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Tips for Motivating Your Employees This New Year

Do you think your small business’s managers are motivating their employees? According to a recent survey by the human capital management company Ultimate Software, a shocking 56 percent of employees didn’t think so. The survey analyzed more than 2,000 employees in North America. While the overwhelming majority, 71 percent, of managers said they knew how to motivate their subordinates, the majority of employees disagreed.

Motivated employees are crucial to the success of a small business. Employees are also most satisfied when their relationship with the immediate manager is highly positive. Motivation is most important at the beginning of a new year when everyone is looking for a fresh start at work and in their personal lives. Here are several tips for managers and executives to keep employees motivated this new year from CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultants:

Hire Friendly Managers – The personality and social interactions of the manager will highly affect how employees perceive him or her. No one likes to work with bad-tempered and irascible managers. To create a successful relationship between managers and employees, hire people who are approachable and friendly. Employees should be able to communicate their workplace issues to the manager in order to solve problems. If that doesn’t happen, the productivity levels of the small business would be fundamentally flawed.

Do Ask Employees to Contribute – Managers who tell employees what to do all the time are just bad managers. They should direct teams, not dictate to them. When managers are authoritative, it leads back to the fundamental communication issue mentioned above. Dictatorial managers may never know the reality of the situation for the team. Without that knowledge, it’s impossible to make teams more productive or efficient. This type of manager also stifles innovation. Therefore, managers should be able to ask employees to contribute to projects and meetings. Employees are best for conveying what’s wrong from the working side. This information is crucial for seeing projects to completion.

Get Employee Feedback – The Company should also conduct surveys and open avenues for employees to offer feedback on their working conditions, including management styles. Ask your employees what’s wrong directly to fix the issue.

It’s the start of the New Year, so it’s wise for your small business to learn from the mistakes of the past and avoid repeating them. You can request one of our acclaimed Corporate Business Solutions Reviews to analyze your company’s management style and get feedback from the experts.

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Holiday Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

The holidays are finally here. The season typically lasts well into end of January, so small businesses should be getting prepped to stand out among rivals. Most of your employees will be looking forward to spending time with family, but the holidays are definitely not the time to take a break from marketing to clients. It’s the prime time for people to shop, even if some of the biggest holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving are far behind. People continue to go on spending sprees particularly as the New Year rolls around. Here are several ideas from CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultants about marketing during the holiday season:

Up the Social Media Game—The holidays are definitely the time to be on social media. Everyone is checking their Facebook or Instagram feeds, commenting on friends’ pictures and posts. This is the best time for a brand to launch a word-of-mouth campaign. Keep in mind that many other brands will be active on social media as well. So it would be important to stand out from the crowd.

Personalize All Marketing Material—Customers are bombarded with marketing messages from everywhere during the season. Therefore, to capture the attention of the target audience, personalize all marketing material. Avoid the usual “Dear Customer” and use names. If your business has compiled customer profiles, now is the time to use them.

Send Gifts—Gifting not only shows your client base that your brand actually cares about them, it also helps clients keep your brand in mind the following year. Increase your small business’s loyal customer base, and subsequently sales, by sending personalized gifts to loyal customers and important clients.

Offer Deals and Discounts—The holiday season is definitely the time for sales, so offering your customers deals and discounts is more of an obligation at the end of each year. Small businesses can get more out of these deal offerings by smartly timing them. Also, make sure customers are aware of what the company is offering, especially for the season.

It’s the end of the year, so it’s also the time to opt for one of our Corporate Business Solutions Reviews to see exactly how your business performed in the past year, and how much better it can perform in the coming year.

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Understanding Net Neutrality Rules and How Elimination May Affect Small Businesses

Net neutrality has been in the news lately. The newly appointed FCC Chairman Ajith Pai recently unveiled a proposal to repeal net neutrality rules adopted under the Obama administration. Now it may all sound like tech stuff that has nothing to do with business whatsoever. If you think that, then you are dead wrong. In fact, if net neutrality rules are repealed, it would mostly affect small to medium-sized companies in the U.S. Read below for a briefing from Corporate Business Solutions consultants on what net neutrality is and how the proposed repeal may affect your small business:

What is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality broadly refers to keeping internet access equal for everyone. Our access to the internet is controlled largely by broadband service providers. Your ISP can block access to certain sites (and it already does for illegal sites), control which content you see, and more importantly, throttle or control speeds for various sites.

The idea behind net neutrality is to prevent large broadband service providers from preventing free access to the internet.  Simply put, ISPs could create a “pay to play” system where some businesses can pay for better access to customers. That is to say, broadband companies can create a “fast lane” for certain businesses, where sites are speedy and then throttle the speeds of rival companies. When the net neutrality rules were initially enacted, then President Obama said: “No service should be stuck in a ‘slow lane’ because it does not pay a fee.”

