Community Banks

Beyond SBA Loans: How Community Banks Help Small Businesses Grow

Scott Dieckgraefe Insight

All entrepreneurs and small business owners know – or, at least, they should – how important it is to have the full support of a solid financial institution to help grow and sustain their enterprise. First and foremost, community banks are the conduit for loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which secures the loans these lenders provide in helping small businesses with special requirements. The most common of these is the SBA 7(a) loan, which can be used for acquiring, refinancing, or improving real estate and buildings; short- and long-term working capital; refinancing current business debt; and the purchase of machinery, equipment, furniture, fixtures, and supplies. 

But beyond these types of loans and the general services that banks or credit unions provide – e.g., opening various accounts to service the company’s cash flow, payroll, etc. – there is a broad array of valuable services that many small businesses fail to take advantage of. That’s a shame, because these services exist for the very purpose of helping small businesses thrive. After all, the bank is dependent on revenue streams that a stable client base provides. Banking is a truly symbiotic relationship.

Here are some of the ways community banks can help a small business prosper:

  • Customized Financial Solutions

Banks often provide personalized financial services tailored specifically to the unique needs of small businesses, including specific loan options for vehicles, equipment, technology, agriculture, commercial properties, business lines of credit and credit cards.

  • Flexible Loan Options

Beyond SBA loans, many community banks are willing to provide small businesses with low rates, flexible terms, and expedited funding for immediate needs like equipment financing, lines of credit, and commercial real estate loans.

  • Relationship Banking

Developing a true relationship with your local bank gives you access to dedicated banking advisors and, often, quicker decision-making processes. Building and maintaining this relationship may include having all your checking, savings, and investment accounts; credit cards, mortgages, personal and business loans, and insurance policies through one financial institution.

  • Cash Management Services

Community banks can provide small businesses with cash management tools like cash flow forecasting, cash reconciliation, Cash positioning, liquidity planning, fraud management, and remote deposit capture to help small businesses manage their finances more efficiently.

  • Business Checking and Savings Accounts

Most financial institutions provide advantages in using business-specific checking and savings accounts with lower fees and better interest rates.

  • Merchant Services

Many local banks offer specialized merchant services such as credit card processing and point-of-sale systems, which can enhance a business’s payment options.

  • Networking and Community Engagement

Beyond the services the bank provides they often also host or sponsor community events, providing networking opportunities for small business owners.

  • Financial Education and Workshops

Community banks often also offer workshops and seminars to help small business owners improve their financial literacy and business acumen.

  • Investment Services

Many local banks offer investment and retirement planning services to small business owners for long-term financial stability.

  • Local Economic Insights

Community banks can provide a deep understanding of the local economy and valuable insights and advice based on local market conditions.

  • Connections to Business Resources

With a deeper understanding of the entire regional business landscape, bankers may have recommendations for secondary suppliers, outsourcing options, as well as professional services such as specialized law firms, accountants and IT/internet security.

So, it behooves small business owners to investigate the help their local financial institutions can provide beyond the standard of needing somewhere to park their money. Of course, owners should do their due diligence to find a bank that is stable, secure, and truly community minded. Forging a partnership with such an institution can pay dividends that can help the business to grow into the future.

Studio/D is a full-service marketing communications firm working with mid-market industrial and manufacturing clients, together with companies that support the manufacturing ecosystem. We’re a team of “makers” who simplify complex communication challenges with messaging that engages and drives results. Learn more about us at, or call our president, Scott Dieckgraefe at 314-200-2630.