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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.

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The Power of Ephemeral Content

It may be short-lived, but it’s highly effective.

Ephemeral (lasting for a very short time) content has a limited lifespan, but a lasting impact. Generally speaking, ephemeral content is accessible for up to 24 hours. While this may appear to be counter-intuitive, the growing popularity of “stories” on social media outlets such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook provides an opportunity for this golden marketing tool. While this should not replace your business’s traditional marketing efforts, you should find ways to add this to the mix.

Why Stories? 

Stories are photo/video compilations that can be either pre-recorded or live. To take it a step further, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook all provide ways to get creative through enhanced filters and artwork, in addition to adjusting speed and tempo of a video.

With the growing expenses of high-quality videography, many businesses are turning to the potency of ephemeral social media content. While this may be a far cry from yesteryear’s traditional marketing efforts where publicized content was permanent and recirculated in the future, ephemeral content is efficient, short-lived, and highly effective. Not to mention, with the short attention span of today’s younger generations and professionals, social media stories provide “quick hits” of content, whether it be a product or service that your business offers.

One of the brightest aspects of ephemeral content marketing is the notion that it doesn’t require special equipment or personnel. If you have a smartphone, you can exploit this growing trend. Furthermore, the beauty of stories is the authenticity that it provides your target audience. Your posts don’t have to be perfect. People like this.

The 5 Pillars of Ephemeral Content Marketing

As recommended by CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultants 

  • Authenticity
  • Engagement
  • Keeping the content fresh
  • Consistency
  • Relevance

If you or your business has not yet explored the benefits of ephemeral content marketing, we encourage you to not waste any more time. Get started today and sign onto this growing trend to engage your followers on a daily basis. Consult with a Corporate Business Solutions expert to find out more.

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How to Successfully Manage Millennial Employees

By 2025, roughly 75% of the labor force will be comprised of millennials. That’s right. Millennials.

What does that mean for your business?

Well, with millennials making up such a large portion of the workplace, it’s imperative for small businesses to know how to efficiently manage millennial employees.

Let’s take a look at some of the best practices.

Embrace and Exploit Their Tech-Savvy Nature

 This is a no-brainer. As products of their generation, millennials are extremely tech-savvy. As a small business owner, you ought to promote and encourage their use of technology and social media. Rather than shutting them down, use this to your advantage. Trust us when we tell you it will help you stay competitive. To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

Offer Flexible Hours 

It’s no secret that millennials love balance when it comes to managing their personal and professional lives. Thus, you ought to consider promoting flexible hours with the potential to work remotely. Once you assemble the right team, you will thank yourself in the end.

Foster a Robust Company Culture

 Most millennials are looking for meaningful and purposeful work. Furthermore, many of them do not fear authority. Thus, it’s your job to create a strong company culture with meaning in order to attract and retain loyal millennial employees.

 Embrace Collaboration

For the most part, millennials are largely social people. As a small business owner, you should make it a priority to encourage collaboration as often as possible. Not sure how? Here are some starter ideas: regular team meetings, brainstorming sessions, workshops, continuing education, etc. This leads to the creativity you are looking for.

Create Leaders

Rather than being told what to do, millennials love taking the lead. You should find ways to mentor this generation with the purpose of teaching them how to create, lead, and manage. Consult with a Corporate Business Solutions expert to learn more.

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New Study Shatters Assumptions about Customer Service in 2018

Most small business owners may have kicked off the new year with various assumptions about offering customer service in a hyper-connected world. Business news has been dominated by stories about omnichannel solutions and virtual reality. According to a recent study conducted by the Chief Marketing Officer Council (CMO), a good majority of customers are indifferent to all this. While that may come as a relief to some small businesses, consumers do have very specific requirements for great customer service.

The study is based on a survey of over 2,000 consumers in North America and Europe, conducted last year. One highlight of the study showed that nearly half of survey respondents said they would abandon a business or a brand if the customer service was continually poor or frustrating. Clearly, even in our digital, self-help age, customer service remains crucial to attracting and retaining buyers, says Corporate Business Solutions consultants.

While consumers have high expectations for customer service, their specific criteria for judging a service boils down to three critical aspects: response time for requests, helpfulness of the provided assistance, and whether the overall experience was positive. Interestingly enough, less than 10 percent of respondents said social media communities for brands “always on” service, and multiple touch point transactions were important for great customer service.

The study also found that consumers were not looking for fancy tech channels to communicate. A good majority said a phone number, an email address or an online form were sufficient to connect with a brand or a business. It’s notable that what really concerned customers was response time. As long as it was fast, most respondents felt satisfied with the overall service.

The CMO study’s findings should put customer service into perspective for small businesses. There’s little need to complicate the process with hip new tech. Focus on response time, contact channels, and offering assistance that is helpful. To find out if your small business’s customer service strategy meets these goals, contact us regarding Corporate Business Solutions Reviews.