Blog   Tagged ‘small business’

Business Owners: Planning a Roadmap for Success in 2017

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We are almost halfway through 2017, which means it is an opportune time to revisit business goals set at the beginning of the year. Conducting a mid-year check-in allows business owners to evaluate if goals for the year are being met as projected and whether plans need to be adapted to help optimize future success.

Several questions business owners should ask include:

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Is the business prepared for rising interest rates?  

Rising interest rates and Federal Reserve sentiment are in the news regularly, with the public continuing to watch rates gradually rise after years of stagnation.

With the country steadily rebounding from the recession, the Federal Reserve increased the interest rate for the second time in three months in March 2017 to a range between 0.75 percent and 1.00 percent (most recently they elected to maintain this rate in early May).

Interest rates are important to business owners to consider as they look at items such as loan terms and evaluating leasing versus purchasing for commercial real estate.

Is refinancing a business option?

As rates fluctuate, it is critical to evaluate refinancing options. This could be the time to consolidate debt or secure a better rate for a loan. Refinancing could open the door for a larger purchase later in the year or allow for a different goal to be reached more quickly.

Additionally, refinancing into a fixed rate loan may provide some peace of mind for business owners who are nervous about the impact of rising rates on an existing variable rate loan. A fixed rate offers something that business owners crave – predictability.

Do you have the right product for your needs?

It is also important for business owners to ensure they understand all the aspects of the loan. Take time to research the different terms, and make sure they are still in line with business goals. There are several different financing options available to small businesses, and it might be time to explore a different type of product that better suits the needs of that particular business or the current business environment.

Make a list of business goals, and discuss these options with an experienced banker, as they should be able to help clients prepare and best navigate any economic environment with sound lending advice.

Is it time to make a large purchase?   

Mid-year is the perfect time to evaluate what is needed to help business owners navigate the rest of 2017. Since interest rates are unpredictable and have been on the rise, it is important to understand how a purchase now will impact the business down the road. For example, it might be worth considering owning instead of renting equipment or property.

Real estate is also a key consideration for business owners, as it is often one of the largest expenses they face. Purchasing a space instead of renting could be a better long-term solution, given rents in many cities continue to rise at a pace that makes long-term agreements a less attractive option.

Ultimately, the window for low rates seems to be closing, so moving to a more entrepreneurial mindset and investing through capital expenditures may be beneficial. Bankers can help owners evaluate these options for the short- and long-term.

Be in regular communication with your banker.

Finally, it is critical to maintain regular communication with your banker. Business owners should consistently share what is happening and ask the tough questions to see what changes can be made for the time ahead.

Bankers are here to support owners and to help businesses succeed—having the full picture will result in sound advice and recommendations.


Dominic is a executive vice president for the Business Banking division at UMB. He joined UMB in 2013 and has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry.



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Focus Items for Small Business Owners

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In December, the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index‡ had its highest reading in 12 years. In the report seven of the 10 index components rose, including small business owners expecting better business conditions and higher sales.

Optimism is currently at a high point allowing for owners to focus on their next big idea, their bottom line and how they can make things better for their employees. Their bankers should be thinking about those things, too.

If you’re a small business owner, make sure you’re talking with your financial partner about these business-critical items as you venture into 2017 and beyond.

Top Talent Identification and Retention
Companies requiring vocational talent can face challenges finding the right type of employee. As businesses look to expand, growth can be difficult without a sound workforce and could potentially force companies to outsource to other cities or move operations entirely.

As part of their talent acquisition and retention efforts, small businesses should ensure they are offering solid compensation and benefits to build and retain a strong workforce.

Business Growth
With an ultimate goal of growing their company, small businesses need to evaluate what other potential clients exist and if there are new segments where they can introduce their product or service.

Companies that did not survive the 2008 economic downturn left behind certain voids that need to be filled. Existing companies should evaluate this as an opportunity to expand to a new business target.

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Employee compensation and benefits
Currently, there are two big issues that could pose a threat to small businesses: the minimum wage discussion and health care. If minimum wage increases, many businesses will face challenges with revenue and cash flow, particularly if they employ lower-wage workers. With no offsetting revenue increase, this would affect a company’s cash flow and could create unprecedented challenges within the business.

