Tips for Your Holiday Work Party

The consultants at Corporate Business Solutions help small and medium – size business owners find their path to success.  During the holiday season, we realize that many business professionals are invited to seasonal events. If you’re considering attending a holiday work party, here are tips to help you achieve success: 

1. Attend – If you want to enhance your relationships with your boss, co-workers and clients, be sure to attend your office holiday party.  Think of the holiday party as a necessity rather than an option.

2. Dress appropriately – Work-related holiday parties are not the time to take fashion risks. The holiday party is typically a time when individuals observe appropriate dress codes, such as skipping casual dress and opting for party dress attire. With that said, it’s important to keep an eye out for clues on what to wear from the invitation since an invitation will often suggest what to wear.

3. Bring something – Everyone knows it’s suggested to bring a host / hostess a gift, but many don’t realize the same rule often applies to a work party. Make the gift appropriate, such as a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers, etc.  If you’re worried that something might be too personal, bring something that can be enjoyed in an office setting.

4. Don’t leave too early or late – Remember that work parties are more about the work part than the party part, so do your best to show up and remain long enough to make a good off-hours impression.

5. Talk to someone new – While it’s OK to talk to your work friends during an office holiday event, make sure to also spend time talking with people you don’t know as well and with whom you would like to develop a stronger business relationship.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Grants for Women Entrepreneurs

The consultants at Corporate Business Solutions help the owners of small and medium – size businesses find their path to success.  We know that the rate of women entrepreneurs is growing rapidly, and we also realize that many business owners consider private grants as viable sources to assist with business growth.

Locating information can be half the battle, so we have listed information below on ten private grants especially for women entrepreneurs:

  1. The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program: Five grants are awarded annually. The businesses must be 100 percent women-owned and have founding principles of social consciousness, sustainability, and innovation, plus be ready to move to the next phase of development. In 2014, the program awarded $125,000 in grants.
  2. Huggies Brand — Mom Inspired Grants: The grant awards up to $15,000 to advance the development of innovative products inspired by the joys of motherhood. The awardees also receive resources to further develop their products and startup businesses.
  3. FedEx Think Bigger — Small Business Grant Program: Applicants are encouraged to share their visions to receive a portion of the $75,000 awarded in grants. Part of the judging involves the general public voting for the finalists, so participants may promote their businesses while garnering votes.
  4. Idea Café Small Business Grant: The Idea Café is a free gateway that hosts different grants on its site. Its current grant is the 16th Small Business Cash Grant, which awards one $1,000 grand prize to a business with the most innovative idea.
  5. Chase Google — Mission Main Street Project: Chase and Google have partnered to award $3 million in grants. In recent years, recipients were awarded $150,000 to help take their businesses to the next level. Recipients also received a trip to Google headquarters, a Google Chromebook laptop and a $2,000 coupon toward a market research study with Google Consumer Surveys.
  6. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR): Eleven different federal agencies participate in this awards-based program, which incentivizes and enables small businesses to explore their technological potential.
  7. Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR): The STTR program reserves a specific percentage of federal research and development funding to provide funding opportunities in research and development.
  8. Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corp (WVEC) Small Business Competition: This competition, organized by Capitol One and Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, allows participants to present two-minute pitches for a chance to participate in a nine-month business accelerator program.
  9. Wal-Mart Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative (WEE): As part of a huge Wal-Mart initiative, sourcing opportunities for U.S. and international companies will increase to $40 billion over five years.
  10. Zions Bank — Smart Women Smart Money: This Utah-based bank’s grant annually awards $3,000 across six different categories, including business.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Small Business Seasonal Marketing Strategies for November

Corporate Business Solutions  is recognized for using expertise, experience and education to access the information that is often necessary for growth in small and medium – size businesses.  We know that savvy business owners are currently looking ahead to the next milestone of Thanksgiving. 

