Presented by Central Bank

Even as vaccines roll out across the country, the pandemic-related challenges faced by small businesses remain. In less than a year, businesses in nearly every industry have found themselves facing an accelerated digital transformation, disruption in demand, and supply chain issues. Nearly 100,000 small businesses across the nation have shut down permanently since the start of the pandemic, according to a recent Yelp report. But not all hope is lost.

For entrepreneurs who’ve managed to maintain operations and successfully make the transition to this “new normal,” one key resource during these difficult times continues to be a strong relationship with a knowledgeable and caring community bank.

In a make-it-or-break-it period like we’re in now, working with a top regional bank can mean access to both the essential tools and personalized strategies required to persevere. One such institution, Central Bank, is the leader in every market they serve and fourth Best Bank in America overall according to Forbes. Here’s how this modern breed of community bank acts as a valuable resource to small business owners facing big challenges.

Regional Banks like Central Bank worked with small businesses across all industries to secure tens of millions in PPP loans to help weather the pandemic.

Providing funding

Though it certainly hasn’t been easy, millions of small businesses have accessed loans under the “Paycheck Protection Program” by working with local regional banks. The forgivable, low-interest loans became a lifeline to many businesses who may not have made it through the last year without them. Central Bank, for example, helped free up tens of millions of dollars in PPP loans for small businesses across all industries in their area, making it possible for those businesses to stay afloat.

A regulatory change under the new administration may make it easier for sole proprietors to qualify for PPP funding, so they should consider checking in with their lender even if they weren’t able to get a loan in the first round, says Eric Groves, co-founder and CEO of small business referral network Alignable.

“Get your paperwork in order, all of your tax forms and other information,” he says. “Then reach out to your lending officer to let them know that you want to be in a position to sit down and go through it all when the changes go through.”

Beyond just helping secure PPP loans for customers, community banks have been essential in providing traditional lending throughout the pandemic, too. Central Bank has the ability to cater loans to the unique needs of small businesses, helping entrepreneurs with access to capital for everything from equipment purchases to real estate transactions as they pivoted their business models to better position themselves in a constantly changing market.

Staying nimble and being able to accept customer payments of all types is key to adapting to the “new normal.”

Enabling the digital transformation

The pandemic pushed nearly every business further along in their digital transformation, as consumers became comfortable with everything from virtual doctor’s appointments to online exercise classes. In addition to getting their operations online quickly, businesses needed to offer quick and easy omnichannel payment options for customers, and to ensure the cyber security of any transactions taking place on their site.

Products from Central Bank allow small businesses to accept customer payments easily online — and quickly get access to those funds. This allows business owners to focus on other elements of their digital transformation, such as their online storefront and social media marketing.

Working with a community bank that views your business as a partner, not a customer, will help your team get back to work faster and more efficiently.

Streamlining financial management

To deal with the upheaval brought on by Covid — including store closures, stay-at-home orders, and supply chain failures — small business owners have had less bandwidth for core activities like operations and sales and marketing, though they still rank the latter tasks as the most important to the business, according to a recent Deloitte study.

By working with their bank to automate cash management and payroll systems, business owners were able to spend more time dealing with operations and customer service. Central Bank representatives can help business owners come up with customized cash-management strategies, tailored to the pain points of each individual business.

Today’s digital banking products allow business owners to not only automate the day-to-day money tasks, but to also easily log in via any device — and from anywhere — to get a snapshot of their business’s finances or to quickly pay bills, transfer funds, or view other activity.

“Small businesses can benefit from anything that helps their business become more efficient right now and allows them to compete in a more effective way,” says Tim T. Mercer, entrepreneur and author of Bootstrapped Millionaire: Defying the Odds of Business. “They may not need to have all the human resources to help with those tasks if there is technology that can do it for them.”

With small businesses facing unprecedented challenges even as the pandemic begins to subside, they need every advantage that they can get. Finding a bank that acts as a true partner can serve as a competitive advantage as they find the way forward.

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