Q. What’s one small change you’ve made recently that’s had a big impact on your business financially?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. Hire a Sales Coach
I used to try to do everything myself, but after meeting with a fellow entrepreneur and asking her how she managed to accomplish so much so early in her career, I learned a valuable lesson. She told me, “If you have a weakness, hire a coach to help you.” As a business owner, you can never stop learning and improving.
– Allie Siarto, Loudpixel
2. Cancel All Unnecessary Monthly Fees
We didn’t have too many to choose from, but simply by taking the time to cancel everything we were being charged for on a monthly basis that we didn’t absolutely need, we saved a bunch of cash every month altogether.
– Derek Flanzraich, Greatist
3. Give It Away
Never underestimate the value of “free.” We decided to start offering free trials, despite the fact that we lose money in the first month of our relationship with new customers. We’ve since seen a huge lift in customer growth and the new approach has proven to be quite profitable.
– Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics
4. Build Solid Platforms
Rather than relying on one or two sources of income, we made a concerted effort to create an additional stream of income every 90 days or less. This includes new marketing strategies, new lead generation strategies, joint venture partnerships, referral programs, etc.
– Charles Gaudet, Predictable Profits
5. Lean on Volunteers
HopeMob leans heavily on volunteers to drive much of what we do. This year we have had extremely skilled and passionate volunteers help every area of our business and these volunteers have done the equivalent of over $250,000 worth of work. Consider creating an internship program or hiring a volunteer coordinator – it will help your bottom line and create a pool for future hires!
– Shaun King, HopeMob
6. Give People Autonomy and Rethink Management
Put an emphasis on developing a strong company culture. It’s important to go above and beyond to push your company in a direction that is beneficial for business and the needs of your team. We fired managers, flipped our organizational chart, and gave people autonomy. This created a better culture with happier, more productive team members. Result: happier clients and better numbers in the books!
– Ilya Pozin, Ciplex
7. Create More Products
This year we really listened to our customers to see what their needs were. We created one program that sold great to our market and instantly created 2 new versions of the same product that appealed to different parts of the market. The new work was minimal but our sales tripled. You really need to listen to your customers and they will subconsciously tell you exactly what they need from you!
– Greg Rollett, The ProductPros
8. Outsource to a CFO
Outsource your financials to a professional CFO. We moved from a bookkeeper to a CFO, and it’s made a world of difference. I have a better sense of how we’re spending money, leading to better decisions. Our outsourced CFO provides strategic guidance as well.
– Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Test Prep
9. Focus on Metrics
In 2012, we really focused on ensuring we knew where our customers were coming from and how much they engaged with our product. We know now, for instance, that if customers don’t add their data into our product, they’re much more likely to cancel. With metrics, we’ll be able to see who’s not engaging and send them targeted messages — before they get to the point of deciding to leave.
– Erica Douglass, Whoosh Traffic
10. Partner With Distributors to Lower Costs
We used to pursue all sales leads ourselves. The fixed costs caused some pain, but more difficult was the amount of time certain types of sales took. We finally started to work with distributors. We had to give up margin, but our partners are experts at making sales, freeing up our time to focus on designing cool watches and delivering great customer service.
– Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
11. Make Customer Service Your Priority
We focused less on new and shiny and more on the existing systems we had in place. We tightened them up, got better (and faster) in our response time and we improved our work overall. Customer service became our number one focus and because of that, clients were happier and referred us more. As a business that is based on referrals, this made a huge difference in 2012.
– Erin Blaskie, BSETC
12. Change Your Prices
The easiest way to change your company financially is to change your prices. We made an update to our prices that gave more value away, but also extracted more money in the right places. We instantly saw our growth rate double. Want to make an impact on the bottom line? Change how much money your customers give you and for what.
– Wade Foster, Zapier
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