Board meetings are rarely high up on anyone’s list of favorite activities, as even the directors who sit on them complain about how long and tedious they can be. The work of the board is essential, overseeing management and providing organizations, businesses, government agencies, and financial institutions with direction and strategy. That should be compelling stuff, but director engagement remains a challenge for many.
Enter the board portal: a board software solution that digitizes board documents and puts collaborative tools in directors’ hands that they can use between meetings. Board software is the tool that can make meetings more efficient, more focused, and revive engagement by offering a few key features.
Easy Updates – At the heart of board software is an easy solution to the problem of distributing board books and other documents. Back in the days of paper board books, administrators would struggle to keep every director informed of the latest updates, especially when documents or financial reports were updated last minute. It cost a fortune to courier everything to directors who could be anywhere in the world at any given minute. Today, electronic board books are much more common, but board portal software offers superior security compared to other file sharing methods, especially as many have become popular tools for masking cybercrime attacks.
Collaboration Between Meetings – Board software should come with tools that make it easy for directors to do their job in between meetings. For example, annotation tools are used in Aprio Boardroom, a leading board software solution, that let directors mark up documents either with private notes or to share with their peers. Everyone knows that when an idea strikes, you can’t wait until the next meeting. If you want to develop a more thorough conversation, you have to be able to work in between meetings.
Another great feature of Aprio is the freedom to vote remotely with an electronic signature. It helps boards make more time for key decisions, as the freedom to vote remotely means matters like agreeing on minutes can be dealt with beforehand.
Desktop and Tablet – Flexibility is key for directors who regularly travel and split their responsibilities. Any board software you consider should be compatible on Android, Apple, and Windows tablets, as well as offer offline access to documents.
For many organizations, board portals are already standard, but if you’ve been using this transformative technology already, consider how the industry has changed over the last few years. If your board’s contract with your current board software vendor needs to be renewed, now may be a good time to reassess. In the early days of board software, portals offering better security – the kind of security required by financial institutions, health agencies, and Fortune 500 companies – came at a premium. Those security options are now no longer so expensive, though some portal vendors are still charging higher rates. You can learn more about how security has changed, and become more accessible for all, at Aprio.net and exploring their options for board software. Whether your board’s contract is up or you haven’t yet made the shift to secure electronic board books, do your due diligence, request several demos from vendors, and be sure to compare products based on customer support, security, and price.
If you want to be able to do business online, you have to make sure that you keep your name visible to potential customers. But you also have to make sure that what people see is positive. This is why SEO and branding is hugely important, but reputation management should be your top priority.
Building a Positive Reputation
Before any of your marketing and SEO efforts can pay off, people have to recognize your brand as a trustworthy and authority source. Once you have established that reputation, you have to make sure it is maintained as well. If you are a new business, your first step should be, therefore, to create positive content and to nurture this as much as possible. This is a lot of hard work, particularly since the world is so competitive nowadays. Customer service has to be your top priority, as this will help to build your positive reputation.
You simply cannot leave this as an afterthought. If you do, any other effort you engage in to build trust won’t work, and you will end up having to invest heavily in damage control. Hence, reputation management should be your first important action if you want your business to succeed.
You Need Positive Feedback
Every business wants to have happy, satisfied customers. Your goal should be to make them talk about that, however, thereby building your reputation. You can achieve that in a variety of different ways. Firstly, you need to list any products you sell on websites that allow for reviews, such as Amazon. Secondly, you need to have a Facebook business page with review options switched on. Thirdly, you need to make sure your website has a customer feedback form included on it. Last but not least, you should list on local directory sites, such as Yelp and Google My Business, again ensuring that people can find you and talk about you. You should also make sure that you link to all of these pages on your website, your social media accounts, and any online communication and newsletters you send out.
Stand Out with Reputation Management
You must pay very close attention to what is said about you, so you can truly benefit from it. Indeed, you can even benefit from negative comments, so long as you address them properly. If someone looks you up and sees a negative review, but then also sees that you have tried to remedy the issue, they will be far more forgiving. They old saying “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” continues to ring true today.
You may feel confused about choosing a marketing plan that works for you, and that is no surprise considering everything is suddenly online, competition is fierce, and changes are made on a daily basis. But if you take reputation management as your starting point, and consider that everything you do online is to give people the opportunity to see you in a positive light, you will come a long way.
