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4 Critical Steps to Growing Your Small Business

Expanding your small business is no easy feat. To be honest, it is one of the hardest challenges that people face when they are looking to abandon the 9-5 grind.

Ultimately, the success of your small business depends on your ability to increase profits using a variety of methods. From employee training to marketing, every component of your business needs the proper attention.

Sure, overnight success almost never happens. However, there is a myriad of steps you should take in order to keep your business moving forward. While it takes time and effort, you’ll soon start to reap the rewards.

Corporate Business Solutions experts recommend the following four tips for helping your business grow.

Know Your Customers

The best way to develop successful products and services is to know what your customers want. You can achieve this through surveys and various forms of research. For example, asking them to provide honest feedback is critical. Analyzing reviews is one of the best ways to get inside the minds of your customers. As a result, you’ll be able to develop the right products and services that accurately reflect the demands of the market. Additionally, you’ll gain a better understanding as to how your company can improve.

Enhance Customer Service

Regardless of whether or not you have a superior product or service, you won’t fully satisfy your customers without a strong customer service program. Ultimately, this facet of a company is all about you taking that extra step to make your customers feel important and valued. You’ll want to address their problems immediately and also take time to answer their questions. Consider tying social media into your customer service strategy.

Exploit Social Media

There is absolutely no doubt that social media is an extremely powerful tool. Not only can it reach thousands of people at once, it keeps people engaged. Ultimately, this helps you stay relevant. Listening to your customer’s comments will help you understand how to better satisfy your audience.

Focus on Professional Development

 

It will probably come as no surprise that the success of your business largely lies in the hands of the people that you employ.

The success of your business also depends on the quality of employees that you hire. Building a successful team is the key to ensuring that your company thrives. You should always give your employees a purpose and make sure they buy into your common goal.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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7 Ways to Improve Your SEO

As a small business, improving your SEO is a critical component of your success. Having said that, not many people know how to achieve this.

So, how does it really work?

While many people focus on “beating the algorithm” to achieve high rankings, there are better ways to enhance your SEO efforts. The question becomes how can you create SEO-friendly content that lasts?

Corporate Business Solutions experts recommend the following tips for mastering your SEO.

Create Useful Content That is Needed

One of the best things you can do is create content that addresses and/or solves a problem. In order to do this, you’ll need to spend time conducting quality research that will help you present your content in an interesting way. Ultimately, you’ll want to make your consumers feel that they are reading the best content on that particular topic.

Connect With Your Customers, Not the Search Engine

As a small business, you want to focus on connecting with your target audience rather than search engines. Sure, your content may be optimized, but if it turns customers off, you won’t rank well.

Make Sure Your Content is Mobile Friendly

In order to keep your content SEO-friendly, ensure your website is accessible on mobile devices. Consider compressing heavy image files, removing the flash video, and/or disabling intrusive pop-ups. Lastly, your content should offer value and be easily consumable.

Keywords Are Important, But They’re Not Everything

Just because keywords are an integral part of the algorithms doesn’t mean you want to just load up your content with them. As always, focus on filling a need for your audience. Sure, keywords should be in there, but the quality of the content is what’s most important.

Create Amazing Content

Do you want to know the secret to successful SEO in today’s day and age? It’s as simple as this: just create amazing content that your audience is looking for. Don’t forget – you still have to follow the basic rules.

Link, Link, and Link

Including internal links not only shows your mastery in a specific is, but it can also lead to more posts that offer supplementary value.

Keep Your Content Fresh and Relevant

It’s important for you to create and maintain content that remains relevant and up-to-date. You’ll want to update your content on a regular basis, which is actually more important than keywords and other SEO tactics.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Website

In today’s day and age, there is no doubt that your company’s website is basically your company’s own little slice of digital real estate. Right?

What you do with that precious real estate is your prerogative. You can either master a digital marketing presence or squander the opportunity.

While no business is intentionally fulfilling the latter, many small business owners are failing to use their digital presence to their advantage in the most effective ways possible. There is a myriad of ways to make your website stronger, but only a few really effective ones.

Corporate Business Solutions experts recommend that every small business’s website follow the following four tasks to achieving online success.

Tell a Compelling Story

Sure, there are numerous places where your brand can digitally interact with your target audience – social media, industry blogs, ad space, press releases, and even YouTube. However, the main difference between your website and the aforementioned platforms is that you own your website. You control what goes up on your website and you can tell the story.

Your story can either address your history or talk about the future of your company. Regardless of your decision, there is no one-size-fits-all solution – your story should accurately reflect your company.

List Contact Information

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that one of the main reasons people visit a website is to obtain contact information. At the very least, make sure your website includes the following:

  • Business address (if applicable)
  • Store or business hours
  • A phone number and email address
  • An About page

While there are many different ways to provide this information, make sure it’s accessible and easy to find.