Marketing is a critical component to the success of small and businesses, and this holiday season can be key in building loyal customers and increasing sales. Below are simple strategies for your seasonal marketing:

  1. Send thank-you notes – During the season of gratitude, send a quick e-mail a personal letter to some of your top, most loyal customers, simply letting them know that you appreciate their investment in your company. This genuine, humane gesture can help personalize your brand and foster major customer loyalty.
  2. Start early – Whatever promotions, discounts, contests, events, or other special offers you’ll be rolling out around Thanksgiving, the time to announce them is now, this very week, preferably even this very day. Get on social media and let your followers know what Thanksgiving means to your company, and what they can expect in the weeks to come.
  3. Don’t forget about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In fact, there’s no reason you can’t stretch these big shopping days out into weeklong or even month long events. Use these shopping days as a reason to promote ongoing sales!
  4. Give back – Arrange a food drive or some other service activity for your employees or your customers—and make sure to mention it on social media and also send out a press release. There’s nothing at all wrong with letting folks know about the good stuff your brand is doing in the world!

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Simple Tips to Maximize Productivity

Corporate Business Solutions is a leading business consulting firm recognized throughout the United States. We offer the critical information that is often necessary for growth in the small and medium – size business marketplace.

Many business professionals are constantly seeking out ways to increase work performance.   Sometimes all it takes to improve your focus is a few quick changes to your work habits and your environment:

  • Manage your space – Before you do anything else, take a few moments at the start of each day to organize and de-clutter your workspace. Having a clutter-free environment helps you think more clearly and produce better results.
  • Personalize your workspace – Color can have a major effect on your mood and productivity throughout the day. Blue creates the feeling of calmness and helps you focus, while red is great for work that requires accuracy and attention to detail. Plants can also help people focus: A study from Washington State University found that workers who were exposed to plants in a windowless workspace were less stressed, more productive, and felt more attentive. In addition to color and plant life, a few personal knickknacks in your workspace can make you feel more comfortable and relaxed, which can ultimately boost your productivity.
  • Prioritize and delegate – Everyone has at least one task on the to-do list that keeps getting pushed back, simply because the thought of actually doing it seems so awful. That task is actually the one you should try to complete first.  Next, your focus should go to the most important tasks first, so think about everything that you do and just how pivotal or trivial each thing really is. If you can, set aside the low-priority items and come up with a plan to delegate or outsource them so that you can spend more time on the things that add more value to your position and the company.
  • Take short breaks – Whether it’s a walk around the block, a run to the nearby coffee shop, reading a magazine or visiting with a colleague, taking short breaks that are unrelated to your work can make a huge difference in your performance. Your productivity diminishes the longer you go without a break, which is why it’s recommended that people don’t work more than 8 to 10 hours per day — at a certain point, your body and mind simply cannot produce anymore.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Pros and Cons of Launching a New Business During the Holiday Season

The consultants at Corporate Business Solutions  help small to medium – size businesses which have a minimum of 10 employees and $1 million in revenue. We also have the expertise to help entrepreneurs launch small businesses. Starting a business is a huge commitment that can reap many long-term rewards. If you’re looking to become a business owner, we can help put you on the path to success.

As the holiday season approaches, the timing of launching a new business is sure to be a trending subject.  If you’re considering starting a new business before the end of the year, we have information that you may find beneficial:

  1. There may be a few advantages to starting a business at the end of the year, specifically between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  These include:
  • Most shoppers are in a buying mood. If you plan to sell products this could work to your advantage, especially if you plan on starting a business that involves selling gift items.
  • You may be able to reap some tax advantages by starting a business before the end of the year, specifically by capturing some deductions, including, but not limited to office-in-home tax deductions.
  • Because stores are very competitive and offer extended sales during the holidays, you might be able to find some good deals on the supplies and equipment you need for starting a business, so you might conceivably get a bit of a break on your startup costs.
  1. On the contrary, there are reasons why you might not want to start your own business just yet, including:
  • Starting a business isn’t something you should do on a whim. It takes proper planning, including developing at least an informal business plan. No matter when you decide to actually start your business, you need to make sure you’ve thought it out carefully – especially if this is going to be a full-time business for you.
  • If you’re planning on selling products, especially gift items, it’s likely that this will be the busiest time of year for your business – next year! Trying to get any kind of business marketing and sales strategy in place and get some buzz going for your business takes time and is not something you can likely accomplish in a month.
  • While we all like to think of the holiday season as a joyous time, it’s not always so joyous and happy for everyone. Starting a new business during the holiday season can add stress to you, your spouse and your kids.  To keep your holiday season bright, you may want to start your new business next year.

