Using SMART Goals to Help Your Business Grow

Making goals for business growth can, at times, feel challenging. You may have a vision of what your business’ future success looks like, but you may not have a business plan in place to help your team reach that productive end-point. You’ll need to set goals in order to incrementally pave the way towards success, so why not be SMART about it.

SMART goals are a specialized system of breaking down your business or personal goals into easy-to-evaluate criteria. Through these five components, you’ll be able to create goals that will sow confidence and accountability into your entire team.

Should you need further support, though, the consulting experts at Corporate Business Solutions can help to create customized goals to meet your business’ financial and productivity needs.

Specific

First, your goal must be as specific as possible. While it’s easy to set a broad goal, your business will see more success if your goals are carefully tailored to meet specific end-points. Team members, in particular, will benefit from specificity because it will help them align their role on the team towards your vision for the company’s success.

If you’re struggling to specificity your business’ goals, consider using the traditional “6 W’s” (Who, What, Where, When, Which, and Why) approach to verbalizing your goals. You can then use these keywords to create a fully-fledged statement of your goal’s purpose and structure from the outset.

Measurable

Measuring the degree of success in meeting specified business goals is crucial, plain and simple. Without a metric for measuring your business’ success in meeting a goal, your progress will remain largely intangible and difficult to track from quarter to quarter. Measurable criteria can come in several forms, with everything from “dollars” to “number of new clients” included.

One of the best ways to determine if your goal is measurable is to evaluate if it can be broken down into tangible milestones. These waypoints can help guide business operations in the short-term in order to make the larger long-term goal more manageable for each team member.

Attainable

Attainability primarily evaluates the structural changes that may need to take place in order to make your goal into a reality. These changes need not be earth-shaking; in fact, they are often as simple as determining which tools and skills your team will need to acquire to make this goal a reality. Make sure that your evaluation of attainability is focused on motivation (IE “we can attain this goal!) or else your team may not have the drive to overcome potential obstacles.

Relevant

Evaluating relevance can be crucial to ensuring that your individual goals align efficiently with your larger business-wide goals. A relevant goal is able to set a course for a distinct end-point while still optimizing existing resources to enhance the goal’s eventual impact. Often, the best way to evaluate relevance is by meeting with all key team members and breaking down how your new goal aligns with (or potentially breaks free from) their existing goals and objectives.

Timely

Finally, your goal should have a built-in time table in order to keep your fresh objectives on a clear course towards fulfillment. You’ll know your goal is timely when you can continuously evaluate its efficiency based upon how much time has elapsed since its initiation. Such a time table should also be realistic and informed by relevant research into the norms for similar goals within your industry.

3 Tips for Finishing Out the Year Strong

As we move through the second half of the year, you’ve probably begun to turn your attention towards your productivity and revenue goals for the year to see if you are on target. If you’re like most business owners, you could always use a little extra support when it comes to finishing the year strong.  The following field-tested tips will fit that need with precision, with each tip providing insight into an issue or method you can use to optimize your success.

When it comes to staying on track with for your goals, you need not go at it alone, though. Corporate Business Solutions consultants are ready and waiting to meet with you to create a personalized management plan that meets your business’ short- and long-term goals.

Tip #1 – Look at Your Last “To Do” List

Though it may sound obvious, your efforts towards planning should include a full review of your goals. During the course of such a review, you can check off any goals that you have been successfully met as well as make modifications to ongoing goals that reflect their current priority status.

If a previously completed goal has fallen by the wayside, don’t be afraid to add it back in for next year’s “to do” list. This can help emphasize its overall importance, as well as provide a stepping stone for making that company-wide goal or milestone a permeant feature.

Tip #2 – Use SMART Goals

There’s an old saying that the best way to eat an elephant is “one bit at a time.” While you need not go to such carnivorous ends to achieve your goals, you should use a goal-setting method that helps you incrementally break down your goals into easy-to-monitor criteria. SMART goals are just one method of accomplishing this standard.

