Small business is big business. Are you forgetting?

For years, community banks were well-positioned to offer commercial account holders both personalized service and convenience. (And, as a result, they were also, perhaps, just a bit too comfortable). Small-business owners could bank at a community bank just as easily and efficiently as they could at a national bank. And, up until recently, community banks weren’t competing with disruptors who offered SMBs slick digital services such as two-minute online loan applications.  Well, needless to say, community banks are now living in a much different world; one where their commercial accounts are under constant threat from a host of competitors.

Today, the battle for these accounts grows more intense every day as competitors pursue SMBs with innovative, agile solutions in the areas of payments, lending, financial management, and more. Big tech disruptors like Square Banking, QuickBooks Cash, and Shopify Balance, as well as fintech innovators such as Kabbage, BlueVine, and Brex are wreaking havoc in the community banking landscape, working overtime to create a wedge between small businesses and their community banks.

Let’s face it, running a small business is challenging and the temptation to try new ways of doing things is, well, almost unavoidable. It doesn’t help community banks that there’s an explosive number of financial apps out there that are capturing the attention of small business owners… innovative (dare I say fun?) digital platforms that facilitate critical SMB processes, from making financial decisions and sending payments, to managing receivables and getting quicker access to cash. Sure, that personal relationship you have with your small business owners is worth something, but it’s not everything. 

Cash [flow] is king.

The main reason businesses fail is not because of poor products or bad service, but because of cash flow issues. And while working with a local community bank is almost always the preference of the SMB, like I said, a personal relationship is something but not everything. At the end of the workday, business owners want — and desperately need — a banking partner who can deliver the products and services they need to keep the wheels turning and the lights on. Whether it’s accelerated payments, increased working capital, or better financial management, you need to offer your small business customers the tools that enable a healthy, consistent flow of cash.

SMBs don’t work without working capital.

While we’re on the subject of cash flow, yes, cash may be king, but credit is certainly second in the line of succession. An important fact: It’s almost always the product that starts a new relationship between a bank and a small business. But that relationship can hit an insurmountable obstacle in just minutes. Studies reveal that today’s consumer has no patience whatsoever when applying for a loan and that includes small business owners.  According to meridianlink, a whopping 68% of consumers will never finish an online application for financial services. If a loan app takes more than just a few minutes to complete, applicants give up. This can be especially frustrating when it comes to SMBs and their funding needs as they often need capital not today, not tomorrow, but yesterday.  Community banks must balance fast financing with personal service or off that business owner goes to Lending Tree where, according to their Google ad, they can “get their small business funded fast,” with “$10K -$1M, next day funded!” 

According to the US Chamber of Commerce, 99% of all businesses in the U.S. – about 37 million – are SMBs.  And, according to meridianlink, 39% of those small businesses say community banks don’t understand them. What’s a community bank to do?  Make sure that your small business owners understand that you understand them!

As I mentioned earlier, a loan is almost always the product that starts (and can also go a long way in maintaining) a small business relationship.  It makes sense then, does it not, to get the message out there (and keep it out there) that when a small business needs financing that they should come to you for it, not a big national, Lending Tree, or Kabbage.  How do you do that?  With campaigns like these, that reinforce the fact that there’s more to running a successful small business than applying for financing online in less than 30 seconds. Campaigns that reinforce the fact that relationships matter, especially during tough times; of which, for SMBs, there are many. As always, I welcome your thoughts on the subject.

About Bank Marketing Center 

Here at, our goal is to help you with that topical, compelling communication with customers; the messaging — developed by banking industry marketing professionals, well trained in the thinking behind effective marketing communication — that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. In short, build your brand. 

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to social media and in branch signage – visit  You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at