Small Business Growth: Creating Steady Cash Flow

After 13 years in business, Arizona-based Tectonix Steel has grown to the 5th largest company in the country in its industry, employing 48 staff members.

Due to being a business in post-recession construction, Jason founder and owner-operator of Tectonix Steel, sought additional working capital from IOU Financial. “Because we’re in the steel imageconstruction business, our cash flow ebbs and flows,” explained Jason. “For example, we will do a large, $300,000 project, but we might not get paid for 90 days. So we will work for three months to do the job, but won’t see payment until three months later. IOU has been a great partner in helping smooth our cash flow.”

One of Jason’s favorite parts of being a small business owner is taking care of his employees. Before revving up for the new year and some larger jobs, Jason was able to reward his employees for their hard work. “We wanted to provide comfort for our employees, give them bonuses, and get ready to bring our best into the new year. The additional capital also allowed us to do that,” said Jason.

“IOU is concerned about the relationship, making sure the customer is happy, and about future business,” said Jason. “They’re friendly and willing to help, plus I feel safe and secure knowing I can pay off early and not be penalized… that’s huge!”

 

 

 

1200x60-7tips

Small Business Growth: Elevator Consultants

CBA Elevator Consultants has quite the impressive resume. After 15 years in business, CBA serves clients like the City of New York, Columbia University, and St. Barnabas Hospital, in addition to several architecture and engineering firms. Based in Hackensack, NJ, CBA acts as a consultant for building owners and property managers for all elevator-related needs. “We deal with elevator companies, find out what the needs of the buildings are, and make sure everything is in order. We do evaluations, modernizations, and third-party witnessing of inspections,” said Bernie, Accounting Department Manager. “We enjoy being in our customers’ corner, able to steer them in the right direction and help them troubleshoot.”

Recently CBA received a small business loan from IOU Financial. After CBA expanded its office to almost three times its size without financing, IOU was able to provide an extra cushion to continue growth in both the private and public sectors.

“IOU follows through. It was a quick turnaround. In a matter of days, we were approved and we didn’t have to sign our lives away. We were told where to apply, what exactly we would need, and the money was available when they said it would be,” said Bernie. “IOU is very cooperative. The people we’ve dealt with have been very helpful, always clarifying everything and answering questions… It is just easy dealing.”

 

Looking for an elevator/escalator engineer and design professional?

cba consultants  facebook-icon  Twitter-icon.png

 

1200x60-7tips

NEVER Assume Your Customers are Secure

Let’s be clear, we’ll be talking about information security – we expect you owners of brick-and-mortar companies to have taken the obvious security steps already (video cameras, security guards, trained attack dogs, etc.). In terms of information security, the biggest concerns center around theft of credit/debit cards, identity theft, and other forms of fraud.

The Need for Vigilance

You won’t stay in business very long if you develop a bad reputation, and being vulnerable to information theft is a prime way to ruin your business. Credit card transactions are uniquely risky, because they not only involve the transfer of money, but also have the potential to expose customer data for nefarious uses. Thankfully, new credit card technology is replacing the old magnetic-swipe cards with chip-and-PIN ones. The bad news is that in the U.S, as opposed to Europe, merchants can still choose to verify these cards by checking signatures instead of requiring PINs, a serious security lapse, because all card thieve have to do is forge your signature. With PIN’s, the thief can’t use the card without typing in the PIN at the transaction terminal, and only you should know the PIN.

Hot Tips for Enhancing Security

  1. For merchants with a physical location, the first tip is obvious: implement full chip-and-PIN technology and say goodbye to verification of credit card signatures. Unfortunately, the PIN affords no extra protection for online transactions, because the chip can’t generate a PIN without a checkout terminal.
  2. In general, collect and store the minimum amount possible of customer data. Collect only what’s required for the transaction. If possible, use transaction software that references customer data via tokenization without utilizing or transmitting account data.
  3. Don’t store credit/debit card information on your premises. It should be stored by a third-party payment processor that complies with PCI DSS, a proprietary information security standard.
  4. Encrypt all data transfers. Use end-to-end encryption (either TLS or SSL, which provide “https” domains). Also, make sure any apps you use stores data in an encrypted format.
  5. Maintain the latest editions of antivirus and antimalware protection on all of your computers. Update and scan your computers at least once a day to check for new threats.
  6. Train employees to collect only the minimum information necessary to complete a transaction. Restrict employee access to customer data on a “need-to-know” basis.
  7. Educate yourself about PCI DSS and PA-DSS to learn how to maintain a secure infrastructure. Copious material on these two protocols is available online from the PCI Security Standards Council.
  8. Use encrypted cloud storage and a private network equipped with a sturdy firewall, and regularly back up your data to the secure location.
  9. Periodically verify that your privacy settings are up to date, including transaction limitation, security controls, restrictions and network settings.
  10. Disconnect from your servers at the end of the day, thereby denying hackers a tempting target.
  11. Use multiple servers, separating regular data from the sensitive variety. Tack extra precautions for the sensitive server.
  12. Don’t request credit card or other sensitive information via an email, which is vulnerable to theft.
  13. If you run a call center, institute the appropriately strict procedures and policies to safeguard customer information. This means, for example, not to enable access to customer contact data once a transaction has concluded.
  14. Don’t automatically use defaults supplied by a software vendor for system passwords and security parameters.
  15. Perform a criminal background check on all potential employees. Check also for civil actions against the job candidate.
  16. Software exists to monitor and log all attempted and successful accesses to sensitive data. Make sure that this software is up, running and functioning properly, and inspect the logs at least daily.
You may have to dip into your capital to perform the work and possibly buy the equipment necessary to make your business as secure as possible. If that’s the case, consider a short-term commercial loan from IOU Financial – its fast, convenient, hassle-free and secure.

