Our experts will discuss interest rate hikes and how the higher rates may impact mergers and acquisitions, the decision to buy or lease, upcoming SBA changes, offer debt servicing options, and predictions for 2024.
The Funding Strategies Conference presents:
Funding Trends: What to Expect in 2024
Thursday, January 18th, 2024
2 PM ET - $29.99
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to attend for FREE, a $29.99 value!
Don’t Leave Cybersecurity to Chance
Keeping data safe and secure should be one of your company’s top priorities. Protecting sensitive customer information, your network, and proprietary data is critical if you are to avoid cyber-attacks. Ensuring internal and client data is shielded from harm is a smart way to foster credibility and trust among your customers.
In the 2023 Cost of Insider Risk Global Report, found the average company has spent less than 10% of its security budget on internal threats, took 86 days to respond to issues, and $16.2 million dollars in expenditures to resolve the problem. It pays to be proactive and companies are finally acting. In 2024, 46% of companies are expected to increase their insider risk investment.
A cybersecurity breach can cost your company revenue, market share, and irreparably damage your reputation. In 2022, T-Mobile was hacked, which resulted in more than $350 million in customer payouts, plus another $150 million to prevent future attacks. The trust score from their customers still has not rebounded. Cyber-attacks are serious business and costly in their aftermath.
What are some protective measures a company can employ to ensure data is safe from theft and devastating damage? The simple answers come first: Always use antivirus software, firewalls, and be sure your passwords are unique. Even if your company is small and can’t afford an IT department, many off-the-shelf solutions are very affordable and extremely effective. A small upfront investment can shield you from expensive clean up work down the road.
Software however is not enough. Among your staff, you must also create a culture of security and ownership to safeguard your company. Your system is only as strong as your weakest employee, so to speak. IT personnel are not solely responsible for protecting your company’s information. It’s best to educate all of your employees about prevalent attacks, vulnerabilities, and cyber trends like phishing or malware. Discourage sharing credentials and remind them to update their workstations software. Be vigilant about downloading data from unknown or untrusted sources and think before clicking on unverified links. A simple click could cost your company thousands of dollars in IT expenses.
Company-wide best practices should include:
anti-malware software, which scans your devices and removes threats or dangerous software
a firewall, which provides a barrier between your systems and the outside world
trust zones, which add extra firewalls
data encryption, which encodes information so as not to be clearly read
and multi-factor authentication, where users are required to supply additional evidence of access on top of a single password.
It’s also advisable to keep your hardware and software updated. Manufacturers are regularly pushing out security updates to help their clients stay protected.
You can also choose to expand your cybersecurity team by investing in digital and physical security. Prepare frequent audits of hardware and other network components, like software. Practicing good cyber hygiene protects both you and your customers. To quote Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Good preparation will save you headaches and liability down the road.
Visit The Funding University website (https://www.thefundinguniversity.com) for a wealth of unbiased information regarding important topics like cyber security, successful meeting habits, funding options and others. Our articles, blogs, and podcasts provide information from those in the know to help your company grow and be successful.
Top 5 Best Capital Investments for Your Company in 2024
How can you allocate resources within your company for capital investment and growth as you prepare for 2024? A great place to start is with a capital infusion so your company is more streamlined and efficient. 2024 stands to be a bumpy year with interest rate uncertainty.
Internal investments can increase your cost savings and profits in the near and short term. Leveraging borrowed capital to fund upgrades or improvements has the benefit of bringing increased value to your business, far outweighing the expense of interest rates.
Choosing the best capital investments for your company depends on your industry, business size, and current business life cycle stage. The needs of a start up can vary wildly from a mature enterprise.
Funding for new capital investments can be financed in a variety of ways, including budget reallocation, revenue reinvestment, cash savings, loans, lines of credit, equipment or inventory financing, factoring, or even mezzanine financing. Finding the right lender is just as important as finding the right loan.
Here’s a list of five key areas where strategic investment can produce significant improvements to your company’s bottom line:
1) Investing in Technology
Investing in technology or upgrades—such as a new computer system or network, updated software, new accounting or billing systems, or new or updated equipment—can help improve the efficiency and productivity of your business. Reducing loss, streamlining billing and invoicing, reducing employee task time, and improving the efficiency of your business systems can increase your cash flow and reduce expenses. Whether you opt for a custom or off the shelf solution, new technology can have an immediate positive impact on your bottom line. In most cases, your customers will thank you for the upgrade and increase their loyalty.
2) Investing in Marketing
Increasing your marketing efforts can help you reach a wider audience, increase your market size, and build better brand awareness. This may involve a combination of email marketing, advertising, social media, and a loyalty program. Boosting market share can increase cash flow and profits. Clients love to hear what you have planned in the near future and really like rewards programs. Studies show that people spend 67% more with a company that has a loyalty program. That’s a hefty return on an investment!
3) Investing in Real Estate
Commercial real estate is often a good investment—similar to residential properties—and can increase in value over time, depending on the local market. Owning your own building(s) can yield tax benefits, save on rental expenses, and generate income by renting extra space to other businesses which helps pay off investment costs faster. Selling commercially owned real estate can also produce significant profit for a business later.
