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Bank of America: Addressing Small Business Owners’ Unique Needs

We’ve asked some of our #SFSBW2019 sponsors to share their insights, and how they help small business flourish in San Francisco. Today we hear from Bank of America.

bank of america san francisco small business

How does your organization support and engage the small business community?

Bank of America‘s high-tech, high-touch approach provides industry-leading guidance, connections, tools and solutions, along with the dedicated support to address small business owners’ unique needs to bank how, where and when they want. Our small business specialists provide banking, credit and cash management solutions for our small business clients.

Our Small Business group, including our Practice Solutions team, primarily focuses on businesses with up to $5 million in annual sales. Small business expertise is accessible through more than 2,300 small business specialists, 4,300 financial centers, 16,300 advanced ATMs and top-ranked digital business banking solutions.

What tools and resources have Bank of America created to help small businesses tap into new opportunities to reach new customers, increase their revenue, and grow their business?

Bank of America serves small business owners in San Francisco and across the country through what we call Bank of America Business Advantage. The name Business Advantage reflects our commitment to meet your evolving needs, giving small business owners a competitive advantage – with people, technology and solutions that help you achieve smart growth that lasts. Our Business Advantage comes to life across California through:

  • Lending – We offer flexible funding options, including Business Advantage Term Loan and Business Advantage Credit Line. The latter offers amounts from $10,000 to $100,000 with no interest until the funds are used to help small business owners manage larger expenses. In 2018, Bank of America provided nearly $4.5 billion in lending to small businesses in California.
  • Local partnerships – Bank of America understands the power of local connections and is dedicated to partnering with neighborhoods and communities across the country. Bank of America is the largest investor in community development financial institutions (CDFIs), with more than $1.5 billion in investments to more than 260 CDFIs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Expertise and guidance – We continue to expand our commitment to provide local expertise and guidance for small business owners across California. Currently, there are approximately 650 Bank of America small business bankers throughout the state. Having a dedicated team means customers have convenient access to local specialists who can provide guidance and insights to help them understand the marketplace and make better decisions for their businesses.

What are the trends you see when you think about the small business marketplace, and how will these trends shape the future of small business?

Bank of America is developing new solutions to help small business owners harness the power of digital to manage their businesses. For example, Business Advantage 360 – a new cash flow dashboard through online and mobile banking – lets small business owners see the big picture of their finances as well as manage the smaller details. Daily tasks – keeping track and credits and debits, cash flow projections, sales data and quick access to small business bankers – are made more convenient to help small business owners optimize their experiences. Business Advantage 360 gives owners a competitive advantage – with people, technology and solutions that help you achieve smart growth that lasts.

In addition to managing your finances, online tools also have an impact on customer-facing business. According to the Spring 2019 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, we found that entrepreneurs are also relying on online reviews to drive new business. In fact, 80% of small business owners said a positive review has led to a new business opportunity. While no business is immune to a negative review (54% report they’ve had one), early and thorough response can help mitigate any negative impact.

Can you share one brief story about how Bank of America is helping San Francisco businesses thrive?

Barebottle Brewing Company was co-founded by Lester Koga, Michael Seitz, and Ben Sterling, three friends and former classmates at Cornell Business School in Ithaca, NY. After moving from Ithaca to the Bay Area in 2007, the three began home brewing, became certified beer judges, and began winning medals at homebrewing competitions. Barebottle brews innovative beers inspired by the San Francisco Bay Area using local ingredients wherever possible, and partners with local homebrewing groups to develop new beers using a competitive method.

Bank of America Small Business Banker Paul Fuentecilla starting working with Barebottle in May of 2017. In their initial meeting and several subsequent meetings, they discussed improving the overall efficiency of the business. Bank of America was able to reduce the amount of time took to collect receivables and create a more streamlined deposit process for them.

In May of 2018, Barebottle began discussing their interest in expanding the business with increased production and a second location in Santa Clara. Managing cash flow had now become their top priority. Their Bank of America Small Business Banker advised them and worked with them to put the appropriate financing in place to improve operational cash flow and begin preliminary construction. Their second location is expected to open on September 1, 2019.

Bank of America looks forward to an ongoing relationship and continuing to support Barebottle in the next milestone of expanding its distribution in the region.

What words of advice or wisdom would you like to share with small business owners?

Work with your small business banker as you determine your goals and ask for their advice. No matter what your goal, a skilled banker will guide you every step of the way throughout the life cycle of your business and can show you the best way to get access to capital and solutions designed to make your financial life easier.

 

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