Collect Leads

While you’ll want to close sales through your website, that’s not the sole objective. In many cases, it may take multiple visits for a prospect to convert. In the meantime, collect as much lead information as possible. This will benefit you down the road and you’ll also learn more about the types of people that are visiting your website.

Overcome Friction

You’ll want your website to be as streamlined and user-friendly as possible. According to studies, poor navigation is the number one reason people leave websites. Thus, it’s a good idea to master user-friendly navigation. Ultimately, you want to offer a pleasant experience for prospective customers.

As you to continue to grow your business and website, consider using the aforementioned tips to achieving digital success.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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4 Ways Your Store Can Adapt During The Retail Apocalypse

Sure, there are many rumors surrounding retail’s demise. Having said that, these rumors are largely exaggerated. According to Deloitte, in 2017 alone retail sales improved by more than three percent. The GDP, to compare, grew by just over two percent.

Nonetheless, there are some significant changes to which retailers need to adapt and understand.

There is both good and bad news.

The Good News

Over ninety percent of retail sales still take place in your good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar stores. Despite digital retail being projected to grow nearly twelve percent, in-store sales are also projected to grow by almost two percent. This is fantastic news!

The Bad News

Sure, traditional retail may certainly be facing a devastating apocalypse or, at the very least, a huge transformation.

Why is this?

Historically, shoppers have been split into two explicit groups: high-income consumers and then everybody else. While eight out of ten Americans’ incomes have remained the same since 2007, the cost of living has gone up significantly.

Furthermore, technology has played a huge role in increased costs.

So, what does this mean?

Well, according to a recent study, eighty percent of buyers have less money to spend on retail store items, such as clothing and accessories.

Courtesy of Corporate Business Solutions experts, let’s take a look at four proven ways that your store can succeed during the retail apocalypse.

Don’t Cater to Everyone

According to that same study by Deloitte, there are three types of retailers:

  1. Premier retailers that deliver value via premier product and experience offerings;
  2. Price-based retailers that deliver value by selling at the lowest possible prices and clearly communicating that proposition to customers
  3. Balanced retailers that deliver value via a balance of price and/or promotion.

Based on the information above, know who you are and deliver it properly.

Prepare to Go Premium

There are many opportunities for small retailers in the premium category. High-income consumers not only spend more money, they also tend to patronize more retailers. Think about this one.

Think Psychology

It’s easy to become infatuated with the differences between Gen X and Gen Z. However, shopping tendencies are based more on the income level that on generational behavior. In other words, a consumer’s economic status has a much greater impact on their shopping habits than you may think.

Establish an Online Strategy

If you don’t already have a strong digital presence, the time is now to start building one. If you’re not ready to sell online, which you should be, solidify your online marketing and advertising strategies. This will help you attract your target audience.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

Creating an Effective Budget for Your Business

So, you’re running a highly successful small business. Fantastic! However, things aren’t as ideal as you want them to be. While things are going well, you’d like to see greater profits.

But how do you achieve that?

The answer may be by managing a more effective business budget.

As you know, every successful company needs a budget for knowledge and insight in order to minimize waste and increase profits.

If you’re wondering where to start, you’re in the right place. Corporate Business Solutions experts offer the following steps for creating a budget for your business today.

Understand Your Revenue

It’s nearly impossible to create a budget if don’t know how much money you’re earning. Thus, you’ll need to figure out, at the very least, a monthly average of your revenue.

If your business is already up and running, all you need to do is look at your sales numbers.

Separate Recurring Income and Expected Income

You should always separate your revenue into two separate categories: recurring and expected income.

Recurring income is the regular and reliable revenue the business generates from the likes of contract work and client retainers.

On the flip side, expected income is a prediction of future earnings. Expected income, for the most part, is a financial forecast for your business.

Determine Fixed Costs

What monthly expenses does your business have? This may refer to salaries, IT expenses or even travel costs. If you’re a start-up, you likely have to pay for a lot of initial expenses, such as technology marketing efforts.

When creating your budget, determine what your fixed business costs and how much they run you each month. 

Pin Down Variable Expenses

In addition to fixed costs, small businesses have what are called variable costs. These expenses don’t have fixed priced tags and are a little more random than fixed costs.

For example, if you outsource work or use a freelancer, those costs can vary from month-to-month.

Depending on the performance of your business, variable expenses can increase or decrease. If your business is healthy and thriving, for example, you may have the more disposable cash to invest in variable expenses in order to grow your business for the long-term.

