In the early stages of business ownership, you might decide to simply use your personal bank account for your business finances. This is certainly a convenient route. The account is already in operation, and you have established your financial habits around it.
But there comes a time when every entrepreneur needs to create a separate account for her or his business. And the time to do so is usually sooner than later, as it will help you track expenses, manage budgets, receive payments, handle payroll, and maybe even score some perks like hotel nights or airline miles in the process.
“So what do I need to open a business bank account?” you might be wondering. First, you should identify which bank you want to partner with. The easiest option is usually to open a business account at the same institution where you already have a personal account. The account creation should be a breeze because the bank has access to your financial records, and you’ve established a relationship with them.
But don’t be too hasty. You should probably shop around a bit to see what promotions and perks you can take advantage of. Many banks cater to small businesses and offer more affordable banking fees and lower interest rates. Others provide signup bonuses such as gift cards, hotel nights, or cash back to sweeten the deal.
While perks can be tempting, your ultimate goal should be to find a bank that aligns with your business goals and will support you in the long term. It would be a shame to sign up with a lower quality bank just to get a free iPod only to realize years later that you have been paying higher-than-average banking fees each month.
Next, you’ll want to identify what types of accounts you need to open. If you’re unsure of how to proceed, consult with your accountant and mentor. These individuals can draw upon their expertise to point you in the right direction. Most banks provide options for business owners that include savings accounts, checking accounts, credit card accounts, and merchant service accounts.
Before going to the bank to open your accounts, you’ll need to gather all the necessary documentation. To open a business bank account, you will usually need a tax ID number from the IRS (if you’re a sole proprietorship, you can typically use your Social Security number instead). Depending on your business structure, you might also need to provide proof of incorporation. Finally, you should bring your business license.
Just as every small business is unique, so are banks. So you’ll want to call your chosen bank ahead of time to confirm what paperwork will be required. This way, you can streamline the process and begin enjoying the benefits of a business account much sooner.