Women continue to impact the business world in growing numbers — 30 percent of all businesses are owned by women, according to the 2012 annual report of the National Women’s Business Council. Those firms have 7.5 million employees and a combined payroll of $217.6 billion.
But even as they assume more leadership roles in business, women are still counted on to manage households.
“Women face different circumstances than men in the world of business because of the demands placed on them in their personal lives,” says Camille Ussery, senior vice president and manager of Small Business Banking at ViewPoint Bank. “Women’s lives are typically spread thinner, and the pressure is greater because of it.”
Smart Business spoke with Ussery about the time-crunch challenge and how to make sure business opportunities don’t fall through the cracks.
What are some of the unique challenges women face when starting up and running a business?
Women are making decisions in the boardroom and then making decisions about what’s for dinner, child care and who will pick up their child from the track meet.
Granted, there have been many changes in the way men are helping out with household responsibilities. But often the bulk of these responsibilities still fall squarely on women’s shoulders.
As a result, many women feel they are barely able to keep their heads above water. While they tend to do a great job in multitasking, the result may be that business opportunities fall by the wayside. Then there is the added challenge of competing in a male-dominated business world.
What is the solution to the unique challenges that women business owners face?
Because women are making a huge economic impact in the marketplace, many outstanding organizations have formed to provide education and resources for women in business. These organizations — from the local chamber of commerce to the Office of Women’s Business Ownership at the U.S. Small Business Administration — offer special courses, workshops and programs just for women who are either starting their own business or already own a business.
How can women make sure that they are doing all they can to help their business succeed?
One thing that many successful business owners do — male or female — is to create and maintain business relationships. Consider organizations and clubs that can help develop business relationships. Because of the time factor, this is one business opportunity that is often overlooked.
However, it’s important for women to stay visible in their industry and in the community. Adding networking to the to-do list could be as simple as attending one chamber event per month.
Also, continually take advantage of educational opportunities that are available in the community. There are a host of seminars, workshops and courses that a woman can take to not only learn but also to fulfill the goal of networking. Many of these workshops are provided as a community service and are useful in developing marketing techniques, effective sales strategy and time management.
Many times business owners only consider a banking relationship as a source for working capital. However, business bankers who specialize in meeting the unique needs of a business can provide much more. With ever-changing technology, your business banker can provide resources and ideas to help manage the day-to-day transactional needs to maximize the flow of cash within a business. They work directly with business owners in many industries and can often provide financial solutions to meet diverse needs as well as networking opportunities for increased business.
How else can women improve the way they conduct business?
Businesses frequently have limited working capital. Women need to have all the right financial components of a business and to learn about cash flow and contingency plans — without money, the business will fail.
The best thing a woman can do is to educate herself, learn as much as she can about the elements of a successful business, and reach out to people in her industry and community for help and advice. ●
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Banking is all about relationships, and the right partner can carry a business from inception through growth and into an industry leader.
“Growing a business is really about having a team of professionals working together. From a banker’s perspective, the most important thing is building a relationship with the business owner,” says Olie Williams, senior vice president and director of Business Banking at ViewPoint Bank.
Smart Business spoke with Williams about how banks work with businesses throughout various phases of their development.
How can start-ups secure bank financing?
It is important to come prepared to discuss four key elements related to financing. The first critical element is a good, solid business plan. This is important for all business owners, but especially small businesses that are just getting started. At a minimum, the plan should be a road map for the first three to five years of your business. What does your company plan to sell, and what is your anticipated annual net profit from those goods or services? It is also important to show how you plan to market your company. Banks love to see the thought and planning that has been put into the business.
The second critical element is to define your capital needs. What capital resources do you have presently to build the business, and what are your projected needs as the business grows? There needs to be some capital investment on the owner’s part. One mistake small business owners frequently make is underestimating capital needs when starting a business. Many times, they don’t account for money they’ll need to support their family’s day-to-day living expenses.
The third critical element is a strong personal credit history.
Finally, you will want to consider what assets you own that could support the loan request in the form of collateral.
Is bank financing the right route for start-ups?
It depends on the answers regarding those four key areas — business plan, capital needs, personal credit and collateral. If you have no capital to invest in your business, it’s going to be a challenge to get bank financing. That’s why many small business owners finance with credit cards or home equity lines of credit.
Of course, start-up businesses also can be financed through banks using U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. An SBA loan is a good vehicle to use when a company doesn’t have the necessary financial history.