The other topic of note for business owners is healthcare. The rules and regulations of the Affordable Care Act may change with the current administration discussing extensive healthcare reform. This could mean an extra expense without incurring any additional revenue for small businesses.

Fraud and Protection
Fraud continues to be a top concern among business owners, and the latest statistics prove it is a legitimate fear. In the 2016 Association for Financial Professionals Payments Fraud and Control survey, 62 percent of companies were subject to fraud during the survey period, and wire fraud has nearly doubled from 14 percent to 27 percent.

The truth is, businesses can plug one gap and another one opens up somewhere else. The key is to stay vigilant with your employees, train them and understand the latest tactics that are being used to commit fraud.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Dominic is a executive vice president for the Business Banking division at UMB. He joined UMB in 2013 and has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry.



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Don’t let tax credits fall through the cracks

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How can you get a bigger refund when filing your taxes? These tips can help:
tax credit tips
Even if you’re dreading the process of filing your taxes this year, taking the time to know what you’re doing can equal a bigger refund check. Everything from plugging in your electric car to adopting a child can be considered for deductions, so don’t miss out on refunds this year.

The IRS offers several federal tax credit options designed to lessen the burden of taxpayers. This is especially true for low- and middle-income households, which often retain a higher percentage of their annual salaries for basic living expenses than high-income households.

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Earn tax deductions with a retirement plan
Some of the best tax deductions tend to be linked to retirement plans. With these deductions, you save money on annual taxes and invest in your future.

The Saver’s Tax Credit (previously known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit) is for those making eligible contributions to a 401(k), IRA, or other workplace retirement plans such as a 403(b), 457, or Thrift Savings Plan. If you’re contributing and are in a lower-income bracket, you can receive a tax credit up to $1,000 when filing alone and up to $2,000 if filing jointly.  This credit is on top of the tax advantages already associated with retirement plans, which might include pre-tax contributions, tax-deferred growth, or tax-free withdrawals in retirement.

Tax credits for small business owners
The IRS also offers potential tax credits for small business owners. One of the biggest deductions is through a home office credit.

More than 50 percent of U.S. small businesses operate at an owner’s home, according to the Small Business Administration(SBA). Unfortunately, many fear taking advantage of this tax credit will red flag an audit from the IRS. The good news is, that fear is usually unfounded.

To be eligible for a home office tax deduction, the IRS requires a portion of a residential property to be considered a legitimate home office. The home must be a primary workplace. If there is an additional office used, you cannot file a home office deduction. An exception can sometimes be made for those who work all day at an office part of the week and all day at home the rest of the week.

To figure out a home office credit, the SBA recommends calculating deductions by comparing the size of the home office versus the rest of the home. However, a business owner can also deduct expenses for a separate freestanding structure, which means a business owner can use a studio to conduct work, or a garage or barn for storage. But those freestanding structures should be exclusively for business.

Tax refunds as a way to save
Remember that getting a large refund may not always be in your best interest. It could be a sign that you’re having too much money withheld from your wages. If you have trouble saving on a regular basis, however, forced savings through tax withholdings is better than not saving at all. Just try to set aside all or a portion of your refund for the future. Some great ways to use your refund include paying down high-interest debt, building an emergency fund and investing for retirement.

 

Take a look at the IRS website for a comprehensive list of deductions, and ask a trusted tax accountant for advice on which ones apply to your situation so you can take full advantage of your options.

 

*This post is not meant to replace the advice of a tax professional.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Chen is a Vice President and Portfolio Manager for UMB Private Wealth Management. He is responsible for all aspects of portfolio construction, including asset allocation, security selection and mutual fund analysis for high-net-worth clients. He joined UMB in 2013 and has 10 years of experience in the financial services industry. Mr. Chen earned a Bachelor of Science in Business with an emphasis in Financial Management from Kansas State University and Master of Science in Business with a Finance Concentration from the University of Kansas. He serves on the board of directors for the Financial Planning Association of Greater Kansas City and the Kansas City CFA Society. He is a Certified Financial Planner® and is a CFA charterholder.



