cyber threat map

Cyber Security

cyber security

Did you know, someone can hack your cellphone through your chargers and you would never know it! Any 4th grader these days can go to eBay or Hak5.org and purchase what is called an OMG Cable for less than $140. The cable looks exactly like an innocent phone charger but the hacker can remotely execute malicious code on your phone. Anything you can do to your phone they can too. For example, if you turn on your camera or record your voice, they can too. If you can send or read your text messages or emails, they can too. If you can make or receive phones calls from your phone, so can they. Downloading your images, tracking your location, stealing your passwords and banking information are all possible too. You are probably now asking yourself how you can know if the charger you are using at home or in the office is one of these OMG Cables.

You might think, well one has to know how to program or code and be very technical to use these, right? Actually, this can be done easier than you think. Just by going to YouTube, you can type in “OMG Cable Hacking Tutorial” and you will see thousands of videos showing you step by step instructions to hack anyone’s phone. In reality anyone who is looking to hack into phones can easily do so by slipping you a cable or somehow replacing your cable. These hackers can go as far as replacing a shipment of cables from unknowing or sometimes knowing sellers with OMG Cables. There is even risk in borrowing someones charger.

Beyond cellphones, did you know virtually anyone can also hack your WiFi without much effort? If they purchase a device like WiFi Pineapple, which is legally sold online, anyone can hack into your WiFi. Once the intruder is inside your network they can see what website you are visiting, read your private emails, steal your passwords, and so much more. If you happen to own a business you have even more to lose. You can search YouTube for “WiFi Pineapple Hacking Tutorial” and you will be shocked how many results you will find. The worst part is that small business owners are often the most targeted for these types of hacks.

In addition to the above, there are many password-cracking tools and guessing someone’s most difficult password could take less than 4 minutes with basic apps. For example, you can find videos on YouTube and articles through Google about how to hack someone’s passwords to social media, email and other sites. 

Now the big question becomes: “…so what can I do? How can we protect ourselves?” This is where we come in. The Prestamos Technical Assistance team has the capability of coaching you through how to stay safer and more private from prying eyes while you are using technology. Reach out to us today and let us help you and your business because the online world is full of unpleasant surprises. As long as we do nothing to protect ourselves while online, and keep pretending that it is other’s responsibilities to protect us, we will be vulnerable and it is only a matter of time before we are the next victim. With tens of millions of attacks and threats daily, we have to understand this is only a matter of odds and time before we are the next victim.

Here is a live Cyber Threat Map that doesn’t capture all attacks but at least it will give you and idea of the size of the problem. Take a look and reach out to us at Prestamos to see how we can assist you. 

SEVEN REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES

7 reasons to support local businesses

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Arizona is home to 611,097 small, local businesses which account for 99% of the state’s businesses. It is also estimated that these businesses are employers to 1.1 million individuals which represent 43% of the state’s workforce. But why is this important? Well because the success of Arizona’s small, local businesses is critical to the economic success of those business owners, their families, their employers,, the communities they live in and the state. 

There are plenty of local businesses you can support that offer a variety of goods, services, and experiences. Below we offer you seven reasons why supporting local has big impacts for the state’s  economy and overall well-being.

  1. Your Money Has Power:

Supporting local businesses means your money has more power. For every $100 you spend at a locally owned business $43 remains here, in the Arizona economy. While every $100 you spend at a non-locally owned business, only $13 remains in the local economy.  More money is kept in the community because locally-owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers and farms. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses and impacts the growth of the local economy.

  1. Local Influence:

Entrepreneurs that own local businesses have the power and influence to impact policies and decisions made at a state and local level. This means that people that live in your community and truly understand the needs of it are the ones representing you and your experiences. 

  1. Workforce Development:

Local businesses are responsible for employing close to half or the state’s workforce. By supporting local you are not only helping businesses keep individuals employed, you are also aiding in job creation.

  1. Environmental Impact:

By shopping local, you are also helping the environmental impacts that larger companies tend to have. Local businesses tend to use local suppliers which leads to cutting their carbon footprint. These businesses also tend to be located in communities and are easier to access by walking to them.

