How to Cut Costs at a Small Retail Business

Corporate Business Solutions provides management advice and cost reduction strategies for small retail businesses, among a host of other services. Retail businesses fail more often than not due to excessive expenses. Even retail giants like Wal-Mart and Macy’s have faced this dilemma. It’s important to start early to prevent a potential disaster if expenses are out of control. Here are several tips, gleaned from our years of experience, for reducing costs and managing finances better at your small retail business:

Automate inventory management – Automation is reducing costs for businesses in many different sectors. Retail is definitely one of the biggest sectors to benefit from new technology. In recent years, manual inventory management has gotten quite expensive. Some outlets have found budget success by switching to cloud-based software. According to one study, using cloud-based programs saved some retailers about 30 percent of operational costs. We know from experience that retail outlets, especially inherited ones, are quite stubborn regarding adopting modern practices. However, we highly recommend switching to new ways of managing inventory to significantly reduce costs.

Outsource non-core business tasks – If there’s room to outsource certain tasks or activities at your retail business, do so without hesitation. For example, if you need a writer to come up with product descriptions, hire a freelance writer, not a full-time employee. Small tasks not related to the core of your business, like graphic design, can be outsourced to save money, and in some cases, time. Outsourcing has other benefits too, such as getting expert advice in an area your staff is unfamiliar.

Go virtual and pay low rent – Thinking about expanding your office? We highly recommend switching partly to a virtual office instead. Virtual workplaces allow employees to connect with each other regardless of where they are located. Some parts of your business will probably require a physical office. You can pay low rent for a small physical office for the core group members and host other employees over a virtual office. You can also consider hosting virtual storerooms and the like to save money on actually leasing a showroom. For example, Audi, the car brand uses virtual showrooms in select locations to save money.

Of course, each business has unique needs. If you contact us at CBS-CBS.com, we can evaluate your company’s expenses and recommend cost-cutting measures as part of a long-term financial strategy.

Exit Strategies for Small Businesses

An exit strategy is a vital component of running a small business. Basically, an exit strategy specifies what to do when the owner leaves or closes down the business. Investors particularly seek to finance small businesses with exit strategies. At CBS Corporate Business Solutions, we help small to medium sized businesses strategically plan for an exit or a shutdown. Here are several exit strategies you can plan for with our experts:

Liquidation – Most small business owners have heard of this particular strategy. Liquidation occurs when a business is shuttered and all assets are sold off. Liquidation is the only sensible exit strategy for very small businesses with a single owner or employee. If liquidation is the exit strategy a business owner is thinking of, then some retooling might be in order to make the business more appealing to a buyer.

Choose a Family Successor – Some business owners simply want to quit. In this case, liquidating the company may not be necessary. Companies can be passed down to a family member. The former owner can continue to get involved in the company afterward, or disengage completely. Passing down a venture to a member of the family is a straightforward process. But it has to be planned in advance.

Sell Company to Employees – Rather than selling the company to outsiders, owners can choose to sell the company to managers or employees to ensure continuous operation. Owners may be allowed to keep a share if desired. However, owners must brace themselves for potential controversies that might arise from the change in management structure.

IPO – The popular IPO is a form of exit strategy. We do not recommend this option for all companies. However, conducting an IPO and going public can be enormously profitable for some companies. To be successful, an IPO has to be structured well because there are numerous compliance regulations to follow.

The above are only a handful of exit strategies for small businesses. Contact us at CBS-CBS.com to discuss other options available and the kind of exit strategy that might be best suited for your business.

IRS Audit Warnings for Startup or Small Business Owners

The IRS is now capable of identifying factors that lead to audits more than ever, thanks largely to improved detection systems. If you run a startup or a small business, you may be singled out for several reasons. Corporate Business Solutions can provide, through one of our affiliated companies, tax assistance to entrepreneurs who have failed to put the proper systems in place to keep the owner’s personal expenses separate from the funds for the business. We highly recommend owners of small and medium-size businesses establish the necessary internal controls and systems to avoid getting in trouble with the IRS.  Here are some red flags for business owners to keep in mind to avoid getting audited by the IRS:

Self Employment – Being self-employed at your own startup or small venture naturally raises red flags at the IRS. Self-employed persons may file for more deductions for businesses, which attracts scrutiny. One of the prime triggers for IRS audits is owning a home where you take a home office deduction for running a business and claiming significant business expenses which may not be justified. If you are self-employed, you must keep business and personal expenses separate without exceptions.

