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California small business owners rely on banks for traditional financial services, of course, but also for valuable knowledge and advice on navigating today’s challenging economy.That’s why California Bank & Trust periodically conducts surveys of small business owners as part of the bank’s commitment to understanding small business owners’ challenges and needs.“Knowledgeable banking professionals who take the time to understand your business objectives and your industry will often provide valuable suggestions on how to significantly improve your finances,” says Tory Nixon, Executive vice president at California Bank & Trust.In support of Small Business Month, Smart Business spoke with Nixon about the…
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Juan E. Rose III lets his military experience provide perspective when considering the task of balancing work, school and family life.A student in the Executive MBA program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Rose’s leadership qualities earned him a John Wooden Global Leadership Award Fellowship. At the award ceremony, he was asked how he manages his busy schedule.“When I met Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, she said, ‘You’re a Marine on active duty in San Diego, you go to an Executive MBA program in Los Angeles and you have a family in Murrieta, Calif. How do…
All employers face a potential loss because of the hiring, employment and potential firing of employees. Therefore, employers should purchase employment practices liability (EPL) insurance to protect themselves against damages from workplace events and allegations of wrongdoing by employees.Today, claims are increasing, the market is hardening and premiums are going up for this type of coverage, says Stephen Stromsborg, assistant vice president at Momentous Insurance Brokerage, Inc.“It’s important for businesses and homeowners with domestic staff to partner with a broker who can represent them well to insurance companies and get them as many options as possible,” he says.Smart Business spoke…
When your company sells a luxury product or service, it changes how you should approach the sale. Selling these items is less about price and more about the experience surrounding a luxury purchase.“Customers at the highest luxury levels are more interested in having fun and enjoying spending their money while acquiring something they want, something that serves their own passion,” says Llewyn Jobe, Sales Manager at Bentley Beverly Hills. “We don’t sell anything anyone needs — basic transportation can be purchased anywhere. It’s about an experience.”Smart Business spoke with Jobe about lessons he’s learned selling Bentley motor cars that apply…
Cloud computing may invoke images of an abstract technological force floating in the atmosphere, but the term itself is misleading. The term originated because on technical diagrams, a cloud was drawn around any mixture of resources that made a particular application work, says Pervez Delawalla, president and CEO of Net2EZ.“Cloud computing means so many different things to so many people, and there is a lot of confusion,” says Delawalla.Smart Business spoke with Delawalla about what cloud computing is and how to apply its advantages to your business.How does cloud computing work?You have to envision that the physical architecture itself is…
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is full of employer mandates, but the most prominent and pressing for employers is the Shared Responsibility provision where large employers need to offer affordable coverage.“The Employer Shared Responsibility part of PPACA is one of the most onerous and complex parts of the legislation, with employers needing as much guidance as possible,” says Tobias Kennedy, vice president of Sales and Service at Montage Insurance Solutions.Smart Business spoke with Kennedy for an overview of the provision, as there are several intricacies that can confuse one from gaining a broad, basic knowledge on the…
It’s a fairly common approach when taking on a new job to talk to those people who have been there for a while to learn what the company is all about. Harold Edwards tried this approach at Limoneira Co., and he didn’t like what he was learning.“To be pretty direct, a lot of complacency and apathy had crept their way into the organization,” says Edwards, president and CEO at the Santa Paula, Calif.-based grower and provider of lemons. “We literally had situations where the people who had worked for the company for the longest period of time were probably doing…
If your business isn’t completely dependent on technology, then you are in the minority these days. Given this dependence, protecting your business from an IT failure should top your priority list.“Having been in the IT business now for 16 years, I’ve seen my fair share of close calls and, unfortunately, my fair share of outright disasters when it comes to IT,” says Zack Schuler, founder and CEO of Cal Net Technology Group. “There are three particular disasters that stick out in my mind. In each of these three cases the companies were taking nightly backups of their data, and they…
Knowing the right questions to ask is the key to developing strategies to improve a business.“Simple questions can have a big impact. They help you see the wood for the trees. One is, ‘What is the main constraint, i.e., the bottleneck, I face in my business?’ Sometimes the answer is obvious, and it’s money or time. Once you identify it, then you can put energy into devising a strategy to alleviate it,” says Guillaume Roels, assistant professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.Smart Business spoke with Roels, who teaches a core course on operations and technology management for the…
Business credit cards can be highly useful, efficient and versatile tools for many small business owners, as long as they are used in a prudent way. What are the benefits of using business credit cards? How should you select one? What best practices should be employed?Smart Business spoke with California Bank & Trust Senior Vice President and Corporate Marketing Director Steven Borg to discuss how entrepreneurs can best use business credit cards to improve financial management processes and streamline cash flow.Why should small business owners use a business credit card instead of a personal card for company expenses?Using a business…
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act regulations are changing every day as the legislation continues to roll out. Each of these new provisions has an impact on many aspects of a company — from employee retention to the bottom line. In this constantly changing environment, business owners need health insurance brokers who are health care reform experts to guide them through each new complex step. However, this means brokers need to prepare themselves for a new role.“Change is hard for many brokers to implement,” says Sherrie Zenter, senior vice president at Momentous Insurance Brokerage, Inc. “Brokers need to get…
In the past 20 years, companies have been generating an increasing amount of data. The growth of social media has also created a massive pool of information that any company can access, mine and use.“Utilizing big data can help a company uncover the relationships it has with consumers and businesses that perhaps it didn’t previously realize it had,” says Pervez Delawalla, president and CEO of Net2EZ. “In many ways, that data can help a company gain a better understanding of its clients’ needs and formulate its products to win more business.”Smart Business spoke with Delawalla about big data and how…
The widespread use and ease of access to digital content has resulted in some of the biggest changes in copyright law — both in terms of new statutes and case law. This can be attributed to the ease with which digital copies can be made and the fact that those copies do not result in any degradation of quality, leading to their widespread distribution — both legally and illegally.“The nature of digital content makes the license agreement much more important than before,” says Stephen T. Kong, shareholder, Corporate and Intellectual Property Groups at Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth. “We as…
This year, nearly 1.7 million new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed. Thanks to significant medical advances, prevention and healthier lifestyles, survival rates continue to improve.Smart Business turned to Philip DiSaia, M.D., medical director, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Memorial and world leader and researcher in gynecologic oncology, and Amanda Termuhlen, M.D., medical director, Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Center at Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, the region’s renowned pediatric cancer facility.Does prevention really work?A substantial proportion of cancers can be prevented. Not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and diet, and plenty of exercise help reduce risks.…
Saturday, 01 December 2012 14:42

