Using Technology to Remain Financially Fit

Are you interested in trying a new bank technology but not sure what’s available? Look no further! Technology is almost limitless and staying up to date can help make your life a bit easier. FDIC Consumer News offers an overview of some current services and most of them are free!

 

Personal Financial Management and Budgeting: Financial planning tools are one way to stay financially fit. One great tool is an electronic check register on your home computer (many consumers find this much easier to use and balance than an old-fashion paper check register.) There are also “companion applications” for your smartphone that allows access to your electronic check register wherever you are.

Mobile banking services go one step further. They allow you to access your bank account from anywhere using your smartphone, iPad, computer or other device. According to FDIC Consumer News “an estimated 30 million Americans currently manage their finances using mobile devices.”

Think about this? Let’s say you are in a store and trying to decide upon a major purchase, you would need to know if you have enough money in your account to cover the cost. If you’re balance is low, you can use mobile banking to transfer funds from one account to another, in order to cover the charge.

Depositing checks using your smartphone or other mobile device: Many banks have rolled out a “remote deposit capture” (RDC) feature. We, at Community Bank of the Chesapeake, like to call it “mobile deposit capture.” This is a feature that allows customers to take a picture of a check with their mobile device and deposit that check electronically, without the interruption of visiting a branch or using an ATM. This is convenient for customers who do not live or work close to a bank branch, yet would like their money ASAP.

If you use mobile RDC, carefully keep track of the checks you deposit. For instance, you can write the date you deposited the item on the front of the paper check and hold onto it until the check has cleared and the money is in your account. We recommend holding it for 5 business days! Then you can destroy the check, preferably using a high-quality paper shredder. Contact us with any questions.

Account Alerts: Community Bank of the Chesapeake and most mobile banking systems, will allow you to sign up to get text messages on your mobile phone or e-mails if your account balance drops below a set dollar amount, which can help ensure that you don’t overdraw your account. We also call if we observe “suspicious” — potentially fraudulent — transactions involving your account. Setting up mobile alerts is a convenient and safe way to monitor what is going on with your checking account in real time!

Bill Paying: Paying bills through your mobile device or computer is just another way technology makes your life easier. Imagine you forgot to send your check in the mail and your bill is due! With Bill Pay your e-bills can be scheduled and set for auto pay, making sure you’re never late on a payment. Tip: We even let you create an “approved list” on our bank’s online banking web site.

As with any mobile banking service, always check with us before signing up to make sure you know about fees or other key factors.

Finally, when using any mobile financial service, keep privacy and security issues in mind. Protecting your devices with passwords is always a smart idea.

Protect your business from account takeover

Provided by: The American Bankers Association 

 

Cybercriminals are targeting small businesses with increasingly sophisticated attacks. Criminals use spoofed emails, malicious software spread through infected attachments and online social networks to obtain login credentials to businesses’ accounts, transfer funds from the accounts and steal private Webinformation, a fraud referred to as “corporate account takeover.”

Combating account takeover is a shared responsibility between businesses and financial institutions. Bankers can explain the safeguards small businesses need and the numerous programs available that help ensure fund transfers, payroll requests and withdrawals are legitimate, accurate and authorized. Companies should train employees about safe internet use and the warning signs of this fraud, because they are the first line of defense.

Here are some precautions you can take to help protect your business from account takeover:

  • Protect your online environment. It is important to protect your cyber environment just as you would your cash and physical location. Do not use unprotected internet connections. Encrypt sensitive data and keep updated virus protections on your computer. Use complex passwords and change them periodically.
  • Partner with your bank to prevent unauthorized transactions. Talk to your banker about programs that safeguard you from unauthorized transactions. Positive Pay and other services offer call backs, device authentication, multi-person approval processes and batch limits help protect you from fraud.
  • Pay attention to suspicious activity and react quickly. Look out for unexplained account or network activity, pop ups, and suspicious emails. If detected, immediately contact your financial institution, stop all online activity and remove any systems that may have been compromised. Keep records of what happened.
  • Understand your responsibilities and liabilities. The account agreement with your bank will detail what commercially reasonable security measures are required in your business. It is critical that you understand and implement the security safeguards in the agreement. If you don’t, you could be liable for losses resulting from a takeover. Talk to your banker if you have any questions about your responsibilities.

To learn more, see the American Bankers Association’s Small Business Guide to Corporate Account Takeover.

