Best Practices for Business Owners in an Uncertain Economic Environment

Friday, October 18 at 02:00 AM
Category: Business Banking

 

By Carolyn Kennedy, CTP, Executive Director of Treasury Management for Arvest Bank

Recession is a word we are hearing from the lips of newscasters, market watchers and even my pastor on a recent Sunday. This represents a real fear, for the first time in a long time, that our economy may no longer be slowly and steadily growing.  

In July, the Federal Reserve decreased the primary credit rate by 25 basis points to 2.75%. This was the first rate cut since the height of the financial crisis in 2008 and it isn’t likely to be the last. But what does it mean, really? 

It means businesses in our region may be faced with steeper challenges if their growth plan relies too exclusively on increased consumer demand as the economy grows. Fortunately, I don’t think this is a widespread problem, but the question remains, during this time of rate and other economic uncertainty, where do you focus? Simple: Focus on the fundamentals. 

Invest in really understanding your customer’s needs now and how changes in the economy may impact those needs. 

You might have really done something amazing for your customers once, but if it doesn’t continue to meet their changing needs, it runs the risk of becoming obsolete. Are you continuing to provide the products and customer service your customer expects? Is your business model too dependent on economic growth? How do you make your approach stand out? 

Don’t be afraid to change and adapt. 

During times of economic slowdowns, many business owners have a tendency to adopt a mindset of “waiting it out.” That works when you have some idea as to how long the slowdown might last, but I doubt anyone really expected the Great Recession to endure as long as it did. It might seem counterintuitive, but an environment of economic uncertainty is a great time to take that well planned leap of faith.  

If there is a venture you’ve been investigating and dreaming about that would diversify your revenue streams without alienating your existing customer base, now might be the right time to get serious about it. If you’re not innovating and growing, you may be slowly dying. What new approach do you wish you had already adopted? 

Ensure you still have your working capital optimized. 

While an influx of new capital may be needed to launch a new product line, it helps to validate that you already have your prior investments of capital deployed efficiently. When a venture capitalist invests in an existing business, one of the main things they focus on, regardless of the business model, is how well the existing working capital (money currently invested in the operations of the business) is being utilized.  

While each business is unique, optimizing the use of your working capital is universally important. Whether it’s paying down debt or making money on short term and long term cash investments, getting as much capital out of your operations and putting it to work for you is key. 

There are a few metrics you can use to identify and diagnose where your best opportunities for optimization may reside. How long are your Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)? How long are your Days Payable Outstanding (DPO)? How long are your Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO)? 

Of course, what “good” looks like for DSO, DPO and DIO is relative and varies by industry — you know your business cycle better than anyone else. What’s most important is the trend over time for your business.  

We all know that there are cycles to our economy, and when it is growing we all benefit, but the fundamentals of good business don’t change with those cycles. Absolutely, you need to make smart decisions about where you get capital and at what rate. In addition, the fundamentals of understanding your customer, making smart business plan improvements and optimizing the cash you have invested in your business are always winning strategies. 

Carolyn can be contacted via email at ckennedy1@arvest.comThis article originally appeared in the Sept. 30 edition of the NW Arkansas Business Journal. It is published here with permisssion.

 

Tags: Business Banking, Financial Education
 

Small Business Banking Series in Greater Kansas City

Wednesday, July 17 at 08:00 AM
Category: Business Banking

Business Blogging Basics

Have you ever thought about starting a blog for your small business? If so, you have most likely followed that thought with:

  • Is it really worth the time and effort?
  • What in the WORLD do I blog about on a regular basis?
  • How does blogging impact SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

If this conversation sounds familiar to you, join our featured speaker, Ben Seidel of Igniting Business, for Blogging Basics for Small Businesses. Ben will guide you through this dynamic seminar that will address the benefits (and challenges!) of blogging.