Over-the-Top Home Office Deductions – Be careful about what you deduct as business expenses when you run a home office. Don’t try to claim deductions for very small expenses like paper supplies or buying a new stapler, for example, if you are using those items for your personal convenience as well. Only those things which are exclusively used for your business qualify for a business expense deduction. Home office deductions must be well justified. The IRS will want to know whether the home office is used exclusively for work and has specific rules for when the space allocated for a home office as a percentage of the home cost can be deducted. Keeping extra careful track of all business expenses will help you present strong evidence.

Writing off Hobby Expenses as Business Expenses – It is illegal to pass off a hobby as a business for tax purposes. However, some people may engage in hobbies as if they are businesses. If your hobby business is largely unprofitable, that would ring off warning alarms at the IRS. Your hobby could get classified as unprofitable home businesses, where you cannot claim certain business deductions.

Excessive Generosity – It’s common for even small businesses to make charitable donations and claim a tax credit. However, eyebrows will be raised at the IRS if you are particularly generous in one year more than in others. Do not inflate your charitable donations.  You must have documentation for all charitable deductions.  If you donate more than $500, you must file a form 8283.

You can find more information about the business consulting services we provide at CBS-CBS.com.

Getting a Small Business Valuation

Small business owners often do not have any reliable way to determine how much their company is worth. There is always a ceiling for valuations, but the number is important for tax purposes, investments, and estate planning and inheritance situations.

Business valuation involves getting an assessment of finances and intellectual property a company owns. Calculating how much a small business is worth can be tricky. Most small business owners try to come up with an estimate on their own, only to find out that the processes involved can be complicated and unreliable. But there can be a method to madness. You can hire an expert evaluator, like the professionals working at Corporate Business Solutions. In addition, it’s worthwhile to know that the business valuations involve the following:

Recreate Costing – One of the popular tools used to value businesses is this method called cost recreation. This involves sit calculating all costs it would take another person to start the owner’s business. Costs will be replicated for marketing, buying inventory, office rent or lease and hiring staff. This method is relatively easy to do, but it is not necessarily scientifically accurate.

Market Comparison – A more investor-friendly approach is the “market principle” method, where a company is valued based on how much other companies of similar size and capacity are worth based on numerical figures. For example, if a business twice the size of yours sold for a million in the market, you can value your company based on that.

Multiplying Earnings – This method values businesses based on current and future earnings. If you expect your profits to increase, you can value your business by taking into account future expected increase in earnings.

Business valuations can be complicated for small businesses and should be done by a certified business valuation expert with the proper valuation credentials recognized by the industry. We highly recommend hiring professionals to get an accurate valuation of your business who have the proper credentials. The pros at CBS Corporate Business Solutions can help your small business obtain a valuation that investors can trust.

Tax Tips for Small Businesses

Planning a good tax strategy is crucial for running a small business. Our experts at Corporate Business Solutions routinely offer professional help for smaller companies to develop a sound tax strategy for the long term through one of our affiliated companies which specialize in strategic tax planning. While it’s highly recommended that small business owners hire an knowledgeable firm with experience in strategic tax planning to develop a tax plan, there are some things the owners should also do. Here are several easy tax tips all small business owners should follow:

Track All Expenses – Do not forget to keep very close track of all business expenses for the whole year. Keep a record of expenses regardless of how small they are. You should record income and expenditures as soon as they happen, so you don’t forget to do so in a timely manner.

Keep Business and Personal Expenses Separate – This may sound like a no brainer, but some small businesses often struggle to keep up with this fundamental rule. Small companies are informal atmospheres. So it’s easy to get personal expenses mixed in with business ones. But avoid doing so at all costs. It can complicate your tax strategy. In addition, failure to keep personal and business expenses separate is one of the key issues which can allow a person suing the company to pierce the corporate veil to go after personal assets in collecting on a legal judgment.

