The Must-Know Laws of Writing Business Emails

Writing business emails are a fact of life for those who run a small business. But do you know how to write proper business emails? Here is a list of rules that all small business owners must follow when writing business-related emails:

Enter a Subject Line – Never send business emails without a subject line, warns Corporate Business Solutions, unless you want the emails to be ignored. Emails without subject lines would just end up in the trash or spam folder.

Add a Signature at the End – Gmail and other email services let users add an electronic signature to all emails sent. It’s highly advisable to use this feature when sending formal and semi-formal business emails. It’s just like adding your actual signature at the end of a memo or a business letter.

Avoid the “Hi”—Instead of starting the email with a “hey” or a “hi,” try using a professional salutation like Ms (name). Hello is more acceptable than hi, and you can start emails with Hello (name of recipient). Decide which is more suitable depending on the nature of the correspondence.

Read it Once Over – Don’t send the business email without reading it at least once. Avoiding embarrassing spelling mistakes might help you land a deal. Even a silly error could be interpreted by the recipient as you being sloppy and not serious, which is bad for business.

Let the Recipient Know What You are Talking about – Keep in mind that the recipient might not always know what you are talking about, especially if you are responding to a chain email. To employ the use of “one-liners” to refer to the subject matter. For example, write “with regards to (subject)” first and then continue the email.

Avoid Trying to be Funny – Don’t assume that jokes translate well in emailed text as in real-time conversations. Even an innocent joke could be misinterpreted by the person on the other end. So, don’t try to be funny and instead be formal when sending any business email.

Do Reply—Reply in a timely manner to all responses you get to business emails. If you don’t have time to write a lengthy message, do address that and at least say you will get back later with a better response.

Master the above email etiquette to improve your professionalism as a small business owner. Get more advice at CBS-CBS.com.

That Google Memo and Company Culture

If you are an avid consumer of business news, you must have already read about the 3,000-word Google memo by an unnamed employee that has gone viral. The memo details an employee’s dissatisfaction regarding Google’s new efforts to recruit more women and minorities. The author of the memo is rather offended by the tech giant’s push to hire more women engineers and cites “biological differences” between the sexes for underrepresentation of women in tech. Regardless of what you think about women or diversity, the memo raises an important question about company culture.

Small business owners often need to take decisions about hiring new employees that may not always be to the satisfaction of already existing employees. In local small businesses, for example, employees that have stuck out with the business for a while may not like it when the company wants to hire senior personnel to expand. Regardless of what hiring quotas end up being, business owners and managers must always maintain a strong company culture as well. The culture could be more diverse, or rather closed. However, all employees must ultimately have close working relationships that further the goals of the business. It’s never good for business when employees don’t get along well.

Here are several suggestions to small business owners from Corporate Business Solutions consultants about maintaining employee cohesion and building a strong company culture:

Listen to Complaints – There should be an effective method for employees to voice their complaints about the workplace environment. Some of these complaints will have merit, and most might not. Regardless, it’s important that all employees understand that the boss listens to them.

Let Them Know Empathy Matters – Don’t expect all your employees to get along like BFFs. Some will be close friends, others will not. The managers must ensure that employees have good working relationships with one another regardless of personal feelings. Some of these feelings may be sexist or racist, as in the case of the Google memo author. Don’t ever let your small business be embroiled in a racism or sexism scandal. It will ruin your business and expansion efforts for years to come. The company cannot change personal beliefs of workers either. What the small business owners can do is build an empathizing company culture where all employees respect one another.

Keep Goals in Mind—Make sure all employees share your vision for the company’s future. This matters more so than almost everything else when it comes to succeeding as a business.

If your small business needs to make the workforce more efficient and solve company culture issues, you can seek help at CBS-CBS.com.

How Small Businesses Should Protect Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is as valuable as cash assets to small businesses. Most companies, especially big ones like Google and Pepsi, spend millions each year protecting intellectual property assets. That’s because IP infringements are all too common. A company’s IP can be breached even via mundane things like signing a new contract with a partner or proposing a new design with a contractor. Losing the IP value of anything means that a small business loses an asset. Considering that, here are several methods recommended by Corporate Business Solutions to protect your company’s IP:

Sign NDAs with Everyone: It’s very important to include an IP clause in nondisclosure agreements that the company signs with clients, partners, contractors, freelancers, or anyone else. This indicates to the third-party that your business fully owns the copyright of a certain asset, and thus discourages infringement. If a breach does happen, your company will have the legal advantage to take the matter to the courts.