Create a Variance Report to Track and Manage Trends

One of the most critical components for keeping control of expenses and managing for a positive cash flow comes from developing a variance report that shows the difference between what has been budgeted and what is actually spent. This variance report should be set up so that a report can be run at any time to see the variances.  The variance report allows you to have an early warning about negative trends that you can then address with corrective action so that you can protect your pre-planned profits as a percent of the expected revenue.  There is a dollar for dollar impact of your bottom line profits for every increase in expenses for what has been budgeted.  The variance report is a necessary management tool to control expenses and helps create a managerial-based accounting system that is designed to give business owners more control over their business.

Whether they are fixed costs, variable expenses or one-off payments, use your budget to see where you can save money. Ultimately, you want to make your business as efficient as possible in order to increase sales and profits.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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Five Critical Tips to Hiring

We know. Hiring new employees can be a very time-consuming and resource-draining process for any business. However, it can be particularly challenging for small businesses with limited means. For a small company, each new hiree has a significant impact on the business, whether it be negative and positive. As a result, it’s critical for small business owners to have the right approach to hiring in order to avoid mistakes.

If you are looking to take the right steps when hiring, consider the following pointers from our Corporate Business Solutions experts.

Be Very Candid

The first step to ensuring that potential hires are truly ready to take on the duties is to be as clear as possible. You’ll want to inform them of the day-to-day tasks and share the company’s goals as well. Furthermore, it’s important to include details regarding salary and benefits. In addition, be candid about any challenges that he/she might face. Being as candid as possible about the position helps you hire the right people who will last a long time.

Use Connections

You might be able to find great candidates by contacting people you already know in your field. For example, calling or emailing business colleagues and/or creating LinkedIn posts is an effective way to let people know you’re hiring.

Establish Your Company Culture

As mentioned, each employee has a significant impact on the culture of a small business. Remember, you can teach skills, but not personality or a tireless work ethic. Take time to establish company values and the look for these qualities in your candidates. You’ll want to address your company’s values during the interview and also gear questions related to those values.

Measure Commitment

You’re really going to want to understand whether or not a potential hiree is truly committed to working for you before you put that offer on the table. Focus on little gestures during the interview and try to understand how enthusiastic the candidate really is about the job opportunity.

Implement a Trial Period

It’s important to implement a trial period prior to making a full commitment. You might want to consider having new employees sign a short-term contract or hiring them as freelancers. Ultimately, this will help you determine if he/she is the ideal candidate for the job before you make any long-term commitments. Furthermore, an effective trial period can be a great way to give both new employees and employers the right amount of time in order to make informed decisions.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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6 Tips for Bootstrapping a Startup

With any startup company, obtaining proper funding is usually the biggest challenge. Having said that, there is a myriad of routes that small businesses can take outside of venture capital.

For the best approaches to fundraising, Corporate Business Solutions experts recommend the following six tips for bootstrapping a startup. Keeping these tips in mind will put you in great standing.

Find Mentors 

Seeking out mentors that can advise you on your journey is super beneficial. In doing so, be sure not to limit yourself to where you look. A mentor can be anyone from a friend or family member to even a co-worker. Ultimately, you want to find people who have more expertise than you do.

Establish a Business Plan 

You always want to think things through and have a vision. Creating an actionable business plan and following through with it will land you in a great place. Having a business plan will allow you to reach both short and long-term goals.

Track Expenses 

When you first launch your business, you want to be as frugal as possible without cutting necessities. You won’t learn the financial ropes and understand the costs that are associated with running your business. You also want to consider re-investing the money you make to continue to grow the business.

Key In On Operations

 Getting into the nitty-gritty details of your business is essential. You want to be able to lay the groundwork in order to get to where you want to be. Take the time to focus on marketing, accounting, and human resources.

Do It Yourself (What You Can)

 Yes, of course, you’ll want to outsource when you have to. Having said that, during the onset of your startup you’ll want to complete as many tasks as you can on your own. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also learn the indispensable ins and outs of your business so you can properly train people later. Trust us when we tell you that doing things on your own (initially) will benefit you so much later on.

Assemble an All-Star Team 

As a new small business, you’re going to want to surround yourself with great employees who share a similar passion and vision. You want to hire people who buy into your mission and understand the importance of multi-tasking. Ultimately, your team is the component that will take you to the promised land. To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com

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Five Techniques to Enhance Your Blogging

It’s no secret that online blogging and other forms of published content can prove to be a critical aspect of your marketing strategy. Having said that, it takes a lot of strategic thought and preparation to make online content supplement your business goals. In order to help you improve those efforts, Corporate Business Solutions experts recommend the following five tactics.

Identify Optimal Keywords

 In order for your target audience to stumble across your blog content organically, you must integrate relevant and applicable keywords. While this can certainly be challenging, it’s up to you to invest the time and energy into researching the best keywords. Trust us when we tell you that you won’t regret it.

