Category Archives: Business Advice

Refinance Your Conventional Business Loan into a SBA 504 Loan

leticia-scearce_biltmore-bankThe SBA Debt Refinance Program is back! Does your small business have a maturing or high-cost conventional loan for real estate, buildings or equipment? The long-term, fixed rate financing available through the SBA Debt Refinance Program can help small businesses that face significant balloon payments, require financial flexibility or want to take cash out from appreciating assets for expansion.

Under the new program, small businesses that refinance into a SBA 504 loan can take advantage of lower rates, fixed for 20 years, to lighten their monthly debt payments, improve cash flow and stabilize operations.

These parameters can help determine whether this program might be a good fit for your business:

  • The debt to be refinanced must be at least two years old.
  • The debt to be refinanced must be current during the last 12 months.
  • Eligible small businesses can obtain up to 90 percent financing for secured debt and qualified business debt.
  • Eligible fixed assets include real estate and equipment.
  • Cash out for operating expenses, including debt consolidation, is limited to 75 percent loan-to-value.
  • Cash out can be used for eligible business expenses (salaries, rent, utilities, inventory).
  • Existing government guaranteed loans are not eligible to be refinanced.
  • The eligible debt being refinanced is for the outstanding principal balance.

Other conditions or qualification requirements may apply. 

For those considering applying for a new loan, we offer a variety of government guaranteed loan products that require less cash investment up front and offer longer loan terms, which can help bridge the gap for businesses that otherwise would not have access to capital.

  • SBA 7(a), 504 and 504 refinance
  • SBA Export Express Export Working Capital International Trade
  • USDA Business & Industry Loans Food Desert Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
  • Export Import Bank of U.S.

If you would like more information on the SBA 504 Refinance Program or any of our government-guaranteed loan products, please contact Leticia Scearce, Senior Vice President/Government Guaranteed Lending Manager, at lscearce@biltmorebankaz.com or (602) 445-6511.

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Government Guaranteed Loans and Helping Businesses Grow

leticia-scearce_biltmore-bankSecuring a business loan can be vital to a company’s growth or even survival. Senior Vice President Leticia Scearce, head of Grandpoint’s Government Guaranteed Lending division, shares some great loan options that are available through various government programs which can be facilitated by the Bank and its divisions, The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, Bank of Tucson and Regents Bank.

Q: What should people know about the government guaranteed lending programs that are available?

LS: Government guaranteed loans are there to help small- and medium-sized businesses, since these loans require less cash investment up front and offer longer loan terms. Government guaranteed loans can help bridge the gap for small- and medium-sized businesses that otherwise would not have access to capital.  Also, many businesses that could qualify for conventional loans opt for government guaranteed loans instead because they require less money down and have longer terms. When opting for guaranteed loans, clients usually pay two percent more in fees for 10 to 15 percent cash down versus the 30 percent down for conventional loans.

The most well-known government guaranteed loan programs are those offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.  These loan programs can include financing for owner-occupied real estate purchase or construction, refinance, equipment, business acquisition, exporting and short term working capital (revolving lines of credit).

Another very attractive loan program is available through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Eligible USDA loans can be for real estate and equipment (including renewable energy projects) in rural or farming areas and can have a loan term up to 30 years. In addition, there are a few subprograms under the USDA loan program umbrella that allow us to finance projects in urban areas that have a local foods component – food manufacturing, distribution, retail, etc. The USDA loan product is attractive because it offers the longest term of the government guaranteed loan programs; is more flexible in pricing and prepayment penalties; has less oversight with franchises and dealer agreements; and has less regulation overall. It needs to be mentioned that even though the program is offered under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the financing of eligible projects / properties under this program do not need to be agriculture related.  Rather, its availability is contingent on the current population levels of a specific census tract in which the business or property will be located.

Q: What is the current status of government guaranteed lending?

LS: We’re hitting record levels of government guaranteed lending as the economy is improving. One reason is that the banks’ lending standards for conventional loans haven’t changed much since the recession, which makes guaranteed loans more attainable and attractive.

