Earlier this week Bob Coleman, of the Coleman Report, spoke briefly with Terry Hicks, VP & General Manager at Quickbooks online. The topic was big data and small business. Earlier this morning I was speaking with a community banker who suggested, "Small business owners need to give bankers a reason to ask for more than their credit report, time in business, or annual revenues." This seemed very consistent with the goal of Quickbooks to give small business owners that use their software the information they need to talk to their banker about a loan. "If we provide insights, and make that data transparent, it will benefit our customers," said Hicks. I think he's hit the nail on the head. Most small business owners aren't skilled bookkeepers or financial officers, but they typically wind up in the books paying bills, paying the employees, and accounting for profit and loss. Hicks also suggested the business owners that spend the most time in Quickbooks are usually the small businesses that are the most successful. At least it's probably safe to assume they aren't ignoring one of the key business functions that impacts success. There's no question that access to capital is a big challenge for most Main Street businesses. Anything that improves the odds for a small business owner is well worth the effort—and that includes an easy way to digest and share the financial information captured within their accounting software. If small business owners want lenders to look at something besides their credit score, they need to give them something else to look at. Most bankers I've spoken to understand that the last few years have been tough for small businesses. They'd like to see projections for future growth or even a business plan that identifies what they're going to do to grow their business in the future. You can read about a few other suggestions that might improve the odds here.