Be Careful of Disclosures Made to Freelancers: More and more companies are now getting business done via third-party freelancers or self-employed agents. If these non-employed workers get involved in the development of something, they can later make a claim on the IP. To prevent this, sign an NDA with an IP clause as mentioned above. Also, be careful of the sensitive disclosures you make to freelancers who might be able to use the knowledge to turn a copyright claim to their advantage.

Beware of International IP Rights: Small businesses themselves can be perpetrators of IP violations, sometimes unknowingly. This is quite true with regards to companies that sell internationally. Always make sure that patents, trademarks, or copyright claims of your company cannot be contested internationally. You will have to check international patents and IP registration to be sure.

Negotiate with IP Violators First: IP claim lawsuits are typically costly and prolonged for both parties. Therefore, it’s best to open dialogue with a potential violator before going to court. If you think an entity is infringing on your company’s IP, you can send a legal letter notifying them of the infringement, and send a cease and desist letter. You can hire mediation services to come to an agreement with the violator before getting into a lengthy court battle.

Always think of IP as assets. Things like patents add wealth to your small business. If you want to conduct a company review of business operations, including your risk for unregistered IP, contact us at CBS-CBS.com to find a consultant.

Microchipping Employees and Other Workplace Privacy Concerns

A company in Wisconsin will soon have approval to microchip its employees. Whether this indicates the business has reached an Orwellian age or is simply moving forward with technology will depend on whom you ask.

Of course, having microchips physically inserted into employees should unsettle even the most rationally pragmatic executive. In this case, the company will need an employee’s consent to insert a small “rice grain” sized chip between the thumb and the pointy finger of the hand. Participation is mandatory. More importantly, this chip is not a GPS tracker and will not be internet connected, so no one can hack into it. The only way to compromise the microchip, according to one employee at the company, is to have the employee’s hand literary chopped off.

As fascinating as micro chipping is, the story raises important questions about company goals and employee privacy. Small businesses, regardless of the sector, routinely collect very sensitive information about employees. For example, a typical small business would have access to an employee’s personal information, social security information, addresses, phone numbers, and other similar data that could wreak havoc in the wrong hands, Corporate Business Solutions consultants point out. So what exactly are the responsibilities of modern day companies to protect employee’s privacy and information?

First of all, as our consultants point out, all small businesses must have an employee guidebook that explains what data a small business might collect about them, how this data would be stored, and how the sensitive information would be protected from malicious entities like data thieves. It’s the responsibility of the business to be fully transparent with the employees regarding what type of information the business collects.

Small businesses should also ensure that the collected data is kept secure. This means investing in cyber security infrastructures such as safer networks, malicious software removal tools, and employee awareness training programs that teach good internet habits. Like the Wisconsin microchip company did, it would be wise to keep sensitive data disconnected from the web-connected company network.

To make sure your business is fully capable of ensuring employee privacy rights while keeping business secrets secure, get one of our Corporate Business Solutions Reviews.

Why Small Businesses Need to Keep Corporate Business Records

Most small business owners believe corporate business record keeping is just for big corporations. In our experience as Corporate Business Solutions consultants, most small business managers and executives consider record keeping to be just another administrative hassle that their work schedules can do without. But we strongly advise all small businesses to do better to keep corporate business records for a number of reasons.

If your small business is legally considered an S corporation, an LLC, or a C corporation, it is a must. Even small businesses that are not registered in this manner can benefit from keeping corporate-style business records.

Business Records Offer Legal Protection – The main reason corporations go to painstaking lengths to keep business records is for legal protection. Lawyers call this the “corporate veil” of protection in court. If your business is sued by anyone, including creditors, these business records will play an important role in showing that your company followed proper procedures and maintained legally required standards.

Safeguard Limited Liability – If a company is an LLC, corporate records are necessary to protect the “limited liability” function in the record. A potential lawsuit could demand personal assets in a settlement, all the while questioning the LLC’s compliance. Corporate records will safeguard your business’s LLC status.

For IRS Purposes – Corporate records can be requested by the IRS. If that happens, your business will need to provide it. IRS can demand documents like business meeting minutes under certain circumstances. Therefore, for tax purposes, these records are important.

In Case of a Sale – If the small business needs to go up for sale, a potential buyer would want to look at corporate business records to see how the business has performed. Also, they might want to make sure the company kept clean records and there’s nothing shady underneath.

For the above reasons and then some, CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultants recommend small businesses keep records of events like business meetings, annual reports, shareholder decision-making documentation, among others.