Q: Have you seen any big changes in the government guaranteed lending programs that business owners should know about?

LS: We saw a big change recently in the SBA 504 program. This product offers low cash down and a 20-year fixed rate on the client’s second loan, which is financed by the SBA. The agency now allows the client to refinance existing loans on owner-occupied real estate and allows some cash out provisions, helping the small business owner access capital for long-term working capital.

Q: How do the members of the government guaranteed lending program for Grandpoint Bank and its divisions work together to assist clients?

LS: We are tasked with helping all our regions expand our government guaranteed lending, which is a combination of SBA loans, USDA loans and export loans. I’m based in Phoenix at The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, along with Debbie Lindsay, our loan administrator. My team’s loan specialist/underwriter, Marchette Wesley, and portfolio servicer, Hector Palomares, are in California, and I travel to our offices throughout Arizona, California and Washington to train our staff about our guaranteed loan platform.  We assist our relationship managers in deepening their knowledge base with the different loan products we have available. We also train our credit staff so they can recognize when a conventional loan isn’t suited for a client and a government guaranteed loan could offer a great alternative.

Mark Phillips, Grandpoint Capital’s chief credit officer, and David Ross, Grandpoint Bank’s chief credit officer, and our regional bank presidents have been very supportive of our division and expansion.

Q: How is Grandpoint Bank, and its divisions, differentiating itself in this type of lending?

LS: Our Southern California and Vancouver, Washington markets do a lot of export business, so with our large geographic footprint and sizable lending capacity, we can target more middle market customers.   In Arizona, we have more rural opportunities, and thus the USDA programs are a great fit. We are already one of the top lenders in the state for USDA loans.  We are looking forward to expanding our footprint in USDA lending in all of our markets.   Seventy to 90 percent of government guaranteed loans don’t count against a bank’s legal lending limits, so we have more capacity to service larger companies as well.

Q: How did your career lead you to becoming the head of the government guaranteed lending division?

LS: I was drawn to SBA lending in 2007 when I was working in commercial lending at a community bank here in Scottsdale. I further progressed into this niche lending sector during the recession when the credit markets froze and guaranteed loans became even more essential. When I joined The Biltmore Bank of Arizona in 2011, I helped established the SBA department, and a year later I pushed for expansion into other government guaranteed loan programs such as USDA loans and export financing.  A diverse, more inclusive platform was important to our brand and to our customer base, and I was fortunate that key management at Biltmore trusted and supported my recommendations. In 2012, Biltmore Bank was acquired by Grandpoint Bank, and with the backing of a larger bank, it allowed us to expand our lending efforts even further.  Personally, Grandpoint gave me access to a larger platform with great management resources to help expand and develop this lending niche. Prior to the acquisition, our government guaranteed lending activity was small, but many of the banks acquired by Grandpoint around the same time had SBA loan portfolios, so my servicing and liquidation role increased. Soon thereafter, our senior management team decided to expand this niche of lending for the whole family of banks. I’m pleased to have a very amazing team. We all have to stay up to date on policies and procedures for all of these programs. This type of lending makes you a better banker, because it requires a complex level of understanding and mastery of detail; it makes you sharper.

Q: Are you involved in any civic work?

LS: I serve on the City of Phoenix Investment Advisory Board, which advises the city on its entire investment portfolio.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

LS: My husband and I are into cycling, and I love to hike. I also enjoy cooking and baking, and I’m a wine connoisseur. We have visited more than 100 wineries, and I’d love to become a sommelier someday. More immediately, I’d like to look at growth and loan opportunities in the wine industries throughout the various regions we serve. I also enjoy reading, gardening, and I am a big tennis fan!

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Inside Tucson Business Article – Cyber Insurance: A Necessity in the Digital Age

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Linda Drake

Thank you to article author Linda Drake of Trailblazer Advisors and to Inside Tucson Business for allowing us to republish this article on our blog. Client Cyber Crime Insurance is available to all business customers of Grandpoint Bank and its divisions, The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, Bank of Tucson and Regents Bank.