  1. Community Building:

Supporting local isn’t only supporting the business and the economy, you are also more likely to have an indirect social impact. As local business owners tend to be more connected to their communities, they also are more likely to donate and support local non-profits and charities.

  1. Builds Culture and Character:

When you think of your community, you can usually think of a local coffee shop, restaurant or boutique that you associate with the area. This is because the unique character of your local community is defined in large part by the business that are located in it. This plays a big role in how you feel about where you live and the value of your home and property.

 

  1. Fosters Entrepreneurship:

When individuals see local businesses thriving, it motivates others to follow their own passions and open their business. Local entrepreneurs are also more likely to be available to mentor and be a resource to aspiring entrepreneurs.

 

Are you excited to start supporting your local community business or restaurant? Here are a few ideas to get your started:

 

Buy a gift at: Practical Art

Have a Spa Day at: Studio Nails by T & T 

Skip the Starbucks line and get your morning coffee at: AT Oasis

Get a free yard maintenance estimate by: Yobanis Landscaping 480 703 9092

Set a fancy date night with an at-home check delivering Haute Cuisine: Chef Mackeisha

Keep your home AC working all summer long with regular maintenance from: ORCA AC

Repair your vehicle windshield by: Premium Auto Glass LLC 

Make lasting impacts on our society as a social enterprise

Make lasting impacts on our society as a social enterprise

We all want to make an impact in the world. We want to do something that no matter how big or small it is, it will leave the world better than we found it. For example, have you ever noticed how some food and beverage businesses use paper or biodegradable straws? This small change has significant impacts on our environment and the potential harm on animals that can come in contact with plastic straws.

When a social impact practice and solution like this is implemented through your business, you may then be considered a Social Enterprise. There are many other processes that you can follow to make a huge impact, like on helping individuals facing economic challenges. By offering employment to even one individual facing economic challenges in your community, you can have a lasting impact on their life and the health and well-being of this person’s life and our economy.

One of the most important goals of our Social Enterprise Program is making lasting positive impacts in the community. Through our efforts we are looking to support small businesses to offer job opportunities to individuals who are facing challenges in finding and securing a quality job. From helping a working mom struggling to find child care for her children, or someone needing transportation to and from work – we want to help businesses looking to make impacts build the systems needed to implement these practices effectively.

While it might take time, effort and education – our Social Enterprise initiative exists to be your partner through the entire process. If you are interested in learning more about this program and how you can get started, please submit your information here. Once your application is submitted you will hear back from our Program Manager, Theresa Hernandez to schedule an in-depth discussion to discuss next steps.

tax time tips

Tax Time Tips

Tax Time Tips

It’s that time of year when business finances become top-of-mind for everyone as tax season is at our doorsteps. As a reminder, Corporate (C and S) and Partnership returns are due by March 15, 2022 and Individual returns with Schedule C’s are due by Monday April 18, 2022.

Here are some things to note as you head into tax season:

  • If you received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan in either 2020 or 2021, you need to file for forgiveness regardless of the size of your loan. As of this date, all PPP borrowers must apply for forgiveness. You can apply directly through the SBA if your loan is $150,000 or less at https://directforgiveness.sba.gov. If your PPP loan was over $150,000 you need to contact your lender directly. If you got your PPP from Prestamos, you can email us at ppp@cplc.org
  • PPP loans are considered exempt from federal income tax under the CARES Act. Under section 1106(i) of the act, expressly excludes the forgiveness of PPP loans from federal gross income, and thus federal income tax.
  • EIDL loans are considered debt and therefore do not count as income. You can deduct any payment of interest on an EIDL loan as an interest expenses on your tax returns, and you can deduct expenses you paid with the EIDL funds.
  • Grants, other forgivable loans, and certain funds from local or state government are likely to be considered taxable income and need to be reported on your tax return as gross income.
  • If you had employees in 2021, you might be eligible to claim the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) up to $28,000 per employee. You can learn more about the ERC here: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/ERC-COVID-Snapshot-5.7.21_full-text.pdf
  • To learn more about expenses your business can deduct on your tax return, take a look at IRS Publication 535 here: https://www.irs.gov/publications/p535

If you need assistance determining the tax form you should be filing or need support in finding a qualified tax preparer, please feel free to reach out and we will help guide you towards the appropriate resources so that your tax season is low stress!

taking advantage of great resignation

Taking Advantage of the Great Resignation

Over the last 2 years the employee population has created a huge shift in priorities. The pandemic caused many to pause and rethink their priorities. What used to be an aggressive career path and monetary increase focuses has moved to an importance on family time and connecting work to career aspirations and passion areas. This shift has caused a record number of employees to leave their jobs and has left many organizations faced with challenges around getting enough employees to open and operate a facility, as well as the challenges of getting enough materials and product to continue to make a profit.

