Return to Insights

Efficiently manage risks as a small business


No stranger to business risks, small business owners are often aware of the myriad of threats that might impact their bottom line. And cyberattacks and fraud are among those threats. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report, cybercrimes alone cost businesses roughly $2.7 billion in 2018. As fraud and cybercrime activities grow at an alarming rate in this pandemic, small business owners need to be aware of the importance of cybersecurity and fraud prevention. In a recent Small Business Administration survey, 88% of small business owners felt their business was vulnerable to cyberattacks. Yet, many of them also revealed not having enough time, staff, and expertise needed to protect their businesses from cybercrimes and fraud. 

Having limited resources is a challenge we often hear from our small business customers.

A banking partner can provide critical support to help small businesses identify and manage risks. For instance, how customers make payments for goods and services is often overlooked as a risk. Accepting debit and credit cards have become table stakes for the many businesses. However, do you feel confident that you are getting a fair deal on the merchant fees being charged? Is your customer’s data encrypted and secure?

Many of our customers come to us for help navigating the world of accepting various payment forms and the rules and requirements that come along with them. Your financial partner is a great starting point to start these discussions that will help you manage your receivables cost efficiently. Cash payments are still relevant as a payment form and allow more customers an avenue to support your business. While these cash payments may seem cumbersome to handle, your financial partner should have ideas and tools on how to cost effectively manage the physical cash.

A business’s financial partner should serve as a member of your team, helping develop creative solutions to meet your challenges. For example, to help our customers address these challenges, our team created a unique solution to manage onsite cash deposits safely, securely, and efficiently. This solution eliminates the need to make frequent trips to the bank, thereby reducing health and security risks as well as freeing up employees to work on other tasks. Furthermore, this solution adds a layer of protection against fraud by identifying and rejecting counterfeit notes – another fraudulent activity on the rise in this pandemic.

As small businesses are forced to do more with less in this pandemic, we find that many simply do not have the resources to combat the dual threat of cyberattacks and fraud. This leaves many small businesses vulnerable to Business Email Compromise (BEC) and payments fraud. Having a financial partner who can help small businesses protect their assets and deliver on their bottom line can be a deciding factor between business success and business closure.

Going beyond a transactional relationship

It is not uncommon for businesses to think of their relationship with banks as merely transactional - for taking out a business loan or opening a business account. However, banks can be much more than that. In fact, banks often play a critical and strategic role in helping small businesses succeed. Banking partners can provide risk assessments and advise business owners on how and where to direct their resources to better manage financial risks. For small businesses struggling to devote resources to cybersecurity and fraud prevention, having a banking partner who can readily provide the support, technology, and resources available to small businesses is a huge boon. Your partner should be talking to you about how you manage your data, best practices for password management, solutions with added layers of cybersecurity and other trends that could impact your business.

Banks should work elbow-to-elbow with small businesses to better understand their needs and to make a difference in their business during good times and bad. This means creating innovative solutions essential to the sustainability and success of their business. During the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) earlier this year, our team improved our internal processes to expedite and fund PPP loan applications efficiently. Our approach of placing customers’ emerging needs first during the PPP loan application allowed Bremer to provide more economic relief to small business owners in the program than any other financial institution in Minnesota. Although the PPP program is not directly related to cybersecurity, our approach is another example of how banks should be committing to the success of small businesses. And you can find similar success stories throughout the banking industry.

There is a ripple effect of digital solutions to the success of small businesses, and banking partners can use that understanding to find better ways to help customers solve problems. As an industry, when we innovate and create business solutions, we are contributing to the health and vibrancy of an entire community. Small businesses are the driving force of our economy, and their success means success for all of us.

About Joe Chow


More on Joe