4) Investing in Energy Efficiency
Reducing energy costs can yield significant savings for your company. This might involve investing in a green fleet, alternative energy for buildings, energy-saving lighting, and temperature control or water systems. While there is an initial cost upfront, the savings later could be significant and green energy systems can easily pay for themselves over time. Depending upon the states where your company operates, you may even be eligible for grants or government incentives to offset your upfront investment. In many cases the tax savings will help you recoup your investment in just a few years.
5) Investing in New Products and Product Development
Developing first to market technology products can set your company apart as an industry leader and take competitors years to catch up. A constant improvement of your products can help you better meet customer demands can increase cash flow, as well as profits. Focus on your best-selling products and services to see where you can expand your line. Consider dropping slow turnover products to focus on your best-sellers. Combining product development with increased marketing can boost revenue. A smart market expansion can make future growth much easier and keep your competitors at bay.
Keep in mind that the best investments for one business or industry may be different from another. Before you consider financing, it’s important to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to work out the right mix of capital investments for your company. A funding specialist or a fractional CFO are terrific resources if you don’t have a member of your management team who can put the financials together.
If you’re a business owner with questions about financing your company in 2024, join Seth Block CPA, the founder of The Funding University & Executive Vice-President of ThermoCredit on our monthly podcast about the latest in funding trends and strategies.
BusinessGovtNZ: Funding Your Business: https://rb.gy/f6dv8d
Fits Small Business: 15 Smart Investment Strategies for Small Business Owners: https://t.ly/AHWna
Forbes: Five Key Investments Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners Should Make: https://t.ly/B6QS7
Investopedia: Capital Investment: https://t.ly/lIiC_
Prosperity Advisors: To Succeed as a Business Owner, Make these 7 Investments: https://t.ly/o-u6a
AI Investments to Help Secure the Future
Could AI investment help secure the future of your business? AI is machine intelligence that replaces human intelligence. This can take the form of computers, software, or computer-guided robots. AI enables many human cognitive activities—particularly those that are repetitive or sequential—to be done faster and more efficiently. As a result, AI is disrupting not just technology but a wide variety of areas such as human resources, recruiting, academia, finance, healthcare, travel, logistics, transportation, marketing, manufacturing, and more. This disruption is resulting in widespread AI implementation across nearly every element of business and personal technology.
In 2024, it is expected global AI adoption in business will continue to accelerate. For business leaders, AI is proving to be an essential tool; increasing efficiency and quality control, while improving automation and optimization of business processes. AI has been found to ensure product consistency, utilize data better to improve business decisions, and positively impact / customize the customer experience. All of this results in lower costs, increased growth, better products for your market, and happier customers.
Here are top ways in which AI can help your company succeed:
AI can automate repetitive tasks, particularly in accounting and billing, reducing human error, and improving efficiency. This frees up business owners or employees to focus on higher-level tasks.
Customer Service and Support:
AI Chatbots help handle customer inquiries and provide online and telephone support. AI can personalize customer experiences by analyzing buying behavior and delivering customized product recommendations.
Data Analysis and Insights:
AI algorithms analyze business data to yield valuable insights, trends, and patterns, which help business leaders make more informed decisions.
AI algorithms can detect and prevent fraud by analyzing patterns and abnormalities in transactions.
Human Resources and Recruitment:
AI is used in the recruitment process to screen resumes, conduct initial interviews or skills tests, and identify suitable candidates. This enables a business to better control the amount of time an owner spends on recruiting.
AI models can predict future market trends and customer behavior based on historical data which helps leaders plan better business strategies.
Sales and Marketing:
AI enhances sales and marketing by automating tasks, analyzing customer buying patterns, optimizing advertising, and marketing campaigns and generating messages targeted for a specific business or industry.
Supply Chain Management: AI improves supply chains by predicting demand, optimizing inventory levels, and increasing logistical efficiency.
Virtual Assistants: AI virtual assistants help business owners manage their schedules, emails, and tasks more efficiently.
When you invest in AI technologies, you give your business a competitive advantage by boosting sales performance and growth. Best of all, by automating business functions, your employees can focus on taking care of your customers. As a business owner, you can focus on developing new products or services, growing your business strategically, increasing your market share, and attracting the best talent for your industry.
To learn more about funding strategies and other ways to finance AI investments for your small business, listen to The Funding University Podcast with Seth Block, CPA. Nationally recognized financial industry expert, Seth Block is the host, as well as Executive Vice-President of ThermoCredit. Every month, The Funding University Podcast covers important topics like SBA lending, interest rate hikes, and has guests who are experts in the lending space discussing financial topics of the day. Tune in to monthly Funding University podcast at www.thefundinguniversity.com/podcast.
Forbes: How Businesses are Using AI in 2023: https://rb.gy/pcrs5m
Leeway Hertz: AI Use Cases and Applications: https://rb.gy/gjoso0
Upwork: How AI Is Used in Business: https://rb.gy/lzmgts
Wharton Online: How do Businesses Use Artificial Intelligence: https://rb.gy/2jojtk