How to Encourage Employees to Meet Deadlines

Not being able to meet project deadlines is one of the most persistent issues small businesses face. There could be a variety of reasons for this issue. However, to keep up the levels of productivity at the workplace, meeting deadlines on time is a must. If the project teams at your company sometimes fail to meet essential deadlines, here are several suggestions from Corporate Business Solutions that might help:

Assign a Clear Team Leader: Teams work efficiently only with the presence of an undisputed leader. Rudderless teams are more likely to miss deadlines and be disorganized because no one is sure what to do. It’s common for some managers to put together a team without a clear hierarchy of authority. This can reduce tension at the office, but overall it leads to more disarray. When a team has a leader, that leader will ensure everyone does what they are supposed to on time. This structure is essential to almost every project.

Check in on Long Projects: If there’s a project that takes months to complete, a manager or an executive at the company should occasionally check in on progress. It’s possible that with other daily duties, employees might neglect long-terms goals. Executive supervision prompts employees to get things going. Also, for long projects, it’s best to schedule monthly or bi-monthly progress reports to remind everyone that the project needs to proceed.

Break Down Complex Projects: Sometimes employees are just too overwhelmed to meet deadlines. Therefore, managers or others in charge should take care to break down complex projects into small, doable portions. Do not dump a massive project on a handful of employees and give them a deadline they might not be able to meet. The responsibility also falls on the management side to be realistic about what to expect from employees.

Tell Employees to Write Down a Timetable: Employees must have a written record of schedules or timetables related to the project. The purpose here is to provide a task map that everyone can follow. Don’t let employees take mental notes of what to do and when. There should be a written record for all team members to refer.

If a team does miss a deadline, there should be a really good reason for it. Otherwise, your company might be lacking in productivity in general. You can get one of Corporate Business Solutions Reviews to see if your company is up to industry standards when it comes to productivity.

Some Tips for Generating Customer Referrals

The best way to influence a customer is through a recommendation from a friend, so said Mark Zuckerberg once. The customer referral, or word-of-mouth marketing, is still the best way to attract new customers to your brand. Potential customers naturally trust their friends or family over company-made ads. Therefore, a recommendation from a peer has a much stronger influence than the slickest marketing trick your business can afford.

While word-of-mouth marketing is indeed understood to be powerful, it’s very difficult to master. It’s not like your business can visit the Facebook pages of all customers and convince their friends to recommend your brand. But there are effective methods to promote word-of-mouth, as illustrated by the successes of companies like Uber and Dropbox. Here are several tips for creating customer referral programs as recommended by our Corporate Business Solutions consultants:

Come up with Great Incentives—Obviously, what really drives a customer to make a reference to someone else is getting something in return from the brand. If a customer really likes your business, he or she may make a recommendation to a friend. But your brand can definitely change the ‘may’ to a ‘will’ with an incentive. The incentives to offer will depend on your business. You can offer discounts, free items, or free upgrades. Dropbox, for example, offered customers an additional 500 MB of storage space for inviting a friend to join. Find out what your customers really desire, and base referral incentives on that.

Aim for High-Quality Referrals—It’s not simply enough for a customer to mention your brand name in a Facebook post. The referral must result in a lead. That is to say that the customer making the referral actually facilitates a purchase, a subscription, or a meeting. It could be done via social media, email, or in person. So, when offering incentives, make sure it leads to a referral that facilitates a purchase. Offering gifts in return for Facebook mentions or social media shares thus may not result in generating new leads.

Choose the Right Time: Don’t ask customers to make referrals during the wrong time. You risk requests being ignored. Ask for referrals when the customers are most engaged with your product or service. This is the only time incentives actually work. Timing is key to making referral programs work.

Want to know more about how to create a customer referral program with a huge turnout? Then contact one of our CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultants.

How Small Businesses Can Manage Employee Vacations During Summer

It’s the summer! For small business executives everywhere, this also means hordes of employees going on vacation. According to market research, about 30 percent of the workforce at the average small business takes paid time off during the season. Business managers should carefully handle vacation time off to avoid being shorthanded. Summer is also the season when customers are more than willing to spend money. Here are some tips for capitalizing on the season while employees are also taking time off:

Plan in Advance: To avoid disruption due to some employees being on holiday, it’s important to plan in advance. Have employees inform you at least a month in advance of extended summer vacations (ones that take a week or more). Then don’t forget to inform the other employees about who’s going to be on vacation so they, too, can make plans accordingly. Our Corporate Business Solutions consultants highly recommend holding a meeting among key managers and individuals to notify everyone of who is going to be absent and to maintain a master list of vacation schedules which can be consulted by management to be able to make needed adjustments where necessary.

Encourage Employees to Make Cover-Up Schedules: It’s very important for employees that work in teams to be on the same page. So if someone is going on summer vacation, tell that employee to get schedule fill-ins for necessary tasks. Everyone on a team should know about who’s covering up for whom on vacation.