“SMART” goals are those that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. When creating a new line item for next year’s “to do” list, ask yourself, “Is this goal specific? Is this goal measurable?” and so forth. If not, take time to further pare down your goal until you are able to communicate its qualitative and quantitative components with precision.

Tip #3 – Identify Systematic Problems and Solutions

Finally, while looking at the company-wide “to do” list, take some time to determine if any system-wide barriers to efficient operations stand in your and your employee’s path. Though these hurdles can appear on a variety of fronts, they most often prevent employees from completing their assigned tasks in a timely fashion or communicating with one another with a respectable degree of clarity.

Many companies resolve these systematic problems by implementing new tools to supplement their existing capabilities. App-based messaging programs such as Slack, for example, have helped many small and large businesses streamline their team-based internal communications. Even non-communications problems can be solved by looking at the root cause of the barrier and then implementing a purpose-built tool or plan that helps eliminate that barrier substantially.

Onboarding New Employees with the Teaching EDGE

Onboarding new employees can be a challenge, especially if you expect that they’ll need extensive training using your business’ equipment or require extensive support to slot into your company’s workflow. Regardless of the skill or system, you need to teach to your new employee, you can do so using a method promoted in the Scouting program known as the “Teaching EDGE.”

This four-step cycle is designed to incrementally guide an individual from a position of deficit understanding to a position of fully independent operation. Using this Teaching EDGE can certainly take the edge off of both large and small training scenarios. For additional insights into managing your business, consider checking out CBS-CBS.com and their portfolio of informative consulting services.

E – Explain

Before your new employee ever picks up a tool or receives any projects, you (or a relevant manager) should work one-on-one with the new employee to fully explain what is expected of them with regards to this specific task. After explaining these expectations in detail, you should physically walk through every step in the relevant process. During this walkthrough, be sure to go slowly and make all of your actions deliberately geared towards the stated outcome.

At this stage, the new employee will not engage the new skill on their own. Instead, they will watch while you perform the task to gain a broad understanding of the bigger picture.

D- Demonstrate

Continuing on from the “Explain” stage, this next stage is focused on demonstrating the proper methodology behind completing the desired task, as well as explaining the underlying rationale for those actions. To this extent, you’ll repeat the previously completed process while breaking down each step in language familiar to the new employee. This step should also include an emphasis on intricacies that would not otherwise be obvious to the new employee.

By this time, new employees may possess (or should be prompted for) questions. Answer these questions fully and on their terms. While the new employee won’t work hands-on at this stage, they should be empowered to retain as much information regarding the skill’s successful completion as possible.

G – Guide 

After watching both a broad and in-depth implementation of the desired skill, the new employee is ready to begin attempting the new skill in a low-stakes scenario. As the teacher, you may walk your new employee through the steps on the first several cycles before allowing them to complete the task from memory.

Some mistakes are bound to happen, which is perfectly normal. Reassure your new employee and provide input to support their fundamental understanding of the task. At this stage, the new employee should grow in confidence and be able to complete the desired task with some auxiliary support.

E – Enable

Finally, it is time for you, the teacher, to step away and allow the new employee to apply their new skill in a live or realistic scenario. In other words, it is time for the new employee to act on their own and take responsibility for reinforcing their own mastery.

Some mistakes may still occur at this stage, which is okay. Remember that learning a new skill should be treated as cyclical, requiring occasional reinforcement in order to provide your new employee with an opportunity for skill mastery.

3 Tips for Harnessing Social Media to Meet your Business Goals

Regardless of your professional field, gaining new clients and building your revenue is likely at the core of your business planning efforts. While these plans should always be well-aligned with trends in your specific industry, nearly all business large and small can benefit from harnessing the raw communications potential of contemporary social media platforms.

Like the Yellow Pages of yesteryear, social media is where many consumers today turn to in order to ascertain key business information. It is up to you to meet your clients where they are and create a robust social media presence that meets their expectations.

While the following tips for harnessing social media resources will start you down the path towards success, Corporate Business Solutions reviews will help you further solidify these digital gains.

