Left to Right: Michael Morrell, New Markets Tax Credit Loan Officer; David Scott, Commercial Loan Officer; and Jamie Nabozny, Business and Community Engagement Officer

Starting a Business? Here’s What to Look for in a Banking Partner

The right bank can help you access capital and build important relationships

By Tucker Combs

sponsored by Sunrise Banks

When you're starting a business, it's critical to establish a foundation for growth and success. We recently talked with some of our commercial banking staff — including Michael Morrell; New Markets Tax Credit Loan Officer, David Scott; Commercial Loan Officer, and Jamie Nabozny; Business and Community Engagement Officer — who have nearly 50 years combined banking experience, and asked them for some tips.

At the beginning of starting a small business, the advice is unanimous: talk to your network and those who have come before you to establish the viability of your idea, and also build a relationship with a banker. “Conversations with a banker should happen early and often,” advises Michael Morrell, noting “a robust banking relationship can go a long way toward gaining sources for capital.”

Along with the the importance of talking with a bank, David Scott stresses the importance of working with an accountant early in the startup process; “Find a good accountant who has experience with similar businesses early on. They will help make sure you have the proper financial reporting banks rely on to issue credit.” Building relationships not only help you navigate the small business landscape, but they also help gain access to capital, which is paramount to any successful venture.

For ventures that have succeeded and are growing, Jamie Nabozny speaks to the importance of aligning yourself with the right bank. “During periods of growth they need to turn to a banker and a bank they can trust," he explains. "Someone they can relate to and someone who shares the same values.”

Finally, we asked all three of our experts what qualities a business owners should look for when considering a business banking partner. According to Morrell, “Ensuring your bank and banker understand your business, industry, culture and aspirations is critical. Other important aspects to consider include access to decision makers, the ability to be nimble, and the ability to grow alongside you.”

Scott suggested, “A good banking partner is experienced and passionate about small business. It’s also worth taking the time to find someone you enjoy working with. You’ll hopefully be working with the person for a long time.”

And Nabozny said you should ask yourself three things, “Can I trust the banker and are they someone I feel comfortable working with? Does the bank have the ability to grow with my business? Does the banker and the bank share my values and understand what’s important to me professionally and personally?”

According to our experts, when exploring a new startup, get in front of a banker early, and make sure you’re working with an organization who not only shares your values and knows your industry, but is also an organization who will grow alongside you and help you and your business exceed your goals.

Sunrise Banks, N.A., based in St. Paul, Minnesota, seeks to radically change the way urban communities and underserved people thrive by empowering them to achieve their aspirations. Sunrise is certified by the U.S. Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), a designation earned by approximately 100 banks nationwide. Sunrise Banks is also a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values and is a certified B Corp for its demonstrated commitment to transparent corporate governance and positive community impact. Visit Sunrise Banks at, on Twitter @SunriseBanks, or on Facebook. Sunrise Banks is Member FDIC.