Here is a useful resource to get more details about net neutrality in general: 13 things you need to know about the FCC’s Net neutrality regulation

What Repealing Net Neutrality Means for Small Businesses

Repeal of net neutrality rules will give large internet provider companies broad control over how everyone accesses the internet. For example, a broadband provider could charge a fee to make sure a website loads in under 3 seconds. This fee may not be hefty for a large company, but for a small business, especially a one-person operation, it could be life or death for the company.

Consumers, too, would be affected. ISPs would be able to provide packages that limit video streaming data availability, for example. Consumers will no longer be able to get access to all content, which would definitely affect how companies reach their target audiences.

Internet-based companies would certainly suffer if net neutrality rules are scrapped. Not just the small companies, even large ones like Code Academy, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter and Google have urged FCC to keep the rules. The American Sustainable Business Council even released an open letter to the FCC stating that rolling back net neutrality rules will be “disastrous for the country’s business community.”

What to Anticipate

Keep in mind that FCC’s decision is still a proposal and is not yet final. However, the FCC’s chairman has been insistent that the rules will be eliminated. Even if it occurs, there may not be a reason to panic just yet. It’s not likely that broadband companies would immediately create a pay-to-play system, especially when emotions are running high. In any case, ISPs may have to await legal decisions.

If you are worried about how net neutrality may affect your business, contact CBS Corporate Business Solutions to learn more about the issue with regards to your company’s unique situation.

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How a 350-Year Old Business Continues to Innovate

Do you think your small business would last 350 years?  For the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, that’s the reality. The company was founded in Tokyo in 1656 by a former samurai. Since then, MUFG has made remarkable strides in the financial industry. Though the business is a bank in practice, this has never stopped MUFG from innovating. Today, the company is a multinational business in a highly competitive international environment. So what lessons does this centuries’ old company have much newer small businesses?

MUFG’s head of transaction banking, Ranjana Clark, told media that the secret to the company’s continued success was a commitment to identifying customer pain points and eliminating them. MUFG doesn’t attract customers by offering various incentives but rather retains customers by making it a lot easier to do banking with MUFG rather than anywhere else.

This is a great tactic that your small business can also employ to obtain an advantage over the competition. Making sure that the end-to-end customer experience is seamless has proven to be more effective than offering customers deals, discounts or gifts. Here is how your small business can go about eliminating customer pain points:

Identify Pain Points First—obviously, your company needs to understand what obstacles customers face when interacting with your business. Don’t speculate here. Do one of our Corporate Business Solutions Reviews or an internal review to scientifically identify pain points.

Think Like Customers—Don’t approach the problem as a business executive would. Approach the problem like a customer. Viewing pain points from the customer’s perspective is all that matters when solving issues.

Come Up with Specific Solutions—don’t think there will be a “one size fits all” solution for the pain points identified. There won’t be. Therefore, the business will need to come up with specific solutions for each target group for each pain point.

Customer Feedback May Help—when developing solutions, it will be helpful to get input from customers as well. It’s part of “thinking like a customer” mentioned above.

Ultimately, aim to develop an emotional connection, like security and trust, with the customer. It has been shown over and over that emotional connections make customers return more than incentives. You can get in touch with a consultant at CBS-CBS.com to develop a comprehensive plan to address customer pain points.

 

How to Build Trust in Business Relationships

Solid business relationships are entirely built on trust. But occasionally, some of these relationships can get frayed. How do you repair a business relationship that’s losing its trustworthy nature? Here are several solutions from our Corporate Business Solutions consultants:

Keep Communication Lines Open – Trust can erode when the communicating stops. Therefore, keep in touch with the client or the business partner to make sure the relationship is retaining the trust it is based on. For example, keep partners informed of critical developments happening at the company that may be relevant to them as well. Answer questions honestly. Communication is the key to building trust, as well as preserving it.

Aim for Cooperative Contracts – Instead of signing for-profit contracts, aim to sign long-term cooperative contracts that offer benefits to both sides equally. If a small business wants to retain important partners, expect that these partners will seek more than financial gain from contracts. Most businesses do not enter into lucrative long-term contracts with entities they don’t trust. Therefore, cooperation is the key to stable business relationships that reap major profits over time.

Own up to Mistakes – One of the biggest reasons small businesses lose the trust of partners and clients is the blame game. It’s normal for mistakes to be made during everyday business transactions. However, how these mistakes are handled is what matters for long-term trust. If a mistake is made, and it’s the fault of your company, then do own up to the mistake. Do not deflect blame or try to pin it on something else. That shows irresponsibility. Businesses don’t like irresponsible partners that cannot be trusted. Therefore, be an empathetic and responsible partner.