This is not a boomerang scenario where things will go back to pre-2020 structure. Multiple organizations (large and small) adapted to allow remote work, or created flexible working schedules, but not all organizations can do that. Many organizations need employees to run the physical location or operate in the factories, so what do they do? And to a greater extent the question is how organizations flip this challenge into an opportunity to take market share, grow profits, accelerate towards goals, and be the employer of choice in their industry.

The critical component to success is to take advantage of who you are as an organization, clarify and communicate what you stand for, and ensure everyone knows where you are going. These items build the culture of the organization, and more importantly they help attract and keep the right employees. A strong understanding and foundation in these areas will help organizations take full advantage of the great resignation. Employees are no longer looking for a job, they want a connection, they want to feel they are developing and becoming a better person by the work they do. Your culture will help clarify where you recruit, who you hire, how you develop them, and clarify to your prospected candidates what you can do for them. Going forward, employment needs to be mutually beneficial, and not just monetarily.

Let’s dive into some of the key factors to create an inspiring and sought-after culture. This can be broken out into organizational structure, people development, pay, and flexibility. To succeed going forward organizations need to have a rock-solid structure (vision, mission, business plan, strategic plan, etc.). This establishes who you are as an organization, including what you stand for. Next is people development, look at your organization as a mentor or coach for all employees. Are you providing learning opportunities and experiences that will help them build skill sets for future goals? Do you know their future goals? Do you know the skills they need to learn for future career aspirations. It is important to realize any employee today does not equate to employees of tomorrow, but if the structure is in place and you care about the people to help them get to their next step, they will forever be ambassadors to your business. They will continue to visit and refer new employees because of these two pieces. The next two components (pay and flexibility) prove you mean what you put in place in the first two. If you want to attract the right candidates for you and your culture, then pay in proportion to show you are looking for the best. Reward employees for referrals and work anniversaries. Finally, be as flexible as you can to support the employee. Maybe that means more vacation time, maybe that means giving them the schedule they want 80% of the time, maybe it means allowing them to complete projects on their schedule. Think about what flexibility could mean for your business.

I am sure questions are circling your head, and this is where our business advisors can provide support. Our business advisors help assess where you are, what you need to focus on right now, and support you with key knowledge along the way. Whether you need help building a mission, getting your social media to communicate who you are, or building out talent programs our business advisors are here to help. For more information, please contact our office or register for our webinar on this subject (February 18th, at 10:00am).

back to work plan

Back-to-Work Small Business Hiring and Retention Program

As part of Governor Doug Ducey’s Arizona Back to Work Plan, the State of Arizona launched the Back to Work Small Business Hiring and Retention Program to help small, locally owned, or operated businesses hire and retain employees. The grant program funds up to $10,000 in expenditures for employee hiring and retention efforts. There is a cap of $1,000 per employee and 25 percent of the awarded amount may be utilized for other business expenses. Special consideration will be made to businesses that are located in wildfire and flood-impacted areas.

 

back to work plan

 

Program Details

Eligible Applicants:

  • Small businesses with currently 5 – 25 employees
  • Owned and operated in the state of Arizona: including franchises with corporate headquarters in other states, but with locally-owned franchised establishments.
  • Incorporated before January 1, 2020.
  • Must be renting or leasing a physical location; may not be working from home or remotely as an independent contractor.
  • Must be open to the general public and in good standing with the Arizona Department of Revenue and Arizona Corporation Commission.

Special considerations for small businesses impacted by wildfire or natural disaster flooding

  • Employee cap is increased from 25 to 50.
  • Up to 100% of the awarded funding can be utilized for non-personnel expenditures i.e., operating expenses.

