Growing your small business can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. The 21st century continues to afford us daily innovations in technology, communications, and workplace solutions previous generations could not have possibly dreamed of. With near global-connectivity, ever-advancing technology and a workforce that continues to become more tech savvy to meet the business world’s demands, there is no better time to grow your small business than now.
So how do you grow your small business? The key is adopting small business growth strategies—i.e. “growth hacks”—designed to help your company thrive in a rapidly evolving environment. These simple-yet-effective solutions can help your small business remain focused on its primary goals without concerning itself with the draining day-to-day functions that take time, money, and personnel to keep running.
In a small business, there is often a push to have people “wear many hats.” On the surface, this means small businesses often have to lean on the ability of their employees to make the best of the limited tools and resources available to them. Too often, however, small business owners and employees alike find themselves investing too much time into tasks far outside of their initial job description. As such, while the ability of small business owners and employees to effectively multitask is seen as an enviable, special talent, it comes at a grave cost—running the risk of employee burnout.
Burnout in any field leads to reduced productivity, employee dissatisfaction, employee turnover and presenteeism, resulting in an overall diminishing effect on a business’s ability to achieve its goals. Success in business requires savvy, commitment, and understanding the sobering reality of when not to push yourself and others too far for too long.
If you see your employees being overwhelmed with too many tasks and at risk of becoming burnt out, asking yourself the following questions can help you prioritize your workforce’s workload to ensure you’re making the most of everyone’s time and your company’s resources:
If multitasking is a killer, then outsourcing may be the salvation your growing small business needs. Imagine for a moment: Your business is finally up and running, you’re witnessing positive growth, but the day-to-day functions are eating up way too much of your time. You know that you’re on the right path and are making all of the right moves, but you feel more and more removed from your business goals because you’re too bogged down with tasks not at all related to your passion—the business itself!
If your small business has 20 or fewer employees, you may not have seen the need to hire a dedicated human resources professional and decided instead to handle HR, payroll, recruiting, employee benefits and the many other functions that fall under “human resources” on your own, or you may have delegated these tasks to another employee (most often an office administrator or manager), or distributed these tasks among multiple members of your staff.
For many small businesses it makes perfect sense to keep HR functions in-house at the early stages, but as your company grows and adds more employees doing so becomes much more cumbersome—particularly as your company becomes subject to the many federal employment laws like the FLSA and FMLA. Moreover, by taking precious time out of your day to stay on top of these tasks not directly related to your business’s core product or service offering, you’re limiting your ability to focus on the strategic functions that will allow you to run your business efficiently. But you do not need to carry the business (or legal headaches) on your shoulders day after day.
Professional employer organizations (PEOs) are specialized businesses that allow you to outsource the incredible burden of juggling the day-to-day human operations of your business. Many such organizations work with you to determine the extent of services required and the individual needs of your business. As an added benefit, many PEOs assume some of the legal liabilities of overseeing the administrative HR functions of your business so you don’t have to. Instead of being mired in paperwork, payroll, tax compliance, employee benefits, and administrative tasks, you can find others to take the reins.
By using a professional employer organization, you and your employees will be free to focus on growing your business instead of being overwhelmed by the very important, but very time-consuming tasks of running it.
Despite doing everything in your power to ensure that your business runs as smoothly and effectively as possible, nothing happens in a vacuum. Whatever your service or product may be, your customers are the same as you—human beings. We, as human beings, can be influenced by emotional nudging to something as simple as certain colors used in advertising.
As a small business owner who wants to encourage growth, it is very important for you to understand how to make the best use of proven methods and stand out from the competition. It is in your best interest to take the time to evaluate your mission and how you intend to grow your small business through simple psychology. There are many approaches to take, both subtle and bold. What sets you apart from your competitors? What makes your service and/or product better?
Think about it: Most people have a Google email account, right? Did everyone have one when it was first introduced? Absolutely not. Google was calculated and smart about the rollout of their email service. Most internet-based email providers were—and still are—plagued by poor service, data breaches, users being flooded with junk mail, etc. Google set themselves apart with their clean, highly-efficient email platform on a strictly invite-only platform. It was exclusive, and, potential users had to be invited thereby creating organic hype without any advertising behind it. Exclusivity and word of mouth popularity was the foundation of its success.
But what about scarcity? People hate to feel like they’re missing out on something. Back in the 1980s, Cabbage Patch Dolls were a highly sought-after toy and production could not match demand, thereby creating scarcity. And what about diamonds? They have no intrinsic worth, but clever advertising (“A diamond is forever”), carefully controlling their supply, and playing on imposed social fears paved the way for a multi-billion-dollar industry to grow almost overnight.
But as businesses grow larger, they tend to lose touch with their customers and clients on a personal/individual level. When looking at the success and evolution of your direct competitors, ask yourself several questions:
In identifying the flaws of your competitors and taking the initiative to do something different, many small businesses find success in building on exclusivity and scarcity—not everyone can have what you offer, but they will want it. This can be done by introducing time-limited offers and facilitating direct, personal engagement with customers in an age of automated, outsourced communications. Even if your services and products are similar to those of your competitors, attaching specialized guarantees and human points of contact can and will build on your reputation. It sometimes isn’t enough to offer a product and/or service alone; people need to feel that they have something of value that others do not.
Remember this: No two businesses are alike, and positive growth is dependent on factors you have direct influence over and those out of your control. Implementing these simple growth hacks for your small business will help it emerge from where it is to where you want it to be.