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Lessons from the Great Recession – How to Weather the Next Storm

It’s difficult to not learn anything after $1.1 trillion and 8.7 million jobs are lost in the matter of months. We are now a little more than a decade removed of the financial crisis of 2008. Nearly every walk of life, age range, and industry was affected; whether you lost a job, savings or retirement monies, or a business, there are several lessons we can glean from the Great Recession. Much like any dilemma, there is always work to be done and improvements to be made and reflecting on what happened is imperative to moving forward and uncovering what we have learned. It is in this reflective period that we can all learn how to persist through any future downturns or lean times. Here are some key takeaways from the Great Recession and lessons learned in its aftermath that can help to avoid negative financial moves. Instant gratification: The saying that “no news is good news” can prove to be true in some businesses; however, that same contentment lulled much of the U.S. into a false se ...

How Your Business is at Risk for Fraud (And What You Can Do About It)

With technology changing at such a fast pace, it can be difficult to keep up with ever-changing fraud schemes, scams, and various regulations. The 2018 AFP Payments Fraud Survey1 uncovered some alarming numbers; fraud hit a record high in 2017 with 78% of all organizations being affected by payment fraud. Check fraud continues to be the number one form in which payment fraud is attempted with 74% of respondents reporting this as an issue. Unfortunately, check fraud remains prevalent due to advanced technology making it easy for criminals to replicate your checks. As scams become more sophisticated, so does check fraud; all an offender needs is a valid account number and printing software to wreak havoc on your business’ finances. While modern technology creates more intricate forms of check fraud, the leading scheme involves fake checks. Businesses are a hot target for criminals and are likely victims of fraud due to the amount of checks written for vendors, bill payments and more. In a 2016 American Ba ...

Cash Reserves – How Much Is Enough for My Business?

Money clichés are a dime a dozen, however, some of those financial catchphrases can truly be applied to your real life and pay off in the long run. One such saying is especially true for business owners. The saying that “cash is king” legitimately represents the importance of liquidity for any business of any size. Cash is needed for everything involved to successfully run your business. There are many reasons a business can fail, but one of the leading factors is running out of cash. A safety net is imperative to successfully persist through common events like a significant decline in sales, a mainstay customer not paying your invoice, or even being able to maintain seasonality. Every business’s safety net will be different and dependent on the volatility of the business or industry, therefore determining how much cash your business needs. While liquidity is never a one-size-fits-all solution, all businesses must consider the following key elements: Proper forecastin ...

What Every Business Owner Should Know About Purchasing Commercial Real Estate

Whether you conduct your business out of a storefront, a factory, a farm, or an office, you’re among the multitude of businesses that operate out of a commercial space. Astute business owners are responsible for taking inventory on a wide variety of elements in their business’ success – be it accounting and payroll, managing employees, and even down to evaluating their existing workspace and property. It’s important to assess your needs in terms of workspace. As your long-term business needs adjust to fit the demands of your business’ growth, owners should weigh the pros and cons of renting or owning a commercial property. Much like owning a home versus renting one, a commercial mortgage can also provide a more practical alternative to leasing a workspace. As a business owner, however, you also know that not every business evaluation offers a “one size fits all” solution. Whether you’re a startup or an established business that’s expanding, exploring both ...

In Commercial Lending, Not all Transactions Fit All Lenders

By Tom Lynn, SVP, Senior Group Manager, First Bank Commercial Real Estate Originally published in the San Francisco Business Times Since there are so many variables in commercial real estate (CRE) lending, not all transactions fit all lenders. This raises many questions for investors and developers who are seeking financing. As a trusted advisor, some common questions asked by many borrowers are: When seeking a commercial real estate loan, what’s your typical deal size? Deal sizes are dependent on the size and risk tolerance(s) of the lender. For example, at First Bank, the size of loans generally don’t exceed $15MM, although exceptions can be made. • What types of properties do you finance? Most real estate investors and developers want to purchase properties like office buildings, industrial properties, retail space, residential developments, and storage buildings. Often, lenders will also provide financing for specialty niches like churches and senior care facilities. Alt ...

