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.

App Fog Genius Lessons From A Successful Entrepreneur

App Fog Business Startup Lessons from a Lucrative Entrepreneur

Lucas Carlson is a successful startup entrepreneur. When he first started however, he made a few bad choices that almost cost him big time.

Don’t Skip Business Setup Planning

At first he was just programming an idea for App Fog. He didn’t have a landing page, any bank account, brain storming ideas, or thinking about the ideal customers. Skipping key steps really put him back for years. He would program for weeks, and then finish the app idea. Then program for weeks and finish the idea. He couldn’t get people interested in the idea that was created.

Creating a Landing Page

Finally, he decided to create a landing page one night when he was too tired to sleep or even tell his wife about the programming idea. The app idea was PHP Fog. He tried putting it up on a site before that called Heroku.com. He registered the PHP Fog website and just simply wrote “it’s like Heroku for PHP”. Heroku’s site only allowed for Rudy on Rails applications so he couldn’t put the applications on that site.

Living the Dream

The next morning he woke up and had eight hundred people on his website! He didn’t market it anywhere else. All he did was put one link on Hacker News network. Also, he described the website in more depth. It turned out that the idea was a “hair on fire” idea without even the creation of the project! This gave him assurance that if the effort is put in, the results will be desired. After programming for two weeks. he just only had a prototype and the traffic went from 800 to 4,000 unique visitors per day!

Hair on Fire Problem Equals Confidence

He had identified a “hair on fire” problem. This gave him confidence to program the solution. This changed his life forever! He realized the difference between having a problem that people know they have versus the problems that people don’t know they have. PHP Fog wound up being AppFog. It raised $10 billion dollars and was later bought out.

No Marketing Expenses

He didn’t spend a dime on marketing! It wasn’t an accident. People already wanted the idea and were looking for it. He learned that he could find what people already wanted and then program an application based on what they wanted. He wasn’t taking a “shot in the dark” anymore.

Don’t be Intimidated

Creating a landing page or micro-website is very scary for most people. They don’t want to know if others like their great idea or not. There is a denial psychological part to this way of thinking. It can be self-defeating to the creation of an idea. They will think “Well I believe in the idea so much, that I don’t care what other people think about it”. This philosophy will kill a great idea. Put your “right foot first” and see what people need.

Canadian Business Banking – An Overview

Banking and business borrowing in Canada is significantly different than in the United States. That is primarily driven by the fact that our banking system is uniquely different. In the U.S., borrowing finance is driven through various entities – which include major ‘ money center banks ‘, Commercial banks, community banks, and what are know as S&L’s, ( savings and loans ). In addition the American landscape is populated by community banks.

The Canadian banking system is different, in that the country has chosen to adopt a more smaller ( by competitor ) banking system that is extremely concentrated and dominated by a handful of major players. Primarily these are:

* RBC ROYAL BANK,
* TD CANADA TRUST,
* CIBC
* BANK OF NOVA SCOTIA,
* BMO BANK OF MONTREAL,
* LAURENTIAN
* NATIONAL BANK OF CANADA

All of these banks support the Canadian Small Business Financing program sponsored by the federal government.

There is a decent sized credit union movement in Canada, and many of these credit unions are making forays into Commercial banking and financing. Many people tend to feel these credit unions have not yet accumulated either the talent or the capital pool to properly play in business banking and commercial lending.

We would point out that some time ago now the government introduced legislation to allow foreign banks to lend in Canada. These banks are known technically as ‘ SCHEDULE B ‘ banks, and are referred to a briefcase bankers in that they do not have the large branch networks that are the domain of our BIG 7 banks as listed above.

Capital for Canadian firms is traditionally much harder to secure in the Canadian banking system. Outside of the aforementioned CSBFL program that is federally underwritten the banks tend to secure small business loans with usually up to 100% of personal collateral. That of course has the customers pledging personal assets, savings, etc. There certainly are no ‘ templates ‘ for fast quick borrowing in the Canadian small business banking. Loan criteria is judiciously adjudicated by underwriters on a case by case basis, and as has been noted, relies heavily on the traditional three C’s of credit –

– character
– capacity
– capital

As the Canadian banks have emerged from the current world economic crisis they do however seem to be placing more focus on smaller firms. For example new divisions for small business banking are being created within some players, seminars and trade shows are being offered, and they often sponsor local events.

Larger firms who in many cases do not meet the requirements of the Canadian banks when it comes to significant borrowing requirements are often forced to consider asset based lending arrangements with Canadian and U.S. commercial finance companies who have stepped in to play a role in this vital area.Even though the larger firms may in fact have been in business a number of years their balance sheets and income statements do not meet the borrowing requirements of the Canadian loan committees. During the 2009 world economic crisis and financial meltdown the Canadian banks were consistently lauded for being some of the best run in the world. However, the downside of this is that ‘ best run ‘ in many cases means risk averse and commercial borrowing in Canada is significantly more difficult than in other countries such as the U.S.

The Canadian banks have distinguished themselves by developing software and technologies that have put them at the forefront of commercial borrowing/lending.

In summary, the Canadian banking system is uniquely structured and Canadian business, both larger and small,should focus on the unique strengths of the system borrowing and banking needs. Not all companies will be successful and business owners should ensure their financial executives or advisors know who can best meet their borrowing needs.