Small Business Growth: Seasonal Expansion

What began as a part-time entrepreneurial venture 21 years ago, has grown into a full-time asphalt paving business that thrives. “Our customer base has grown steadily and we have a lot of snow-plowreturn customers who use us to maintain the upkeep of parking lots and driveways,” said the Pennsylvania-based business owner.

With winter approaching, the business sought out additional working capital from IOU Financial. “We provide snow plowing services for local businesses and a local hospital.  Having additional working capital makes it possible to have our salt supply readily available, and we will be able to maintain our customers’ satisfaction with our services,” explained the small business owner.

“IOU worked with us very quickly with the funding,” said the business owner. “I would highly recommend IOU to others and I will be mentioning it to some other relatives and friends we have who are also self-employed.”

 

 

 

 

 

2016wecanhelp

3 “Musts” for Training your Retail Employees

You are the owner of a retail store or local restaurant and you are lucky enough to have dependable employees. Business is doing well and you are going to be bringing on two new associates. The other employees have been with the store for quite some time, and training hasn’t been a focus because you felt like everything was running smoothly. So now with the new employees coming on board you will have an opportunity to not only train them, but also give your current staff a little boost in the training department. But what should you focus on? In a retail store there are so many important aspects of the business, but if you train on these 3 areas you and your employees will be in good shape.

  1. CUSTOMER SERVICE – A friendly smile when a customer comes in the store, being helpful, being patient, finding out the answers when maybe the associate himself doesn’t know the answer – these are areas that make up strong customer service. Go through your expectations with your new employees – how you expect them to handle themselves when dealing with the customers. Setting expectations up front is important to do starting on day one. This way your employees will represent your store the way you want them to. And this goes for current associates as well. This is the perfect time to remind them of what exceptional customer service means to you.
  2. PRODUCT – It’s important that your associates feel knowledgeable when it comes to the products you sell. Whether it is where in the store they are located, whether it’s actual technical information on the products, whether it’s sizing information, there are so many facets in this area depending on what type of retail store you have. But the bottom line is, depending on how extensive your products are this may be an ongoing training process and certainly pertains to current employees as well. Without this product knowledge, your employees will feel incapable and in turn your customers will not get the information they need.
  3. TECHNICAL – make sure your associates are comfortable using your cash register, tablet or however you ring up customers. Small errors when charging customers can grow to have a negative impact on your bottom line. The customer experience is also hurt when they are dealing with an employee who is unable to use your equipment.

In the retail industry product knowledge, and operational knowledge are important, and those skills coupled with exceptional customer service will make your staff ready to face any situation. Train accordingly and feel the ease of knowing that your staff can handle any situation, any time.

 

2016wecanhelp

Small Business Growth: Cincinnati Accounting Firm

As a new year approaches, most businesses evaluate years past to determine how they will make the coming year the best yet.  This was the case for a Cincinnati-based accounting firm.  After being named in the top 25 firms in Cincinnati, 2015 had proven to be a success; but the firm still needed some extra cash to get through the end of the year and start 2016 strong.

We asked a couple of quick questions about the business to better understand their experience and how an IOU Financial small business loan helped them.  Check out their answers!

 

Type of Business: Accounting Firmtestimonialimage3

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

How many years in business33

Please provide some background of your small business: The business was started by two CPAs who wanted to provide proactive accounting services to small-to-medium size businesses.  We have grown to a firm size of 24 employees and ranked as one of the top 25 accounting forms in Cincinnati.

What is your favorite part of being a small business owner? Helping others grow their business

Why did you seek out additional working capital from IOU Financial?  High receivables at year end and needed help at year end in a short term cash crunch

How has this capital helped your business grow? Allowed us to add additional employees that take time to generate positive cash flow.

What has IOU Financial done for you that others don’t or haven’t in the past? Honest, quick response

What are the strengths of IOU Financial ?  Quick turn around and easy to complete process

What would you tell someone considering an IOU Financial small business loan?  [The process is] easy and quick to accomplish, with low paperwork requirement.

Is there anything else about your experience with IOU Financial that you’d like to elaborate on?  I liked being on the phone with client services and [closing the loan] online with the Closing Specialist.

 

2016wecanhelp

3 WAYS TO MAKE 2016 a GREAT YEAR!

The New Year is about to strike. Excitement is brewing. A New Year filled with new possibilities. When January 1st hits it seems that people tend to start off strong.  As the year goes on, many times, that excitement starts to fizzle a bit. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are 3 ways to make 2016 a great year (and not just make January 2016 a great month!)

  1. Plan, plan, plan! Whether you have business or personal goals planning is a must. Take a calendar out and plan. Do you have a new business idea you want to implement that will take some time? Break it down into manageable goals over the course of the next few months, and then either plan something for the remaining months, or set a date with yourself (that you won’t break) to plan out the remainder of the year when that first goal is accomplished. Make sure you give yourself adequate time, finances, and resources to execute your plan effectively!
  2. Take time as often as you can to reach out to others. Again, this can be both professionally and personally. There is something about bringing happiness to other people that is very personally satisfying. Make a difference in the lives of others in a positive way. By reaching out you are not only being a good person, but probably keeping up with great contacts to have for future projects you may come across.  As a business owner, you always want to be networking!
  3. Persevere! This is professionally and personally. When you make those plans and hit roadblocks, remember roadblocks can be moved! Do what you need to, to persevere, whether it’s finding a buddy to hold each other accountable, or putting up post-it notes with motivational quotes. Remember your friends at IOU Financial are here to help if your business is in need of an affordable small business loan.

In looking through these 3 points, one thing holds true, to make it a great year having focus on both the professional and personal aspects of your life is important.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! MAKE IT A GREAT ONE!

 

2016wecanhelp