Read the original article here:
http://www.insidetucsonbusiness.com/business_chatter/cyber-insurance-a-necessity-in-the-digital-age/article_3bbe8650-4f93-11e6-a8b2-8baff37c26c2.html↗

Whether you are a business large or small, old or new, the dangers of a cyber breach are lurking. The truth is that all businesses today are digital in one form or another. It is the age of the Internet of Everything! Cloud computing is the basis of almost all transactions and with every touch of the keyboard or data entry, there is an attached risk of a breach. And with that breach, comes the liability that might not just be disruptive to your business; it could be devastating.

The costs of a breach can be enormous. (Imagine losing a major bank transfer or assuming a loss of $10,000 for each cyber-security infraction.) By the way, your attacker can come from the outside or inside, as 70 percent of breaches are initiated by employees or former employees.

So what this thing called cyber insurance? Cyber insurance arose out of the traditional Errors and Omissions (E&O) coverage known to most businesses. Over time coverage was extended to viruses, data corruption to connected client systems, or damage affecting customers. Generally, early adopters were technology-based companies.

More than a decade ago, network security policies expanded to include breaches of confidential information. At that point, the retail segment adopted cyber insurance on a wide scale.

Coverage for any business could be simple or complex. The determining factor is an employer’s decision on degree of acceptable risk. Let’s take the simple first.

The Bank of Tucson, through Grandpoint Insurance Services, now offers cyber insurance coverage for its customers at a nominal cost. The coverage for business accounts protects against losses for funds transfer fraud (when someone impersonates your company for a funds transfer) and cyber deception (when a criminal pretends to be your vendor employee or client and gets you to transfer money to them). Mike Hannley, president of Bank of Tucson, announced the new product in the last month. Mike commented, “Internet criminals do not use guns for illicit gain, but they gladly use your computer and network for paydays!”

Let’s take a look at broader, more complex cyber insurance. That kind of cyber insurance may have several parts:

Network Security: Your network has failed in some form. It could be that someone is trying to shut down your network to in an effort to stop you from conducting business. Or, you’ve just experienced a data breach, some form of extortion, or tapped your system to advance a virus to all of your connected transmissions.

Privacy: Privacy is huge and does not necessarily have to be connected to a system failure. There are many known cases of information of physical records that are not properly disposed of, including human errors (think of a lost laptop with an easily penetrated passcode) or a hard drive with customer records that somehow got into the wrong hands.

Media Liability:  This aspect covers advertising injury claims like copyright, libel and slander. Coverage may extend to offline content as well.

Digging deeper, network security and privacy liability policies covers first and third party liabilities. First party means the direct costs of responding to a breach; third party means it applies when people sue or make claims against you.

First party inclusions: 

Costs of notifying anyone attached to the breach

Loss of profits and business interruption

Legal advice and regulatory obligations

Public relations expenses

Third party inclusions:

Regulatory fines and penalties

Damage and judgments related to the breach

Legal expenses

Costs of responding to regulatory inquiries

According to Jack Clements, CPA at the Clements Agency, “Every company, large or small, should at least consider cyber Insurance. There are so many examples of exposure to loss that it is difficult to list them all; some exposures are unique to certain types of businesses.”

“And don’t forget about controls; they are critical,” Jack continued. “In broad policies, premiums are based upon the quality of your controls. Many companies believe that their controls are so strong, that it can never happen to them. Believe me, it can and it will.”

Another aspect of this discussion is commonly known as “Social Engineering” or “Duping.” This is a scheme where a seemingly legitimate email is sent to you asking for money or confidential information. It happens all the time. Jack added, “In fact, an attempt was made on our office this week. We received a business email from my brother, with whom we do business, asking for a wire transfer. When we called him, we learned that it was completely fraudulent. Had we complied, the transaction would not have been covered by our Cyber Policy, since we willingly sent the money. We would, however, have been covered by the Social Engineering endorsement that we have on our package policy. Just another area to think about.”

Linda Drake is a 25-year, seasoned global entrepreneur, corporate executive, author and Certified Professional & Executive Coach. 

