Even if you don’t need or qualify for a loan yet, banks do provide a suite of other products fundamental to your business that are mostly (but not completely) financial in nature. These can include business checking accounts, business credit cards and perhaps even a credit reference from your banker. Banks also have great contacts in the community and can be an excellent source of business referrals.
It's vital for you to separate your business and personal finances early on, to simplify bookkeeping and tax returns. Open a business checking account at your local bank to start things off on the right foot.
You should also establish a relationship with your banker early on, so you can learn from him how best to position yourself for a loan down the road (if you will need one). Your banker can also keep you apprised of what other financial products might be appropriate for your particular business such as merchant banking services, payroll services, treasury management services and much more.
Information technology (IT) encompasses a lot of things, including purchasing computers, setting up computer networks, security measures, email systems, software, backing up business data, high-speed internet access, and phone systems.
The extent of the IT services you'll need depends on your business model, and you may or may not need or want to hire an IT professional to assist you. If you plan to go it alone, tap into resources like the Small Business Technology Institute or the Microsoft Small Business Center for articles and online training on a variety of IT topics.
If you decide to hire an IT consultant to help set up and support your computer system on a one-time or ongoing basis, you should ask for referrals from business associates, your trade association or the retailer from which you purchase your computer equipment.
Questions to ask a prospective IT consultant:
- Do you specialize in my industry and in assisting small businesses?
- What will your availability be if I have an urgent problem?
- Do you charge a retainer or by the hour, and do you charge for any other expenses?
- What services do you offer - website hosting, ongoing consulting and troubleshooting?