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Small Business Financial Responsibility Tips for 2018

It’s still the start of a brand new year, so now is the perfect time to start thinking about small business finances for the rest of the year. Most business owners do worry about how the market will fare as new year dawns. If the market suddenly took a turn for the worst, could your small business survive? There’s also a new federal tax plan that will surely affect small businesses when quarterly taxes are due. As new challenges await small businesses in 2018, CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultants highly recommend adopting new ways to remain financially responsible. Here are some tips owners can easily follow:

Stop Relying on Banks for Funding – Is your business heavily funded through bank loans or other types of debt? Debt issues can be the main source of cash flow problems for small businesses. It’s common to see small business owners struggle to repay loans even when the business is actually doing fine otherwise. Business loans are hefty and often carry high interest rates, so regular cash flow may not suffice to repay loans and make payroll. Therefore, be cautious when borrowing. It’s recommended for small businesses to have a savings repository to use when the creditors come knocking.  But more importantly, business owners need to develop a positive cash management system that will allow them to pay their obligations without the need for borrowing.

Formulate a Sound Tax Strategy – The tax law has changed. Do you know how it may affect your business? Small businesses should seek out professional tax advice on how the new tax law will affect them.  At the same time, CBS-CBS.com consultants can perform an in-depth review of your small business to ensure that you are well positioned to take advantage of all the opportunities available to you in 2018, including the changes in the tax law.

Analyze the Revenue – A good amount of targeted marketing and promotions that your small business undertakes in 2018 will require data for justification. This data comes from analyzing your company’s overall cash flow and revenue. Design a highly effective marketing plan and engage in cost-effective projects by doing a proper analysis of the company’s revenue streams.

Start the New Year with a (responsible) bang by putting the above pieces of advice to practice.

What Small Businesses Need to Know about Facebook’s “ Engagement Bait” Crackdown

Facebook very recently announced that it’s cracking down on posts that are “fishing” for shares and likes. The social network calls this behavior “engagement baiting.” The announcement comes as the year ends so businesses can expect the crackdown to be in full swing by early next year. What exactly is engagement baiting and how will the Facebook ban affect small business social media campaigns on the platform? Read below for answers from Corporate Business Solutions based on information currently available:

What is Engagement Baiting?

It’s simply the term Facebook is using for certain spam-like tactics that some people use to game the social network’s algorithm. Facebook not so long ago began a crackdown on clickbait. Engagement baiting is a form of clickbait. It refers to those posts that desperately try to get people to like, share, comment, or tag their friends. For example, posts that urge users to “like if you are a cat person, share if you are a dog person,” or “tag a friend to get a chance to win a Mercedes” are considered engagement baiting. Some marketers use such tactics to drive engagement because of Facebook rewards posts with the most reach.

Facebook has updated its algorithm to demote Pages or users who try engagement baiting tactics. Facebook will punish violators by reducing the total reach on all posts, not just the offending post.

Good Engagement Baiting and Bad Engagement Baiting

Facebook does understand that sometimes users and Pages ask for likes and shares for legitimate reasons. The company is offering exemptions for posts that raise money for legitimate causes, reporting a missing child or are requesting travel tips.

The company is also offering a way for first-time engagement baiters to reform their ways. If offenders “behave good,” as in replace clickbait with high-quality content, then they will get the original reach back.

How Small Businesses Should Respond

The aim of the engagement bait crackdown is to reduce the amount of spam on Facebook, such as posts linking back to websites full of ads. It’s also aiming to stifle the spread of misinformation on the social network. Small businesses should keep these facts in mind when trying to drive engagement on Facebook from now on.

Brands and companies should produce high-quality content for Facebook that genuinely makes the target audience interested in liking or sharing. Do not beg for likes or shares as shown in the examples above. Instead, use catchy headlines or interesting commentary to drive engagement. Using influencers to share or like posts is a good way to drive engagement without risking engagement baiting. However, these are generic recommendations. Request one of our Corporate Business Solutions Reviews to learn more about how to specifically improve your company’s social media reach.

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.

Tips for Managing Freelancers

Freelancers—it’s a word that evokes both elated and derisive responses from small business owners. Companies, both big and small, rely on freelancers to a certain extent. Inarguably, it doesn’t make sense to hire full-time employees for temporary tasks that may not exist in several months. Some companies, especially tiny ones, rely on freelancers if hiring full-time employees is too expensive.

Corporate Business Solutions can help your small business decide whether it wants to hire freelancers or not. But the tough part comes when the business has to manage the freelancers. Here are several tips on how to manage freelance employees of your company:

Get Ready to be Flexible—Most people work as freelancers to have flexibility. That is to say, freelancers don’t like working 9 to 5. That doesn’t mean freelancers work less efficiently. Most freelancers keep irregular hours and tend to prioritize work based on fees and importance. Therefore, when negotiating with freelancers, be flexible. Set deadlines instead of hours.