Family Businesses Can Learn a lot from Each Other

Family-owned businesses in the United States are as common as hometown parades and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Family-owned businesses, like the one where I work, represent 80-90% of all businesses, and generate between 40-60% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We exist in all shapes and sizes, from small corner stores to huge companies, with over $100 billion in revenue. We also face common opportunities and challenges that are different from publicly-traded companies, such as managing intra-family conflict, shareholder control, distributions, and engaging the next generation. Yet, despite our ubiquity and common opportunities and challenges, far too many of us treat the issues we face as family-owned businesses as if we’re the only ones to confront those issues. Our isolation in addressing these challenges is reinforced by the lack of well-known resources regarding these topics. Many of you might be able to name several good books about how to be a great leader, but how many can name a good book ...

Let’s Navigate the Waters of Commercial Real Estate

By Lisa Bulaich Originally published in the Sacramento Business Journal In the course of many business owners’ journey to success, they’ll find themselves considering a lease, a purchase, or the refinance of a commercial property. Perhaps the business has outgrown its current space or a second location is needed for expansion, or continuing to pay the rising cost of a lease just doesn’t make good business sense. The motivating factors are many. When these situations occur, business owners often find themselves evaluating new lease arrangements, researching purchase options, or evaluating the details surrounding a refinance. A lease can make sense, however, if the business owner is not quite ready to put down roots. Purchasing a commercial property can be a better option when the business owner is ready. Purchasing enables business owners to reap the benefits of paying themselves rent while purchasing an asset, to take advantage of tax write offs, and to create a new revenue str ...

What Does Insurance Have to do with Commercial Real Estate Financing?

By ANDREW ZINNOriginally published in the Los Angeles Business Journal Insurance may be one of the more complex and overlooked areas in commercial real estate financing. Typically, banks require borrowers to obtain some level of insurance to cover the value of the improvements being financed. Property and liability insurance policies are lengthy and their review is even more monotonous than reading the reams of paper produced by a bank in the form of commercial loan documents. Just like your loan documents, one should pay particular attention to the defined terms and exclusions in an insurance policy. The definitions and exclusions are the key to unlocking the scope of your coverage. One of the key exclusions you’ll find with standard property insurance policies is for pollution. Introduced in 1978, environmental insurance was first developed to fill the insurance coverage gaps created by pollution exclusions in liability and property insurance policies. Because the definition of pollution may be subjective, ...

Business Owners Should Consider the Benefits of Purchasing Versus Leasing Commercial Real Estate

Frank Tapia, Vice President,Business Banking Originally published in the Long Beach Business Journal Often, savvy business owners need to evaluate if the existing property they’re located in is right for their long-term business needs. This can certainly be the case if the business has recently experienced growth or needs additional locations in order to do so. Since all situations vary, each business owner must determine if renting or owning a commercial property makes sense for them. Although many may realize it’s preferred to purchase a home rather than rent, many may not realize that paying a commercial mortgage can also be more reasonable than renting. In fact, in a recent analysis, it was estimated that it could cost 86.6% more to lease vs. purchase a commercial real estate property over a 15-year occupancy period*. In fact, one of our valued clients, a retail store with the same location for the past seven years, consistently grew each year. Of course, with each passing year, they were outgrowing t ...

The Right Banking Partnership Can Help Determine the Success of Your Privately-Owned Business

By KAREN BROWN SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, COMMERCIAL TEAM LEADER Originally published in the San Francisco Valley Business Journal Of course, we all know in order to be successful in business, you need to have the right people in place, the right product or service, and the right price. Did you also know it’s essential to have the right strategic banking partnership? Certainly, any bank can open accounts, accept deposits, and generate loans; however, it’s the banking partnership and holistic relationship that truly can have an impact on the long-term success of a business, especially those that are privately-held. In fact, a recent survey* indicated that business owners reported the highest level of satisfaction with client-focused banks and those that are deeply-rooted in the communities in which they serve. Within the survey, 80% chose a client-focused bank over the larger-scale banks (61%) and online lenders (46%). In business, relationships—including the one you have with your ban ...

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