Small Business Tips for 2018

Monday, March 12 at 02:00 PM
Category: Business Banking

Is your business aware of the latest trends in technology or security? Whether you have just created your first business plan or you are a seasoned small business owner, the ability to recognize trends in your industry is important.

When you spend time learning and evaluating what’s to come in the next few months or year ahead, you are better equipped to make decisions about whether or not following the trends will give you the competitive edge you desire.

We’ve compiled a short list of suggested tips for business owners to consider in 2018 and beyond, based on common trends.

  • Embrace technology. Technology is constantly evolving. Your customers and employees will likely take notice if you invest in ways to improve your overall online and mobile presence and functionality. For example, if you offer goods or services, make sure your online platform is set up to accept payments or book services with ease. Consider accepting digital wallet and peer-to-peer payment methods, as they are increasingly popular. Take advantage of automated processes and spend time thinking about your digital strategy as a whole before making big decisions regarding costly technology improvements. Inquire whether the technology you are considering is fleeting or here to stay before you take the leap. 
  • Discover efficiencies. Getting the job done in the most efficient and effective way possible is always on trend. There are several ways that you can streamline your staff expenses and business costs to produce results. For example, consider a corporate credit card program that comes with real-time advanced management and tracking tools. Further, if your company requires employees to travel, many credit cards offer auto rental insurance, automatic travel accident insurance and many other complimentary services. The use of rewards points may also be useful in streamlining business costs as they can be acquired by each individual cardholder. Arvest Flex Rewards™ program is complimentary and allows cardholders to earn points with every eligible purchase. These points can be redeemed for travel, cash back and more. New corporate card customers are eligible to receive 10,000 bonus points until April 30, 2018.
  • Take security seriously. Informational hacks are widespread these days and can be extremely costly for businesses. You owe it to your business to keep your customers’ information and other data safe. Small businesses are not immune to data breaches—a Champlain College study reports* that 55 percent of small businesses reported at least one data breach in 2016. Perhaps even more startling is that the study found 60 percent of small businesses failed within six months of a cyberattack. Explore your options and know how to best protect yourself and your business.
  • Make it personal. Reports indicate* that America’s “Generation Z” or those born after 1998, are now “rising in influence” and understanding them as employees and consumers will become increasingly important for businesses. Some experts note* that this generation expects and responds to personal marketing and experiences. So, it may be time to assess whether your business is ready to provide personalized customer service and interaction whenever and wherever possible.

As you prepare for the future, keep in mind that looking back at your past business performance can also prove to be an enlightening exercise and can help you avoid future mistakes. Warren Buffett once said: “In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”

The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.

Tags: Business Banking
 

Arvest Bank Presents: SOLVE IT – Defining Your Target Customer

Monday, November 06 at 02:00 PM
Category: Arvest News
Central Exchange will host the final Small Business Banking class for 2017, presented by Arvest next month! The class will be held on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 from 12:00p to 1:15p at Central Exchange South (6201 College Blvd, Overland Park, KS).
 
Can you describe your target customer? Do you know what their needs are? This workshop will arm you with the resources to help you answer these questions. Join our featured speakers, Aviva Ajmera and Teddi Hernandez, owners of SoLVEKC, for an incomparable opportunity to allow your business skills a competitive edge.
 
Aviva Ajmera, co-founder of SoLVE, is an accredited Angel Investor and the Chairman of the Board with the Women’s Capital Connection, Kansas City’s only female Angel Investing group. She is an active member of the Central Exchange and is also on the Board of the Greater Kansas City chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP).  Prior to SoLVE, Aviva was a partner with The Partnering Group and worked for Accenture. She’s consulted for blue chip companies including Nestle USA, Post Foods, Sara Lee, Kimberly Clark, LG Electronics, Bauer Hockey, 3M, Northwest Airlines and Fingerhut.
 
Before her consulting years, she was a senior leader at Hallmark Cards, in many areas including Product Development, Innovation, Retail, Corporate Strategy, and Customer Strategy, and Business Transformation. She launched, grew and re-invented iconic marketplace programs partnering with many brands and retailers, like Disney, Starbucks, The Komen Foundation, Walmart, Walgreens.  Aviva has a BA in Economics and Policy Studies from Rice University; MBA in Marketing, Management & Strategy and Non-profit Management from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. 
 