Entertaining clients has become standard practice for most corporations, whether those clients come to you from around the world, or you travel to them. Businesses tend to understand the value that can come with entertaining clients, including completing deals and fostering stronger relationships. At the same time, it can be tricky to master some of the ins and outs of these scenarios.
There are things to consider such as how to manage technicalities like business expense receipt submission, to what would be considered professional in an out-of-the-office situation.
The following is a general rundown of what to know about entertaining clients in any industry.
While many large corporations do have a good deal of client entertainment and outside meals happening, they might also experience fraud or inefficiency when it comes to documenting expenses. This can be avoided with a modern expense management software solution, which will not just make it easier for employees to keep track of their expenses, but it will also simplify oversight and create visibility and transparency.
If anyone in your organization is responsible for entertaining clients, a comprehensive expense reporting solution should absolutely be in place.
This eliminates the gray area that can come with using company cards, submitting receipts and defining things such as the reason for the meeting.
It’s also important that along with using a software solution, corporations have a well-defined policy in place for managing expenses and entertaining clients.
Keep It On Track
When employees are entertaining, it’s important that they keep the conversation on track with the business at-hand. There are IRS guidelines in place stipulating that entertaining has to be directly related to business.
While this can get really murky, as an employer you have to be firm on this for your own tax-related purposes, and also to make sure you avoid fraud when your employees invite clients for meals.
In general, only 50 percent of an entertainment-based meal is deductible according to the IRS, although this might not always be the case.
This might seem obvious, but all-too-often employees will start to think entertaining clients is synonymous with party time. They may be drinking too much or be too loose-lipped, and not only can that be problematic for your company’s reputation, but it can distract from the business that’s supposed to be going on, and can lead to even bigger problems for example if your employee starts to become inappropriate.
It’s important that you train employees on how to maintain a strict sense of professionalism so that lines don’t become blurred when they’re out with employees.
Above all else, your goals as a corporation when you have employees responsible for entertaining clients to ensure that a system is set up to prevent fraud and abuse, and also keep costs in check. There should be precisely defined guidelines for spending, and you should encourage employees to stick with policies through the use of expense reporting software. It’s also important that clients are well-trained on what’s appropriate and what isn’t, both regarding spending and reporting, and also behavior when they’re representing your company.
The use of artificial intelligence is on the rise, and there is no reason to fear it. Businesses of any industry and size can benefit from artificial intelligence. It can be used to monitor employee information, to implement instant compliance with local, state and federal regulations as well as track any changes.
Plus, the user interfaces are becoming even more intuitive with the utilization of cross-platform browser-based HMIs that can quickly facilitate the process of web-based IoT. In an age where driving efficiencies is the norm, your business can’t stand to operate without artificial intelligence.
Provide Virtual Assistance
Many of us have already experienced virtual assistance through our mobile devices and systems such as Amazon’s Echo. Artificial intelligence is slowly gaining more prominence into our everyday lives. And, it is available right at our fingertips.
Then, there are the chatbots popping up everywhere to provide us with 24/7 customer service and answers to our less complicated questions. In terms of customer service, your organization can save a lot of money on salaries and benefits just by implementing chatbots.
In a world overwhelmed with big data, it would be too difficult to get through all of that information manually. We have access to an infinite amount of data, but that data needs to be mined and analyzed to be useful.
It needs to be compressed into digestible forms. It’s hard to look at the big picture when information is not organized and categorized. Artificial intelligence is already in use that can turn raw data into power point presentations.
Moreover, you can use predictive analytics software to make sense of customer data, financial statements, health records and more, allowing you to better gauge the businesses future outlook. Now, you have something working in the background to give you a 360-degree overview of all of the types of data important for your business.
Remove Costly and Time-Consuming Manual Processes
Computers can be taught to do just about anything from driving cars to cleaning our floors. Instead of employing people to perform time-consuming and repeatable tasks, artificial intelligence can be used to automate manual processes. As a result, your company saves both time and money.
In addition, artificial intelligence can learn on its own. As you implement new processes, you won’t have to worry about spending time and resources on training.
Artificial intelligence can be used for everything from automation to analytics, marketing, financial processing, customer service and more. Think of the old Star Trek movies where computers had minds of their own. This is exactly how artificial intelligence works.
