I view small business hacks as falling into two categories: strategies and habits. And, whether it’s a strategy or a habit, I think that what makes a hack a hack is the ease at which it can be implemented.
Following through on a small business hack is more about taking Nike’s advice of “Just do it” than having to follow a complicated formula designed by a rocket scientist. So as you scan my list of small business hacks, pick a few and move on them today.
I’m suggesting hacks in two areas: growth and productivity. Taken together, these boost your profits from both directions: increasing the top line and lowering your relative overhead expenses.
Small business growth hacks
Use Craig’s List. Are you offering your product or service on Craig’s List? With just a couple of exceptions, it’s totally free advertising. You can also use it to find talent and even ideas for new businesses. I scoured Craig’s List to come up with several of the 80 home-based business ideas that I published in this list.
Learn from others’ big wins. It is a wise person indeed who learns from others’ successes and failures. That is the beauty of Behave.org. This site publishes the results of A/B testing various companies have conducted. See what has worked for others. Take their quizzes and become an expert in predicting what is likely to succeed for you.
Use the velvet rope psychology. Invite customers to an exclusive future event or special offer. There must be an attribute that gives it this sense of exclusivity: limited number of spots, time limit, loyalty program enrollment required, etc.
Promote a two-way loyalty offer. One of the cable or satellite TV service providers has had success with a “$100 for you and $100 for the new referral” promotion. You can easily do this with an email coupon.
Small business productivity hacks
Cue the background noise. Whether you prefer soft environmental noise or a little classical music in the background, covering up auditory distractions boosts productivity. Carly Stec has published a great Hubspot article on “6 Science-Backed Playlists for Improving Your Productivity” that you should check out. At least of the playlists she details is certain to fit your company’s style.
Get an answering service. If you’re fielding all your incoming calls, it’s time to offload that burden. With Cloud-based phone systems today, this is easier and less expensive than ever. And, if you’re still using an old-fashioned land line system, investigate systems like Grasshopper and its competitors; they can be extremely powerful tools for small businesses and startups.
Make full use of contractors. I’ve long advocated using contractors for the functions at which you have less talent or desire, and for functions for which you don’t want to create a full-time position. However, as you grow, I want you to also consider using contractors for functions you’re good at, then you can focus more on new opportunities.
Control your virtual world. Beat down your social media viewing – and that of your team members – with a stick, namely a stick like the free Chrome extension TimeWarp. In the same way, take control of your email. This article details nine excellent apps that will boost your email productivity.
My final word of advice: Start hacking away!