June 22, 2016, 1:00 PM
The perks of owning a small business outweigh the challenges, which is why so many Americans still aspire to be their own boss. Nothing is quite so thrilling as making your dreams of owning a business become reality. And after you’ve launched that small business, the surest way to success is managing and growing it effectively. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Implement project management tools. Project management software allows team members to track a project as it comes to fruition, and gives business owners an overview of the status of every project. Most platforms offer some level of free trial, while Zoho Projects, Teamwork Projects, Wrike and ProofHub are completely free services worth checking out.
Add an e-commerce site. Consumers spent more than $300 billion online in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. With this kind of spending, you can’t afford not to have an e-commerce solution that allows your customers to make online purchases and mobile payments. For less than $100 per month, several e-commerce software platforms are available to help you reach new customers, or even start a new site. Check out Shopify or Bigcommerce for hosted solutions, or WooCommerce for do-it-yourself sites.
Connect through social media and email marketing. Both of these marketing channels are low-cost and give you a direct line to current and prospective customers. Again, there are many software platforms that can help you build and monitor your social media presence across multiple social media channels. Email marketing with providers such as Constant Contact or MailChimp can help you further drive sales and communicate your brand.
Get a grip on financial management. For many small business owners, managing finances is the downfall that ultimately leads to a “going out of business” sale. Remember, the financial aspects of running a business are just as important as the product or service you are selling. Cloud accounting applications such as QuickBooks Online, Xero and Cheqbook can simplify invoicing, reporting and bank reconciliations for your business.
Manage Your Future with City Bank
City Bank offers a range of loans to fuel the prosperity of your small business. For business loans in College Station, Lubbock, Houston, Dallas, Austin and many other locations, call us at (800) OUR-BANK or walk in today.
June 15, 2016, 7:25 PM
Fraud resource: Below is an article published by the FTC as a resource for consumers to help spot and avoid scams.
If you have a computer or a phone, you’ve probably been targeted by a scammer pretending to be someone they’re not: maybe the IRS, another government official, a family member or friend, or a tech company. These imposters come in many varieties, but work the same way: the person pretending to be someone you trust tries to convince you to send money. The FTC received 353,770 imposter-related complaints last year.
Today, the Federal Trade Commission released new resources at ftc.gov/imposters to help you spot and avoid four common kinds of imposter scams: Family Emergency Imposter Scams, Tech Support Imposter Scams, Online Romance Imposter Scams, and IRS Imposter Scams.
The one-minute videos show how people are targeted, how to spot the scam, and where to report it. The articles are part of the agency’s ongoing Pass It On campaign, which encourages older adults to help raise awareness about fraud by talking to family, friends, and neighbors about avoiding common scams. Please share or use the videos and articles to pass on how to spot and avoid imposters.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).
June 03, 2016, 1:00 PM
If you’re itching to start a business – or grow a business you already have – you may want to pursue funding with a commercial loan or line of credit through a bank. Yet no matter how confident you are in your business plan, a bank must be very cautious about investing depositors’ money – after all, it’s the law. If you are confident that a commercial loan is the right choice for you and your business, here are some items you’ll need to convince a loan officer that your proposition is a great investment, and not a great risk.
Collateral. Your business must have hard assets to back up commercial loans. Banks look very carefully at these assets to reduce their risk. The more assets you have and the more you’ve invested in your business, the more likely your loan will be approved. Even if your business is structured as a limited liability entity (rather than a sole proprietorship or partnership), you may still need to pledge personal assets – most often home equity – to get the loan.
A good business plan. A business plan document is nearly always a necessity, no matter what type of loan you’re applying for. It can be short, but a bank still wants to see your basic business strategy and how you intend to pay back the loan, even if things go wrong.
Complete financial details. This includes all of your business’s financials, complete details on accounts receivable and payable, a current balance sheet, and personal financial records from every owner who has a significant share in the business. If you have any black marks on your credit report, get them resolved prior to applying for a loan.
Agreement on ratios. Most commercial loans require the business owner to agree to keep key ratios – such as debt ratio, current ratio, quick ratio – within a certain range, or the loan will be in default. To avoid a surprise, you should calculate these ratios and know you’re within acceptable ranges before approaching a lender. A good rule of thumb is to finance no more than half the value of your business.
Apply for a Business Loan Here Give your business what it needs to succeed. To find out more about applying for business loans in College Station and many other communities in Texas and New Mexico, call City Bank at (800) 687-2265 or get in touch using the Contact Us form. At City Bank, our goal is to help you achieve yours.
May 25, 2016, 9:11 PM
It’s a fact: car dealers are much more experienced at selling cars than you are at buying them. It’s their job to make money, and they do that by getting the highest possible price for the vehicle you want. Keep these common car-buying pitfalls in mind to avoid overpaying for your next car.