To learn more about what we can do for you and / or to schedule your appointment with the experienced business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

PR Tips for Small Business Owners

The consultants at Corporate Business Solutions  help small to medium – size businesses implement new tools and techniques that are often critical in advancing in their industry.

We have worked with many small business owners that are interested in handling their own public relations. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, doing PR yourself can be a great money-saving option for your small business. However, as you grow, you may opt to work with a professional public relations firm. Here are some tips that may help you with your PR endeavors:

  1. Tell your story- Storytelling can help transform your brand’s identity and presence, and create trust from consumers or others in the industry. Some of the best stories come from you and your loyal customers. You can tell the story of how your brand came to be, and customers can tell the stories of their experiences with your business.
  2. Keep current – Stay informed with everything related to your industry. Set up Google Alerts and Twitter Mentions. Find and follow the top industry influencers, and read up on what your competitors are doing. You can use sites like IFTTT to collect articles containing relevant keywords from all over the internet, and have new content delivered right to your inbox.
  3. Network with the top influencers- If you’re actively keeping up with the top industry reporters and influencers, the second step is to then try and network with them. If you take notes on what those writers typically focus on, you’ll have an abundance of knowledge when you finally reach out to them to build a relationship.
  4. Do your research and remain objective – Be sure you have something to contribute to the conversation or the industry, whether it be information in the form of an article or a product or service that is particularly helpful. It’s important to do enough prep work before making any pitches. Study the outlets you’ve chosen to pitch to, and look to see if there is a specific person at an outlet you think would respond well to what you’re offering. Once again, learn as much as you can before jumping forward.
  5. Craft creative and compelling pitches – When you’re pitching your brand or product, you need to make sure you remain as objective as possible. Even though you might think everything your business does or provides is notably the best, not everyone will agree.  Remember that a lot of top industry influencers are constantly bombarded with pitches, so yours needs to be creative and, most importantly, personal.

To learn more about what we can do for you and / or to schedule your appointment with the experienced business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Info

Corporate Business Solutions  helps put small and medium – size businesses on the path to success.  In fact, we utilize our expertise to access the information necessary for growth.   Through our affiliated companies, we can even navigate the way through all of your small business tax challenges.

If you are a small employer, there is a tax credit that can actually put money in your pocket. According to the IRS, the small business health care tax credit benefits employers that:

•offer coverage through the small business health options program, also known as the SHOP marketplace

•have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees

•pay an average wage of less than $50,000 a year

•pay at least half of employee health insurance premiums

Here are five facts about this credit:

•The maximum credit is 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers.

•To be eligible for the credit, you must pay premiums on behalf of employees enrolled in a qualified health plan offered through a Small Business Health Options Program Marketplace, or qualify for an exception to this requirement.

•The credit is available to eligible employers for two consecutive taxable years beginning in 2014 or later. You may be able to amend prior year tax returns to claim the credit for tax years 2010 through 2013 in addition to claiming this credit for those two consecutive years.

•You can carry the credit back or forward to other tax years if you do not owe tax during the year.

•You may get both a credit and a deduction for employee premium payments. Since the amount of your health insurance premium payments will be more than the total credit, if you are eligible, you can still claim a business expense deduction for the premiums in excess of the credit. 

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Small Business Prep for the Holiday Season

Corporate Business Solutions  is a Chicago-based business consulting firm that is recognized for the ability to assist in the growth of small and medium- size businesses.  Our experience allows for us to assist business leaders with the challenges they face in today’s small business marketplace.

Many savvy small business owners are thinking ahead to the holiday season. Data from Google revealed that more than a quarter of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween, so retailers need to be ready for the rush. If you haven’t already started prepping your business for the holidays, now is the time to start.

Here are a few key areas your marketing and sales efforts should focus on, and what you can do now to ensure a great shopping experience for your customers all season long.

