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
 

Banking on Your Future – Small Business Workshop Series in Kansas City

Thursday, June 01 at 05:35 AM
Category: Business Banking
Calling small business owners and entrepreneurs in Kansas City! Arvest Bank and Prospect Business Association invite you to attend our last class of our Small Business Workshop Series: Banking on Your Future.

Throughout the series, business owners have discovered insight on how to apply for a loan and received in depth information on the different types of loans that are available. Workshop sessions have been led by industry experts from Arvest Bank including: Mark Larrabee, Greater Kansas City president and CEO; Raul Duran and Shannon Neal, community development; and Monica Dahl and Rene Purtee, business banking.

Check out our last class of this series on Thursday, June 8, 2017: Small Business Resources. You'll have the opportunity to visit with local business resources. The following organizations will be represented: SCORE, Women’s Business Center, Missouri Small Business and Technology Center, KC Sourcelink and Missouri EDC. 

This session will be styled as a panel presentation and be held at East Patrol Community Room (2640 Prospect Ave., Kansas City, Mo.). We will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Workshop sessions are free to the public. Space is limited so registration is required. Please contact Julie Headley at jheadley@arvest.com to reserve your spot today! 

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking, Community Support, Kansas City
 

Prepare for Managing Small Business Cash Flow

Wednesday, May 24 at 07:05 AM
Category: Business Banking
Cash flow is the largest determining factor of a small business’ success or failure. Before a company opens its doors for business, there should be a plan in place for managing cash flow and creating safety nets for times when it’s slow. 
 
Every company will experience a lull in sales, late-paying customers, a business contract that didn’t come through, or economic factors that affect the bottom line. When that happens, business owners can be forced to cut costs or secure alternative funding. It’s critical to be strategic with processes and set expectations for customers from day one regarding your accounts receivable policies.
 
The first course of action is to work with a trusted bank that has treasury and cash management tools in place, as well as the expertise and desire, to help small businesses succeed. Managing a cash flow chart helps entrepreneurs detail the money coming in and out of the business on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and can include capital expenditures for a snapshot of the bigger, longer-term financial picture. 
 
A certified public accountant can provide information on how key cash flow drivers are performing, as well as insight on any developing negative trends. Standardizing the invoice and accounting processes will help avoid disruption in cash flow and can speed the process of getting paid. 
 
Business owners must keep a fluid calculation of their break-even point so they remain acutely aware of their minimum sales goals, how they must price products, and when expenses are on the trajectory to outpace profits. 
 
Among the strategies business owners should put into place to optimize cash flow include the following: 
 
Gross Margins
Know the industry standard for pricing of the products your business offers. Set costs at a level at which the business can be the most profitable, while still maintaining good customer flow. There’s a balance between price, demand and business affinity. In other words, a coffee shop start-up among solid local and national competitors needs to compete on pricing, uniqueness in what it offers, or some other point of difference in order to attract customers and maintain consistent cash flow. 
 
Send invoices immediately
If you’re not selling smaller retail items like coffee, you should strive to send invoices within 24 hours after a sale. This gives the customer ample time to process the paperwork for payment. 
 
Early payment discounts
Incentivize customers to pay early by offering a small discount, such as two percent off the total invoice if payment is received within 10 business days from the time it was issued.  
 
Business line of credit
A line of credit can be established for use when businesses experience a large gap in cash flow as a temporary safety net. Be aware, though, that the time to get that line of credit is before you really need it, so planning ahead is key.
 
Cash reserves
The cash flow chart is also the compass companies should use to determine the amount of cash reserves needed during slow periods. A conservative estimate for cash reserves is the equivalent of three months of cash flow; however, a reserve of six months is recommended.  
 
Accounts receivable financing 
To offset the deficit from payments that are not received on time, businesses may consider invoice factoring, also referred to as accounts receivable financing. This is a borrowing option that lets businesses convert the balance of invoices that are not due for another 30, 60 or 90 days into cash for immediate use.  
 
Manage inventory levels
Too much inventory will use up available cash. When getting started, purchase as little inventory as possible but make arrangements for quick delivery of additional inventory when supplies get low. Managing inventory levels and consistently cycling out old inventory will help promote active cash flow, but manage discounts of products and services carefully because they ultimately cut into the profit margin.  
 
Control debt
As businesses grow, owners can get ahead of themselves and create unmanageable debt. There are healthy ways to leverage debt, taking us back to the point of creating a cash flow chart and working with an experienced financial advisor to plan the next stage of the growing business. 
 
For every question about managing cash flow, there is a solution. Business owners have access to proven tactics and a variety of resources that can help them build, operate and grow their business efficiently and successfully. 
 
Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking

Choose one or more categories to subscribe to:

Cancel