Offer Social Benefits to Employees – Offering care benefits to employees, like health and dental, can actually reduce the tax burden for small companies. Therefore, worker fringe benefits should be considered as part of an overall compensation plan.

Get Trainee Deductions – The tax code allows businesses to deduct certain educational expenses needed to train employees and improve overall skills in the workplace. You can get tax deductions for things like attending seminars and fees spend for conventions.

Take Mileage Deduction over Auto Expenses – Mileage deduction is more advantageous especially when gas prices go high. So, if you are facing a choice between mileage deduction and an auto expense deduction on your form, consider the benefit of choosing mileage.

Donate Unused Inventory for a Deduction – If you have unsold inventory, donate it to a recognized charity instead of storing it in a costly way. Small businesses can claim tax deductions for donated inventory. Do keep thorough records of donated inventory because documentation is needed to get the deduction.

The above are a handful of simple things you can do to reduce the tax burden at your small business. Contact a CBS Corporate Business Solutions expert to develop a more comprehensive tax strategy for your company.

Tips for Staying Motivated When Running a Business

Running a business is not easy, especially when you are doing it on your own. Even successful businesspeople often have to stop and give a mental nudge to stay motivated. It’s not uncommon for even the most driven entrepreneurs to feel a little unmotivated or demoralized from time to time. There are steps you can take to remedy the problem:

Think Back—Whenever you feel a bit down, think back to what made you start the business in the first place. Relive the first spark that inspired you and you will find your drive again. If possible, take a look at your notes or photos from back then. You will rediscover your original inspiration that made you want to run a successful business.

Take a Breather—Here at Corporate Business Solutions, we encourage everyone to just relax and step back for a moment. Sometimes, too much stress can take a toll on your motivation and productivity. So it’s important to take a breather from time to time. Use these moments to take a look at the big picture and not let everyday negativity keep you down.

Look at the Things You have Already Accomplished—Has your motivation taken a toll because a recent project failed? Now is a good time then to take a look at things you have already achieved. You may have thought those things were impossible once too. Success is marked by failure. And sometimes we all need to celebrate the things we have already accomplished to move forward.

Make a New Plan—Perhaps you are going about your tasks or projects the wrong way. If you can’t find your motivation still, try to redo the plan for your company in a way that makes you want to keep on going. Look at your old goals or make new goals. Keep at it until you find your inspiration.

Last but not least, don’t shun professional help. Hiring a consultant or a reviewer may help you fix the issues that are keeping you down. Keep in mind that the experts at CBS-CBS.com are always here to help.

Why Small Businesses Should Never Skip Web Optimization

According to the latest Small Business Digital Trends Report released by Web.com, a large majority of small businesses are not optimizing business websites with SEO tactics. Only 17 percent of small businesses surveyed were actually willing to spend money on SEO. A surprising 45 percent didn’t even know what SEO meant or how it could affect company sales performance. The majority, 85 percent, of small businesses encountered some type of issue when trying to implement SEO, such as financial restrictions.

These findings definitely come as a surprise, especially to experts like Corporate Business Solutions, CBS-CBS.com, which has a long-term affiliation with a major SEO implementer as part of a larger marketing strategy. Small businesses that pass over on SEO are losing out on many major fronts. For those who still don’t know, SEO stands for search engine optimization. The acronym stands for a series of techniques a website can use to improve its ranking on the search engines results page to a query.

SERP ranking matters a lot because an increasing number of surveys show web users do not usually scroll to the bottom of a results page or click to the second page of results. Most click on a link presented above the scroll line on the results page. Therefore, companies that get ranked at the top have a higher chance of attracting traffic, and thus a better chance at making sales.

SEO also affects how a small business website gets recognized overall. Keyword optimization is important so your company’s website appears among the results for particular search queries. The more optimized a website is, the easier it will be for a niche audience to find.

Despite popular belief, SEO tactics are neither expensive nor hard to implement. It’s possible to learn SEO by oneself and start a campaign. Small businesses can also invest in an experienced SEO professional at relatively reasonably prices to perfect the existing marketing strategy.

There are plenty of free online guides for implementing SEO techniques as well. Corporate Business Solutions can provide marketing guidance for companies that want to implement SEO professionally but on a budget.