For more information on the Client Cyber Crime Insurance, visit www.grandpointinsurance.com (California Insurance License #0K82434).

Insurance Products are:
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Insurance Products are offered through Grandpoint Insurance Services, Inc., a non-bank insurance agency affiliate of Grandpoint Bank, and facilitated through LBW Insurance & Financial Services, Inc., an unaffiliated insurance agency.

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FBI Article: Ransomware on the Rise

We noticed that a lot of you really liked the last FBI cyber security article we ran. We’re pleased the Bureau has encouraged us to share their articles on this topic, so we’re happy to do so again. This article deals with a concerning type of cybercrime called ransomware, where a malware restricts access to the infected computer/network and demands that the operators pay some sort of ransom to regain control of their network. We hope this article is helpful to you. Please let us know if you have information or ideas on this topic that our readers may want to hear.

You can find this article, as well as many other articles you may find valuable to keep your business and staff secure against cybercrime, at this web address:

https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2015/january/ransomware-on-the-rise/ransomware-on-the-rise↗

For more information about fraud protection tools and product features provided by The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, please visit our website.

Ransomware on the Rise
FBI and Partners Working to Combat This Cyber Threat

Your computer screen freezes with a pop-up message—supposedly from the FBI or another federal agency—saying that because you violated some sort of federal law your computer will remain locked until you pay a fine. Or you get a pop-up message telling you that your personal files have been encrypted and you have to pay to get the key needed decrypt them.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 10.50.23 AMThese scenarios are examples of ransomware scams, which involve a type of malware that infects computers and restricts users’ access to their files or threatens the permanent destruction of their information unless a ransom—anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars—is paid.

Ransomware doesn’t just impact home computers.
Businesses, financial institutions, government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations can and have become infected with it as well, resulting in the loss of sensitive or proprietary information, a disruption to regular operations, financial losses incurred to restore systems and files, and/or potential harm to an organization’s reputation.

Ransomware has been around for several years, but there’s been a definite uptick lately in its use by cyber criminals. And the FBI, along with public and private sector partners, is targeting these offenders and their scams.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 10.47.22 AMWhen ransomware first hit the scene, computers predominately became infected with it when users opened e-mail attachments that contained the malware.
But more recently, we’re seeing an increasing number of incidents involving so-called “drive-by” ransomware, where users can infect their computers simply by clicking on a compromised website, often lured there by a deceptive e-mail or pop-up window.

Another new trend involves the ransom payment method. While some of the earlier ransomware scams involved having victims pay “ransom” with pre-paid cards, victims are now increasingly asked to pay with Bitcoin, a decentralized virtual currency network that attracts criminals because of the anonymity the system offers.

Also a growing problem is ransomware that locks down mobile phones and demands payments to unlock them.

The FBI and our federal, international, and private sector partners have taken proactive steps to neutralize some of the more significant ransomware scams through law enforcement actions against major botnets↗ that facilitated the distribution and operation of ransomware.

For example:

  • Reveton ransomware, delivered by malware known as Citadel, falsely warned victims that their computers had been identified by the FBI or Department of Justice as being associated with child pornography websites or other illegal online activity. In June 2013, Microsoft, the FBI, and our financial partners disrupted a massive criminal botnet built on the Citadel malware, putting the brakes on Reveton’s distribution. FBI statement↗ and additional details.↗
  • Cryptolocker was a highly sophisticated ransomware that used cryptographic key pairs to encrypt the computer files of its victims and demanded ransom for the encryption key. In June 2014, the FBI announced—in conjunction with the Gameover Zeus botnet disruption—that U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials had seized Cryptolocker command and control servers. The investigation into the criminals behind Cryptolocker continues, but the malware is unable to encrypt any additional computers. Additional details.↗

If you think you’ve been a victim of Cryptolocker, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) CryptoLocker webpage↗ for remediation information.