Ben Seidel is the CEO & Founder of Igniting Business which provides web design, SEO services, and marketing tailored for small businesses. He started in marketing very early on in his career, developing his first websites and SEO solutions for commercial clients at the young age of thirteen. Ben has grown Igniting Business to a phenomenal team of web, SEO and marketing experts. Through his entrepreneurial journey, Ben has been recognized on a local and national level, including entrepreneurship awards from both the NFIB and NASE. He has also been featured in publications such as CNBC Universal, Yahoo News, Intuit Small Business, Mizzou Magazine and Fox Small Business.

From their headquarters in Kansas City, Igniting Business has grown to serve clients all over the nation, stretching from Juneau, Alaska to Washington DC. Ultimately, Ben’s true passion is to help small businesses grow and succeed!

This session will be held Wednesday, August 28, 2019 from 11:30am to 1:00pm at the Regnier Center of Johnson County Community College (12345 College Blvd, Overland Park, KS – Room 270). This class is open to the public and registration includes lunch.

Space is limited. Registration is required. Please visit the event site to reserve your spot today.

 

Generously sponsored by Arvest Bank and hosted by the Kansas SBDC at JCCC, this workshop is the first of a 4-part Small Business Growth Lunch & Learn series*. The series will be an opportunity for small business owners and resource partners to network, share best practices, and learn from industry experts. Each session will feature a presenter on a different small business topic.

*Participants do not need to attend all four sessions.

 

Registration link: https://ce.jccc.edu/courseDisplay.cfm?schID=16473

 

Tags: Business Banking, Kansas City
 

Mitigating Cyber-Crime Seminar

Monday, July 08 at 08:00 AM
Category: Business Banking


You’re invited to a free seminar – Mitigating Cyber-Crime Threats Impacting Business, Non-Profit, and Public Sector Entities – A Presentation of Federal Law Enforcement Agency Guidance – on Thursday, August 1 from 9:30am – 11am at Elliott Robinson & Co CPA's located at 2305 S. Blackmon Rd, Ste D, Springfield, Missouri.

 

 

 

With electronic fraud on the rise, learn how Arvest services can help businesses:

- Monitor electronic debit activity

- Verify pre-authorized debit transactions

- Return unauthorized electronic debits, once identified

- Reduce potential for losses

Speaking will be Jon Pascoe, CISSP, CIPP/US, HCISPP, and Director of Privacy Risk Management at Arvest Bank. Seating is limited. Please make your reservation with Candy Letterman at (417) 827-8435 or cletterman@arvest.com by Thursday, July 25. 

Tags: Arvest, Missouri, Springfield
 

Small Business Banking Series in Greater Kansas City

Wednesday, May 08 at 01:00 PM
Category: Business Banking

So… What Do You Do? What’s Your 10-Second Commercial?

When meeting people for the first time, why do we struggle with explaining what we do in 10 seconds or less? Join our featured speaker, Dan Stalp of Sandler Training, for this highly interactive session where participants will:

  • Build intrigue when someone asks, “What do you do?”
  • Be more clear about the types of people/companies who qualify as good candidates for your business; and
  • Learn how to set strong verbal agreements with those who qualify for follow-up after meeting someone.

Dan Stalp has over 26 years of experience leading, training, and coaching high performing individuals. He has risked everything and completely started over twice career-wise, once in 1993 and again in 2005 by co-founding and founding his own firm. Dan has co-authored two books, “The Reunion” and “Antoerh Reunion,” about career significance and how pursuing what you were “meant to do” – along with always being grateful – plays an instrumental role in being the best you can be.

When not being mistaken for a certain Hollywood movie star, Dan and his wife Lisa of 28 years travel to Dallas, TX and Fayetteville, AR to visit their two grown daughters. Or they are attending rugby and lacrosse events for their high school and college aged sons.

This first session will be held Wednesday, May 29, 2019 from 11:30am to 1:00pm at the Regnier Center of Johnson County Community College (12345 College Blvd, Overland Park, KS – Room 270). This class is open to the public and registration includes lunch.

