We all have defining moments in life that change us and mold us to who we can become. One of those experiences for me came after several years of working and trying to figure out how to financially improve my situation. I grew up raising cattle in Wyoming and wanted to do that for the rest of my life. Agriculture is my passion. My family spent many years raising cattle and growing our ranch to accommodate our growing family. We were in a tough financial situation and had to have frank conversations with our bankers. Although we did not enjoy these conversations, they taught me some great things that have helped me in life, which have also helped me overcome my fear of talking to bankers. How can you overcome this fear and approach a banker? Well, I have thought about my experiences while sitting on the other side of the desk and laid out a few guidelines that helped me feel more confident and comfortable with my banker.
- Never give up on your dreams.
We can sense your passion for something and want to use that passion. It tells us what kind of a person you are. Some may say that I have given up on my dreams of ranching and raising cattle. I think that dreams can change. I think we can learn to be happy in all situations. I don’t have any cattle today, but I will someday.
- If you must, get a new dream.
Look inside and find your passion. What can you learn that will help you be happy? During those years of trying to figure out how to make our ranch work, I spent a lot of time “running the numbers.” I remember sitting in the truck driving with my brother and having a pencil, paper, and a calculator, running different scenarios and proving that I could get it to work. This gave me a passion for numbers and finance. I changed courses, got my degree, and now hope to help others learn to understand their financial situation and help them to make their dreams a reality.
- Be bold.
I remember taking my scenarios to the bankers. It was intimidating, but I didn’t let that back me down. I presented my plan and showed my bankers the numbers and scenarios. I was proud of my work!
- Learn from the disappointments.
I think that most people have probably been told ‘no’ by at least one banker. Learn from that! Our bank on the ranch told me ‘no’ but I kept dreaming and trying.
- Learn the financial indicators that make you eligible to receive financing.
That’s a mouthful, but very true. Although I’ve been disappointed by a bank’s decision before, I now know why. I learned there are regulations banks have to comply with, along with the fact that banks really do have your best interest in mind.
- Sometimes, remove yourself from the business.
What does this mean? As a business owner, you are emotionally involved and will do whatever it takes to make your business work. This is a great quality! However, sometimes this gets in the way of reality. We may not want to read the writing on the wall. We want to string it out and make it last as long as possible.
- Build a relationship with your banker.
I look to bankers as mentors. They taught me many things while sitting around our dining room table. They taught me the importance of financial information. They taught me that while our cattle ranch was in a tough financial situation, our bankers genuinely cared about our well-being. I remember one day receiving a phone call from our lender and he was just concerned about my dad. He wondered how my dad was doing physically and emotionally, and wondered if there was anything he could do to help. That was truly an amazing gesture that he did not have to make.
So, now you may ask, how do we apply these lessons? For me, banking is now my career. It is my goal to be able to bring my experiences to my work. I have gone to see a banker who said, “Let’s see what we can do to turn that ‘no’ into a ‘yes’.” That is the banker that I hope to be. That is what we do here at Hills Bank and Trust Company. We have your best interest in mind and want you to be successful. We want your dreams to come true and we want to do it right. Even if that means we have to say, “probably not,” the first time, it is because we care about your success. We want to continue the relationship and figure out together how we can make you successful.
If you have any questions or are looking for any tips about approaching a banker, please feel free to ask in the comments below or send me an email. I’d be happy to provide recommendations.