Tip #1 – Identify Your Audience(s)

First and foremost, you’ll need to know your audience before you can ever hope of reaching out to them on social media. While this may broadly include folks working in or in need of services from your specific industry, you should further pare down your audience based upon specific demographics (such as hierarchical position in a company and geographic region).

In all likelihood, you will end up establishing several “target audiences.” This is perfectly normal and can actually help you draw in clients and customers from several different entry points. For example, a bakery may maintain a social media profile that targets both regular bread-seeking customers as well as potential partners (such as a coffee shop) that could sell their products at a commercial level.

Tip #2 – Choose the Right Channels

With your target audiences in mind, you should begin to select social media platforms that are demographically tailored to engage those audiences with precision. Simply put, not all social media platforms are designed to reach every audience, so these selections may be the difference between striking it rich with your audience and wasting your resources on a fruitless digital venture.

Facebook remains the best social media platform for reaching a broad audience and advertising, though its impact on younger audiences is greatly waning today. Meanwhile, LinkedIn remains a great option for networking with other industry professionals and publicizing your business’ services. Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube each respectively hold potential as well when it comes to digitally communicate with your target audiences.

Tip #3 – Engage and Respond

Unlike other communication platforms of the past, social media revolves around the core concept of “engagement.” When you make a post on a social media platform, your audience can immediately respond (both positively or negatively) to your content through verbal and iconographical indicators. This can change how much visibility and productive reception your business receives online as a whole. Often, social media platforms will include analytical tools to help you make heads or tails of your platform-specific engagement.

Engagement isn’t a one-way street, though. When an audience member engages your social media presence, you can respond with feedback based upon their identified needs. Regardless of the feedback’s content, you should always maintain a professional demeanor in order to project the best possible digital brand voice for your physical business.

Are Your Employees Stressed? 5 Ways to Reduce Stress and Boost Productivity

Did you know that stress in the workplace costs companies around the United States to lose $30 billion a year in lost workdays? For any size of the business, that is a significant hit to your profits. A small business, though, the amount of money lost from stressed employees could be detrimental to the bottom line.

Trying to be productive while stressed is one of the hardest things to do. Stress causes us to lose focus on the task at hand, affect our mental wellbeing and can cause physical symptoms as well.

To prevent your employees from being stressed while working, Corporate Business Solutions has five ways that you can keep your workplace stress-free and boost productivity.

Have Open Communication at All Times

Lots of employee stress comes from not having enough communication with their manager. One of the everyday stressors for staff members is their boss.

Luckily, you can do something about that. Evaluate your management skills and see if that’s what is contributing to the stress. Keep your door open for communicating with your team at all times. If someone is having issues, he or she should feel comfortable enough to discuss the problem with you.

Offer Mental Health Days

Although the purpose of reducing stress is to keep your employees productive, there will be times that the only way to do this is by giving stressed employees time off, with pay. If someone needs a break but worries about not getting paid, it won’t solve anything.

Offer mental health days to your staff. These days should be for when someone is highly stressed due to work or personal related matters. It will allow them to relax and ease their mind before coming back to work.

Have an Outlet Room

If you get highly stressed, it’s nice to have somewhere you can go to get all that built-up frustration out. You can offer that in your office by having an outlet room. Think of it as a break room, but for getting rid of stress.

Have things like a ping pong table, dartboard, basketball hoop, and other board games that will relax their minds and help ease up on the everyday stressors of work.

Have a Take Your Dog to Work Day

It’s common for people to have dogs nowadays, and rightfully so. Pets offer so many health benefits to us, as long as you don’t have any allergies to them. They can help reduce your stress and make you feel happier.

Have a day where employees can bring their dogs to work. Before doing this, check to ensure everyone is okay with this idea, as not everyone is a dog lover. Incorporating this into your week, though, can help create a more comfortable work environment that is less stressful and more productive.

Have a Workout Place

If it’s feasible for your office, have somewhere that employees can get in a quick workout. Physical exercise is a great way to reduce stress and keep you healthy.