Teddi is SoLVE’s co-founder.  She is also the co-owner of a boutique in Martin City, Full Bloom.  Prior to starting SoLVE, Teddi was Co-Owner and President of Just For Her Marketing and Retail Events. Teddi deeply understands the needs and challenges of local small business owners. She identified a need for a new kind of consulting firm in Kansas City. Teddi’s career began as a Legislative Assistant in Washington DC, and she worked on multiple state and Presidential campaigns. After leaving the Hill, she became a lobbyist for Hallmark Cards.  Hallmark brought her to Kansas City, where she led teams in product development, licensing, customer strategy, integrated marketing, advertising and promotions. She led strategic alliances with companies like Apple, Disney Consumer Products, American Girl, Starbuck’s and Major League Baseball.  
Teddi graduated from the University of Northern Colorado and also studied at the Oxford Polytechnic University in Oxford, England.  Her passion for American Politics led her to UMKC where she completed her coursework for a Masters in Political Science. 
 
This class is open to the public and includes a complimentary lunch. Space is limited so registration is required.
 
Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.
Tags: Business Banking, Kansas City
 

Looking Ahead: 5 Tips to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Tuesday, August 08 at 10:00 AM
Category: Business Banking
What is your business hoping to accomplish in 2018? Whether you are looking to build upon your successes or make improvements, you can move things in the right direction by clearly outlining your goals for both the short and long term. With a few months left in 2017, it is a good time to think about your strategy for the upcoming year. So where should you start? These quick tips may help as you prepare your roadmap for success!
 
1. Evaluate Your Business
 
Though often skipped, self-assessment is the key first step to moving forward. When you base your business’s strategy on learnings from real-time experiences, you can find your niche and what can really set you apart in the marketplace. It’s easy to get distracted by the day-to-day grind, by either staying too safe with operations as business as usual or by gravitating toward what’s on-trend with the competition. Spend some time evaluating what is currently happening within your business, both the good and the bad. This evaluation process may clue you in to an area that could be restructured for greater efficiency or it could offer insight about how to improve an already high-performing area.
 
2. Assess Key Relationships
 
Take some time to assess your key business relationships. Compare any vendors or agencies you currently use against their competition to ensure that you are getting the job you need done as efficiently and effectively as possible. Also consider how you are making payments to your outside vendors. Can those processes be improved? Are there opportunities and financial tools you could use to save or streamline the accounts payable process?
 
3. Assemble an Internal Think-Tank
 
Assemble a group or groups within your organization and task them with developing solutions, delegating a plan for improvement, or in success, determining how to maintain certain projects or relationships. Bring together individuals from different departments to greatly enhance your business’s ability to think outside the box and collaborate during the planning stages. Keep this group of individuals engaged throughout the upcoming year as they will be able to help your business adjust or modify the plan in the face of changes. Hold them accountable as they can have a significant impact on how the business will perform in the coming year.
 
4. Examine Your Spend Strategy
 
Be sure that you are aligning your spending strategy as your business evolves. What has worked in the past may not be good practice for what is to come. For example, as remote work continues to boom across the country, it may be time to adjust your budget and spending strategies to account for more of your workforce working from home or off-site. It’s also important to review and update company policies on spending and reporting, if deemed necessary. Take action and standardize where opportunities exist.
 
5. Review Your Recording Tools
 
Consider how you have historically managed, tracked and controlled spending on things like travel, materials, office supplies and subscriptions. Are there new tools available? Utilizing commercial credit cards that provide budget tracking, spending resources, and rewards programs can help you keep a handle on your bottom line, while maximizing your potential. 
 
For example, the Arvest Corporate Credit Card with Arvest Flex Rewards™ features 24/7 online access to monitoring and management tools through CentreSuite. And from Aug. 1 through Sept. 30, 2017, Arvest is offering a one-time bonus of up to 10,000 Arvest Flex Rewards™ bonus points when you sign up for a corporate credit card. Points can be redeemed for a variety of rewards, including travel and cash back. The overall idea is to streamline your spending to work smarter, not harder in the coming year. 
 
Though this type of examination and planning takes time and resources, making it a priority will help your business grow. Chances are the roadmap you create will keep your business on track to achieve success!
 
The views of this article are for general information use only. Please contact and speak with a subject expert or your banker when specific advice is needed.