  • Website optimization– As more and more businesses take their retail operations online, it’s incredibly important to provide a seamless, fast website for your customers. A recent report from website performance solutions provider found that slow websites mean fewer sales — 57 percent of consumers will abandon a site that fails to load after 3 seconds. Be sure your website is ready for holiday traffic or prepare to lose customers.
  • Holiday season shipping – In an age of Amazon Prime and same-day delivery, consumer expectations about e-commerce shipping are higher than ever. Any retailer that’s selling online needs to think about realistic shipping times and cutoffs throughout the season to make sure customers get their deliveries before the holidays.
  • Keeping online shoppers safe – Online sales means the potential for more businesses to get in on the holiday sales action, but it also means a greater chance for cybercriminals to hack sensitive customer data. Online retailer websites and associated back-end systems need to be up to date, compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) and able to handle the expected transaction volume throughout the holiday season.
  • Marketing and social media– You may be planning some great sales for the season, but without the right marketing campaigns, your customers likely won’t know about them. Social media, email blasts and even texts play a role in holiday season marketing now, and businesses should be crafting the right messages for the right customers.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

Construction Company Management Tips

Corporate Business Solutions is a leading business consulting firm that works with businesses that have a minimum of 10 employees and $1 million in revenue. We work directly with business leaders in many different industries, including the construction industry.

If you’re an owner or manager of a construction business, we have tips that may help you be more successful:

  1. Hire good salespeople.   Your sales personnel are the face of your business.  It is worth it to spend extra time with every member of your sales team, ensuring they know every aspect of your business and can present the business in the best fashion possible.
  2. Train your sales staff on prospecting.  In business-to-business sales, the telephone should be your sales staff’s best friend. Many salespeople have a fear of the phone, rejection and those in authority. You will have more than enough prospects to turn into sales if you teach your salespeople how to find prospects in their everyday activities.
  3. Teach all staff member’s great customer service skills.  More than one sale has been landed by a personable and well-trained receptionist after the official salesman had failed to close the deal. A sale starts when anyone enters your establishment.
  4. Market your company aggressively.  Stand out from your competitors. Sponsor seminars with your local chamber of commerce, write articles, speak to the local service club, redesign your website, sponsor golf outings and frequently stay in contact with prospects and customers.
  5. Increase your cash flow.  Teach your sales and estimating staff that not all sales are good sales. Unprofitable projects and jobs steal much needed time and money and could be avoided if your staff analyzed jobs more thoroughly before taking them.
  6. Control overhead.  Identify what can be reduced and what can be eliminated to improve cash flow. Scrutinize every expense including additional offices, gas cards, trucks, travel expenses, cell phones, service contracts, insurance policies, etc., and cut unnecessary costs.
  7. Improve job costing. For certain contracts—especially government contracts—cash flow can be accelerated by instituting more accurate and consistent job costing, resulting in larger immediate billings. If overhead is a billable expense, have someone accurately quantify and document the expenses that qualify as reimbursable according to the contract. The business owner cannot be the master of everything—know when to get help.

To learn more about us and / or to schedule your appointment with the business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.

POS Systems and Cash Registers for Small Business Use

Corporate Business Solutions  helps small to medium – size businesses implement new systems, procedures and protocols, which will often lead to the business achieving a greater level of success.

As you probably know, every store needs a cash management system to handle purchases at the point of sale (POS.)  When deciding what to buy, it’s critical to learn the parts of a POS cash register, understand the benefits and potential drawbacks of various point of sale systems and even to know how much money to keep in the till.

For a new business, the choice of cash register or POS system may simply depend on the budget of the retail location.  Before selecting a cash register or POS system, it is important to understand your business needs, the cash management options and POS hardware available and make your selection based on an educated decision. In addition, before you buy either a cash register or a POS system, learn what kind of warranty or support comes with the machine. Also plan how you or your staff will be trained to use the equipment.

Some benefits of POS systems include:

•More detailed reports

•Inventory management and control

•Customer relationship management (CRM)

•Marketing tools

•Omni-channel capabilities

•Improve accuracy

•Loyalty programs

•Gift Cards

•Easily grows with business

Some benefits of cash registers include:

•Low cost for startups

•Most models are easy to use

•Fewer components

•Basic functions and reporting

•Longer life since it does not need to be updated constantly like a POS

To learn more about what we can do for you and / or to schedule your appointment with the experienced business experts at Corporate Business Solutions, call us today at 877-357-9366.