The Best Small Business Banks Around Tampa Bay

MultiFunding is proud to announce the 2014, top 20 banks in the Tampa Bay Area for lending to small businesses. In early November 2014 MultiFunding partnered with Entrepreneur Media to launch an innovative and state of the art interactive search tool, like Zillow, that makes it possible for entrepreneurs to instantly identify and evaluate local banks by their track records for lending to small businesses.

The Bank Search tool calculates the total dollar value of loans made by a bank to small businesses. Small business loans are defined as loans between $100,000 and $1,000,000, then divided by the total number of branches owned by the bank. In addition to a list of local results based on this equation, entrepreneurs can see an estimate of small‐business loan balances held at each branch.

“One of the biggest challenges that small businesses face is access to capital,” says Ami Kassar, CEO of MultiFunding. “Our grading system and website help small business owners find local banks that are friends of small business.”

 

The best small business banks around the Tampa Bay Area are:

Raymond James Bank
Everbank
Stearns Bank National Association
Platinum Bank
The Bank of Tampa 
Bay Cities Bank
Gulfshore Bank
First Citrus Bank
Synovus
Northstar Bank
Usameribank
Pilot Bank
Jefferson Bank of Florida
First Florida Integrity Bank
Patriot Bank
Seaside National Bank and Trust
Republic Bank & Trust Company
Centerstate Bank Of Florida, National Association
Whitney Bank
Stonegate Bank

 

The Missing Ingredient in “Shark Tank”

Adding a lender to the panel of sharks would give the show more depth and educational value.

In the past week’s episode of Shark Tank, Curt Campbell, an entrepreneur from the tiny town of Fish Creek, Wisconsin pitched his company www.oilerie.com to the sharks for an investment.

In his pitch, Mr. Campbell talked about putting it all on the line for his company, and told stories of having his power and cable shut off at earlier stages in the business.

While Mark Cuban did make an investment, I thought his response to Mr. Campbell was genuine.  He thanked him for telling his story of his ups and downs candidly, and spoke about how he taught more to budding entrepreneurs watching the show then any of the sharks could.

As I reflect on Mr. Cuban’s comments–it reaffirmed my thoughts that there is a key component missing in the show–one of the sharks should be a lender, not an investor.

After all, every time an entrepreneur needs money for their business–they should consider debt and equity options.  Sometimes the choice is very black and white–because in some cases there isn’t a lender or an investor who would do a particular deal.  But in plenty of cases, the choice is gray, and this should be highlighted on Shark Tank.

I would love to see a lender on the show, sitting side-by-side with investors, asking the entrepreneur questions about their cash flow, collateral, and credit.  Entrepreneurs should know that these issues matter.  Additionally, I would like to see the sharks sharpen their value proposition to an entrepreneur, when and if there is a viable lending option on the table.

It would be fascinating to watch an entrepreneur have to make a decision in front of millions of watchers between taking a loan and keeping control of their company but have to risk their house a collateral or taking an investment.  That’s a far tougher decision between giving “x” percent of your company up to on shark or “y” to another.

It might even be juicier to watch an entrepreneur decide between a 6 percent interest loan that requires them to put their house on the line versus a 30 percent loan that does not.  Or, it could be compelling to watch an entrepreneur realize they have forfeited a loan option because they previously took on an investor who is not willing to personally guarantee a loan.

These debates would add a compelling component to the show, add to its drama, as well as its educational value.  I hope the producers consider it.

5 Money Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

When looking for capital, many business owners make these critical errors.

Entrepreneurs are often so busy running their businesses that they make common mistakes that could wind up costing valuble time and money.  Make sure you avoid making any of the blunders below.

1.  Being Disorganized

Yes, taking care of your day-t0-day operations and putting a heavy emphasis on satisfying your clients should take precedence over organizing your receipts and updating your financials, but these important things can’t be ignored for too long.  Lenders see out-of-date financials as a sign of poor money management, and it can reflect poorly on you as a business owner and on your ability to pay back a loan.  Set aside a time each week (or every other week, if absolutely necessary) to update your balance sheets, accounts receivable, inventory, current liabilities, and your profit and loss statements.  All small-business owners should reasonably be able to discuss the numbers from these financials for the past two weeks of their business, especially when seeking a loan.

2.  Being Ill-informed

One of the biggest pieces of advice that I repeatedly give small-business owners and entrepreneurs is to know their options.  There are hundreds of loan programs available, and not knowing about the different sources of capital can end up costing you more money in the long run.  For example, taking a cash-advance loan because it’s fast and convenient could have you paying back thousands more than an SBA express loan would.

3.  Not Networking

Imagine a startup CEO who solely networks with lenders who require companies to have been in business two years before even considering them for loans.  Or a company that makes apps not returning phone calls from a tech investor.  Many small-business owners fail to identify the most appropriate financing targets for their specific business.