The FBI—along with its federal, international, and private sector partners—will continue to combat ransomware and other cyber threats. If you believe you’ve been the victim of a ransomware scheme or other cyber fraud activity, please report it to the Bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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7(a) Loans: SBA’s Flagship Loan Program

Leticia SIn May, we published an article by our Vice President of Government Guaranteed Lending, Leticia Scearce, entitled What You Need to Know About Government-Guaranteed Lending, Part I, providing an overview of government-guaranteed loan programs offered by our bank. Here, Leticia delves deeper into SBA 7(a) loans. We hope this information is useful to you, and please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can answer any questions you may have.

Created under Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act of 1953 (P.L. 83-163, as amended), the 7(a) loan program has become the most popular and largest program under the Small Business Administration. For FY 2015, SBA approved close to $19 billion nationwide in SBA 7(a) loans.

SBA 7(a) loans are government-guaranteed loans, which means that the federal government provides a backing on the loan to the lender. This guaranty can range from 50 to 90 percent of the loan and is driven by the specific 7(a) loan product. The guaranty reduces the lender’s exposure or risk in the transaction, thus allowing many businesses to obtain a source of financing alternate to a conventional loan. The lender originates, services, performs any necessary liquidations and must not only comply at loan origination with the SBA policies and procedures, but throughout the life of the loan.

Below is a summary of the general parameters of 7(a) loans.

Benefits

Term
  • Less equity/cash down payment, preserving cash
  • Longer terms than conventional
  • No balloons, fully amortizing loans, no need to refinance again
  • CAPLines (revolving lines of credit) can be renewed annually, up to 10 years max
  • Equipment- up to 10 years
  • Real estate- up to 25 years
Uses Loan Maximum/Fees
  • Purchasing, constructing, renovating commercial owner occupied real estate
  • Purchase/refinance equipment
  • Working capital
  • Business Acquisition
  • Expansion & Exporting
  • Max SBA loan is $5 million (includes existing loans to borrower and affiliates plus new loan request)
  • SBA guaranty fee determined by loan size (2%-3.75% of guaranteed portion)

While a business may pay more in upfront fees for an SBA loan versus a conventional loan, the benefits far outweigh the cost. Preservation of capital is one of the biggest advantages of SBA loans.

There is a subset of loan programs under the 7(a) umbrella, so it is important to inquire about the programs offered by the lender. In our next government guaranteed loan blog, we will discuss SBA 504 loans and compare them to 7(a) loans. In future blogs, we will also discuss various 7(a) sub programs we offer.   Please contact us at (602) 992-5055 for more information.

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Approved to offer SBA loan products under SBA’s Preferred Lender Program

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Nine Tips for Better Cyber Security

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Our Increasing dependence on information technology and networks has brought tremendous efficiency to our work and personal lives, but with these efficiencies come risks; particularly risks from cybercrime. According to an October 2014 independent study conducted by Ponemon Institute, the percentage of businesses impacted by malware and other kinds of cyber fraud is up 144 percent, and a survey by Experian↗ found that 60 percent of small businesses that suffer a cyber attack are out of business within one year due to the costs of customer notification, lawsuits, etc. Small and medium-sized businesses can be especially vulnerable since they often do not have the same level of resources as larger companies to defend their information technology systems and track their financial transactions on a frequent or daily basis. While protecting your business against cyber criminals may require a combination of special resources and a change in workplace procedures, here are a few basic steps that you can take at work and at home to reduce your risk of being hacked, spoofed, falling victim to computer viruses and Trojan horses or having your identity stolen.