 

3 Main Points Before You Establish Credit for Your Business

By Marco Carbajo, Guest Blogger Provided by: The U.S. Small Business Administration

 

There are various factors to consider when deciding to use credit for your business. The most crucial and overlooked component is can you afford to useBusiness it? Every business’s credit needs are different. Many small business owners have the misconception that if business credit is granted to them, they can afford to use it. Credit applications don’t ask what your business expenses are, whether or not your business equipment is outdated and needs to be replaced soon, or if you need to hire new employees, or how much is spent on advertising each month.

So before you start applying for business credit or accept the first credit offer that comes in the mail, understand that there are three main points to consider before filling out an application. Let’s review these three key points below:

Business Spending Patterns – The first question to be addressed is how you intend to use your company’s credit. As a business do you plan to pay off the balance owing every month, or do you anticipate carrying a balance month to month? Do you plan to use your business credit for day to day purchases, or just for unforeseen expenses?

If you plan to pay your invoices and statements in full every month, then the interest rate may not be the primary factor. You may want to look for credit with a longer grace period and no annual fee if it’s a business credit card.

If you’re going to carry a balance, you want the lowest rate possible. If you plan to use your credit on a day to day basis, look for a low rate along with sizable credit limits. Although there are various types of credit you can use it’s essential that your payment experiences get reported to your company’s credit files.

Interest Rate and Terms – When establishing credit in your company’s name pay close attention to the APR, or annual percentage rate and terms. It’s common for card issuers to offer a low introductory rate just to get you to apply for a company card. Then, the rate will adjust higher after the introductory period expires.  Also, for net accounts the repayment terms vary by supplier, and Net 30 or Net 60 are not the only options available.

Managing Business Credit – Once you decide on the types of credit your business needs and how you plan to use it, follow these guidelines for managing a positive business credit history:

  • Only charge what your company can afford. Avoid carrying excessive debt to avoid costly interest charges.
  • Pay on or ahead of the due date, and build good payment history. For non-reporters consider adding those trade references to your Dun & Bradstreet credit file.
  • If you charge day-to-day business expenses such as fuel, meals, and lunch meetings, pay them in full each month.  The last thing you want to do is pay interest on a lunch you had with a client.
  • Monitor your company credit reports and scores regularly. Sign up for alert notifications so you can be alerted to any changes in your files as soon as possible.

By establishing business credit reports and scores; banks, lenders and suppliers will have the ability to assess the creditworthiness of your business. This will allow you to maximize your company’s funding potential and credit capacity. Whether you own a startup or existing business take these three main points into careful consideration prior to beginning the business credit building process.

 

Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

We live in an unpredictable world, and it’s impossible to tell when or where the next natural or manmade disaster will strike. But as a business owner, 3d image Disaster recovery  issues concept word cloud backgroundone of the things you can do is make sure you’re prepared. Here are some ideas to consider for handling an emergency that make good common sense.

Important Files

  • Store a copy of all computer operating systems and important files offsite.
  • Back up critical data on a regular basis and rotate storage disks (floppies, CDs, tapes) to an offsite location.
  • With many programs having a “remember this password” feature, it can be easy to lose track of passwords (and IDs) used for different systems. Writing down passwords is not advisable for security purposes, so be sure there is more than one trusted employee who can reset passwords for key systems.
  • For important financial records like balance sheets, income statements and tax returns, keep a copy in a secure location.
  • Keep copies of critical contracts, licenses and operating agreements offsite. Don’t forget to update these offsite materials regularly.

Physical Assets

  • Keep an updated inventory of all equipment and other fixed assets. This should include identification numbers, costs and locations.
  • Make sure all physical assets are adequately insured.

Useful Information

Keep a file of contacts, phone numbers and email addresses offsite. In an emergency, being able to contact employees, vendors and customers is critical. Be sure to include office and mobile numbers, as well as email addresses.

Communication Plan

It is important to have a plan outlining how to contact critical parties. Specific people should be assigned to handle specific contacts—employees, vendors, customers and others. You may also want to have a designated media contact. In the confusion of a disaster, it is critical that accurate and consistent information is made available.

Summary

Common sense, a well thought-out plan and remaining calm are some of the key ingredients for successfully dealing with an emergency. Make sure you and your business are prepared for whatever the future holds.

Business Banking Services That Can Save You Time and Money

As a business owner, you probably know the old adage all too well: “Time is money”. That’s why it’s important to partner with a financial institution thatBuisness Banking can help you make the most of both.

