Bankers offer guidance to start-ups at Florence seminar
Article written BY JOE PERRY Morning News
FLORENCE, S.C. – For start-ups and small-business owners, there are many banking options.
At Tuesday morning’s Small Business Series seminar sponsored by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, First Reliance Bank, Waring & Associates CPAs and HillSouth, the bank’s own Reuben Hewitt spoke about finding the right account to fit one’s needs. His colleague Dwayne Brockington explained how the bank views potential loan applicants looking to launch a business.
“If you start a small business, we have deposit accounts designed for whatever level of business you have,” Hewitt said, emphasizing that accounts can evolve along with a business. “When you compare apples to apples, we’re very competitive.”
A complete merchant services division can configure custom accounts for credit card processing, whether it’s one business, a franchise or several physical locations, he said. A new product called a remote deposit capture allows business owners to scan checks so a physical deposit isn’t needed.
“It’s extremely convenient – those checks clear quickly and are credited to your account faster,” Hewitt said.
There’s more to banking than money, though, as the bank wants to form solid and lasting relationships with customers and the community, he said. He used an example of an employee of local bank call center employee stopping potential fraud in its tracks because the employee knew a caller’s voice was not who he purported to be.
“It saved tons and tons of problems, headaches and money," Hewitt said. He said that "relationship banking is fundamental” and helps the local and regional economy as money is reinvested in the same market. “With a large national bank, there’s no telling where it ends up,” he said.
Dwayne Brockington told the crowd about the “5 Cs of credit,” and how equity is important for a bank to know an owner is “putting skin in the game,” and married to a project.
“It’s kind of like a down payment,” he said. “A down payment you inject into your business.”
The first C is capital, or the down payment, and exists at different levels. Collateral is the asset or assets one pledges to repay debt, he said, noting that some businesses use their equipment to secure a loan. The third C is cash flow, he said, as the bank “makes loans with the intention of getting repaid.”
The fourth C is character, which is very important.
“We want to do business with people who are honest with integrity,” he said, and who show energy and excitement in their venture. “If you can’t sell yourself, forget it.”
Work experience also falls under that C, he said, knowing that a customer has relevant time spent in his or her field. The fifth C is conditions and that is where a substantial business plan comes into play. Market research, demographics and knowing one’s competition are key, he said.
At the end of the day, the bank’s job, he said, is to “make sure you’re successful.”
First Reliance’s Florence market President Tom Ewart told the attendees that feedback is sought and said there will be another seminar in February.
“This is a perpetual thing,” he said, “and we hope for it to grow. You care about your business succeeding and we want your business to succeed and help small businesses grow in Florence and help our economy grow.”