Send Reminders: In addition to meetings, don’t forget to set up reminders to inform everyone in writing who will be off. For example, you can send email or Slack reminders about summer vacations. Encourage employees to do the same.

Set Vacation Deadlines: Employees going on vacation should be given deadlines to complete tasks before they take time off. Let them understand that no time off will be available until these tasks are done. This is why planning vacation time in advance is important.

Reward Fill In Employees: If an employee takes over a colleague’s tasks while he or she is on vacation, then don’t forget to acknowledge that fill in employee’s contribution. Managers can offer praise, bonuses, rewards like free pizza, or an extra day off during other seasons. These rewards will encourage employees to fill in more, so the company is less likely to be shorthanded.

Small businesses should offer reprieves for employees during the summer months. Use the above tips to make sure the holiday time doesn’t disrupt business. You can ask the professionals at CBS-CBS.com for advice on all matters related to small business, including staffing issues resulting from employee vacations, during a comprehensive business analysis of your company.

What Small Businesses Can Learn from Richard Branson’s Secret to Success

Richard Branson, the famed CEO of Virgin, recently shared his secret to success on his blog. So what could have propelled a once unknown recording studio owner to become a billionaire celebrity? The answer is deceptively simple: to do lists.

Branson explains in detail how he is always making lists. He carries a small pocketbook with him at all time to write down things to do. He even shared a snapshot of a to-do list he had made way back in 1972 when he was only running his studio, The Manor. His list included lofty goals like learning to fly, as well as such mundane things like buying new stuff for his studio. Branson says his to-do lists help him turn his ideas, no matter how big or small, into a reality.

This is, indeed, a very interesting habit for anyone to have. Branson tells all entrepreneurs to make lists and break down big tasks into small and manageable tasks that can be ticked off on a to-do list. Our Corporate Business Solutions consultants agree. What Branson is showcasing here is a keen ability to remain organized and focused. The to-do lists are a simple yet highly effective way to do this.

No entrepreneur or small business owner is ever not busy. During hectic weekly schedules, it’s easy to forget things that one must do. These things include both personal goals, like Branson wanting to learn flying, as well as business goals. Our consultants always advise small business owners to find personally convenient ways to stay organized. To-do lists, as Branson explains, are a very good start.

To-do lists are a great option for small business owners to stay ahead of schedule. Using such a list on a weekly basis will lead to more productivity. When we do Corporate Business Solutions Reviews, we often recommend teams to use lists as a way of staying organized. Small business owners, too, can definitely benefit from this advice, as Richard Branson clearly did.

How to Fire an Employee Properly

Firing an employee is one of the toughest aspects of being a small business owner or a manager. Even the companies that work the hardest to hire just the right employees occasionally find themselves in need of firing someone. Getting fired is not easy on the employee either. So this is a matter that should be handled as delicately as possible. If you make the employee that’s going to be fired angry, there could be consequences in terms of lawsuits, negative press articles, or even unthinkable situations like the recent business place shooting in Orlando by a fired employee.

Here are several tips from Corporate Business Solutions consultants on how to fire employees properly:

Do not resort to abrupt firings unless absolutely necessary – Never fire an employee abruptly, unless it’s a case of a zero-tolerance violation set forth in company personnel policies which put employees on notice what actions subject them to being immediately fired. For example, if the employee gets arrested or is caught red-handed in a crime, then you can fire the person on the spot if those actions are set forth in the personnel policies for immediate termination.

If the firing is the cause of something like poor performance, then the process should be handled gradually. For example, an employee with poor performance should be given fair warnings and opportunities to rectify the situation. If there’s any cause for concern, first discuss the matter with the employee in question. Gently warn that if the issue is not fixed, then you would be forced to fire the employee. It should be well understood by both parties. The gradual firing process also gives the employee time to emotionally prepare themselves for the prospect of getting fired.

Break the news gently – Keep in mind that losing a job is an extremely emotional process. So, employees might react to the news in various ways. Therefore, it’s important to break the news as gently and calmly as possible. Be calm on your side even if the employee is not.

Discuss the logistics of the firing – The person doing the firing should meet face-to-face with the employee to discuss issues such as severance packages. This should also be done in an understanding manner. Also, in these meetings, listen to the employee. Do not react to whatever they are saying. Some may try to threaten to sue. Handle it gracefully without adding fuel to the flame.

It would help if the company has policies in place for handling firing gracefully. CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultants can review the process of how your small business handles firings, or advise managers on how to fire people without having the company face backlash for any reason.