It reduces human error and increases the speed for every process. Some believe that fewer than 30 percent of Americans will drive and own cars in 25 years.
As it stands, people are increasingly using shared ride services too. Artificial intelligence will make us faster, more accurate and more competitive. There is nothing to be afraid of as we can simply use it to our benefit. You no longer have to spend time training for repeatable tasks.
This is why artificial intelligence is here to stay.
Your online reputation is your greatest asset, and it must be managed properly. This is a full-time job, and one for which you should enlist the services of an online reputation management company so that it is done right. They will ensure that you always look positive when your prospective and existing customers search for you.
What Does a Reputation Management Company Do?
An online reputation management will focus on your business, brand, or on you, making sure that you look good. They do this by highlighting the positive while at the same time pushing back the negative. Doing this offers a number of key benefits, but the greatest benefit is that you will always appear in a positive light, which in turn attracts more custom to your website.
How Does a Reputation Management Company Do This?
There is a reason why reputation management is a full-time job. The company you hire will:
Set up alerts so that they know whenever something new, good or bad, is posted about you.
Engage in SEO (search engine optimization) tactics so that all the positive postings about you are found on the first page of google.
Engage in reverse SEO to ensure that any negative postings are pushed back to the third page of Google or further.
Respond to those negative comments that cannot be pushed back so that customers continue to see you in a positive light.
Attempt to have libelous criticism removed or de-indexed.
As you can see, online reputation management is quite a complex technological field. This is another reason why you should bring in the professionals. Unless your own business is a reputation management business, or you have some personal skills in digital marketing, you simply won’t know what to do. And even if you do, you are likely to be too busy running your business to also take on this task.
So why not simply hire a member of staff to deal with this? There are several reasons for this, but the main one is one of cost. The internet changes at lightning speed. Did you know, for instance, that Google changes its search algorithm just over once every day? While not all of these changes are major, they do all matter. Staying up to date with that requires a significant investment in training. Not just that, but if you have a single member of staff on board to manage your reputation, what would you do if they were off sick or even went on vacation? Your reputation is not something that can wait until tomorrow, but rather something that must be monitored at all times.
By working together with a reputation management company, they ensure a highly trained individual will monitor your online position around the clock. They are responsible for their training and for their replacement should they be absent for whatever reason. Yes, you do have to pay them for this. If you don’t, however, the overall cost doesn’t come anywhere near what it would cost you to lose your business, and that is a very real possibility.
With the announcement that Travis Kalanick would be stepping down as the CEO of Uber, it has a lot of people once again considering toxic work cultures and the negative impact this can have on the entire organization.
Silicon Valley has been a good example of how a toxic culture can negatively impact even the most successful and promising of companies, with rumors and reports of everything from sexual harassment to discrimination floating around about Uber and other tech companies.
While there are third-party companies like SIT that develop ways to shift company culture, for example, towards more innovation, what do you do when you’re dealing with a toxic work culture? This is a situation that might also require outside help, but in general, the following are some useful tips to make a shift when necessary.
Conduct Exit Interviews
One of the big mistakes too many companies make is that they don’t conduct exit interviews. Conducting exit interviews aren’t in and of themselves going to solve problems with corporate culture, but they’re going to be one of the best ways to get a handle on the truth of what’s happening, and where potential problems exist.
It’s important to do exit interviews with both people who leave willingly for whatever reason and fired individuals.
These can also serve as a baseline measurements when you put other mechanisms of change in place, to see how you’re doing.
One of the biggest reasons negativity develops and takes hold in a culture is a lack of transparency. When employees feel like everything is happening behind closed doors, that then leads to a sense that there is secrecy, which breeds gossip and animosity.
Just by being honest, upfront and transparent with employees, it can go a long way in remedying some of the toxic elements negatively impacting the organization.
Be Careful with Competition
There’s an idea that successful companies have competitive and often cutthroat employees, but this is what can foster bullying and problems in the workplace. Some competition isn’t a problem, but when it goes too far, that’s when cultures become toxic.
You need employees who strive to succeed but also who can get along with one another.
It’s important to encourage strong company values that emphasize teamwork, and when hiring, try to think about fit as much as qualifications.
Start At the Top
Finally, as is being seen with the Uber situation, sometimes changing a toxic culture requires looking at the top to see where problems exist.
