In the April issue of Bank Investment Consultant, we detail how financial advisors can boost their business by working with small business clients.

Here are 5 road- tested tips in talking to these clients.

1. Does It Make Money?

Just because an entrepreneur has zeal and skill does not mean he necessarily has the ability to make a living from his latest endeavor. Without a business plan, his idea may be a hobby, not be a company, says Wilson Bank’s Mike Flanagan. “You don’t have to be the best at something,” he says, but you do have to have passion. “And it has to be something that is profitable.”

2. Never Too Small

Entrepreneurs starting out sometimes make the mistake of thinking they’re too small to seek help from a team, says Merrill Lynch’s Rocco Papandrea. Not so. He sees small business owners grow overwhelmed when they try to wear all the hats themselves. “That’s not good for growth,” he says. “Instead of getting discouraged, I tell them to seek partners and put a team together to work.”

3. Dig Deep

The more of their financial picture that a client is willing to share, the better advice they’re going to get, says UMB’s Marti Brust. Entrepreneurs have a special relationship with their finances as they’re intrinsically tied to their businesses —something they’ve typically created themselves. Getting them to be more open about their financial situation can help advisors come up with solutions tailored to their needs.

4. Remain Flexible

When dealing with entrepreneur clients, advisors need to remain flexible even in the way a meeting can turn. Sometimes a discussion about investments ends up being about protecting their legacy. This happened to Ralph Ganchero at UnionBank when he sat down with two brothers who owned a light manufacturing business but whose father had not left a succession plan. “We started talking about what would happen if a partner died or one had to buy the other out,” he said.

5. Pushing Pause

Entrepreneurs can be so focused on the success of their businesses, they can sometimes miss the complexities of protecting their own wealth, says UnionBanc’s Stephen Sherline. The bank encourages their small business clients to look at their own personal holdings for later in life. “We need to help them to slow down and take the time to time to recognize where they want to go,” he says. “We help them identify gaps in their plan.”

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