Do Convey Your Expectations—Unlike office workers, freelancers are practically strangers who don’t know about the goals and priorities of your company. Therefore, for each project, the expectations should be conveyed clearly. Be explicit about the standard of work you expect and when you want things to get done. If you require the project to be completed in stages, be clear about that as well.

Communicate Well—Do keep in touch with freelancers when a project is ongoing. It can easily clear up misunderstandings. If expectations or standards for project changes, don’t wait until the last moment to inform the freelancer. Keeping in touch is very important for striking a good working relationship with the freelancer.

Build a Good Relationship—It’s a nightmare to hire and fire freelancers all the time. Therefore, test a few and start building a professional relationship with freelancers your company can rely on. If the relationship is strong, your business will be able to rely on the freelancer for years.

Do you think your business could save time and money with more freelancers? Opt for Corporate Business Solutions Reviews to find out whether hiring freelancers would help or weaken your small business’s team.

How Should a Small Business Handle a Publicity Crisis

It’s the worst nightmare of any business. Public relations or perception crises are not wholly uncommon to small businesses. Usually, it’s the big businesses that are plagued by publicity issues. But small businesses should not feel too secure. Publicity crises can happen for many different reasons. It could be due to a misunderstanding, a mistake on the part of the business, or even unforeseen legal issues popping up. Whatever the cause is, here is some brief advice from Corporate Business Solutions for small businesses on how to weather a publicity storm:

Diagnose the Problem – First of all, the company should move quickly to understand exactly what the problem is. If outsiders are accusing the business of anything, there should be an internal investigation to find out if such accusations hold any merit. Once the CEO and the top managers know exactly what is going wrong, then the business can move to address the problem effectively.

Leadership is Important – Leadership is most important during a time of crisis. Without a good leader, a CEO or a senior manager, there’s little chance that the business could navigate the crisis. If the executive officers are not showing good leadership skills at the moment, or if the crisis is somehow their fault, it’s time to find a new leader capable of keeping the company together in a time of crisis.

Take Swift Action – If action is called for, don’t wait around to do it. In most public relations crises, businesses are accused of malpractice or selling low-quality products in some form. If the customers are complaining, then don’t wait to apologize. At lease inform that the problem is being looked at. Do not try to shift blame, because it will not be perceived well.

Stay in Touch with Customers – Don’t ignore customers and their complaints during a time of crisis. It’s more important than ever to provide good customer support as the crisis is unfolding. They won’t be too happy, but it’s important to keep communication lines open to avoid complete abandonment.

Inform Shareholders and Investors – Keep internal stakeholders like shareholders informed of what is happening and keep them updated on new developments as the business addresses the crisis. The last thing a company needs in a time of disaster is a shareholder revolt.

Last but not least, call in a consultant like CBS Corporate Business Solutions to formulate a plan of action to address the disaster head-on.

 

Negotiation Tactics for Small Business Owners

Negotiation is a major aspect of doing business in any sector. And yet, small business owners who don’t have extensive professional backgrounds could find it difficult to strike effective negotiations with partners or clients. Corporate Business Solutions consultants can assist small businesses in certain types of negotiations. But there are certain techniques that any business owner must know.

If you are a small business owner who needs to improve negotiation skills, here are several tips to follow:

Know the Dynamics of the Deal: Don’t go to the negotiation table without understanding what’s in it for you and the other side. Which party needs the deal more? It’s important to understand who needs leverage before the talks start. Also consider the constraints the other party is facing, as well as alternatives that could put your side at a disadvantage.

Be Courteous: Talk patiently and be courteous when entering into negotiations. Do not be overly aggressive, as you could be perceived as a difficult person to deal with. But don’t be too agreeable either, because then you would be seen as someone who is easy to persuade. Hold your ground, but be professional and do not get into verbal battles.

Dress Appropriately: Do dress properly for the negotiation table in a manner that won’t offend the other party. It may be common to wear casual or even business casual clothes at the workplace, but the same attire could be interpreted by the other party as you not being serious about negotiations. The dress is an unnecessary thing to be troubled over. Therefore, dress in formal and practical clothes when meeting in person to negotiate.

Don’t Drag It: Time is the bigger killer of deals. If negotiation talks are prolonged, chances are high that the deal might go sideways or get killed before completion. Therefore, don’t take too long to conduct talks. But don’t rush things as you could end up with the short end of the deal.

There’s no doubt that business negotiations can be tough. If you require expert help, you can contact one of our CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultants for valuable advice.

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.