Having a spot to workout doesn’t necessarily mean you need a full gym in the office. It could be a meditation spot, an area for yoga and stretching, or having a treadmill for a quick run.

6 Tips to Establish a Successful Freelancing Business

More and more people are looking at the world of freelancing as their career path, and understandably so. Freelancing is something entirely different from a regular day job.

As a freelancing, you’re your own business. You’re the boss, employee, bookkeeper, HR department, administration, and even the maintenance crew to clean up your desk. In other words, you’re everything that makes up a business.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of freelancing – being your own boss, building your schedule, and working from basically anywhere in the world – then you need to establish a successful business. With these six tips from CBS-CBS.com, you’ll get off to a good start.

Know Your Focus

Although some work better than others, you can freelance in just about any line of work. Part of being successful, though, is to master in one field and stick with it. Trying to do too many things at one time will only make your life challenging. Plus, you want to develop your skills, and having one focus will help you do that.

Be a Master at Scheduling

One of the most essential points to stress for freelancers is that you have to be organized. It’s next to impossible to be successful if you cannot organize your day. Since you don’t have anyone checking in on you and ensuring you stay on task, it’s up to you to create your schedule and stick to it.

Actually Work

Although this seems obvious, if you’ve never freelanced before, you’ll soon realize why this point is here. It’s so easy to get distracted by everything around you that you end up falling behind in work. Make a note of doing a set amount of work every day to stay on top of everything.

Prioritize

Just as scheduling is an essential skill for freelancers, so to is prioritizing. As you become more successful, you’ll have multiple clients with multiple projects on the go. You have to juggle everything and ensure that you hand every assignment in on time.

Learning how to prioritize will help you with your success. Make a list of what you need to do for the week. Base it off what is the most important to what can wait. You wouldn’t want to spend hours on a project due next week when you have an assignment for tomorrow that you haven’t started yet.

Advertise Yourself

People won’t know who you are at the start. It’s up to you to advertise yourself and get the word of your skills out in public. You can do that by having a social media account dedicated to your freelancing, setting up ads, and by having a portfolio website.

Your portfolio is a way to showcase who you are, what your skills are, your previous work, and what you want to focus on. You can use this to send to potential clients to gain their trust and earn their business.

Persevere

It won’t be easy; there’s no other way to put it. Freelancing is a challenging field to get started in. However, once you establish yourself and get going, you’ll enjoy the rewards of this lifestyle. So, persevere through the difficult times at the start and don’t give up.

How to Set Up an Effective and Successful Meeting

Although they aren’t always the most fun thing you can do at work, having regular meetings with your office is a productive way to ensure everyone is on the same page. Meetings are often an underrated tool that management can use to work with their team.

Having a successful meeting comes from how you set it up. Simply telling your staff to gather in the board room for a meeting and preparing nothing in advance won’t get you very far. It would help if you got in the habit of doing some prep work.

To help you hold successful and effective meetings, Corporate Business Solutions Reviews has six tips.

Give Advance Warning

Especially if you want people to engage with you and have something to say, you should give the attendees advance warning. This also allows them to adjust their schedule so that they can fit the meeting in.

Provide a Written Agenda

Part of giving your staff a warning for the meeting is to provide them with an agenda. When they have the main points you plan to talk about, again, they can plan ahead of time and come more prepared. When everyone in attendance is prepared, you’re likely to have a more engaging meeting.

Stay On Time and On Task

Meetings frustrate people because they tend to be long, dragged out, and end up going off task. If that happens, people leave feeling like they’ve (or you) wasted their time. That is not the sign of a productive meeting.

Manage the clock as you guide the meeting. If you said it’s only going to be 10 minutes, make sure you stick to that. If you have points brought up that are off topic, make a physical note of them and mention you will follow up with either them personally or the group after, but that you need to stick to the agenda. Make sure that you show the team you are making a note of the topic, so they know you’re taking it seriously.

Use Visuals If Necessary

Not every meeting requires visuals. If you’re making a PowerPoint for the sake of having something to look like, you’re probably doing more work for yourself and wasting your time. However, if you need to prove a point with charts, then make a straight-to-the-point presentation not to distract people.