  1. Keep your computer secure. Install and run anti-virus and anti-spyware and make sure you keep these up to date to protect against new threats. Use the latest versions of Internet browsers, such as Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer, and make sure your operating system and applications are updated regularly.
  2. Use a separate, dedicated computer for online banking – this decreases your chance of infection with malware because you are unlikely to encounter these programs on trusted banking sites. Do not use this computer for general web browsing and email.
  3. Never share usernames and passwords –use strong passwords with a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols, and change your passwords if you suspect they could have been compromised. Use different passwords for the main applications you use. For example, your online banking password should be different than your email password.
  4. Use email safely. Don’t click on links within your email – instead, open your browser and search for the company that supposedly sent the link. Be cautious about opening attachments or downloading files from unfamiliar sources. These files can contain viruses or other software that can jeopardize your computer’s security.
  5. Don’t give out personal information over the phone or via email unless you have initiated the contact. Even if the email looks like it’s coming from someone you know, the person’s email may have been hacked.
  6. Never use unprotected Internet connections – In addition to using only secure connections, make sure websites asking for sensitive information are secure. These websites will show up in your browser with a lock icon in its toolbar that, when clicked, should display an info sheet, including the company’s name. Also, the URL should start with “https” instead of “http.”
  7. Educate your employees, family, housemates or anyone else who has access to your computer network and/or your financial information about cyber security best practices. You should also discuss monitoring account information and billing statements regularly for unauthorized charges and withdrawals.
  8. Do not keep your passwords on your computer in a Word document. While this practice is convenient for cutting and pasting and may protect against key logging software that can grab your keystrokes, this technique leaves the user vulnerable to clipboard loggers that capture the contents of the clipboard. Documents on your computer, even when password protected, are also vulnerable to skilled hackers. A better idea is to use a password manager program – some of which are free. PCMag.com offers an overview of these programs here.↗
  9. Ask your bank what they are doing to assist you in cyber fraud prevention. At The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, our online banking platform offers tools, such as Trusteer Rapport,↗ which works alongside your current security software to add protection and decrease your susceptibility to criminal behavior, protecting you and your business from threats your antivirus cannot. We also offer features like Security and Transaction Alerts that can help clients protect themselves from fraud. Businesses using online banking also have access to security features such as dual control and user limits, along with Treasury Management products like ACH Fraud Protection, Positive Pay, and out-of-band authentication and secure access codes to protect ACH and wire transactions. And, we continually invest in back office resources to help detect potentially fraudulent transactions.

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What it Takes to Get a Bank Loan Approved

By Bill Aust, Senior Vice President of The Biltmore Bank of Arizona

(Originally published in inbusinessmag.com)↗

Bill AustWhether you’re starting a business or growing the one you have, securing a loan may be a high priority for you, but many find the prospect of applying for a loan daunting. To help alleviate these fears and to provide guidance about what your banker will want to know from you and your loan application, I’m sharing the following article I wrote for inbusinessmag.com last year.

In the banker’s world, among the most important considerations reviewed when determining whether or not to approve a loan are the “Five Cs of Credit.”

Capacity

The best predictor of a business’s likelihood of repaying a loan as planned is a proven history of positive cash flows. This cash flow history needs to be adequate to make loan payments on the new loan request, plus a little more. Banks typically desire a debt service coverage ratio (ratio of cash available for debt servicing to interest, principal and lease payments) of at least 1.25 times the debt service.

Collateral

In the event that future cash flow is not sufficient to make scheduled loan payments, banks normally want some other business asset or assets to serve as a back-up repayment source to satisfy loan payment obligations. Collateral can take many forms, but often will include accounts receivable, inventory, real estate and equipment as well as other tangible assets.

Capital

Although a business starts with a vision in a person’s mind, businesses rarely make it to the next stage without sufficient capital to help make this vision a reality. Capital is defined as the amount of dollars invested combined with prior earnings retained by a business. The most common reason loans are turned down by banks is that a business does not have sufficient capital to support either existing or future business operations.

Conditions

Many internal as well as external conditions have an impact on a business. Although a business owner may have little or no control over these conditions, it is critical that the business owner be aware of them. Internal conditions include staffing, management, operational issues and more, while external conditions may include governmental regulations, business climate and competition.

Character

A good reputation as a business and as a person is one of a businessperson’s most important assets. For banks, a key indicator is how the person handled previous business and personal extensions of credit. Bankers care about how business is conducted and how individuals conduct themselves.

With this Five Cs knowledge in your back pocket, I hope the loan application process will seem less of a mystery and more of an opportunity. And remember, it’s a great idea to establish a relationship with your banker before you apply for a loan. The right banker should be able to help you understand whether a bank loan is the right solution for you and your business and to identify the information to include on your loan application.