How Experian found a place to grow in Allen

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When Experian arrived in Allen, Texas in 1993, the city was “at the end of U.S. 75 and just starting as a community,” says Russell Tieman, vice president of facilities and administration.The consumer credit services company has grown along with the city, and last year signed a lease extension to stay through 2025. That came on the heels of a 2010 agreement with the Allen Economic Development Corporation to invest $30 million in facilities in return for incentives totaling $1.5 million over 10 years. As part of the agreement, Experian plans to add 300 employees to boost its workforce in…
As Jerry Azarkman watched new stores open in Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., he felt proud that Curacao, the company he launched at the age of 24 with a mere $20 in his pocket, was beginning to expand beyond its Los Angeles roots.But he was also concerned about the sales volume at these new stores. They just weren’t doing as well as the stores located closer to Curacao’s Southern California headquarters.“The L.A. store’s volume is much higher,” says Azarkman, co-founder, co-owner and chief marketing officer for the Latino-oriented retailer that’s corporate name is Adir International.“The number of credit applications approved at…
International expansion is a great way to grow as the U.S. economy slowly recovers, and the population and per capita gross domestic product of countries such as India and China continue to rise. But finding funding for exports can be difficult, unless you leverage a government-backed program.“Why turn away sales when you can get working capital assistance through government programs to penetrate red hot foreign markets?” says Alfred Ho, vice president and enhanced credit specialist at California Bank & Trust.Smart Business spoke with Ho about the benefits of leveraging guaranteed export financing.What is the working capital guarantee program?U.S. manufacturers were…
Just when the construction industry was about to emerge from the doldrums, a series of game-changing events has raised the stakes for some of its major participants. Design professionals and contractors face increased risk and liability following the introduction of new design standards and several precedent-setting court decisions.“The convergence of recent activities is a call to action for architects and contractors,” says Steve Erigero, a partner specializing in commercial litigation at Ropers Majeski Kohn & Bentley PC. “They must take immediate steps to minimize exposure.”Smart Business spoke with Erigero about the ways design professionals and contractors can benefit from the…
Bespoke means custom made, or made to order. The term originally came from custom clothiers — from suits to shirts to shoes; anything someone wears can be made to order for him or her by the right manufacturer.“Bespoke is the art of being able to modify your production line to do custom paint and leather colors along with many other things,” says Jon Boardman, general sales manager at O’Gara Coach Company.In addition, how your company operates with each individual that comes in or calls is bespoke. Bespoke can fit into any business, one way or another, he says.Smart Business spoke…
Thursday, 28 February 2013 19:28