 

Tags: Business Banking, Credit Cards
 

Managing Changes in the Dairy Industry

Wednesday, June 14 at 06:50 AM
Category: Business Banking
A recent discussion with a co-worker took me back to a childhood memory: sitting in the local A&W enjoying a root beer float and gazing up at the picture on the wall. You know, the one with two young boys in overalls with their hands in their pockets, one kid leaning toward the other and saying, “You been farming long?” This thought passed through my mind as we were discussing some of the current trends in agriculture and comparing notes of the experiences shared by some longtime area farmers.
 
As I thought about that discussion, it became very evident the world is moving at a much faster pace than it once did and that couldn’t be more evident than in agriculture. Technology, genetics, equipment, efficiencies, processes and delivery systems are just a few areas that have experienced rapid advancement in recent years. If “you’ve been farming long,” you have witnessed these advancements first-hand. And while not all of them have been embraced, they are nonetheless here to stay – at least until the next wave of changes.
 
The one thing that is inevitable in the dairy industry, and in any industry for that matter, is change. These changes may come in many forms and impact your daily business operations in numerous ways. One word that is familiar to all, milk, can be used to provide guidance on managing these changes and preparing for the next wave, whatever that may bring.

M – Mission and management are critical pieces to the success of any business, and arguably the most important. A mission statement provides the opportunity to define your business goals, fundamentals and objectives. Furthermore, it provides the foundation on which your business model is based and helps you remain focused on desired results. Whether you have written or verbalized this mission, it has likely been considered throughout the business cycles. This mission should be formalized and reflected upon periodically to evaluate direction and progress. The mission goes hand in hand with the management aspect of your enterprise. Each day the demands will vary and the hat you wear may change significantly in the spur of the moment. Consider all the different roles you employ during the course of a typical day and consider each hat accordingly. Take time to reflect on the areas in which you excel, identify the shortfalls and formulate a plan to address these issues accordingly.
 
I – Innovation should be considered from time to time to help keep ideas and methods fresh and efficient. Innovation does not have to mean state-of-the-art technology or the latest and greatest, but simply an evaluation of the everyday processes already taking place. Consider the daily practices and processes you can improve to gain efficiencies. This will help streamline your operations and free up time to focus on other critical areas that need attention or may be overlooked due to time constraints in other places.
 
L – Liability certainly comes to mind due to the nature of my work in the financial industry. However, this does not necessarily translate to your balance sheet or income statement, although these pieces should also receive focus from time to time. A liability can be anything that is a challenge, detriment or hindrance. If there is a daily task or long-term issue that is negatively impacting your business, take the time to identify these problems and consider the steps toward a solution. The liability focus ties in with the management and innovation concepts, and the combination of these pieces will help eliminate future pitfalls and provide value to the business.
 
K – Knowledge is key, as the old adage goes, and this certainly rings true in the dairy industry, and any agriculture-related industry for that matter. Take advantage of any opportunities offered to expand your expertise. These knowledge-building opportunities could range from attending an extension meeting, field day, a seminar hosted by a local college or professional group, a dairy organization, or just a trip down the road to a neighbor. The agriculture industry is one of the best-networked industries I’ve had the pleasure to work in. It’s no secret most farmers share ideas and successes within their network and this should be an integral piece of the business model. Learn from those who have managed through the ups and downs and learn from those experiences.
 
Change is inevitable and will present both challenges and opportunities for your enterprise. Employing the MILK concept will help you navigate these challenges and ensure “you will be farming long!” 

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking
 

Join Cyber Security Seminar in Southwest Oklahoma June 28

Wednesday, June 07 at 06:15 AM
Category: Arvest Community News

You’re invited to a free seminar – Cyber Security: Identifying and Mitigating Risks to Your Business – on Wednesday, June 28, 2 – 4 p.m. at McMahon Lecture Hall at Great Plains Technology Center, Business Development Center 1601 S.W. Parkridge Blvd., Lawton, Okla. 

Learn how to safeguard your business with education on the current risk environment and tools available to help. You’ll learn: 
  • Characteristics: How fraud works, victim selection and perpetration methods 
  • Protection: Technical/business process enhancements and fraud loss liability 
  • Detection: Monitoring, warning signs and anti-virus software 
  • Response: Compromised computer handling and reporting suspicious activity 
Speaking will be Jon Pascoe, CISSP, CIPP/US, HCISPP, and director of information security and privacy at Arvest Bank. Light snacks and drinks will be provided. Seating is limited. Please register online* by Friday, June 23. For more information contact Angela Spradlin at aspradlin@arvest.com or call (580) 250-4540.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.    

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking, Community Support, Oklahoma, Southwest Oklahoma

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