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Owning a Business

What some consider a gamble, you consider an obvious next step.

Business.  Hills Bank is dedicated to the success of our local businesses and growth of the communities we serve.  At Hills Bank business is done with a handshake and a smile.

It's time to let your entrepreneurial spirit soar and see how high it will take you. Everyone has a unique life story, and each chapter of that story is accompanied by different financial needs. As your community bank, Hills Bank would like to be a part of each stage of your life and help you with the financial products and services you will need along the way.

Though there are similarities, business banking and personal banking are different. What you need are fact-based recommendations and a good understanding of your options. Hills Bank and Trust Company provides both with these products and experienced staff.

Saving and Spending


Keeping You Covered

  • Retirement Planning (401k)
    Investment products are not a deposit, not FDIC insured, not insured by any federal government agency, carry no bank guarantee, and may go down in value
  • Personal and Business Insurance
    Insurance products including annuities are not a deposit, not FDIC insured, not insured by any federal government agency, not guaranteed by the bank, and may go down in value.
  • Employee Advantage

Near Future




Starting your business

Develop a business plan. Developing a good business plan will help map out how you will start and run your business successfully. Your plan should include a statement of the business purpose, also known as an executive summary, a description, a plan for marketing and managing your business, financial projects, and appropriate supporting documents. By doing a simple online search, you can find many resources for preparing your business plan. And remember, you need a solid business plan, but you also need to be flexible to modify your plan as conditions change.

Get professional help. Take advantage of free training and counseling services for businesses. The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides counseling and training designed to help businesses succeed. Research online for other learning opportunities in your area. Find a good business accountant and attorney. Your accountant can help you determine if an Incorporation, Limited Liability Company (LLC), or Sole Proprietorship, would be best. A business attorney can help with the paperwork needed for your new business like your Employer Identification Number (EIN), business name registration, sales tax licenses, federal business licenses, zoning permits, etc.

Prepare your finances. Know your start-up costs and what level of revenue it will take for your business to break even. Determine what expenses will be one-time costs, and what will be ongoing costs. Then decide if the costs are essential or optional, fixed (rent, utilities, insurance, etc.) or variable (inventory, shipping, sales commission, etc.)

Determine cash flow. It's important to make conservative estimates about sales and what it will cost to pay suppliers and employees. Also, consider the hours you'll put into your business to get sales. Be sure you can live off your projected income for at least six months from your personal budget. Negative cash flow is the most common reason for business failures. 

Protect yourself and your business. Make sure you have enough business insurance coverage. If your business is based out of your home, your business items may not be covered by your homeowners' insurance. Assess your insurance needs, including liability and property damage, and meet with your insurance professional to make sure you are adequately covered. 

Make the most of your funds

A common mistake many business owners make is not keeping personal and business funds separate. Mixing your personal funds with your business funds can come across as unprofessional, especially if you are paying a vendor with your personal checkbook or credit card. Mixing your funds can also make income and business deductions unclear. The last thing you want to do as a business person is sift through your personal records at tax time to find deductions and expenses.

Hills Bank can help make the most of your funds and compound your savings with an account that's right for your business:

*Cash Management Account is not a deposit, not FDIC insured, not insured by any federal government agency, carries no bank guarantee, and may lose value. 

Conserve resources and add convenience for your customers

Every business wants to conserve resources to reduce energy consumption and control costs, as well as do their part to live and work in a clean and safe community. Today more than ever consumers are seeking out businesses who are using "green" business practices. 

Making it easier to do business with you is a good way to promote increased sales. Multiple options for payments, gift cards, and online payments (if applicable to your business) are a great way to keep customers coming back. By adding convenience for your customers, they will return the favor with word-of-mouth advertising – the best recommendation your business can receive.

Hills Bank can help your business conserve resources and add customer convenience with these products:

  • Online Banking – Save time and money with Hills Bank OnlineTM Business Connections. Connect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from your home, office, or any computer that has Internet access.
  • Merchant Processing – Let Hills Bank help strengthen your customer relationships and improve your profitability with various credit card acceptance programs.
  • Business Credit Cards and Debit Cards – Get convenient access to your funds anywhere Visa® is accepted.
  • Automated Clearing House (ACH) – Send and receive payments electronically through an automated clearing house to create payroll direct deposit, debits for billing, or to consolidate funds.
  • eStatements– Eliminate paper mail that arrives to your business and view your statements the day after they are generated from Hills Bank.
  • CD-ROM Images – Enjoy the convenience of all your monthly bank statements and checks on one CD while reducing paper waste.
  • Direct Merchant (Remote Capture) – Save time, fuel, trees, and money with Hills Bank Direct Merchant by making your deposits at your business with an image scanner.
  • Custom Gift Card Program – A stored-value gift card is the ultimate referral your business can receive. Make your business a destination for shoppers with the power of a personal recommendation from the giver.

Manage your credit wisely

Used wisely, business credit can help you reach your goals. One of your business's main priorities should be to effectively manage your credit. Business credit and debit cards can help you monitor employee purchases, build a business credit history, manage cash flow, and create payment automation systems.

It's also important for your business to build a relationship with a trusted banker. Establishing this relationship early on can help your business build a foundation of trust with a professional.

Hills Bank can help your business manage its credit wisely with the following products: 

Offer value-added options for employees

Your employees are one of your business's greatest assets. Happy and healthy employees are more productive and motivated, and progressive employers seek the best employees to help their business grow. Highly-qualified, motivated employees will always be in high demand. Employment benefits do matter to employees, and there is a strong correlation between satisfaction with benefits and loyalty to employers.

