3 High-Impact Small Business Growth Hacks to Help You Crush It

Steve Strauss, USA Today Small Business Columnist and Author

standing out from the crowd

I spend my days thinking about and helping small businesses like yours.

As the senior small business columnist for USA TODAY, the author of 18 books, a speaker at small business conferences, and a small business owner myself, I am constantly meeting amazing entrepreneurs.

That is why I am so excited to have recently teamed up with Pinger. You may not know Pinger by name, but you probably know what they do. They are the brains behind the awesome apps TextFree and Sideline, and their new app Index, which gives small businesses text-based tools to run and grow their businesses.

Pinger and I are on the same page and have the same mission: to help entrepreneurs like you succeed, be more efficient, and make more money.

Over the next year, you can expect to see a lot of great ideas from us headed your way.

For starters, today I want to share a cautionary tale about a guy I know who had a great small business. (Notice the past tense?)

An architect by trade, he had an “in” with his city’s local planning department, becoming the go-to guy whenever they needed to farm out a project or make a referral. He was making great money and was super busy.

Fantastic, right? Wrong.

My friend got so busy that he didn’t know how to handle it. Not only was his phone constantly ringing, but he wore way too many hats: designer, draftsman, salesperson, receptionist, even shipping and receiving clerk.

My buddy would always complain to me about how demanding it all was, and I would always give him the same advice that I want to share with you today: work smarter, not harder.

Unfortunately, he never listened.

He was one of those entrepreneurs who had a tough time delegating (sound familiar?), and he thought he was too busy to learn some new tricks. Before long, he became consistently late on deadlines and projects, and the city stopped calling him. Given that he never diversified and found other clients, he eventually closed shop and went out of business.

Today he works 9 to 5 for the same city department that used to hire him.

His tale is not unique. I think it is safe to say that just about every small businessperson works hard, sometimes too hard. The difference is that the best ones—those who make real money, have loyal clients and staffers, and have a good work-life balance—have figured out a few tricks to make the entrepreneurial journey easier.

Here are three growth hacks that I think can make a huge difference for you and your business.

1. Do an 80-20 analysis:

You likely have heard of the 80-20 rule. It posits that 80% of your best outcomes come from just 20% of your efforts. That may mean, for instance:

  • That 80% of your website clicks come from 20% of your pages
  • That 80% of your sales come from 20% of your products
  • That 80% of your income comes from 20% of your customers

Do you see how valuable that analysis is? Figure out which 20% of your efforts give you 80% of your best results and dial in on those.

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, says he did just that and went from working 80 weeks and making $100K a year to working far less (though probably more than four hours a week) and making about $500K a year.

2. Hire an assistant:

Like the friend I mentioned above, many small business owners, especially freelancers and solopreneurs, wear a lot of hats. Too many, it is safe to say. But things still need to get done. So, when you’re ready to give up being your own shipping and receiving clerk, you will need to have someone else do the more menial tasks. That’s where an assistant—real or virtual—comes in.

As someone once told me: If you don’t have an assistant, you are the assistant.

So, get someone to help you. You will be free to concentrate on those things that you do best. You know, the things that get your juices flowing and bring in the money—whether that is inventing, selling, schmoozing, or whatever. One thing we know for certain: Your gift is not in sending out invoices, balancing the checkbook, or answering the phone. These are jobs for your assistant.

3. Find the right tools:

There are great products and tools specifically designed for small businesses like yours. The problem is that most small businesses are so busy and so ingrained in their ways that they never learn of, or use, these great tools. And that’s too bad because technology and software really can make your life easier—and your business more successful.

And, don’t forget, finding the right tools means finding the right apps: Needless to say, business is mobile now. Indeed, many of us run our businesses from our phones. Given that, the right move, the efficient move, indeed the smart move, is to find and start using a few apps that can make your business easier and better.

If I may, that is where my pals at Pinger come in. For instance, their new Index app gives you the text-based tools you need to manage business conversations with your customers, schedule appointments, send invoices, collect payments, and get reviews for your small business.

And that’s just for starters. As I said, Pinger and I have a lot up our sleeves over the next few months—all intended to help you. Just be patient. (Difficult, I know, fellow entrepreneur!)

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Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is often called “the country’s leading small business expert.” A best-selling author and USA TODAY’s small business columnist, Steve is a thought leader, global speaker, spokesperson, content creator, and author of 18 books.

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