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Business Tips for the New Year

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Happy 2015! With the dawning of the New Year, many folks concentrate on getting their business affairs in order. Before we get too much further into the year, we’d like to share a few business tips and highlights of new laws that can help you hone your competitive edge.

Business Tips

  • Review your cyber security. Ensure that your anti-virus software still meets your security needs, and check regularly for software and operating system updates and patches. Other preventive measures include providing firewall security for your Internet connection and encourage or require employees to password protect and use security apps on any of their handheld devices that may contain data pertaining to your business. Be sure to train your employees in all security protocols.
  • Stay up to date on compliance deadlines. Be aware that states periodically change compliance deadlines, forms and fees. Reviewing these details well in advance can help you avoid late fees and loss of good standing. Schedule Outlook or smart phone reminders to stay on top of deadlines.
  • Revisit your business plan. You went through all that trouble to create a great plan to take the business world by storm, so it shouldn’t be left idle….
  • Rev up your professional networking. Even if you’re already a power networker, review your business association memberships and decide which are still relevant to you and how they fit into your budget. Consider whether you should expand your networking circle, and don’t forget to consider conference and convention opportunities for 2015. Get your employees involved too. They’ll benefit from the new connections, continuing education opportunities and the satisfaction of attracting new customers to your business.
  • Reassess your online brand. If you don’t already have a Google Alert set for your company, do it now. Consider adding Google Alerts for the names of your top executives and any branded products or services you provide. Look up your company’s name on search engines to see how quickly your firm pops up. If your online brand is suffering, either from negative reviews, an outdated website or lackluster search engine optimization, don’t wait to address the issues. First impressions are hard to reverse.

New Law

With the New Year come changes for the transaction privilege tax (TPT) in Arizona. Business owners will need to make adjustments to make sure they are properly reporting their TPT. Additionally, some construction contractors will have to comply with two tax structures instead of one. Please consult with your CPA or attorney for more information and or reference this website.↗

A new year is full of possibilities. We hope this article is helpful in supporting all the grand plans your firm will implement this year. At Biltmore Bank, we are proud to be a consultative business partner for our clients as they continue to lead and transform their industries, and we look forward to working with you to make all of your New Year’s possibilities become realities.

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Using News Cycles to Promote Your Business With Social Media

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Between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, football fans literally from coast to coast will converge soon on Phoenix for the biggest game of the year. While you may have thought about what to serve for your big party, have you thought how your business could capitalize on this unique opportunity??

This bowl game is a great example of a major news cycle event, and tying into major news cycle events can be a great way to promote your business. Almost everyone has heard about the multi-millions of dollars big corporations shell out to air ads during the big game to promote their brands, but many companies and even individuals have made waves in different (and less expensive!) ways. Social media is a great way to promote your company as it is inexpensive and far reaching.

Last year, JC Penney got some attention for their “Tweeting with Mittens” campaign during the big game – playing off of the cold weather in New Jersey. Not nearly as much attention as Kohl’s did, though, by responding to JC Penney’s tweets and referring them to leather texting gloves on the Kohl’s website. Cost to Kohl’s? Nothing beyond paying an employee or social media company to tweet for them.

Let’s take a time-out to review:

  1. Pay attention to what your competitors are doing
  2. Tie in to major news cycle events

Another stand-out last year? The woman in the pantsuit – Hillary Clinton. During the game, she famously tweeted, “It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed & sacked!” Displaying a sense of humor and poking a little fun at herself (and perhaps at FOX) was a great way to seem down to earth and approachable. It’s a tough line to walk to gently poke fun at yourself/your brand and promote yourself/your brand at the same time, but done well, it can be marketing gold.

Time-out game review:

  1. Know how others perceive your business
  2. Know how you want others to perceive your business
  3. Look for opportunities to bridge the two

You have a lot of ways to score marketing points for your business, so whether it’s tapping into the Big Game hype or later news cycles, we hope these tips will help you think creatively and make your way to the end zone. Sure, we’ve only given you two plays to review, but you’ve got the ball now. What are you going to do with it? Your fans are rooting for you, and we’re with them!

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