No matter how aggressive you are about running your business, odds are pretty strong that you're too passive or too trusting when it comes to your banker.

"The biggest mistake people make when dealing with their bankers is that they forget that those are business dealings like any other," emphasizes Richard M. Colombik, a lawyer and accountant in Schaumburg, Ill.

Instead, he urges entrepreneurs, document everything your banker tells you. "Even if your banker is the most trustworthy person in the world, he or she may not be around forever, or the bank may be sold, or new management may decide to change its lending focus entirely. You've got to protect your interests."

The best way to do that? "Send a friendly confirmation letter each time you and your banker have any agreement or substantive conversation -- words to the effect of 'It was a pleasure meeting with you on March 14, and I'm very glad we agreed about the following terms for my new credit line. I will expect to receive your documents within two weeks or to hear from you sooner if my understanding of the terms is incorrect."

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