Technology and the Internet have made it easy to cut back on clutter and time-consuming activities in the workplace, and your bank often has solutions that can help you run a more efficient operation.

Online Banking

Gone are the days of the standard “9 to 5” workday; businesses are in motion around the clock, and it’s important to have access to your financial information wherever you need it, day or night. Online banking is a way for you to manage your company finances from anywhere you can access the Internet, whether you’re away on a business trip or in your own office. Most online banking sites will allow you to pay bills online, which can help cut down on paper invoices, and schedule auto-payments, which again saves you precious time each month.

Remote Deposit Capture

With Remote Deposit Capture, you can electronically deposit checks into your account, thus eliminating the need to leave the workplace during the day. Checks are scanned through a desktop scanner and electronically transmitted to the bank where they are posted to the account. It’s a convenient way to streamline your deposit process and improve your business’s cash flow.

Paperless Statements

Moving your statements online and eliminating paper copies is another way to minimize clutter in your office. Delivered electronically, e-Statements contain all the same information as paper statements and can typically be downloaded into accounting programs like Quickbooks™ or Quicken®. You can create electronic files of your finances that are easy to search through, which can free up space in your office, reduce the amount of waste you produce and save you time.

Mobile Payment Options

If your business requires you to collect payments on the go, mobile point-of-sale applications can make it easy for your customers to pay with a debit or credit card instead of writing a check. These applications have a high level of built-in security that can help save you the time and costs associated with counterfeit cards.

There are many different ways that your financial institution can support your business beyond simply providing you with an account. From payroll services to point of sale solutions, be sure that you are making the most out of your business banking relationship.

Community Bank of the Chesapeake provides a host of accounts, products and services to help you streamline your business operation and save time and money. Stop in to your local branch or visit our website to see how we can help you today!

A Small Business Owner’s Guide to the Hiring Process

Word Cloud RecruitmentBy: Bridget W. Pollack
Provided by: The US Small Business Administration

 

The goal of every small business owner is growth, but with growth comes more responsibilities and more work.  You may already juggle being the boss, accountant, office manager, maybe even janitor, but at some point, you realize you can’t do it all. Finding a new team member can be a daunting task, and 42% of small business owners say hiring new employees is their biggest challenge for 2015. Here are a few resources to make the employment process more manageable and effective for your small business.

Clarify your needs for the position

Don’t say “I need help,” but rather determine exactly what kind of help you need. In the recent SCORE webinar “Hiring the Right Employee,” Tricia McLaurin, a senior human resources representative with Paychex, explains the importance of defining the job duties and company’s needs. She says writing a clear, detailed job description with tasks outlined and skills identified will help you find the ideal employee. And make sure you are aware of compliance under state and federal law such as the Fair Labor Standards Act. Check out the webinar to learn more about:

  • Writing a job description.
  • Critically reviewing a résumé.
  • Implementing compliant interviewing procedures.
  • Conducting background screening.
  • Verifying I-9 documents.

Recruiting potential candidates

Once you are satisfied with the job description, the next challenge is finding suitable applicants. Today, advertising in traditional media or online job boards may not be enough.  Social media has become a boon in the recruitment stage. This month’s SCORE infographic, “Human Resources: What’s Working When It Comes to Workers” illustrates the benefits of advertising job openings through social media:

  • 94% of recruiters use or plan to use social media for recruiting.
  • 73% of millennials found their last job through social media
  • Employers who used social media to hire found a 49% improvement in candidate quality over candidates sourced only through traditional recruiting channels.

Check out the full infographic for all the statistics on how small businesses are facing challenges and achieving success as employers.

Selecting the best employee

At this stage of the game, it’s important to be thorough; the Department of Labor estimates bad hires and employee turnover can cost a company 30% of its yearly earnings. Rocket Lawyer’s eGuide to Small Business Hiring details the next steps in the selection process and will teach you more about fair practices requirements, such as avoiding discriminatory questions in the interview.

After perusing job applications and resumes, whittle your choices down to the top candidates. And when the interviews lead to promising results, reference checks can help determine someone’s personality and work ethic.

Examining all the factors, you finally pick the ideal person for the job and your company’s future. You make a job offer, and all parties are satisfied with the employment arrangements. Congratulations, you hired a new employee!

Building a successful, supportive team is a difficult challenge, and SCORE mentors are always available with free, sound advice from their own experiences.

Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the SCORE Association. She is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services. She collaborates with SCORE volunteers and develops SCORE’s online marketing strategy.

Is email marketing right for your business?

