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Start a Small Business with the Right Guidance

Customer paying with a tablet
Customer paying with a tablet
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Kevin Van Kampen

Vice President – Business Banking, Meridian Credit Union

Having the right guidance when opening a small business is important — and finding that support may be easier than it seems.

Small businesses form the backbone of the country’s economy, accounting for over 98 percent of all businesses. Business banking is often more than just a capital loan for financing — it may also come with tools and resources to help make the loan viable and sustainable.

“We have a different philosophy from the banks in our approach,” says Kevin Van Kampen, Vice President of Business Banking at Meridian Credit Union. “Our small business advisors spend a lot of time having the right conversations about Members’ businesses and what’s important to them.” 

Check and guide

Van Kampen says Meridian seeks to offer a range of business planning tools, which include a “robust guide” to starting a business and a “health check” to gauge performance and the attainment of previously set goals. These tools are designed to be accessible — from website navigation, to interactive Member service from personnel experienced in assisting small business owners.

Meridian classifies a small business as one with up to $10 million in annual revenue and up to $1 million in lending. Members range in profession and include doctors, dentists, veterinarians, architects, accountants, lawyers, and various family-run businesses, among others. Franchisees are also included, with additional resources and specialists dedicated to those owners.

“All of our Members are assigned a small business advisor with a team around them, whether it be through operations, cash management, or leasing specialists,” says Van Kampen. “The small business advisor is the central point of contact, helping the Member to navigate Meridian based on what their needs are.”

Our small business advisors spend a lot of time having the right conversations about Members’ businesses and
what’s important to them.

Kevin Van Kampen, Vice President of Business Banking at Meridian Credit Union

Welcoming business

In some instances, that could include income property investments beyond the business itself. Van Kampen says Meridian is willing to provide extra credit facilities to the tune of $2 million, which he believes is a key differentiator from big banks, who might be more conservative in this regard.

Van Kampen, who previously worked at a large bank himself, notes that the credit union’s advisors are often also former bank employees. Meridian’s Membership structure also means it’s not under the same pressures a bank often is when it comes to shareholders and quarterly earnings. That leaves more time to genuinely help business owners of varying types. 

“We certainly like to do site visits of all of our business Members, and if that happens to be their kitchen table, that’s okay,” says Van Kampen. “We’re not there to judge whether it’s out of their garage or a storefront, going out and seeing the business is always a priority, even if it happens to be their home.”  

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