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Think “Small Business,” Not “Small Credit Union”

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BY KENNETH C. BATOR

Is it time for your credit union to engage in a paradigm shift in how you think about yourself. If you still consider your CU part of the massive financial services industry, it might be time to put that notion aside. Read on to discover why a small business mindset might be a better one for your credit union.

On November 28, 2015, we celebrated Small Business Saturday. It’s one of my favorite days of the year for a number of reasons. The first is I firmly believe that the small business community is the backbone of our economy. That is where the majority of jobs are going to be created. That is where the economy is going to flourish. I love the prospect of what the Millennial generation and Gen Z are going to create, through technology and innovation, throughout the small business community in the next decade and beyond.

The second reason I love Small Business Saturday is that over 80 percent of my clients are small businesses and small credit unions. Based upon the dynamics of small business, I would categorize even a $1 billion financial institution as “small.” While $1 billion in assets gets your CU into a special category– possibly even an elite club– within the credit union industry, when you consider the overall banking world, that’s still pretty small. And when you think about it within the context of the overall financial services industry, $1 billion can seem downright insignificant.

That insight led me to ponder that most credit unions have much more in common with small businesses than they do with big bank brands like Citibank and Wells Fargo. Although I actually do think there are some aspects of the brand, culture and strategy alignment of Wells Fargo we can learn from, I digress. There are a number of aspects in thinking like a small business that can do wonders for the brand, culture and strategy alignment – what I call the B + C + S Formula – of almost any credit union as well. The keyword here is “think.” As the late Stephen Covey might say, we need a paradigm shift.

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