Tips for Starting With a New Company

Corporate Business Solutions  is recognized in the small business industry for using expertise, experience and education to access the information that is often necessary for growth.  We employ the best of the best to ultimately help business leaders achieve success.

Many business professionals are looking to find new positions in the New Year. If you’re starting with a new company soon, we have tips to help you thrive from the very beginning:

  1. Introduce yourself – Make the initiative to meet people at your new office. Say hello to new colleagues in the elevator, kitchen and bathroom. It’s often easiest to begin making friends with the employees that work directly with you as it will be in their best interest to get you started on the right foot, since your work will directly affect theirs.
  2. Establish expectations with your boss and / or employees – Initiate a meeting with your boss. Then, use that initial meeting to set in writing what they believe success will look like in the first week, month and three months. Also, if you’re in a managerial position, start setting expectations with your direct reports. The first week in a new role sets the tone for the nearly everything!
  3. Become an organizational pro – You probably expect a lot of new information to come your way, so creating good habits and getting organized from the start will make your transition easier. A new job is also a good time to improve any old bad habits. Realize challenges from the past and plan to combat those accordingly.
  4. Reinforce your new connections on social media – Once you’re officially on the job, it’s important to update your title across your own social media platforms and also start following your new company and colleagues. As you meet new people, reinforce the relationships by finding them on LinkedIn or twitter. If fitting, send a friendly introductory message to remind them of your initial introduction.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Employment & Labor Laws in Small Business

Corporate Business Solutions  is recognized for using expertise, experience and education to access the information that is often necessary for growth in small and medium – size businesses.  Many business owners struggle with employment and labor laws.  However, understanding these laws is necessary for success.

Hiring your first employee or building your business team brings with it a whole new area for compliance – employment and labor law. These laws cover everything from preventing discrimination and harassment in the workplace, workplace poster requirements, wage and hour laws and workers’ compensation regulations.

The U.S. Department of Labor oversees federal employment and labor law; however, individual states also have their own specific laws. We can help you understand and comply with these laws.  The SBA is also a great resource for business owners.  In addition, an online tool from the Department of Labor, the “FirstStep Employment Law Advisor” – can help you determine which laws apply to you and how to comply.

The FirstStep Employment Law Advisor helps employers determine which major Federal employment laws administered by the U.S. Department of Labor apply to their business or organization, what recordkeeping and reporting requirements they must comply with, and which posters they need to post. The Advisor can help all employers, including non-profit organizations, private sector businesses and government agencies.

If employers already know which Federal employment laws apply to them, the Advisor can quickly provide basic information about how to comply with these laws, including the requirements for recordkeeping, reporting, and posters and other notices.  This information can also be printed off as a reference guide.

Please note that the FirstStep Employment Law Advisor is intended as a guide on major Department of Labor laws – it does not cover all laws administered by Department of Labor. In addition, the system will not identify laws administered by other Federal agencies that might be applicable to your business or organization.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Small Business Blogging Tips for the New Year

The consultants at Corporate Business Solutions thrive on helping small and medium – size businesses succeed. We are renowned for accessing the critical information necessary for growth in today’s business.  As we begin 2017, we know that better blogging is making many small business owners’ New Year’s resolutions lists. If you fall in to that category, we have some simple tips that may help you succeed in your goal.

  • Be Consistent. Decide how often you want to create a blog post, whether weekly or monthly, and stick to it. However, don’t water-down the quality of your content just so you can get something out there. The best blog posts are interesting and relevant to your business’ website and services.
  • Write SEO – Friendly Content. Include key words that are popular in your industry so online readers can find your business when searching the internet. If you’re unsure of the important key words, take the necessary time to do your research. 
  • Have a Goal. Having a goal with your blog posts is always a good idea. For example: “After reading this blog post, my goal is for the reader to understand one way to prolong the maintenance of their HVAC system.”
  • Research. Pay attention to what’s trending. If you find a topic that relates to your business, industry or subscriber, then you may have an opportunity to reach a large audience.
  • Have a Style. Every business is different, but having a particular author style can help with engagement and building a following.
  • Proofread. This should be rather obvious, but it’s always a good idea to have someone else proofread your blog post before posting.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.