Encourage Note Taking (and Take Notes Yourself)

Note-taking is an essential skill to learn and master. Our minds can only remember so much, and if there were an important point brought up at the start of the meeting, you’d want to remember that later. Encourage the attendees to take notes by providing them with a notepad and pen.

Even though you’re conducting the meeting, you should also take notes yourself. If you want to encourage discussion, then you should jot down what your employees mention.

Follow Up is Key

No matter how prepared you are and how engaging the meeting was, you’re likely going to lose an employee or two at some point. It happens. That is why, following up with the attendees is critical.

Send out an email to the attendees and anyone who couldn’t make it. Include any points brought up from the group and any points that you tabled for later. Again, make it brief and straight-to-the-point. Include if you want to do a follow-up meeting on something important.

Your Guide to Handling a Business Lawsuit

As you start up and grow your business, the last thing on your mind is to be dealt with a lawsuit. It’s something that every business owner knows can happen, but it’s not something you want to go through.

A business lawsuit can come from many circumstances – from an employee, a customer, or possibly another company. Lawsuits cost company’s lots of money and can quickly become overwhelming to the point of feeling like it’s the end of your business. However, it’s all in how you handle the lawsuit and maneuver through each step.

Whether you’re currently going through a business lawsuit or want to prepare just in case, Corporate Business Solutions Reviews has a guide to deal with the situation.

Hire an Attorney

First things first, fire yourself an attorney that works with business lawsuits. You won’t want to go through this on your own. Once you receive the papers, take them straight to your attorney to go through them and develop a plan.

When you go through the lawsuit with your attorney, you’ll check for any discrepancies in the lawsuit to ensure it is accurate and for the right person. After that, you and your attorney will start to draw up a plan of action.

Do Not Communicate the Lawsuit With the Plaintiff

The person who files the lawsuit, it is best to not to communicate with them about the lawsuit. Anything said about the lawsuit could get used against either of you. That doesn’t mean you have to cut all forms of communication off with the person filing the lawsuit. However, it’s best to clearly state that you will not be talking about the lawsuit.

Control Your Emotions

If you’re handed a lawsuit, it can bring out all sorts of emotions. From anger, frustration, sadness, and confusion. As you continue through the steps of the lawsuit and gathering all the necessary information, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything and all the questions bound to come.

Staying in close contact with your attorney will help keep your emotions in check and how to handle all conversations. Discussing and answering questions based off of emotions often lead to costly mistakes. Remember, things that you say can come back and get used against you during the lawsuit.

Gather All the Necessary Documents

You’ll want to gather as much information as possible to help you throughout the lawsuit. Your attorney will guide you and inform you of what you all need to gather. Information related to the lawsuit could include emails, notes, recordings, and even visuals. Make sure to keep everything and not throw away any information.

Have Patience

Patience is vital during a lawsuit. A lawsuit can last for months, even years before it even gets to a trial, let alone a settlement. Set realistic expectations for the length of the process and the outcome. In many circumstances, time is on the side of the defendant during a lawsuit.

 

A lawsuit is not something that anyone wants to go through, but it is something that many businesses face regularly. By staying calm, taking your time, and being realistic about the situation, you can overcome a lawsuit and learn from the process.

Need a Confidentiality Agreement? 4 Tips to Help You Design One

Many businesses require employees to sign a confidentiality agreement. Those companies have important information about the business itself, clients, other employees, and anything else related to the company that needs to remain safe. The confidentiality agreement binds the employee to respect the information and privacy of those involved.

Drafting up a confidentiality agreement should take time to ensure that all avenues of the company are covered. If there is any part of your business and information surrounding your business that could be detrimental if put in the wrong hands, you’ll want to cover it in the agreement.

Because of the importance of a confidentiality agreement, Corporate Business Solutions has four tips to help you draft one for your company.

Identify Parties Involved

In your confidentiality agreement, it should be made clear who the parties are that are involved. When stating the parties, you are referring to the company (or yourself) and the person who is signing the agreement. Have a spot for the person to sign his or her name, along with a statement that states the person would be referred to as the recipient.

