No matter what industry you work in, or how large or small or business is, you want additional income, right? Surely, at some point, your business is destined to grow.
Today’s the day! The day you expand your business interests with 10 small, simple business moves.
Our tips range from subtle profit-reclaiming maneuvers to moderately “risky” adventures. Not everyone has to do everything on the list, but we think you will find something intriguing that might just lead to increased income for you.
Let’s dive right into ten smart business moves you can make today.
Smart business tip #1: Hire an accountant
We know, it sounds a little boring. But the thing is, this particular smart business move is one of the most practical ones you can make – and it works across all industries. That puts it in first place on our list of tips!
The number one tip on our list is hire an accountant. If you are like most entrepreneurs these days, you are probably guilty of trying to take care of everything yourself, including your accounting and taxes.
That means you are probably doing those tasks half as good as a dedicated accounting professional. Hiring a quality accountant can mean uncovering hidden opportunities to streamline your profitability, not to mention chances to recoup tax deductions that you might not know about.
Of course, to work seamlessly with an accountant, you need to forward them all the important business documents that track your accounts payable and receivable. You also need to save your receipts – for everything, including client lunches. Keep records of everything, which all the more easy if you move your accounting documents to the cloud.
Smart business tip #2: Apply for a business credit card
Whoa! Are you the noble independent contractor? The freelancer? Why are you still using your personal credit cards to run your business?
Look into a business credit card. Business credit cards typically offer sweet rewards, such as cash back, frequent flyer miles, and the like. Plus, you get the added benefit of making it easy for your accountant to keep your business and personal transactions totally separate, which he or she will surely thank you for doing!
You need to carefully weigh the potential benefits of a business card. You may have a lower annual percentage rate (APR) on your personal card. So, if you need month-to-month buying power for your business, but you intend to pay off the balance each time the bill comes, a business card is a great way to separate personal finances and business finances. The choice is ultimately your.
Bear in mind as well that business credit cards have more to offer in terms of customer rewards. If you fly often for business reasons, the travel savings can make up for the added APR that might come with your business credit card.
Smart business tip #3: Start blogging while it’s still cool
Do you have an offline business and think “Oh, what good will a blog do my business?”
The answer is: a lot.
A blog starts a conversation around your business, and there is nothing better than word of mouth. The starting of a blog is a study all its own, but the main point is: fire up WordPress and start posting. Don’t look at a blog as celebration of your business. Look at the prospect of starting a blog as a chance to get people talking about you, and to respond to them in a meaningful way.
That’s the short of it, for the longwinded and awesome explanation of how you can get started with a blog, check out CopyBlogger.
Smart business tip #4: Get to know your customers
After a business reaches a certain level of success, owners tend to put up a sort of wall between themselves and their customers.
Don’t let that happen. One of the smartest business moves you can make is to set aside time to mingle among the people who do business with you.
In the early-1980s, Stew Leopold ran a successful supermarket but dreamed of owning a big top circus. To gather intelligence before making a risky move and investing, Leopold pitched a circus tent next to his supermarket and invited his existing customers in. What was inside the tent? Leopold himself, sitting in a chair, waiting to greet visitors.
In another supermarket example, the late Joe Harvey, a regional supermarket magnate, built his business by trotting the aisles of his stores, shaking hands, and passing out coupons to customers. For a time, everyone in the state knew him – or claimed to know him, at the very least.
What can you learn from these customer-facing examples? Businesses depend on people – namely, you and your customers. Build a relationship and build a legacy. You never know what you might learn from your customers.
If you do not have a customer-facing business model, email is a great way to start talking with your customers. Email everyone en masse (the smart way, with blind carbon copies), but respond to responses individual. Once again, you never know what you might discover, just by engaging your customers.
Smart business tip #5: Hire a virtual assistant
Speaking of a purely online business model, whether that’s you or if you are just a busy person, you will find plenty of tasks that a personal assistant can take care of for you.
If you’ve read Tim Ferriss’ Four-Hour Work Week, you no doubt know that Ferris advocates outsourcing everything – even personal tasks – to a virtual assistant. While you might feel comfortable turning over business email account details or other business related tasks, you don’t want to turn over the keys to your bank account to someone you have never met face to face – or anyone else for that matter!