Get More Subscribers

So, you post your blog and you see that it hasn’t been viewed as many times as you’d like. Now what? To ensure that people actually read your blog, it’s helpful to offer an email subscription option. This will put the new blogs directly in their inboxes. What could be better?

Utilize Your Blog to Augment Your Reputation

Whether it’s via blogging, reviews, or social media, it’s absolutely imperative to not only monitor, but also constantly improve what is being said about your company online. Ultimately, your reputation can make or break a potential customer’s decision to buy into your business.

Personalize Your Content

Think about it – which will draw more interest: generic or personalized content? You got that right. Generic blog content will not yield the positive results you are looking for. Rather, take the time to publish personalized and relevant content that is specific to your target audience.

Make Your Content Shareable

One of the best ways to widen reach your reach is to optimize your content and make it more shareable. The more your content is shared, the more people you will reach.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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HR Software For Your Small Business

Instead of devoting so much time, resources, and energy on time-consuming HR tasks, the savviest of small businesses use the right HR software for their venture.

HR software makes admin tasks much easier, which frees up your time to focus on running and growing your business.

Let’s take a closer look at what our Corporate Business Solutions experts consider to be the best HR software for small businesses.

Despite the fact that the HR software market is growing and, with so many products available, which HR software is right for you? Here are four of the best HR software programs out there.

BambooHR

BambooHR is HR software explicitly designed for small businesses. With this relevant and effective HR app, you will find the best candidates for your company faster with applicant tracking. You’ll obtain quick and precise HR insights through HR reporting and time tracking. You’ll also be able to create custom workflows and support employee self-onboarding.

What could be better?

If you’re truly interested in utilizing BambooHR to take care of your admin tasks, you’ll have to fill out your information online in order to get a quote.

HR Direct Smart Apps

HR Direct Smart Apps is a streamlined and smart HR software program that is not only affordable but also highly effective. This program will provide your company with a free employee record keeping app which allows you to both monitor and manage employee information.

From there, you can also decide if you want to exploit the additional features, such as software that makes it easier to complete I-9 and W-4 forms, managing employee attendance, and allowing employees to handle their PTO.

Gusto

You can simplify the chaos that comes with HR by using Gusto. Gusto makes the entire HR process easy, including managing benefits and running payroll. From sending out communications to onboarding new employees, you can make the whole HR process seamless and enjoyable with Gusto.

Furthermore, advice and support are provided by HR experts with Gusto. You’ll be able to choose the right plan for your business and budget.

What could be better?

Zoho People

Zoho People allows you to manage and track all of your HR activity from one location. Zoho makes it easy for employees to update their personal information, which saves you a great deal of time. Furthermore, it includes seamless time tracking, performance reviews, and automated workflows.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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Understanding the Intricacies of Leads

Are you on cloud nine after obtaining leads from your last event? Do you feel really good about yourself and you’re ready to take the sales world by storm? Fantastic! But don’t get ahead of yourself. The most critical aspect of attaining a lead is ensuring it becomes an opportunity. So the question becomes, how can you enhance the quality of leads?

That’s right – do your research.

Corporate Business Solutions experts understand how using marketing automation solution and a CRM can help you understand your leads and grow your business. Ultimately, you’ll want to discern the ins and outs of your leads in order to make effective business decisions. Here are three reasons as to why knowing your leads can really help.

Understand Your Customer

When you know your leads, such as where they’re located and what they’re interested in, you can ensure that leads passed down to you fit your ideal profile.

Tip: consider CRM integration.

With the right CRM, your marketing department can efficiently create newsletters, ebooks, and white papers to keep up with the demands of business. Strong marketing efforts will create a high volume of leads, where prospects can fill out forms in order to access content.

You might also want to utilize Pardot, a marketing automation solution that helps you see your leads as they progress through the prospect journey.

Grab Hold of the Right Leads

Have you ever heard of “lead grading”. If not, now’s the time.

Lead grading lets you literally “grade” your lead on a scale of A to F so you can determine who the most qualified candidates are based on the attributes of a lead’s profile. These characteristics include job title, company size, or industry.

Ultimately, you want quality leads. Lead grading allows you to access that.

Track and Nurture Your Leads

Similar to many small sales teams who wear marketing hats, it’s important to manually nurture leads. You should do this even if you’re not sure whether or not it will turn into an opportunity.

With a concrete process within your marketing automation solution, you’ll be able to nurture in an impactful way to help your sales counterpart.

It’s not necessary to play a guessing game with your leads. With the correct data and procedures, you’ll be able to understand the intricacies of your leads in no time. This will help you secure more sales and grow your business.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.