How can banks help companies once they reach the growth phase?
When a business is growing, it’s very important to assemble a ‘go-to’ team of experts that includes an accountant, attorney, insurance agent and banker. These four professionals will get to know and understand the business and work together to support the company.
The more your banker gets involved in your company’s strategic conversations, the better he or she can provide products and services to build on your plans.
Businesses often grow too fast, without the capital base to support the growth. Banks want to see growth, but in a balanced way. Best practices would suggest that your outside team of professionals meet quarterly, or at least annually, and review the business plan and future needs with you.
Does that relationship translate into financial support that might not otherwise have been provided?
Absolutely. When a bank has a relationship and understands the business, there is a comfort level that helps when things don’t go exactly as planned. The banker has confidence in the owner’s ability to operate the business in good and bad times.
The time to get to know your banker is not necessarily when you have a need. If you have a good relationship, your banker understands your business and can address needs that arise, which could be treasury management or other aspects of banking — it’s not just lending.
Growing a business is all about having a good team behind you. An owner needs to make sure he or she has bankers and other key professionals who communicate with each other and understand the business.
Olie Williams is senior vice president and director of Business Banking at ViewPoint Bank. Reach him at (972) 801-5889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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One mistake companies make with cash management is getting too comfortable banking the same old way and not exploring new and improved processes available, says Suzy Frazier, Senior Vice President and Manager of Treasury Management Sales at ViewPoint Bank.
“You may not be getting the services you need or you could be paying for services you don’t need. A thorough review of bank services after the first 90 days, followed by annual relationship reviews, will ensure the needs of the company are being met,” Frazier says.
Smart Business spoke with Frazier about how to select a bank for your cash management needs.
What does treasury management entail?
Whether it’s called treasury or cash management, it’s the basic services that help businesses run more efficiently. It’s managing the cash going in and out of the business and streamlining the process through automation.
Treasury management services include:
- Access to account information through Internet banking.
- ACH (Automated Clearing House) and wire transfer processing.
- Remote deposit processing.
- Lockbox processing with remittance detail reporting.
- Fraud management and account reconciliation services.
- Automated sweep solutions for investment and loan transactions.
- Corporate and purchasing card services.
What mistakes do companies make when setting up treasury management systems?
One mistake is staying with the status quo and not taking advantage of the newer technologies. People have a tendency to just do things the way they’ve always been done.
Another mistake is expecting all services to be free. There is a cost for technology, automation, and all the bells and whistles. Do the legwork, investigate the offering, make sure it meets your needs and understand the price.
Finally, communicate regularly with your bank partner, the good and the bad. They cannot improve products and processes if they are unaware of the problems.
How can you compare bank service?
It’s still a people business and often you need to speak with someone to resolve issues. It’s important to know whom to call — don’t waste time rummaging through business cards or automated phone systems. When you have a need, you want it handled quickly and correctly. Being able to reach someone knowledgeable who can make a decision is critical to moving on to the next task.
Today, the Internet and mobile apps provide the flexibility to handle day-to-day business from anywhere you can connect. But technology has its challenges, and banks with good backup solutions keep your business moving.
Challenge your bank partner to be your advocate and consultant when it comes to your business. They can help you build your business and your customer base through their connections and other bank clients. It can be a win-win for everyone.
What fraud prevention is available?
Banks are constantly trying to stay one step ahead of fraudsters. It’s important to discuss the products available to prevent fraud with your banker.
Traditional positive pay has been around for more than 15 years, but the ability to provide payee information and clear exceptions quickly are just two of the newer enhancements.
Another prevention tool is for electronic transactions, known as ACH blocking. With this service, the company has the ability to designate the transactions to clear the account while rejecting all others.
The Internet and various platforms available today are changing the landscape for companies of all sizes — enabling them to conduct business from anywhere and at anytime. Not everything is a rush; there are steps to follow and safeguards that must be in place. Being able to do business remotely is here to stay, and providing access to information to make informed decisions about your business, securely and in a timely manner is the key. Banking should be quick, easy and secure so owners and company personnel can promote their business.
If not, maybe it’s time to make a phone call to your bank.
Suzy Frazier is senior vice president and manager of Treasury Management Sales at ViewPoint Bank. Reach her at (214) 217-7026 or email@example.com.
Website: To learn more about ViewPoint Bank’s Treasury Management Services, visit www.viewpointbank.com.
Insights Banking & Finance is brought to you by ViewPoint Bank