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Today's key challenges for small business

Each month, we are sitting down with a Small Business Advisor to discuss how they are listening to your business stories, working around exceptions and helping you get the right answers, right away.
Nigel Soares, Senior Small Business Advisor, York Region

Nigel has been working as a Meridian Small Business Advisor for almost two years. He helps small business Members with onboarding, financing, surplus cash management and day-to-day operations. Financial assistance can include helping to set up pay terminals with Chase Merchant Services, facilitating payroll through Payworks, VISA credit card, loans or lines of credit. He is committed to being a trusted advisor to his Members, acting as a key participant in their circles of trust.

Today’s key challenges for small business
New regulations are exerting pressure on small business owners, especially recent increases in minimum wage. Most owners don’t want to let employees go or reduce hours, however, they have to cover payroll increases. Time management is also an ongoing challenge. Most of my Members run small shops and are very hands on. They want to keep tasks including reporting, transactions and banking as simple as possible. And of course, costs are always a priority. Margins are slim, so fees are top of mind.
Meridian’s approach to small business
While I personally prioritize listening, Meridian does culturally as well. Because we genuinely care for our Members and our communities, their stories and connections are important to us. By sitting down with Members and hearing them tell their stories and recount their business journeys, we build the foundation for partnership, trust and transparency. I take a needs-based approach, which requires attentive listening. I believe listening is the most important part of our job.
Ensuring our Members feel heard
Even when we are presented with undesirable feedback, or a Member is expressing frustration, we are still listening. I never shut down or deflect responsibility in those situations. Instead, I become more motivated to deliver on the Member’s goals and find way to provide efficiency and simplicity.
Creative solutions
I recall a particular Member, where listening really made the difference in finding ways to help him reduce costs and improve efficiency. When I took on his account, he had a loan, line of credit and deposits with Meridian. After some exploration, I discovered that he was using a personal credit card for business purchases. His accountant was spending a lot of time and effort trying to differentiate between personal and business expenses. I recommended our VISA Infinite, which provides a greater credit limit than he had and more advantageous points. By processing all of his business transactions on that card, he could manage them more effectively and streamline his accountant’s workload.
Later that same year, he was looking to purchase a piece of equipment. He’s an optician, and wanted a machine that would allow him to grind lenses in store instead of outsourcing to a third party. By expediting the preparation of lenses, he stood to realize significant cost savings over time. But he required financing. I reached out to Meridian OneCap, our leasing division, and together, we provided a leasing option for him. Leasing, as opposed to a loan, enables 100% of interest to be tax deductible – a benefit that our Member wasn’t expecting, but clearly appreciated.  
The last word
We value the individual. Every person is unique and is treated as such. We forgo the product push. We want to help people in the truest sense of the word. Of course, Meridian is a business that needs to achieve numbers. But we believe that if we do the right thing consistently, the numbers are a natural outcome of that. We are not aggressive with our Members. Our focus is on discovering how we can uncover solutions collaboratively.