You’ve learned what brush strokes to make, what notes to hit or what words to write. But here’s what they probably didn’t tell you in school: Your unique talent is also your business. And that comes with the need to have a business mindset that gives you the financial security to pursue your artistic vision.
One of the first things you should do is separate your personal finances from your business’ finances. They’re intertwined for sure. But when it comes to the basics of banking and credit cards – two of the building blocks for any small business – it pays to divide and conquer.
Benefits of Business Banking
You’re probably thinking, “Why create a separate account when the business consists of just me?” For one thing, personal and business money can get mixed up, creating accounting nightmares. As a sole proprietorship, independent contractor or small business, you are eligible for a range of tax deductions that will be easier to manage if the accounts are separate. And there are often perks and banking expertise geared toward you and your specific needs.
Most banks offer plenty of low-fee checking and savings options for small businesses. Common accounts include checking, savings, credit cards and merchant services that allow you to accept credit and debit card transactions. It’s never too early to establish a strong relationship with your bank, which can help you gain access to funds and other resources as your business grows.
The Small Business Administration recommends separate accounts to ensure you have Protection, Professionalism, Preparedness and Purchasing Power.
Business banking offers limited personal liability protection, and a good merchant services account can provide purchase protection for your customers and help keep their personal information secure. You will also appear more professional to your customers when they can pay with credit cards or checks made out to your business. And when you grow enough to add employees, they will be able to handle certain banking tasks.
Preparedness comes in when you have an emergency or want to expand and need a line of credit. And finally, purchasing power comes from credit card accounts that allow you to establish a credit history for your business – aside from you – and make necessary purchases.
Other perks can include bill paying services, technology that allows you to track your cash flow and small business counseling services.
Another thing that’s important to remember: To open a business account, you will likely need an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service. The application process is simple and can be found at www.irs.gov.
A Credit Card for Your Business
The same principles of business banking apply to owning a business credit card. Small business owners have a wide variety of options that provide them perks and protections not offered to individual card holders. Some cards offer discounts on everything from airfare or restaurant bills to shipping and advertising costs. Cash back business credit cards are also a great option, and you can use the extra funds for business expenses to maximize your spending power.
Another important factor: It’s easier to keep track of your expenses for tax purposes when the credit card bills are separate. Additionally, your business’ line of credit doesn’t appear on your personal report. Once your business score is established, banks will typically look at your business line of credit, which is likely to result in better borrowing rates.
Establishing good credit through the responsible use of your business credit card can also open opportunities to obtain favorable small business loans and Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, all of which your bank can help with securing.
Whether deciding on a bank for your business or the perfect credit card for your situation, shop around to find the products and services that fit your needs and even your personality. This can be daunting given how many choices are out there. But it will pay off by allowing your hard-earned money to work for you so you can keep doing what you do best – create!
Helping you boost your financial intelligence.
Read our financial resources from your friends at WSFS.