Trick #1: It’s all about the monthly payment.
Salespeople want to know how much you can afford to pay per month so they can calculate the maximum you can spend. To sell a more expensive vehicle but keep within your payment range, they might extend the term of auto loans for as long as possible – and you end up shelling out thousands more than you planned over a longer loan period. To get the best deal, focus on the selling price of the car, not on monthly payments.
Trick #2: Using rebates in the negotiation.
Rebates can be an enticing selling point, but keep in mind that rebates come directly from the manufacturer and apply regardless of the price that you negotiate with the individual dealer. Be clear that you are negotiating on the price of the vehicle before rebates. Then make sure the rebate is applied to your purchase price so you don’t have to pay taxes and interest on the rebate.
Trick #3: Telling you your credit sucks.
Before you head to a dealership, take the time to check out your credit report and credit score. Even if you have to spend a few bucks to get it, knowing this information could save you big-time. Occasionally dealerships will say you don’t qualify for a better rate due to your credit; if you already know where you stand, there will be no room for rip-offs.
Trick #4: Adding profit with add-ons.
Dealers can increase their profit by adding extras to your purchase or financing. Extended warranties, document preparation fees, loan acquisition fees, fabric protection ... the list of add-ons can be long and unnecessary. Make sure you check the sales documentation carefully and deny any extras you don’t want.
Save with a City Bank Auto Loan Get competitive rates on your next vehicle purchase and save yourself the stress of haggling with a car dealership with an auto loan from City Bank! You’ll love our competitive rates and simple online application process. Fill out an application to get started on the approval process for Dallas auto loans.
May 24, 2016, 4:20 PM
City Bank has added a new layer of communication to keep customers informed when it comes to potentially fraudulent activity on their debit card(s). On June 1st, City Bank began texting customers in the event there is any fraudulent activity as precautions are taken on customers' behalf to temporarily deactivate their City Bank debit card.
This new feature—utilized from 7am–9pm in customers' respective time zones—will allow customers to quickly respond and confirm or protest transactions to avoid any further card deactivation if it is a fraudulent charge, reactivate debit cards quickly if it is a legitimate charge, or opt to receive a call from a Fraud Analyst. If a customer fail to respond within 5 minutes after the text notification has been delivered, an automated call from the City Bank Fraud Center will contact customers asking to confirm or deny any fraud.
Additionally, this service is not associated with BNK-N-GO, City Bank's text-based mobile banking product. Messages sent to customers in regards to possible fraudulent activity on their debit cards will come from a separate short code, 328-74.
It's the latest solution to help customers better manage their finances and keep them in the know as City Bank monitors account(s) in the fight against fraud.
Customers are encouraged to update their mobile phone number by calling 1-800-OUR BANK (1-800-687-2265) or by logging on to their online banking account, selecting the "Services" tab and clicking "Address Change" and adding/changing a cell phone number. This will ensure that important texts involving debit card activity will be delivered promptly.
May 12, 2016, 7:12 PM
It’s out with the old chalkboard paint and in with the new art deco-inspired wallpaper, among other styles trending for 2016. That’s according to research by Zillow Digs that includes surveys of interior design professionals and analysis of popular photos on the website. Here are some home designs that experts predict will be popular in the coming year.
Geometric patterns and shapes. If it looks like it came out of the 70s, it’s probably going to be hot this year. The recent interest in bold geometric shapes echoes this decade, and can be easily incorporated into home décor by means of wallpaper, furniture, textiles and even floor tiles. Look for this trend to be especially popular in the form of elegant statement lighting fixtures with gold accents showing up in the kitchen and dining room.
Natural fibers. A mix of materials and finishes are trending this year, with natural fibers as the go-to texture. The neutral beige, cream and gray shades of nubby wool and other fibers provide a nice contrast to bold patterns and dramatic statement pieces, and will figure prominently in area rugs and room accent pieces.
Encaustic tile accents. In line with the geometric pattern trend, expect encaustic tile to pop up in a variety of locations throughout the home in 2016. Encaustic tile – which gets its coloring from different types of clay rather than glaze – can be used to create a beautiful focal point on kitchen backsplashes, bathroom showers, accent walls and fireplace mantels, in addition to floors.
Artisan accent pieces. The eye-catching accent piece is taking a front seat in home design as more homeowners try to personalize their space with artwork that tells a story. Whether it was a flea market find or a travel souvenir, unique accents bring your home decorating style and your past to life.
Come Home to City Bank
If you are ready to find your dream home to decorate, count on City Bank for mortgage services that will make the purchasing process hassle-free. For more information about home mortgage loans and to apply for a mortgage loan, contact City Bank at (800) OUR-BANK.