaluate whether or not there is a true need to take on additional debts. If the need is there, a banker will help you determine your loan options.
Whether the borrowing cause is financing the acquisition of new equipment or providing more working capital, your banker can help you make the right choice. When it comes to a loan — a good banker will work closely with you to help you choose the right loan product for your business.
Learn More About Local Resources to Help You Navigate Economic Uncertainty
With the right bank on your side, you won’t be alone. You’ll have a trusted partner to help you navigate local economic conditions and understand the impact of the larger economy on your day-to-day.
Looking for more information and resources for small to medium sized businesses? Reach out to us today if you have any questions.