How to select a data center

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Installing the redundancy measures necessary to make sure company data is available 24/7, regardless of calamity, is prohibitively expensive and requires a great deal of know-how, which is why many organizations outsource their data protection to companies that are specialized to guard it.“We live in an age where data has a critical role in our lives on a daily basis. Losing access to that data, whether from being knocked offline or because of a catastrophe, can be terminally disruptive, so having backup systems in place is critical,” says Pervez Delawalla, president and CEO of Net2EZ.Specialized data centers are dedicated buildings…
General liability policies specifically exclude claims arising from professional services, so any business engaged in such services should consider a professional liability policy to properly protect their business. However, business owners may not realize that not all errors and omissions (E&O) policy forms are created equal and there is no such thing as a “standard” policy. The coverage is highly specialized and it is important to work with a broker who understands your industry and how to tailor such policies to suit your needs.Smart Business spoke with Steve Rivera, an assistant vice president at Momentous Insurance Brokerage, Inc., who shared…
Thursday, 28 February 2013 19:16

What to look for in an executive MBA program

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Executive MBA programs are geared toward people who have been working in the business world for around 14 years and have quite a bit of managerial experience, says Carla Hayn, senior associate dean of the Executive & Fully Employed MBA Programs at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.“Most executives who enter an Executive MBA program are more mature, experienced and about 10 years older (average age of 37) than people enrolling in full- or part-time MBA programs,” she says.Smart Business learned more from Hayn about how to find the right MBA program.How can an executive determine whether getting an MBA…
As the 2014 date looms, a lot of news is spreading about having to offer affordable coverage to all employees by Jan. 1, 2014, or pay big fines.“Employers, you may be asking yourself, ‘Hey, our plan year starts on July 1 every year. Does the employer mandate apply to us on Jan. 1, 2014, or does it start on July 1, 2014?’” says Tobias Kennedy, vice president at Montage Insurance Solutions.Smart Business spoke with Kennedy about possible transitional relief for some employers.How does the employer mandate work for plans that don’t start with the calendar year?The good news is there…
It was a tough decision for Lizanne Falsetto, one that had the potential to go badly whichever way she decided to turn.On one hand, she could continue selling the popular thinkFruit bar and risk confusing other customers who latched onto thinkThin as a company that makes snack bars that are low in sugar and high in nutrition.Or she could drop the fruit bar, which had more sugar than Falsetto wanted in her products, and make a statement about thinkThin’s commitment to its brand name. She just had to hope that customers would appreciate the commitment more than they would mourn…
When Facebook bought Instagram for nearly $1 billion, the social networking site was all but admitting that a smartphone app was poised to decimate its user base. But Facebook knew what all businesses must accept: When it comes to communications, we are in hyper drive.As quickly as Twitter captured the public’s attention, the next new thing could replace it. Facebook is intent on keeping pace. You should be too.Businesses must select the apps, sites, social networks and other modes of communication that best reach their client base and then create messages that can pierce through the blizzard of other messages.…
Thursday, 31 January 2013 19:30

How to strengthen your weakest security link

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If you are a C-level business executive, have you ever stopped and given serious thought about how much confidential data is in your email?If you are like most executives, you have full financial statements in Excel attachments. You’ve got emails surrounding confidential business deals, acquisitions and the like. And you’ve got information in there that would be of great value to a competitor, like client lists or top deals that have closed.Now stop and think again — where is this data all stored? For 99 percent of us, it exists on our mobile phone, says Zack Schuler, founder and CEO…
Data, stored digitally, has become critical to a business’s ability to function. However, major catastrophes — from fires to earthquakes to floods — can cripple hardware and put terabytes of a company’s data at risk, making it vital to have a business continuity plan in place to protect digital information.“A business continuity plan is insurance for your data,” says Pervez Delawalla, president and CEO of Net2EZ. “It ensures that your business can sustain a disaster that affects your ability to access data at your main site.”Smart Business spoke with Delawalla about data security and the role it plays in a…