Company leaders ultimately own the culture of their organization, so if you can see that your leaders or even you are fostering competition to the point that it’s negative, encouraging a sense of bullying, or do everything behind a curtain of secrecy, it’s time to make changes.
You can’t expect employees to embrace the changes necessary to eliminate a toxic culture if company leaders aren’t willing to take their own steps.
Success in sales demands a careful analysis of factors that create and build sales. This can be attained by utilizing incredibly intricate sales software creating by sales gurus like Mark Stiffler. It also demands that you find way to get and keep your sales team at peak operating capacity so they always are ahead of the competition. To get your team motivated to grow sales try these tips.
Tell your sales team where things stand
Some companies are reluctant to tell their sales team how things are going. They may let them know if a sales quota is reached and if someone is having an outstanding performance or someone may get fired one day because of poor performance but overall the team is not kept informed of how everyone is doing. This is the absolute wrong approach. The sales team shouldn’t be in the dark about how sales are going.
The top companies are much more likely to report on non-quota sales performance, focusing not only on sales-to-quota achievements, but also on qualitative goals that identify how well team members are selling. By opening up both your sales tracking approach and statistics to everyone, you letting them see who is doing well, and poorly and get the chance to discuss why. It fosters teamwork, healthy competition and gives those who are excelling an opportunity to be praised.
Provide great incentives
Every sales department needs a great incentive program at its base in order to get the team motivated to sell. Sales people typically gravitate to the position mostly because of the compensation package and so having an enticing one will go a long way to getting quality people on your sales team.
If there is a need to really push sales to another level whether temporarily or for an extended period of time, a good idea is to temporarily increase sales incentives. By offering more money, additional time off or a great gift is another great way to give employees a push toward meeting a higher goal. Studies have shown that non-cash incentives can be more effective than cash incentives so consider adding great trips or dinner at a top restaurant or show tickets as part of the incentive mix. This idea will get people talking and if the prizes are the right ones, everyone will push sales harder to get them.
Make it a Friendly Competition
Sales people are innately competitive, so if you play into this character trait, it can have a great positive effect on sales. Coming up with a competition that is both fun and rewarding will really be a hit with your sales department. More companies are utilizing a team competition where the pressure is on multiple team members and an option of winning gets shared and the response is generally very positive.
Weaker sales people may not feel that they have a chance to win but coupled with others on a team, they might get energized and motivated. There’s nothing quite like a little healthy competition to put the drive back into sales. The result is total team involvement, leading to increased sales and productivity.
Communicate the big picture
Smart businesses understand that getting employees to buy into the big picture is beneficial to growth. It is one of the things that gets people excited makes them feel like what they do actually matters in the success of the company. So providing employees with a sense of the big picture can be a powerful tool for motivating them.
The goal should be to show them their role and importance to the success of the enterprise and then provide a clear path for them to fulfill that role. Focusing on their individual opportunities for advancement and specific benefits is most effective.
Use these tips to ramp up sales in your organization.
When you are ready to begin a business or if you are restructuring your business, a corporation may suit your needs, but there is a particular type of corporation that is different from all of the others. An S-Corporation tax ID is a federal tax identification number generated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) so they can know with whom to assign taxes to. The easiest part of setting up your S-Corp tax may actually be filling out the application to get the tax ID number. Everything else may become quite overwhelming.
Understanding The S-Corporation
When your business registers as an S-corporation your business can save on taxes. In other business structures when you get a tax ID number and have employees all of the net income can be taxed, but when you have an S-corp only the shareholder who is employed with the company is subject to the employment tax that must be filed. With an S corp tax ID number the profits and losses garnered through the business can be passed through to the owner’s personal tax return, similar to a limited liability corporation.
If it is beneficial to your company, a LLC can request for S-corp status which will allow your LLC to be taxed like an S corporation. You will need to contact the income tax agency in your state to you can be completely clear about your tax requirement.
If you are not going to have shareholders, and you are trying to keep it as simple as possible at the moment, you will still need an S-corporation tax ID number. With this tax ID number you can establish an open line of credit for your business, get business discounts on a company vehicle, office supplies, and other capital, and you could even qualify for a small business loan.
You will need a tax ID number no matter if you are an S-corp, or another type of business structure and IRS-EIN-TAX-ID.com will help you along through the process.