4.  Borrowing Too Much

When considering a loan, many small-business owners think too big.  Don’t make the mistake of borrowing money to fuel your business for the next five or 10 years–you only really need enough money to make progress this year.  Borrowing a large amount of money not only means that you will need sufficient collateral and cash flow to cover the debt but also that you’ll have to pay back that amount plus interest.  Think about what you can actually afford and how it will affect your business.

5.  Blindly Trusting Your Partner

Entering into a relationship with an investor or lender should be a two-way partnership, just like a marriage.  As a mutually beneficial relationship, people make a loan to or invest in your business to make money, and you are taking the money or giving up equity in order to improve your business and cash flow.  Just as lenders and investors interview you to see if you are a good fit, you should also interview them to achieve the same.

Ask loan offiers questions about previous loans they have made and what their persoal approval rate is within their organization.  Ask potential investors how many investments they’ve made in the past year, and carefully consider how much influence the investor will have in making business decisions.  Know that there are thousands of options when it comes to lenders and investors, and that not all of them will be right for you and your business.

The Absolutely Best Time to Borrow Money, as published by Inc.

Consider taking out a business loan when you least expect you’ll need it.  Here’s what I mean.

At my loan brokerage firm, I receive calls from small business owners everyday who are desperate for loans–not only to save their businesses, but just to keep the roofs over their heads.  If they had called me a few months earlier, when financial needs were just emerging, securing a loan or line of credit would have been much easier.

It’s common sense, but many small business owners ignore the fact that it’s easier to get a loan when you don’t need one than when the situation is dire.

The High-Interest Treadmill to Avoid

Imagine a scenario in which it’s the middle of the summer and your air conditioner blows up on you.  It’s going to cost $25,000 to replace it and you need to do it quickly.  There is not much time to think, or your business is at risk.  If you have a line of credit in place for an emergency like this, you can write a check and pay a low interest rate of 5 percent to 6 percent until you figure out a longer-term plan.  If you don’t make that contingency plan, and you don’t have the cash on hand, you could be forced to call a quick short-term lender who will charge 60 percent to 80 percent interest.  This is what you don’t want to do.

Small business owners tend to have short-term memories and wind up concentrating on present victories and defeats.  If things are going well, you probably think that they’ll continue that way.  But if the recession made anything clear, it’s that the world can change quickly and unexpectedly.  No one is immune.

Just as people take out life insurance plans to help take care of their affairs in case of unforeseen death, so should owners have lifelines for their businesses.  The most successful entrepreneurs anticipate potential problems down the road and plan accordingly before hitting them.

You Know You’re in a Good Position to Borrow When…

If your business is doing well, now is the right time to evaluate your contingency plan options.  When cash flow is steady and building, banks will line up to give you money at the best rate possible.  A line of credit can be a lifesaver in case of an unforeseen emergency or during a slow season.  While there might be some small expenses to get a line of credit set up, once you have it, you only pay for it if you use it.

If you have accounts receivable, your industry is showing growth, and you have good credit, you’re in a good position to take a loan or a high line of credit at a good rate.  With business that is turning profits, you can be confident that you’ll also be able to pay back the loan, which is something that helps all small business owners and entrepreneurs sleep better at night.

You Know You’re in the Worst Position to Borrow When…

On the flip side, if you wait until you aren’t able to make your payroll or aren’t able to pay your lease, it will be more difficult to get any sort of loan because banks and alternative lenders are hesitant to lend money to a business that is at risk of shutting down or going bankrupt.

When you get desperate, your choices dwindle and you may be stuck with a high interest loan with short amortization period that will leave you right back where you started after a few months.  This is when businesses can get sucked into the trap of short-term loan renewals that they have trouble getting out of and rates that they struggle to pay.

For many businesses, a call for a lifesaver loan is completely avoidable if a loan or line of credit is taken a little earlier in the game.

Are you prepared to weather potential storms looming on the horizon?  Do you have a small business contingency plan?  Let me know in the comments section below.

How to Navigate the New Small-Business Lending Landscape

The world of small-business finance has changed drastically in recent years. Here’s what you need to know.

Let’s face it, most of us have a romanticized view of small-business lending — the mom and pop shops of yesteryear heading down to the local bank to take out a loan — but the reality is that the world of small- business finance has changed drastically in the past few years. Now, hopeful entrepreneurs seeking funds are left to navigate the post-recession fallout in order to realize their dreams.

Access to capital is a critical issue for small-business owners and entrepreneurs. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 23 million small businesses in America that account for 54% of all U.S. Sales. Since 1990, big business has cut jobs by 4 million, while small businesses have added 8 million new jobs to the market. These small-business owners require capital markets that work to borrow money and grow their businesses.

