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Tips for Motivating Your Employees This New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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Holiday Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Understanding Net Neutrality Rules and How Elimination May Affect Small Businesses

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

What is Net Neutrality?

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

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

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

What Repealing Net Neutrality Means for Small Businesses

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

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

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

What to Anticipate

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

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

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How a 350-Year Old Business Continues to Innovate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How to Build Trust in Business Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

Growth “Strategies” Small Businesses Must Avoid

Growing or scaling is one of the core aspects of running a small business. Most business owners CBS Corporate Business Solutions have come across invest a lot of time and money for their companies to grow. There are definitely legitimate growth strategies, and sometimes “hacks,” that small businesses can use to grow. Then there are certain tactics that our consultants strongly advise small business owners to avoid. Here is a list:

Signing up customers to email lists without their knowledge – If a customer is on a company mailing list, then that person should have signed up for it themselves. Some companies use a shady tactic where customers who provide their email address are signed up for mailing lists without their knowledge. While this is not technically illegal, it’s a horrible practice that should be avoided. The customers will not be happy about getting email newsletters they didn’t sign up for. It will, in fact, have the opposite effect. Instead of a customer being more attached to a business, the customer will very likely learn to avoid the business.  Moreover, Congress passed an anti-spam law which imposes certain requirements on businesses engaged in email marketing.  The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 is a spam law that established the national standards for sending commercial email (which is different from transactional or relationship email) and providing guidelines for sending behavior, content and unsubscribe compliance. To follow the guidelines in place, you must include a visible and operational unsubscribe option in your commercial emails, a legitimate physical address of the company, accurate “From” information and subject lines, and you cannot send to harvested email addresses.

Adding customers to social media groups – This is a similar tactic to auto-signing up people for email lists. Don’t add customers to Facebook groups or similar social media networks without their explicit consent. People do not like getting random notifications. It may even lead the customers to complain about your company’s practices to social media site owners. That is definitely not a position a brand wants to be in.

Aggressive selling from the get go – If an interested person signs up for an email newsletter or like the brand’s Facebook profile, don’t target that person as a potential customer right away. Don’t start trying to push products on the potential customer. The interested party needs to get used to the brand and build a trustworthy connection before he or she buys a product. If the business starts to aggressively sell right away, this connection will be severed right away.

Posting fake statistics – Companies do get a lot of leeway when it comes to making marketing claims. However, don’t push it. While some exaggerations may be acceptable, don’t try to paint these exaggerations as actual fact. You may call your brand the number one in the field, but don’t make up statistics or studies to “prove” a claim like that. Don’t post fake statistics about customer satisfaction levels, various “scores” for products, and so on. These will only be lies and your long-term growth plan will only get hurt.  Moreover, using fake statistics is not considered harmless by state Attorney Generals who are charged with protecting consumers against businesses making false claims. Such claims are prohibited by consumer protections statutes against misleading advertising and also under general business statutes involving unfair business practices.   For legitimate techniques a small business can use to promote growth, consult with a Corporate Business Solutions expert.

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.