Directly Address Sources of Conflict – If another business or a client is losing trust in your company due to a particular issue, do talk about it. If there are causes of tension in the business relationship, take time and initiative to address these problems head-on. Don’t let small issues snowball into big ones that result in broken partnerships.

Overall, be proactive when it comes to building trust in business relationships. To know more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

What to Do When Customers Bash Your Brand or Product on Social Media

Social media is essential for engaging with customers. Sometimes though, small businesses may wish customers were not so engaged on social media. If clients are taking to social media, not to praise your products, but to bitterly criticize, then your company will have a full-blown crisis on hand. Understandably, not all customers who engage with a brand post positive or neutral comments. The goal of a marketing strategy is to maximize positive engagement and minimize negative engagement down to near zero.

But what happens when the negatives end up overtaking the positives? How can a small business respond without spending too much or making the crisis worse?

Don’t Confront the Negative Posters – Being confrontational on a public platform like social media will never end well for a brand. Unless being confrontational is actually one of the traits the brand is trying to promote. Most brands, however, do not want this. If your team tries to confront the accusers, regardless of the merits of the claims, you risk a small argument from snowballing into a veritable social media spectacle. It takes years to build the reputation of a brand, and only minutes to destroy it beyond repair.

Take the High Road and Put the Matter to Rest Quickly – For example, learn about what happened to Iggy Azalea, a promising musician who damaged her brand permanently by relentlessly arguing with critics on Twitter. Keep in mind that the negative reviewers are not losing massive profits by arguing with a business. Therefore, the company should take the high road. Without sounding condescending or deceptive, put the matter to rest with a genial post. Keep it short and apologize if you have to. Don’t drag on an argument any longer than it needs to and let the news cycle move on.

Ask a Consultant What to Do – Marketing experts like the Corporate Business Solutions consultants can help your small business respond to a major PR crisis in a timely and sensitive manner. If your marketing team is inexperienced in responding to negative feedback that is making its way to media, hire the experts to manage the problem.

The main thing during a PR crisis is to avoid the problem from getting worse. Refer to CBS-CBS.com on how your small business can prepare for negative publicity in advance.

How Famous Businesses Create Great Company Cultures

If a small business wants to retain its top talent, increase employee morale, commitment and productivity, then the business must have a great culture. Company culture is a term that pops up a lot in business-related news articles. It refers to the internal environment of a business and the rules and procedures that drive employee, manager, and customer relations. A good company culture is essential for long-term business survival.

So, exactly how can a small business create a good company culture? Let’s look at some examples of famous brands that have managed to create truly excellent company cultures (selected by Corporate Business Solutions consultants):

Twitter – Twitter has managed to avoid some of the major pitfalls tech companies faced by developing a good company culture. The workplace is highly team-oriented with an emphasis on motivation and inspiration. Twitter also offers other benefits like free lunches, yoga classes, and even unlimited vacations for select employees. Those are only some of the reasons why Twitter employees cannot stop boasting about the company.

Warby Parker – Warby Parker is a major prescription eyeglasses brand. The company ensures that the internal culture is positive by arranging numerous events that drive positive interactions between employees. For example, working at Warby Parker means attending fun events, going out to interesting lunches, and overall socializing with co-workers a lot.

Zappos – The online shoe brand does not tread slowly when it comes to company culture. Zappos is heavily invested in providing great customer service. But the customer is not the only focus here. Zappos has 10 core values that all employees must learn. Zappos believes that happy employees lead to happy, and loyal, customers.

Squarespace – Squarespace is a highly successful startup that was once ranked as the best place to work in NYC. Why? Well, the reasons are many. The company has a “flat” hierarchy where the management level between the employees and the executives are few. Squarespace is actually applying a common startup tactic to a much larger company. Also, the company offers amazing benefits to employees like full health insurance coverage, pleasant workplaces, in-office stocked kitchens, and flexible vacation periods.

There are many things small businesses can learn from the above examples of creating a great company culture. CBS Corporate Business Solutions also want to include the importance of taking steps to reducing the incidents of verbal abuse and sexual harassment at the workplace if a company wants to create a truly great culture.

Small Business Loans Explained

Borrowing money for a small business can be tricky. The finances involved in this category are quite complicated. More often than not, small business borrowers don’t really understand the terms associated with business finance. Here is a brief explanation from Corporate Business Solutions consultants of some types of business loans available to small business owners:

Term Loan – These are a common type of financial assistant in the business sphere. A term loan is simply a sum of money that the borrower must pay back with interest over a designated period of time. The length of the payment period is important here. Term loans are paid back over a longer period of time, in contrast to short-term loans, colloquially known as payday loans which have high effective interest rates and are not a smart way to borrow money. Term loans offer the major advantage of having reasonable interest rates and lower monthly payments. However, businesses need to be in very good financial standing to obtain a term loan.