Space is limited. Registration is required. Please visit the event site* to reserve your spot today. 

Generously sponsored by Arvest Bank and hosted by the Kansas SBDC at JCCC, this workshop is the first of a 4-part Small Business Growth Lunch & Learn series*. The series will be an opportunity for small business owners and resource partners to network, share best practices, and learn from industry experts. Each session will feature a presenter on a different small business topic.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

 

*Participants do not need to attend all four sessions. 

Tags: Financial Education, Kansas City
 

FRAUD ALERT: Business Email Compromise Scams are on the Rise

Thursday, October 25 at 09:00 AM
Category: Business Banking

Arvest Bank is warning business owners about Business Email Compromise (BEC) and E-mail Account Compromise (EAC) schemes. These are sophisticated scams targeting both businesses and individuals performing wire transfer payments. Perpetrators have been known to impersonate business executives, real estate industry representatives, HR staff, law firms, and trusted vendors to initiate or redirect wire transfers to overseas bank accounts.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, between December 2016 and May 2018, there was a 136% increase in identified global exposed losses. This type of scam has been reported in all 50 states and in 150 countries.

Typical of these schemes, a criminal uses email to impersonate a business executive or other employee to request fraudulent payments or obtain access to employee payroll or W2 information. The criminal will typically leverage a victim's authority to pressure targets into acting quickly or secretly when handling the transfer.

BEC/EAC actors heavily targeted the real estate sector in recent years. This includes title companies, law firms, real estate agents, buyers and sellers. Victims most often report a spoofed e-mail being sent or received on behalf of one of these real estate transaction participants with instructions directing the recipient to change the payment type and/or payment location to a fraudulent account. The funds are usually directed to a fraudulent domestic account which quickly disperse through cash or check withdrawals. The funds may also be transferred to a secondary fraudulent domestic or international account. Funds sent to domestic accounts are often depleted rapidly making recovery difficult.

How to Protect Yourself

The best defense is to verify all requests for a change in payment type and/or location.

BEC/EAC actors have been known to target all parties in a real estate transaction. BEC/EAC actors often request that payments originally scheduled for check dispersal be made via wire instead. BEC/EAC actors may also request changes to the original recipient’s financial information.

Be wary of any communication that is exclusively e-mail based and establish a secondary means of communication for verification purposes.

BEC/EAC actors will use information that is publicly available on real estate listing sites to target victims. This may include homes that are for sale and the progress of the sale such as “under contract” as well as the contact information of the real estate agent.

Be mindful of phone conversations.

Victims have reported receiving phone calls from BEC/EAC actors requesting personal information for verification purposes. Financial institutions report phone calls acknowledging a change in payment type and/or location. Some victims report they were unable to distinguish the fraudulent phone conversation from legitimate conversations.

One way to counter act this fraudulent activity, is to establish code phrases that would only be known to the two legitimate parties.

What to do if You are a Victim

If you discover a fraudulent transfer, time is of the essence.

  • First, contact your financial institution and request a recall of the funds. Different financial institutions have varying policies; it is important to know what assistance your financial institution will provide when attempting to recover funds.
  • Second, contact your local FBI office and report the fraudulent transfer. Law enforcement may be able to assist the financial institution in recovering funds.
  • Finally, regardless of dollar loss, file a complaint with www.ic3.gov* or, for BEC/EAC victims, bec.ic3.gov*. The IC3 will be able to assist both the financial institutions and law enforcement in the recovery efforts.

How to Report Fraud Related to Your Arvest Accounts

  • To report Identity Theft, financial fraud or an unauthorized transaction in your account, please contact Customer Service immediately at (866) 952-9523.
  • To report a lost or stolen credit, debit or ATM card, please contact Customer Service immediately at (866) 952-9523 or by using our Contact Us page.
  • To report a suspicious email, phone call or text message, please forward the suspicious email to, or send a message to: reportfraud@arvest.com.

 

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

*Link is a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

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