Guest column: Five tips for business success in an economic boom

Jason Doyle

It’s no secret that Colorado Springs is growing tremendously fast. There hasn’t been a crane in the sky for years, and now we have three in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs. New projects and opportunities for growth are popping up all around our city. And because more money is being invested in the area, more people are moving to town and into a prosperous economy.

According to the 2018 State of Downtown Colorado Springs report, more than $670 million has been or is being invested in the city. And just recently, the city announced the fourth installment of the City for Champions project. This type of growth is exciting for both residents and the business community, and for companies looking to grow as the city does, strategic and intentional planning is critical. Following are some important financial areas that should be evaluated to ensure a company is on the right growth path.

  • Examine your interest rates — The Federal Reserve recently increased interest rates for the second time this year. And while this shows a continued confidence in our economy’s recovery, it also means that businesses should evaluate the interest rates they are currently paying on loans. Take this opportunity to do a mid-year check on your business finances and see if there is a loan that can be refinanced or locked in for the future. A few interest rate options for companies to consider include an interest rate lock, a floating interest rate and an interest rate swap. If you’re not sure about how to utilize these interest rate options, your local business banker can help.
  • Protect against cyber threats — As businesses grow and our economy expands, the risk for cybersecurity breaches becomes greater. In today’s market, the biggest threat to cybersecurity is business email compromise. According to the 2017 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey, 74 percent of businesses surveyed reported that their organizations were exposed to BEC.

An example of BEC is when attackers gain access to an executive’s email and then monitor behaviors. The attacker will identify when the executive is traveling or most vulnerable and send a note requesting payment or for an associate to click on a link that is malware. There is typically a high sense of urgency, which should alert associates to report this as suspicious activity.

It is important for businesses to have a plan in place and to leverage all the safeguarding tools available to them. It’s also critical that employees understand the practices and policies in place to keep the company safe. Finally, watch business accounts with a close eye to ensure there aren’t any anomalies that would alert you to a potential attack.

  • Make sure your payables are paying you — Managing your payment disbursements effectively helps you maximize your available funds. As more and more companies look to streamline processes, the need for efficient and automated processes are the future. To increase your business’ functionality, there are several options available like the automated clearing house network, controlled disbursement account, commercial payroll cards and commercial wire transfers.

By leveraging payment automation, companies can reduce fraud and overhead. Companies can also take advantage of incentives such as rebate programs and discounted vendor pricing as well as receive detailed reporting on payment and remittance details.

  • Build a Succession Plan — According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than 50 percent of small-business owners are over the age of 50. This means that half of the 28.8 million small-business owners in the United States are nearing retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years. This national trend holds true for small businesses in the Colorado Springs area, too.

For these business owners, it’s time to start thinking about and creating a transition plan for effective business succession. A well-thought-out plan can help to prepare businesses for a smooth transition to children or other parties without the loss of revenue, cash flow or consumer confidence. Families faced with developing a business succession and exit plan may want to consider working with a wealth management professional to help preserve the legacy of the operation.

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  • Work Together While We Build Community — With the new U.S. Olympic Museum opening in our city, we will welcome hundreds of thousands of people who want to celebrate the success of American Olympians and Paralympians. As our city continues to grow, it is important that we all continue to work together and build strong relationships throughout the community. Through all this growth, we will need to rely on each other as we expand our city and welcome new people.

Colorado Springs continues to be listed as one of the top places to live by U.S. News and World Report. This is a great city, and our community is ready for all the change and growth coming our way, especially as our local businesses take the necessary steps to continue succeeding in this strong economy.

Jason Doyle is president of UMB Bank Colorado Springs. He can be reached at UMB Bank has been a proud partner of the U.S. Olympic Museum and many other Colorado Springs businesses that are a vital part in Colorado Springs’ growth.