Be smart with what you outsource to a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant can handle making scheduled posts to your company’s Facebook page, but the responses need to be genuine ones, written in your own words. This feeds right into what we talked about in tip #4 and allows you to offload the added work that might be preventing you from engaging in conversations with your audience.
Many people take Ferriss’ advice too far and try to outsource even the small tasks that they really could do themselves. This can get costly and the resulting output can become compromised, if you do not attend anything yourself. Remember, it is your own skills that have brought you to where you are.
Be smart and outsource the menial, not the pertinent.
Smart business tip #6: Put your customers to work
Once you get to know them, as your customers to do some work! Seriously.
Of course, to do that, you have to give them an incentive. The job that you need them to do is that of salesperson. Consider starting a referral or affiliate program. The customers who appreciate your business the most are the ones ideal to do the work of selling on your behalf.
What’s more, you can often work with joint venture partners to turn up additional referrals between your customer base and theirs.
Implementing an affiliate program, while somewhat more complex than a standard referral program, can really turn up the amount of effort your customers are willing to undertake. An affiliate program that offers a reasonable yield can result in a slew of customers becoming bloggers and all-around advocates for your business online, resulting in a torrent of incoming sales.
See, that’s putting customers to work!
Smart business tip #7: Take a small, logical step – sell a digital product
Let’s say you are a graphic designer who runs a blog and provides your services to a slew of customers. What else can you?
Really, the question is, “who else is your customer?” Could you write an eBook about how you became a successful graphic designer? Do you have enough blog posts to be able to repurpose them as an eBook? Could you work with a co-author to refine your ideas into a sellable product?
If any of that sounds like you, then your next small, logic step is marketing and selling an eBook based on the value of your know how. An eBook is a digital product. All you are doing in creating one is finding a way to share what you know about what you do with others – for a small price.
This example translates to all sorts of industries. Imagine how much what you know is worth to someone else – turn that into a new business channel!
It is important to note that digital products can include much more than just eBooks. Paid video courses, live webinars, and personalized strategic blueprints are digital products that you might consider offering to your customers.
Smart business tip #8: Offer add-on products
Would you like fries with that? Ha!
In all seriousness, McDonald’s is the prime example of offering a product or service that goes hand-in-hand with your primary offer. Take note from the famous home of the Golden Arches. If you are selling forks, why not knives and spoons?
What does that really mean?
Creating a new product similar to an existing one
Selling a third-party add-on item
Speaking publicly or presenting online at conferences/webinars about what you do
None of these ideas, as you can tell, represent a giant leap from what you already do on a daily basis.
In an Entrepreneur article from several years back, Frances McGuckin said, "Diversifying is an excellent growth strategy, as it allows you to have multiple streams of income that can often fill seasonal voids and, of course, increase sales and profit margins.”
To gain an insight into even more ideas for offering complementary goods and services, you can always survey your customers, asking “what products or services would you like to see us provide in the future?”
You may be surprised by just how obvious your most profitable add-on offer really is.
Smart business tip #9: Buy another business – a small one
If your business is coasting along, consider buying another business property. This is especially simple if you are Internet savvy. Fully functional Internet sites are for sale on sites like Flippa, and you can often pick one up that needs only minimal maintenance. Proceed with caution, though – just like on eBay, people have been burned by making bad purchases on website marketplaces. Be smart, above all other considerations.
If you play it correctly, you may be able to land an established website that makes several hundred (up to thousands) of dollars on a month-to-month basis, on full autopilot.
Just be sure that, before you agree to buy an established Web property, you get the seller to agree to transfer all documents and instructions to be able to keep your site running long after the sale.
Smart business tip #10: Go for a bigger fish
If you have provided services to small businesses, the next rung on the ladder of success is to sell your services to medium businesses. The same logic applies if you have provided your services, in the past, to major corporations. In that scenario, the next logical step for you is to throw your name in the hat for a government contract. Just keep in mind, you need to have a thoroughly documented history of successes before you can move to the next tier.
Nevertheless, that’s the nature of running a business with growth in mind, and if you have made it this far in this list of tips, chances are that is exactly what you are interested in. Always go after the next big fish, with no fear.
What ideas do you have for growing a business? We would love to hear from you, Panda pals, in the comment space below.