Creating an Effective Budget for Your Business

So, you’re running a highly successful small business. Fantastic! However, things aren’t as ideal as you want them to be. While things are going well, you’d like to see greater profits.

But how do you achieve that?

The answer may be by managing a more effective business budget.

As you know, every successful company needs a budget for knowledge and insight in order to minimize waste and increase profits.

If you’re wondering where to start, you’re in the right place. Corporate Business Solutions experts offer the following steps for creating a budget for your business today.

Understand Your Revenue

It’s nearly impossible to create a budget if don’t know how much money you’re earning. Thus, you’ll need to figure out, at the very least, a monthly average of your revenue.

If your business is already up and running, all you need to do is look at your sales numbers.

Separate Recurring Income and Expected Income

You should always separate your revenue into two separate categories: recurring and expected income.

Recurring income is the regular and reliable revenue the business generates from the likes of contract work and client retainers.

On the flip side, expected income is a prediction of future earnings. Expected income, for the most part, is a financial forecast for your business.

Determine Fixed Costs

What monthly expenses does your business have? This may refer to salaries, IT expenses or even travel costs. If you’re a start-up, you likely have to pay for a lot of initial expenses, such as technology marketing efforts.

When creating your budget, determine what your fixed business costs and how much they run you each month. 

Pin Down Variable Expenses

In addition to fixed costs, small businesses have what are called variable costs. These expenses don’t have fixed priced tags and are a little more random than fixed costs.

For example, if you outsource work or use a freelancer, those costs can vary from month-to-month.

Depending on the performance of your business, variable expenses can increase or decrease. If your business is healthy and thriving, for example, you may have the more disposable cash to invest in variable expenses in order to grow your business for the long-term.

Create a Variance Report to Track and Manage Trends

One of the most critical components for keeping control of expenses and managing for a positive cash flow comes from developing a variance report that shows the difference between what has been budgeted and what is actually spent. This variance report should be set up so that a report can be run at any time to see the variances.  The variance report allows you to have an early warning about negative trends that you can then address with corrective action so that you can protect your pre-planned profits as a percent of the expected revenue.  There is a dollar for dollar impact of your bottom line profits for every increase in expenses for what has been budgeted.  The variance report is a necessary management tool to control expenses and helps create a managerial-based accounting system that is designed to give business owners more control over their business.

Whether they are fixed costs, variable expenses or one-off payments, use your budget to see where you can save money. Ultimately, you want to make your business as efficient as possible in order to increase sales and profits.

To learn more, visit CBS-CBS.com.

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Could Employee Retention be a Problem for Your Small Business?

Employee retention is back at the forefront of business issues. According to a new study published by Kronos and Future Workplace, nearly 87 percent of business executives called employee retention a critical priority within their companies. The reasons can be obvious. The unemployment rates are considerably low, especially when compared to the years following the Great Recession, and there’s vibrant marketplace activity. Employees could be scrutinizing new positions and might not hesitate to leave for better pay or a better workplace.

Small businesses usually suffer the most because of high turnover rates, warn CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultants.  Keeping managers, developing loyalty to the company, and allowing low-level employees to grow into management positions is extremely important for the long-term survival of a company and its brand. Small business can struggle to retain employees due to several reasons. A reason that is not often discussed is how the company approaches the problem. At a small venture, no one may want to “take ownership” of employee retention.

It’s worthwhile to stop and ask which personnel or department is actually responsible for retaining employees. It often falls to the HR and top management of the company. It’s easy for the blame game to start here, with executive managers blaming lower-level managers who interact daily with employees or blaming HR for not ensuring employee wellbeing.  It’s important to establish a structure where the personnel dedicates time for monitoring employee turnover rates and possible reasons. Large corporations, for example, are already appointing “retention specialists” and “employee experience directors” just to watch the retention rate.

Small businesses may not need to resort to creating new job titles for keeping employees in the company. However, designating the responsibility to managers or the HR department should happen. It’s important to also monitor annual employee retention rate. Corporate Business Solutions Reviews could help small businesses understand internal workings better, particularly with regards to how employees view their job experience.

In addition, making sure that employees are satisfied with their jobs by collecting feedback, offering perks, and being flexible when possible will also improve retention rates. If your small business has high turnover rates, it will affect the growth potential of the company. Therefore, do keep an eye on the employee retention rate and seek ways to improve it.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

That Google Memo and Company Culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Microchipping Employees and Other Workplace Privacy Concerns

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Small Businesses Need to Keep Corporate Business Records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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