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As a small-business owner, you’ve survived a year of change and uncertainty. The pandemic had different impacts on businesses. For some, it brought unexpected growth. For countless others, it was an ongoing scramble for survival.

There are lessons to be learned from any setback. That’s why it’s well worth the effort to find areas to strengthen your financial resiliency to better fortify your small business for the next challenge. These three areas — building reserves, rethinking your debt strategy, and fraud-proofing your business — are sure-fire ways to build resiliency in your venture.

Build a small-business emergency fund

Look ahead to the next big thing

Cash flow is the life blood of business. But when something beyond your control cuts it off, it can put your venture at stake. We’re all hoping to be done with global pandemics for the time being. But other setbacks can and will happen: unexpected supply interruptions, a labor strike, severe weather, crop failure, lengthy road construction projects — any of these can impact your ability to do business, whether directly or indirectly.

Start where you are at

To make your business resilient, build your reserves. The question is how much should a small business set aside? It depends on where you are right now. Start with where you are and build on it. So if you have enough to get you through 14 days, set a goal to expand that to 30. Once you reach that, focus on building to 60 days.

Progress, not perfection

Building reserves can take more time than you want it to. Things can and will come up to set you back to square one. That’s life in the small-business lane. But setting intentions and keeping reminders of your goals is the first and most important step of making progress.

Read about Why your small business needs a continuity plan and how to get started

Refinance debt to improve cash flow

Restructuring debt is a common small-business strategy to free up cash flow, so you can keep things running and invest in your business growth. If you’re recovering from a downturn but need to free up some cash, reconfiguring your debt strategy is worth a look. There are several ways to go about it:

Refinance

With interest rates at an all-time low, there’s no better time to refinance. This is where you approach your lender for a new loan, with the aim of getting one with better terms and lower interest so you can have more cash at the end of the month.

Restructure

That’s where you and the lender keep the same loan, but change the terms. Usually, this means extending the due date of principal payment to lower the monthly amount due.

Consolidate

This is a loan that combines several loans into one single loan, with the goal of getting a more favorable interest rate and a lower monthly payment.

Need more options? Read our Complete small-business financing guide.

Fraud-proof your finances

Small businesses often have a false sense of security when it comes to fraud. You may assume you’re too small and it could never happen to you.

Business fraud can come from the outside.

  • Business email compromise (BEC) is where a cyber bandit infiltrates the email system, and tricks someone in the company — usually someone who holds a financial position — into wiring money to a fake account. Before the scam is caught, the money is gone forever. In 2020, the FBI received more than 19,000 complaints totaling $1.8 billion in losses.

Learn more by reading Cyber thieves are trying to trick your employees into wiring money. Here's how to stop them.

Though you may not expect it, fraud can also occur from within.

  • Payroll fraud occurs twice as often in small organizations (14.2%) than large (7.6%), according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. A dishonest employee can keep a payroll scam going, undetected, for an average of 36 months.

The good news is, instilling simple safeguards and accountability into your financial system can go a long way in protecting your finances, both inside and out.

We're the experts in your community

If your budget can use some extra breathing room, talk to one of our commercial bankers who can offer the help and expertise to formulate the best plan.

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