Today, nearly everyone has an email account. And, if you’re in business, n370001Bearly everyone could be your target market. Put the two together, and all your problems are solved, right?

The answer is “maybe,” if you do it right.

The broad definition of email marketing is the promotion of products or services via email. You communicate with current customers with their permission, or by “cold calling” potential customers from a purchased list. Your goal is to get them to buy something, buy more of something, or just stay loyal to your brand.

But, once you hit “Send,” you’re no longer in control. The email recipient could choose not to open your email, delete it, or decide to opt out. Maybe it ended up in the Spam pile. And, if the email IS opened, the timing could be off.

You have to reach your targets when they are ready to act, not when you are. It stands to reason, then, that holiday-related emails might draw a higher response than one you send in the middle of March.

And, speaking of timing, are you over-emailing? Are you bombarding digital inboxes with emails that are now the equivalent of paper “junk mail”? Worse still, are you in danger of violating the government’s SPAM act?

How should you approach email marketing? Take a look at what this digital marketing company spokesman considers 5 Brands That Get Email Marketing Right, from Amazon to Moosejaw Mountaineering!

Are you currently email marketing, but with limited success? Entrepreneur.com offers tips on How to Create an E-Mail Marketing Campaign That People Will Notice.

And, last but not least, comes this warning, when it comes to emails in general: Never substitute emails for good, old-fashioned common business sense, ever! Don’t send that email, pick up the phone.

Do you have an email newsletter for your business?

Big Savings for Small Business

Are you a small business owner looking to maximize your margins? Are you trying to realize opportunities to save 75779888registerwithout disrupting your day-to-day processes? With a little creativity and thrifty thinking there are ways you can save without sacrificing efficiency or quality.

Smarter Spending

Used cars cost less than brand new models, and the same is true for office equipment. The next time you’re looking to pick up a printer/copier or conference table opt for a “pre-owned model,” and pay a fraction of the new sticker price. But before heading over to Amazon, eBay or a local office e-tailer, check out these tips http://www.nfib.com/article/buying-and-selling-used-office-equipment-52144/ to help guard against potential scams.

Other discount options exist in the growing number of surplus stores like Overstock.com http://www.overstock.com/, which resell outdated or previously unsold inventory from brand names and top retailers.

DIY Marketing

Of the many advantages of social media, it’s hard to ignore one very appealing fact – the price. All the major channels, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, etc., are free for businesses to set up and maintain a profile. Using social sites as promotional vehicles for your latest products and services also improves your search engine rankings and therefore the likelihood of attracting more prospects.

Public relations opportunities are also monetarily attractive options. In addition to drafting and distributing your own press releases in conjunction with events or promotions, consider making senior managers and other specialists within your organization available for interviews and speaking opportunities. The benefits extend beyond the free press coverage, as your business will be seen as a go-to resource flush with industry experts.

Go green to save some green

According to PC World http://www.pcworld.com/article/257306/how_to_save_money_on_printing_costs.html, each sheet of printed paper costs about 10 cents, and that figure jumps significantly with respect to color. When you multiply that by the number of pages printed by each employee over the course of a year the expense grows exponentially.

Opt to “go green” and digitize whenever possible. In lieu of mailing or faxing inventories and purchase orders, send them via email. The same applies to inter-office communications, why print when scanning and sending does the trick. If you’re a brick and mortar business, try offering your customers the option of an e-receipt instead of a printed version. In addition to saving on ink, toner, paper and machine maintenance, your business will also benefit from the goodwill generated by your eco-friendly initiatives.

An even simpler, low-tech opportunity can be found by examining your overhead…lights that is. Replacing your incandescent bulbs with more energy efficient LEDs or compact fluorescents can result in a savings of up to tens of thousands annually. http://www.cnbc.com/id/100863041

What tips or tricks have you used to save your business money?

Getting Down to Your Own Business

Starting a businessThinking about starting your own business? You’d be in good company. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are “23 million small businesses in the U.S., which account for 54% of all U.S. sales.” What’s more, at a time when big companies are downsizing, small businesses are growing, growing, growing. Continue reading

From the ABA: Protect Your Small Business from Account Fraud

Prevent Corporate Account FraudCorporate account takeover is a type of fraud where thieves gain access to a business’ finances to make unauthorized transactions, including transferring funds from the company, creating and adding new fake employees to payroll, and stealing sensitive customer information that may not be recoverable. The American Banker’s Association recommends following these tips to keep your small business safe. Continue reading