The Confidential Information

Have a section dedicated to the confidential information. First, determine what confidential means in the agreement. You’ll want to cover all grounds, including anything written or verbally spoken.

The tricky part of identifying what is confidential is that for you drafting the agreement, you want to keep things more general as to cover as much information as you need. The purpose is to avoid any loopholes that could end you up in trouble. However, for the person signing the agreement, will likely want things specifically lined out so to know what is and isn’t covered under the confidentiality agreement.

Is There a Timeframe?

The timeline of a confidentiality agreement is another tricky aspect. If there is no timeline stated, it’s difficult to determine how long the recipient must follow the agreement. Depending on the type of business you have and what the agreement is covering, it’s a good idea to specify a timeline. Is it for as long as the person is working there, or does the agreement stay true for a few years even after the employee is no longer with the company?

If you’re creating a confidentiality agreement for a trade or service that is specific to your company, you can have the timeline infinite. For example, if your business has a particular technique that you provide clients, your employees would sign a confidentiality agreement that states the employee cannot provide that technique to another company or for their own benefit.

Add Any Exclusions

Many confidentiality agreements will include exclusions. These exclusions would when the agreement doesn’t uphold, and the confidential agreement can be shared. If you know of any circumstances in which exclusion is valid, it’s important to note it in the agreement.

It’s important that the confidentiality agreement covers all aspects of your business, information and anything else that is deemed necessary. Without an agreement, there is nothing stopping employees from sharing what they know through work. Signing these agreements is a way to uphold the obligation of the employee to keep all information safe and secure.

Can Your Business Handle These 5 Common Problems?

No matter how solid a business plan you have, how organized everything is, and how much you prepare yourself, every business faces challenges. It is inevitable.

Some issues are something that you can control. Other problems, though, are out of your hands and it comes down to how you respond to them.

Don’t let the idea of challenges stop you from running your business. Corporate Business Solutions has five common problems that any business is likely to face.

Uncertainty

Every business goes through uncertainty. That is because no matter how much thought and research you put into your business plan, you cannot guarantee your business idea will take off at the start. Right there, is uncertainty.

Uncertainty is an uncomfortable feeling because it is usually out of our control. You can do what you can to help remove the unknown. However, there will always be factors that come into play that you cannot control. A strong business is one that can persevere through the uncertainty because it’s prepared for as many outcomes as possible.

Diversity

We live in a diverse world, and diversity helps to keep an open mind about many things. The challenge with diversity is that not everyone will agree with your choices, and that is a challenge for businesses.

Diversity in a company comes in multiple ways. First, it’s the diversity of your employers. It doesn’t stop there though. The diversity we’re talking about comes from keeping multiple viewpoints in mind and building an environment that allows your team to explore those different points.

Finances

At one point or another, your business will face financial struggles. From making sure you bring in enough money to keep the doors open, to wondering where you should beef up your budget, money can cause much stress for a company.

Your company’s finances should not be taken lightly. Basically, that money is what allows your business to keep moving forward. To help ease the stress, ensure that you have total control and understanding over where the money goes and comes from.

Employee Performances

If you have employees, even just one person working for you, his or her performance will always be something you think about. Most businesses will face a bad employee. Not every person is fit for every job available, and how else will someone know that unless he or she try it?

Monitoring your employee’s performances will help you stay on top of their work. When you’re monitoring them, it doesn’t mean micromanaging. Take a step back to see what their work habits are like. See how they contribute to the business and if their contributions fit their compensation.

Competition

You’ll rarely find that there is one sole business for an idea. Typically, when one company pops up with an idea, others will soon follow. There will always be competition in the business world. However, it’s all on how you handle it.

You can handle the competition in two ways. For starters, it could be the biggest challenge you face, which ultimately closes your business. Alternatively, that competition could be the driving factor towards innovation and success.

Your business is bound to face one of, if not all of these challenges. Take them in stride and use these issues as a way to further your company and its success.