SBA Loan – These are small business specific loans made under a program authorized by the Small Business Administration. SBA loans are highly recommended for companies because these offer lower costs than typical term loans. The loans are created to boost small businesses, so the lender has your best interests at heart. While highly affordable and quite ideal for small companies, obtaining one of these loans requires following the procedures set forth by the SBA.

Line of Credit – Traditional business loans are borrowed once and paid over installments. Line of credit business loans are different in that small businesses can continuously borrow and pay back as many times as desired. Line of credit does have a maximum borrowing threshold, so borrowers can only obtain amounts lower than this threshold at any given time. Line of credit loans are largely similar to using revolving credit since no new approval process is needed as long as you stay within the limits established under the original terms of the line of credit.

The above is only a very brief explanation of the type of business loans available to owners. Small businesses should not borrow indiscriminately just because the financial instruments are available. Consult with us at CBS-CBS.com to find out if your business is borrowing wisely and what are the best options available for your business.

 

Paid Advertising Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid

Paying for advertising is one of the biggest investments small businesses make. Therefore, the money should be spent wisely. CBS-CBS.com consultants advise many clients on setting up small businesses budgets. One of the major issues we have seen is wasteful spending on digital marketing. Here is our advice for small businesses that want to avoid overspending on online ads. These are some mistakes to avoid:

Using an un-optimized landing page—The landing page is the primary reason your Google Adwords traffic becomes conversions. If the landing page is slow, boring, irrelevant, or not optimized in any meaningful manner, your site will not see increased sales. Therefore, make sure the landing page is tested to drive conversions.

Limiting promotions to only one paid advertiser—Paid advertising is a varied genre. Therefore, don’t limit your budget to just one, like Google Adwords. Make use of other paid channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and so on. Also, try to find niche paid advertising channels in which your target audience is most likely to engage. If your company is B2B, for example, then LinkedIn would be a better place to buy ads than Facebook.

Ignoring specialized publishers—When you buy an ad on Google or Facebook, you are advertising to a general audience. If you want to advertise to a very specific audience, then you need an ad publisher who can reach websites, blogs, and media companies that reach this audience. Therefore, do invest in publishers like BuySellAds and Blogads to reach niche audience with the likelihood of high conversion rates. You can contact a CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultant regarding reaching niche audiences through paid advertising.

Not using remarketing strategies—Remarketing and retargeting strategies aim to attract people who have already visited your website or followed a link. Visiting at least once indicates the interest of some sort. Therefore, paying for advertising to this audience is a great way to attract high-quality traffic. You can get more for your money considering that only users who were at least once interested in your products are returning.

Last but not least, your paid advertising strategy must match your budget and vice versa. If you are on a limited budget, redo the strategy to benefit from only the most lucrative channels, and not experimental ones. You should match the budget to strategy to avoid both overspending and underspending.

Hurricane Harvey Highlights the Importance of Small Business Disaster Preparedness

Hurricane Harvey has made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast turning quiet streets into raging storm rivers. While the rescue operations are ongoing for regular folk, it’s important to pay attention to the hurricane’s impact on the small businesses in the area. The area Harvey is barreling through is a major hub of the state’s offshore oiling business. As a result, there are many small businesses operating in the region. Unlike the bigger companies, small businesses are hit hard during disasters like hurricanes.

As much as 40 percent of small businesses don’t survive disasters like Harvey, says a disaster specialist with Fox Business. Experienced Corporate Business Solutions have noted that many small businesses do not adequately prepare for natural disasters. It’s understandable that most people might be concerned about personal safety. But small businesses can lose a lot during disasters. The business can end up literally torn apart by a hurricane and lose inventory and property. Here are several suggestions from our consultants on how small businesses can prepare for disaster and minimize losses:

Have an Emergency Management Plan – All small businesses should have an emergency management plan at hand. Such a plan makes an early assessment of potential damages a small business could experience in case of a disaster. Also, such plans prepared in advance roles to take on for employees and managers in case a natural disaster strikes unexpectedly. In simple terms, this is basically a handbook on what to do in case of a flooding, hurricane, or a tornado. Your business absolutely needs to make this plan in advance, preferably with the help of experts like the ones you can find in CBS-CBS.com.

Take Necessary Steps to Physically Secure the Business—Small businesses should always have at hand the necessary tools to board up a store in case disaster strikes. Well prepared managers should call construction experts in advance to find out the best ways to secure the store so it can withstand most natural disasters.

Get Insurance Coverage – Business insurance coverage should include a provision for natural disaster emergency situations. Your company must be covered for the most common natural disasters the area you are located at faces. The FEMA website has some useful information for companies about getting disaster insurance.

Small businesses should also have a system in place to address local government emergency alerts for disasters. Set up a communication system so that all employees are informed of such alerts and evacuations when needed, are facilitated.