It Ain’t EasyYou may be pursuing your passion, but that doesn’t mean owning a small business is all fun and games.
Your Bank MattersDon’t let the financial side of owning a biz send you into burnout. That defeats the purpose of being your own boss!
Get PersonalFind a credit union with the services you need — and the people to help you through the ups and downs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2017 that 55 million people in the U.S. are “gig workers.” That’s about 34% of the U.S. workforce. This number was projected to increase to 43% this year, and who knows how COVID-19 will accelerate that growth. (We’ll get back to you on that in 2021.)
Not impressed by that number? How’s this: businesses with less than 20 employees make up 89% of all businesses in the country.
If you’re like the majority of small business owners (94%, in fact), you probably made the leap for one of two reasons:
- You wanted to be your own boss and have more freedom
- You wanted to pursue your own passion
But if you’ve been at it for a while, you know that just because you’re pursuing your passion and being your own boss doesn’t mean running a business is easy. It can be downright exhausting.
And if you’re just getting started? Well, it’s important to start off on the right foot. Between taxes and paperwork and budgeting and small business loans, running a small business requires a lot of financial work. And if you don’t have a good support system or experts on your side to help out, you may find the stress of financials outweighs the freedom owning a business provides.
Choosing the right financial institution can make all the difference when it comes to banking for small businesses. And your decision shouldn’t be based on interest rates or fees alone. Small businesses face unique financial challenges that many of the biggest financial institutions are not equipped to handle.
“It’s easy to underestimate the importance of your bank when you start a business, but they are not all the same,” says Shelley Leveridge, owner of Folded Owl, a bookkeeping and marketing biz. “Having a personal relationship with your banker(s) can save you a ton of headaches down the road. You never know what financial crisis may arise in the course of doing business (hello, COVID-19) and you’re not going to get that personal touch from a giant national bank.”
If you’ve ever worked with a national bank, you know it’s difficult to have any kind of personal relationship with your banker. Between AI chatbots and automated answering machines, big banks make it difficult to even get in contact with a real person, much less get to know that person.
The alternative? Choosing a financial institution that has your best interest in mind — not profit. And those financial institutions are members of an elite squad known as … credit unions.
Best Credit Unions for Small Business
America First Credit Union
First on our list of best credit unions for small business? America First Credit Union.
There’s a common misconception floating around that all credit unions have limited services, and some do (which can be great for those who hate making decisions … *cough* me).
But if you have more specific needs, having options is good. That’s what makes America First stand out. They have four business checking accounts to choose from — including a free account and an interest-bearing account.
They have nine business savings options.
And they offer additional services like business planning and payroll.
Unlike many other credit unions, America First also offers a dedicated business credit card, whose cash back or rewards earnings you can customize according to your business’s needs. They also offer a business loan program like you’d find at a traditional bank. You can apply for an SBA secured or unsecured business line of credit, both SBA and non-SBA business auto loans, equipment and machinery loans, unsecured capital loans, and more.
Next on our list of best credit unions for small business is Alliant. Alliant doesn’t have as many small biz-specific offerings, but their personal checking and savings accounts might still be a good fit for your business including:
- A high-rate checking option with a 0.45% APY, no monthly service fee and no minimum balance requirements
- A high-yield savings account with a 1.90% APY, no monthly fee and a $5 minimum deposit
Alliant’s online and mobile banking offerings also make this credit union a good choice for many. And all you need to do to join is donate $5 to Foster Care to Success.
FirstTech Credit Union
Speaking of online and mobile banking, FirstTech also has great digital banking tools that allow you to transfer money to other accounts (whether or not they’re with FirstTech), view transactions, etc.
FirstTech doesn’t offer as many business loan options, but they have some of the best savings and checking accounts for small businesses: two business checking account options and three business savings account options, with as little as a $0 minimum balance requirement. They also have five rewards credit card options and many more physical locations than Alliant.
Membership requirements are a little bit stricter than Alliant, so take a look on their site to see if you qualify.
Your Local Credit Union
Want that extra personal touch? Access to physical locations? Direct contact with your bankers and financial advisors? Check out credit unions in your area.
Your local credit union may be smaller and have fewer offerings, but you can often get even more personalized customer service.
“As a bookkeeper, I’ve seen how banks treat my clients, and it’s not always good,” Leveridge says. “Large, national conglomerates have left people in a jam on more occasions than I can count. Those who use smaller, more community-focused institutions like credit unions have had no trouble at all getting the help they need when they need it. They’re easier for bookkeepers to work with, too.”
That said, the best credit union for small business may be right in your own neighborhood.