Value-added options your business could offer to employees don't always have to be costly. Some ideas include:

  • Listening to employees: Take an active interest in employees and listen to their ideas as well as learn about their families and hobbies.
  • Handwritten thank you notes: Show your appreciation of a job well done and take the time to reward employees that have worked hard and gone beyond their job requirements.
  • Volunteer: Show you care about your employees' causes with attendance at volunteer events in which your employees are invested.
  • Staff meetings: Enliven your staff meetings by having them outside the office, possibly at a favorite restaurant or in a nearby park if weather permits.
  • Employee field trips: Boost morale and reward employees by taking them bowling, skating, to football or hockey games, or to dinner at a nice restaurant.
  • Company shirts, hats, or jackets: Not only can company apparel be used as a value-added option for your business, but it also serves to advertise and promote your business.
  • Health club memberships: Health club benefits are extremely desirable to employees, and they are beneficial to your business when health care costs go down, less sick time is used, and the overall health and productivity of your employees is improved. 

These are just a few ways to add value to your business. By asking your employees for their suggestions as well, you can increase employee loyalty.

Hills Bank can help your business offer value-added financial options for employees:

  • Retirement Plans* – The Hills Bank Trust and Wealth Management team offers a variety of employer-sponsored retirement plans to meet the specific needs and goals of any business.
  • Employee Advantage – Offer your employees the discounted banking services they deserve and increase the employment value of your company.
  • Shop Locally Corridor-wide Gift Card – This gift card is ideal for employee incentives and gifts, including birthdays, holidays, and work anniversaries.

*Retirement plans are not a deposit, not FDIC insured, not insured by any federal government agency, carry no bank guarantee, and may lose value.

Business continuity planning

Hills Bank knows firsthand that disasters can happen. Make a business continuity plan to keep your business functioning after a disaster. Visit Hills Bank's Business Continuity page for resources developed to aid in any disaster recovery process. 

Stay current with business trends

Business owners are busy, and time is a limited commodity. Keeping up with trends in your industry can often be pushed aside. It is important to be aware of trends so you can evaluate and adapt your business in today's changing markets. Knowing your industry's trends will allow you to be pro-active and stay ahead of the competition. Since time is usually the biggest hurdle, consider signing up for podcasts, which can be a great way to keep abreast of current trends and can be listened to at your convenience.

Subscriptions to newsletters and magazines are a great way to have valuable information sent to you. Consider signing up for our monthly newsletter.

  • Successful Business eNewsletter –  Sign up for this bi-monthly newsletter for helpful tips to improve your business and for exclusive information about Hills Bank services.

Hills Bank Customer Protection Center

Hills Bank has created the Customer Protection Center to provide educational information and ways to protect your accounts and personal information. In this center, you can find up-to-date security alerts from the FDIC and Hills Bank, information on protecting your bank cards, tips for online security and mobile security, information about social media security, a video about identity theft, and a list of online resources to help protect your identity. 

Visit the Customer Protection Center today!

Additional online resources for businesses

  • Business.USA.gov: A government resource designed to assist businesses to evolve and grow.
  • DHS.gov: The Department of Homeland Security provides an information protection program that enhances voluntary information sharing between infrastructure owners and the government.
  • FBO.gov: Search the Federal Business Opportunities website for active opportunities.
  • HillsBankBCP.com: A resource provided by Hills Bank designed to help keep your business functioning in the event of any disaster.
  • HomewardIowa.com: Dedicated to improving the vitality of Iowa's rural communities by providing financial and other development services.
  • IowaABI.org: The Iowa Association of Business and Industry is a broad-based organization of Iowa businesses working together to promote Iowa commerce.
  • IowaAble.org: The Iowa Able Foundation helps Iowans with disabilities, their families and older Iowans access adaptive devices/equipment and home modifications through its loan programs.
  • IowaBar.org: The Iowa State Bar Association guidelines to starting a business.
  • IowaBusinessCouncil.com: A catalyst for economic development in Iowa.
  • IowaCityAreaDevelopment.com:  An economic development organization serving interstate commerce companies in Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Solon, Tiffin, Tipton, the Amana Colonies, West Branch, Kalona, West Liberty, and Johnson County.
  • IowaCommerce.com: Developed by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry to help your business.
  • IowaEconomicDevelopment.com: Find information about starting a business, expanding an existing business, locating a business, and more for the State of Iowa.
  • Iowa.gov: Find business licenses, application help, and contact information for the State of Iowa.
  • IowaSBDC.org: The Iowa Small Business Development Center provides free, confidential and customized business advice to Iowa businesses with 500 employees or less.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): View information for corporations, international businesses, partnerships, small businesses, and the self-employed.
  • MyMoney.gov: A U.S. government website dedicated to financial education. There is a “Starting/Buying a Business” section with guides for retirees.
  • Regassist.Iowa.gov: Tax information for your business from the State of Iowa.
  • SBA.gov: The U.S. Small Business Administration website aimed to aid, counsel, assist, and protect the interests of small businesses.
  • SOS.Iowa.Gov: The Iowa Secretary of State's website.
  • USDA.gov: Designed to be a single location where customers can access services provided by the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Rural Development agencies.


For help determining the best practices and products for sound and productive money management during
your particular life stage, please contact us at any Hills Bank location or email us at hillsbank@hillsbank.com.


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