Use of Funds:

  • At least 75% of the awarded funds must go to current or new employees in the form of incentives. There is a cap of $1,000 incentive for each employee.
  • Up to 25% of the awarded funds can go to other business expenditures such as mortgage/rent, utilities, etc.
  • The $10,000 of expenditures may be used at multiple locations. Applicants should submit one application — regardless of the number of locations at which the funds will be applied.
  • Employees that receive an incentive that is funded by this program may not include the business owner.

Webinar

Join a special session with Arizona’s SBDC to learn more about the program, eligibility, and how to apply for the funding.

  • Time: 9 – 10 a.m.
  • Date: Friday, August 27, 2021
  • Location: Zoom

REGISTER HERE

Get Prestamos CDFI to help your business apply for the Back-to-Work Small Business Program

If you may need assistance applying for this grant, we can help. Please request Application Assistance by completing the form here:
Application Assistance

manage high-interest debit

How To Manage High Interest Debt

Financial barriers and struggles are no stranger to small businesses. These challenges can many times have devastating impacts on these businesses leading to closures, downsizing, and restructuring. One of the most harmful financial issues for small businesses is high-interest debt that comes in the form of loans, credit cards, or merchant cash advances (MCA’s).

These high-interest rate options end up costing business owners more than they are worth. For example, MCA companies will “advance” future credit card receivables to the business and then take a percentage of the daily credit card sales. While this might seem like a great, quick short-term solution to access money faster, the reality is that the fees associated with MCA’s end up adding to 20-25% of a business’s daily sales volume to pay back the advance.

This adds up to a significant chunk of change which results in a high loss for the business. Which often leaves already struggling businesses in a more significant financial crisis than they were before. The same can be true for high-interest loans and credit cards. Many business owners are often left feeling like they have little to no options when it comes to accessing capital, especially during difficult times like the pandemic, which is why they end up turning to these options.

The reality is there are many alternative financing options available to small business owners in need of cash. While quick options like merchant cash advances might seem like a convenient, fast way to secure funds, it’s also one of the most expensive. We recommend doing your research and doing the math to explore other less risky options to shore up to make sure you and your business can thrive and succeed for the long haul.

Contact Prestamos to explore some of our financing options available to small businesses. Our loan options come with more than financial benefits; we also offer technical assistance, coaching, and mentoring to help your business succeed. We invite you to visit our website, prestamosloans.org, to learn more about our efforts and find an option that works for you and your business.

manage high-interest debit

Leveraging Free Resources for Small Businesses

Are you a small business in need of financial and technical help? If you are, did you know that there is a multitude of resources available through your City, County, State, and even some Federal programs? The availability of these resources has actually increased substantially throughout the pandemic, further shedding a light on the impact and importance that small businesses and essential services have on our communities.

Below is a list of some of these resources:

Prestamos CDFI

Prestamos CDFI has a variety of no-cost business support services available, including:

  • Program to Invest in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME):
    • Business Advising/Coaching for businesses with under 10 employees in Arizona and Nevada
  • Prestamos Women’s Business Center:
    • Startup and Business support focused on women in Central/Northern Arizona
  • Microlending:
    • Ongoing advising and coaching for Microloan Clients

Small Business Administration (SBA)

The SBA has a variety of no, or low, cost programs for small businesses including:

  • Women’s Business Centers: Startup and Business Support focused on women entrepreneurs
  • SCORE: Counselors that provide Business Advising and Workshops
  • Small Business Development Centers: Support with business plans and applications for capital
  • Veterans Business Centers: Startup and Business Support focused on women”

​​Additional Grants and Resources for Businesses:

  • FedEx E-Commerce Learning Lab
  • Nav’s Small Business Grant
    • https://www.nav.com/business-grant-contest/
    • Must be a Nav member (memberships are free). Receive up to $10,000 to take your business to the next level. Entries must be submitted between June 30th and August 6th for your chance to receive a grant.
  • iFund Women
  • Business Certifications
    • Are you a minority, women, or veteran-owned business? If so, you can apply to become officially certified as minority-owned which can open up new opportunities for federal, state, local, and corporate contracts.
    • https://nmsdc.org/
  • Look in your community
    • Did you know that your local libraries and co-working spaces also offer a variety of resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs? Check your local library branch or a co-working space near you for more information.
    • https://www.joinhuub.com/

Take advantage of these resources to help elevate your business to the next level. Make sure to check out our website and social media pages to stay up to date on the latest tools, webinars, and other services we offer through Prestamos.