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Financial Word of the Week (Small Business Month): Collateral

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FWOTW

Collateral is a company’s assets that are pledged to ensure payment of a financial obligation. Collateral can include business or personal assets such as equity in your home. Business collateral typically includes equipment, inventory, vehicles and accounts receivable. As we explained in our post about the “Five Cs of Credit” (one of which is collateral), you may be required to sign a guarantee with the promise to repay the loan if you cannot repay it with the profits from your business.

Sometimes a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan could be used if there is a collateral short fall within the organization.  An SBA loan has other requirements as well.

A company must understand that the collateral they put up for a loan could be seized if a company defaults on a loan. Also remember that most lending institutions require your collateral value to be more than the loan amount.

 

 

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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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Financial Words of the Week (Small Business Month): Working Capital

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FWOTW

Working capital is a financial measure of cash that is calculated as Current Assets divided by Current Liabilities. Working capital is a common measure of a company’s liquidity. Current assets are your company’s most liquid assets, such as cash and other items that could be quickly turned to cash.  Current liabilities are obligations that are due within a year.  A positive working capital usually indicates that the company is able to pay off its short-term liabilities quickly.

Current assets and current liabilities include four areas that are critical for working capital management:

  • cash
  • inventory management
  • accounts payable – Remember to negotiate discounts with vendors and suppliers for a net 10 or 30-day payment.
  • accounts receivable – With money your clients owe you, consider ways to speed up payment that will impact your working capital.
    • Communication – when do you follow up on past-due items? Could you make a 10-day courtesy call? Do you have standard collection practices based on the size of your clients?
    • Eliminate any manual processes within your organization to prevent delays.
    • Shorten payment terms, and potentially provide a discount for paying promptly.
    • Email invoices and allow for Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) payment.

Consider these ways to positively impact on your working capital and the strength of your business.

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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Financial Words of the Week (Small Business Month): SWOT Analysis

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FWOTW

Now that we’ve entered Q3, it’s 2015 planning time for small business owners. What better way to plan than by returning to the method you probably learned in business school: a SWOT analysis? SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This analysis will lead to better awareness of your organization and insight into areas of growth, especially heading into a new year.

Strengths and Weaknesses

This should be an internal review. What are you doing well that is separating you from your competition (talent, product, process, etc)?  Understanding your company’s weaknesses is just as important and sometimes difficult to discover. Think of objections you might get during the sales process.  Keep your strengths in mind as you review your business as you might be able to leverage them to offset a weakness in your organization.

Opportunities and Threats

Many businesses are great at evaluating internally, but are challenged to look externally. Looking beyond your direct competition is important. How could government, technology, talent allow for an opportunity for growth in your market?

SWOT

Once the analysis is complete, ask for feedback from your senior leaders.  Develop a plan that will allow you to minimize your threats and capitalize on your opportunities.  Assign owners to these projects and take your business to the next level.

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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Financial Words of the Week (Small Business Month): Recurring Revenue

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FWOTW

As we enter 2015, many business owners will be looking for ways to find to keep making money in their industry.  Recurring revenue is the segment of a company’s profits expected to return the next year. It does not include one-time payments from customers. Predictability and stability of revenue is key and is often a challenge for business owners. If you can move from a 0 percent recurring revenue model to one of 10 percent, you will dramatically increase the value of your organization.

Examples of recurring revenue are monthly service contracts and subscriptions. As a business owner, how can you overcome the challenge of having customers who are hesitant to commit to long-term arrangements, but showing them the value in these contracts? Think proactively instead of reactively when it comes to products or services you can offer. The more proactive, the more value consumers can see.

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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Export-Import Bank charter: what you need to know

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What is the Export-Import Bank?

