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Growing Your Business in a Digitally-Transformed World

In today’s competitive environment, businesses would not exist without advancements in technology. From innovative payment and accounting systems to robust, integrated inventory solutions, businesses require technology in order to keep pace with their counterparts in the industry. One of First Bank’s trusted partners, Bond Consulting Services, a national consulting firm, empowers organizations to thrive in a digitally-transformed world. With over 18 years of software integration experience, Bond Consulting Services is a proud Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and was just awarded Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central Partner of the Year Finalist by Microsoft in June 2019. Bob Bond, President of Bond Consulting Services, said, “As businesses grow in volume, data, and reporting needs, they need to scale up their technology rapidly. It truly doesn’t matter the size of the company you own or manage, you can always leverage technology to help streamline your services.” Alth ...

Family Business: Grooming the Next Generation

The final measure of an organizational leader’s success is not only how well the organization functions after his or her tenure but also throughout their succession process. In other words, did the chief executive officer (CEO) prepare a successor that could continue to grow and advance the organization? In a family business, this is critical for the engine or business that drives the family’s wealth and well-being. Ideally, the next generation includes multiple talented members, actively involved in the business, and committed to its long-term success. The time will come when the critical question is asked, “Which member should be the next CEO?” Often, the answer is apparent, and sometimes multiple family members vie for the position. It’s important to note, however, parents may not always be an objective evaluator of the talents of their children. In fact, a professional, individual assessment should be considered to provide an independent evaluation of strengths and wea ...

Downsides and Challenges to Growth

Typically, growth and expansion are indicators of a healthy business. However, there are typically many misconceptions and a greater story behind those growing businesses. It may be easy to get caught up in others success stories, especially when hearing that someone increased their revenue by 300% or they expanded their workforce to four times the size in the past quarter, for example, but that’s only half the story. Risk is the key element facing every business from the start, but that risk never goes away; it only multiplies. Risk is associated with growth, but it’s how you face the challenges of risk and adjust with growth that plays a key role in your business’s success. Get more information on the downsides and challenges business owners face as their business thrives, as well as advice on adjusting with these shifts: Cash flow management and the growth of reserves. Rick Sems, First Bank Executive Vice President of Commercial Banking, candidly explains that the biggest ele ...

Are There Threats Lurking Inside Your Business Walls?

Fraud is an unpleasant topic; however, with its impact on the rise, business owners and consumers alike are faced with this growing threat. Often, when fraud is discussed, many of us think of the countless teams of external thieves and cybercriminals targeting businesses daily. However, did you know The 2018 Insider Threat Report claims 66% of organizations consider malicious insider attacks or accidental breaches a higher probability to occur than external attacks? Also, that a larger number of firms consider insider threat more damaging than external attacks? Intentional Insider Threats Simply put, they’re not wrong. Although external fraud attempts are relentless and of constant concern, there are also countless ways insider threat—both intentional and non-intentional—is of credible concern to business owners. “Unfortunately, employees of organizations have found a myriad of ways to defraud their employers,” said Tony Gales, Partner/CPA and acting Internet Security M ...

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 ...

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