Employer hiring new staff member

Hiring During A Time of Uncertainty

This month, we spoke to Prestamos Business Advisor Pedro Alvarez to get his take on a special topic of interest for the small business and nonprofit community. Pedro discusses how the current landscape, affected by the pandemic, has affected hiring and offers tips when recruiting for your organization. From retention to effective outreach, we chat about the impact your staff have on your company.

Pedro, please give us an overview of how you see the current employment landscape.

We have seen a BIG shift in the employment landscape. Companies are having a hard time finding applicants as more and more people are choosing to stay home temporarily, reconsider the traditional job market, consider starting their own business or work as independent contractors, or are simply waiting to reenter the job market due to continued safety concerns. It really boils down to creating a mutually beneficial opportunity for both parties. I believe that, more than before, the key to successful recruiting will be that both parties must truly feel valued during the process.

How can employers, from small businesses to local nonprofits, focus their recruitment efforts?

Understand what you are offering. When posting a job ad, determine what will drive an applicant to you and keep your recruitment efforts positive. In addition to competitive salaries and health benefits, consider offering and highlighting to applicants:

  • Your company culture (applicants want to relate to your team and business mission!)
  • Your stance on social justice issues
  • Volunteer hour perks and earned time off benefits
  • Work from home options
  • Your location, commute times, and office perks (coffee stations, anyone?)

Additionally, I recommend being transparent about hourly pay/salaries in the job application. More and more applicants are clicking away from job postings if the pay rate is not included. Your transparency will help you and the applicant save time and energy, and will allow you to focus on the applicants who are serious about the job you are hiring for.

Remember – while salary is critical, many applicants care just as much about work/life balance and/or workplace culture when finding a new job.

What should job applicants be doing when looking for new roles?

Put yourself first! Of the many lessons we learned from the pandemic, one critical takeaway was that applicants want to enjoy their work. They need purpose. Belonging. If you are an applicant transitioning into a new role and/or industry, or are waiting to reenter the workforce, make sure you understand what that new job will provide you in the long run. Keep working on your skills, and find a company that will value you for what you bring to the table.

Thank you, Pedro, for your insight! If you are a small business or nonprofit and need help with hiring, retention, employee trainings, and other business services, please contact our team at prestamosloans@cplc.org!

Employer hiring new staff member

Yellow background, happy woman in sunglasses

This Summer Your Business Will Shine

Preliminary economic data from US Federal Government is showing a spectacular recovery with an estimated growth of 6.4% GDP for the first quarter of 2021. Additionally, other sources estimate that consumer spending is skyrocketing at 10.7 in Q1 of 2021.

That is good news for your small business because it means that the average consumer is now spending more money than it was a year ago and the trend is upward.

Here we share some tips with you to make your business shine to the eyes of your prospects and clients and be part of this strong demand for products and services. Please remember the old saying “Locals like to buy from locals.”

Yellow background, happy woman in sunglasses

 

Diversify your offerings to suit the local community during the hot summer months. Summer represents a great opportunity to provide new items in your store that reflect the season. If your business is part of the service industry, offer to meet your clients in local hotspots that that are more convenient so they may avoid the travel. In addition to experiencing and supporting a new local business, you also get to engage your clients in a new way!

Offer “Local Discounts” for the local community to reward them for shopping local. Feel free to unleash your imagination and promote your business with coupons, discounts, and special offers to locals using your traditional channels and your business social media accounts.

Summer is hot and ice cream parlors and similar venues turn into popular spaces during the summer for people trying to refresh with a cold treat during the hot months. Your business can benefit from this trend if you collaborate up with a local ice cream shop to offer coupons per every purchase in your store.

The Summer is here and your business will shine with increased sales and profits!