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im) is the official export credit agency of the United States. ExIm fills gaps in the trade finance market by working with lenders and brokers to ensure that U.S. businesses get what they need to sell abroad and be competitive in international markets.*

Here’s an example of a business that would use Ex-Im: ABC Company realized to grow their international sales, they needed protection against foreign buyers who might fail to pay them, or non-payment risk protection. Ex-Im approves a small business export credit insurance policy. A few months later, ABC Company sold $500,000 of products to China. Ex-Im had mitigated ABC’s fear of non-payment since the policy covered 95 percent of the commercial and political risks.

Both Democrats and Republicans are working to present a bill to renew the charter while other lawmakers would rather let the charter expire. Those against renewing the charter argue that the bank is a form of “corporate welfare.” Lawmakers who encourage renewal assert that Ex-Im helps U.S. exporters compete against foreign companies, which are backed by their government sponsored Economic Consulting Associations. This results in the generation of 2 billion government-funded dollars for U.S. taxpayers, but with zero cost to the U.S. taxpayer.

Who is affected?

Supporters of the bank charter include large companies such as Boeing, General Electric and Caterpillar.

However, the smaller businesses who use the ExIm services could also be impacted, possibly even more than the larger ones. Take a look at the below chart and facts showing a snapshot of ExIm Bank throughout the last five years.

chart

Source: Ex-Im website

Current Status

The Ex-Im Bank Charter was set to expire on September 30, however the House and Senate passed a continuing resolution which will extend it through June 30, 2015. During the next nine months, supporters and detractors will lobby for merits of Ex-Im and potential reforms. UMB will continue to monitor the progress and update you on what you need to know.

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*source: ExIm.gov

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Jarrett is the senior vice president, director of international services and sales for UMB. He is responsible for the overall leadership and product strategy for foreign exchange, trade finance and Canadian cash management. He joined UMB in 2013 and has 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. A native of Quito, Ecuador, Paul earned a Bachelor of Science – Accounting degree, from Palm Beach Atlantic University in Palm Beach, Florida.



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Scarred by Great Recession, small business owners are still playing it safe

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SmallBusinessOwners

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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We regret to inform you that your account has been compromised…now what?

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You can do everything right to secure your personal information, but your credit or debit card information can still be compromised. Unfortunately, retailers and restaurants can be victims of hackers just like individuals can. Except when an identity thief breaches a retailer’s point of sale (POS) system, more than one person is affected. The company’s system can hold hundreds, if not thousands, of card numbers and key card security details including card verification value (CVV) codes.

CVV Code

 

Exact location of the CVV number varies among the card brands. Consult your card’s instructions for the location of your card’s CVV code.

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Throughout a given year, you have a chance of having your information stolen in one of these security breaches. Reportedly 44.8 million records were breached in 2012. Companies continue to ramp up security measures and while they do a good job, the hackers find points of vulnerability and use malware to pull the credit/debit card information.

Fast food restaurants and small business systems are the most targeted. The high level of transactions makes fast food restaurants a prime target. Small businesses are usually targeted because they don’t always have the same robust security resources as bigger companies, but even large national retail chains can be a victim of these security issues.

When there is a security compromise at retailer or restaurant, it should not end up costing you any money. Your bank should take care of everything, from issuing you a new card and personal identification number (PIN) to recovering any lost funds.

Smart ChipThe current risk environment will not notably change until smart cards (also known as chip cards) are rolled out universally in the U.S. We should see this by the end of 2015. The chip card is different from the card with the magnetic stripe because there is a small microchip in the card with a dynamic security code continually changing, making it extremely difficult to counterfeit.

As a consumer, you have little control over these external events, but this shouldn’t stop you from using your credit/debit cards. You can help protect yourself, by regularly checking your online bank statements and taking advantage of any fraud alerts through SMS texting and emails offered by your bank. At the very least, check your paper statements each month for any suspicious activity. If you regularly monitor your accounts, you will be able to spot fraudulent activity and your bank can quickly fix the issue.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Hanson serves as vice president and fraud manager in Card Operations. He is responsible for providing fraud detections, prevention, and investigation services to UMB’s credit and debit card customers. He joined UMB in 2010 with more than 15 years of credit card fraud prevention experiences. He earned a Bachelor of Science in political science from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah and a Master of Arts in national security affairs from the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey, Calif.



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