Lending for small businesses today is completely different than it was before the recession. Banks have tightened up or fizzled out. Credit scores and available home equity have been hit. And as a result, we now have hundreds of lenders that are not regulated by the same standards as big banks and eager business owners seeking loans. This environment creates compelling choices for small business owners, but can also be dangerous territory.

When faced with so many new choices for small businesses, the path to choose becomes less apparent. Terms are more confusing and the money is more expensive than ever before. Borrowers may be attracted to the quick turnaround of a cash advance, or lured in by applications for alternative loans without even considering the availability of a traditional SBA loan. The purpose of this column is to help readers to understand the new lending landscape and navigate through it.

We’ll explore the intricacies of small-business lending to help both the budding entrepreneurs just getting their feet wet and the more experienced, high-growth companies clearly understand their financing options.

The issues surrounding small-business capital are more critical than ever as more and more Americans turn to entrepreneurship in the face of a dwindling job market. Access to small-business lending is crucial for sustained economic recovery, and understanding the options that are best for each unique business is the first step toward success.

The Best Small Business Banks Around San Jose

A number of banks have been recognized as the best small business lenders in the country by BankingGrades, a website that provides grades for banks on their commitment to small business lending. The site is operated by MultiFunding, a small business advisory firm. “One of the biggest challenges that small businesses face is access to capital,” says Ami Kassar, CEO of MultiFunding.  “Our grading system and website helps small business owners find local banks that are friends of small business – Banking Grades (www.bankinggrades.com).”

BankingGrades is a proprietary online tool that grades every bank on its commitment to small business lending.  Using public data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Banking Grades compares the amount of a bank’s deposits to the number of loans that bank has made to small businesses.  These loans are $1,000,000 or less.  “This is a very objective grade.  It’s all about the data.  Based on their lending record, the banks have shown that they are committed to helping small business.  They are making loans to small businesses,” explains Kassar.

The best small business banks around San Jose are:

1. GBC International Bank

2. Metropolitan Bank

3. Pinnacle Bank

 
 
 

Introducing the 2012 Small Business Bank Award

 

In today’s world, banks and private lenders love to talk about their commitment to small business. They produce catchy and expensive ad campaigns as proof . . . and we tend to believe them. Why?  Because other than anecdotal evidence and numbers of SBA loans, there has not been an objective way to evaluate their commitment, or better yet, their performance – until now.  

Banking Grades (www.bankinggrades.com) gives every bank in America (that files an FDIC call report) a grade for its small business lending activity.  Now, small business owners can quickly identify banks in their neighborhood that are focused on, and committed to, lending to small businesses at reasonable rates. Banking Grades has already gained wide recognition in the small business community as a valuable small business tool and bank metric – Fox Business News, Huffington Post, Philadelphia Business Journal, The Street, NPR, Entrepreneur, and the Wall Street Journal.

The banking grades are derived from data that banks provide in their quarterly FDIC call reports. We divide the small business loan balances (loans with a balance of $1 million or less) by the domestic deposits to come up with the grade. Any bank that uses 25% or more of their domestic deposits to make small business loans gets an A.

We believe that not all banks are equal. They offer different products and serve different markets (even if their marketing campaigns suggest otherwise).  We know that if entrepreneurs start at the right bank, they will be less aggravated and more productive.  They will improve cash flow faster, hire more employees faster, and expand faster.    

That’s why we are also bestowing the 2012 Small Business Bank Award on every bank that gets an A. We hope that this award becomes a trusted symbol to small business owners, and that banks will prominently display it in their branches and on their websites.  In so doing, small business owners will know that they are walking into a bank that has a proven record of making loans to small businesses.  

If you are a small business owner or a bank official,  see how your bank grades.  If you are interested in promoting your award, we would love to hear from you.  Promoting the award will be good for your bank, and good for small businesses.

BankingGrades.com is up and running

After a few months of beta testing, we’re thrilled to take our website www.bankinggrades.com out of beta and open it up to the small business community.

The site serves a simple purpose – to help small business owners find banks in their communities who are most likely to lend to them.

We hope it will save entrepreneurs a lot of frustration and aggravation, and help them get to the right lenders who can allow them to focus on growing their businesses.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are America’s job creators, and we’re simply throwing too many stumbling blocks in front of them to get the capital they need.

Bankinggrades.com is a tool that we initially developed internally to help us identify good banks for small business.  And now we’ve decided to open up the tool to anyone to use.

It’s our small way of saying Thank You to America’s small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Thanks to our sponsors, Hana SBA, The Receivables Exchange, and IOU Central for supporting this effort. 

Please try our www.bankinggrades.com and let us know what you think.