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Commercial credit cards are a useful business tool when used responsibly

Commercial credit card programs can help companies segregate business transactions from personal transactions as well as limit the financial risk for the business owner. They can also help a company build a credit history, in addition to providing other benefits.

“Commercial credit cards are commonly used for travel and entertainment expenses, but using them to pay vendors can also be very efficient and is actually the only method of payment where the vendor pays the transaction cost,” says Ashley Brunner, vice president and treasury management consultant at Bridge Bank.

An ESOP gives business owners a chance to ease into retirement

An Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) can be an effective way to create liquidity as well as serve as a means to transition your business to new ownership while providing an ownership benefit to employees.

The issue with other options such as selling to a strategic buyer or private equity firm, or even conducting an initial public offering, is that each option typically forces you to sell 100 percent of your stake in the business.

Why you can’t let pride get in the way when your company is in trouble

Self-confidence is a valuable trait for any CEO, but it should be blended with a willingness to accept help when it’s needed.

“You may have some trouble recognizing operational issues or early signs of operating challenges,” says Jorge Visitacion, senior vice president and team leader of the Capital Finance Division at Bridge Bank. “You may not want to admit there is a problem, but you need to recognize the early signs of a company that is in distress. If you don’t, the problem is only going to get worse.”

Why now might be the time to see if exporting could help your bottom line

The growth of U.S. exports is a trend that should continue along with a strengthening global economy, says a report from the Department of Commerce.

Plenty of programs are in place to help companies do even more exporting, says Ralph Barnett, executive vice president and manager of the Real Estate Lending Division at Bridge Bank.

“There is a lot being done at the local level to encourage activity,” Barnett says. “Is there still a level of bureaucracy that has to be learned? Absolutely. But I think there is an ongoing effort to make it easier.”

Residential Real Estate Activity and Trends Plus Economic Indicators

Bizjournals.com reports on Sept 22 that existing home sales fell in August for the first time in four months as investors stepped away from the housing market according to the National Association of Realtors, which reports that sales of existing single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops fell 1.7 percent last month. “There was a marked decline in all-cash sales from investors,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

How to find the right bank that suits your needs

Every bank is going to tell a prospective client that they can serve their needs, but asking the right questions will reveal whether a bank is the right one for your business.

“Banks say they serve all businesses but you need to find one who has experience in your industry, who will share your priorities and focus their resources in areas that are important to you,” says Caroline Harkins, senior vice president and Southern California regional manager at Bridge Bank.

Smart Business spoke with Harkins about the process of choosing a bank.

What your business can do to keep from becoming a victim of fraud

Every time another high-profile company like Target falls victim to fraud, both consumers and businesses scramble to ensure they have safeguards in place to keep it from happening to them.

It’s a tough battle to fight, of course, as criminals are always plotting to find a way around the latest security software and protocols to stay one step ahead of the authorities.

Residential Real Estate Activity and Trends Plus Economic Indicators

Employment - Men still lag behind women. Overall, men have 699,000 fewer jobs now than they did in December 2007, when the recession began. Women, on the other hand, recovered all their lost jobs last year. Why is this happening? First, men were hit harder in the recession than women. Second, the jobs that are returning are not the same ones that were lost in crisis. Male-dominated industries like construction and manufacturing accounted for about half of all jobs lost in the downturn, and those positions have been slow to return.

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