Top 10 must-know small business hacks

If you have been around the Small Business Community for any length of time, you may have noticed that I make it a habit to collect small tips, strategies, and hacks.

Here are 10 of my favorites:

1. You need multiple profit centers.

This is probably my favorite piece of advice and definitely one I have shared several times over the years, and for good reason. It comes from Barbara Winter in her great book, Making a Living Without a Job.

Here’s the hack: Just as Starbucks started out selling only coffee but now also sells food, music, Frappucinos and more, so too should you add additional profit centers to your business. Having multiple profit centers mitigates risk and evens out your business cycle.

2. Big businesses want to help you succeed

Our friends at NETGEAR are a great example. There is a lot of big business assistance out there once you start to look. Large companies spend significant sums of money to create products, tools, and services with small business in mind; it would behoove you to take advantage of them.

For example, NETGEAR has created the Orbi Pro – a super easy-to-install and robust wifi system that can help any small business.

3. If you want to grow, team up

By the same token, just as there are big businesses who want to help you, there are also other small businesses who can help you. Creating a strategic partnership extends your reach into areas and customers where you typically would not have any. Finding businesses that complement (but do not duplicate) is synergistic, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

4. There are three types of customers, and to grow, you need to juggle all three:

You have

  • New customers
  • Existing customers
  • Exiting customers

Customers leave for all sorts of reasons, both good and bad alike. As such, you need to create a constant funnel of new customers who become existing customers so that they can replace the existing customers. Cultivate and nourish all three.

5. Market your business, and then market it some more:

How do you find those new customers to replace existing customers? You know the answer. Marketing. Whether it is real world networking or online social networking, or whatever, marketing your business is the key to keeping the customer pipeline going.

6. Be a great boss:

The best small businesses – the ones with solid profit, low turnover, good morale, great products, and happy customers – are the ones where the owner creates a great culture. Happy employees create happy customers. The key is to be a good boss.

And while you are at it, don’t forget to be a good boss to yourself too.

7. Play defense:

Most entrepreneurs like playing offense – finding customers, selling, being creative, doing that part of your business that you love to do. But great small businesses also know they need to play defense – they incorporate, have adequate insurance, save for a rainy day, etc.

8. Understand that little changes can create big results:

Change can often seem big and difficult. But one thing I have seen, and the good news is, that small changes are the ones that often create big results. Add a new product or service, tweak a marketing campaign, make a great new hire.

9. Work on your business, not just in it:

Michael Gerber’s famous piece of advice from his book The E-Myth remains as true today as when he first wrote it. By stepping back and looking at the big picture you get perspective, insight, and you can figure out what changes – little or big – are needed.

10. Say yes:

People love small business because we can say yes.

  • “Can you stay open a little later so I can get down there?” Yes.
  • “Could you possibly get this to me by tomorrow?” Yes.
  • “Can I have an afternoon off this week?” Yes

Yes is one of the things that makes small business special. Use that to your advantage.