The business hacks you need to drive productivity, increase your customer base and improve your business overall.
In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, you need to do everything you can to give your business an edge over the competition—and a big part of that is figuring out how to achieve maximum results without maximum effort.
We’re talking about business hacks—and if you want to grow your business (and get a leg up on your competitors in the process), it’s important you not only understand which hacks will drive the most benefit for your business, but how to successfully implement those hacks to drive growth, revenue and productivity.
Let’s take a dive into all things business hacks: What they are, how they can benefit your company, and how to leverage strategic hacks to take your business to the next level.
What Are Business Hacks?
First things first—before we jump into how to use business hacks to improve your business, let’s quickly define what, exactly, business hacks are.
A business hack is any strategy you can use to grow or improve your business while simultaneously saving time, effort and resources. Time, effort and resources you can then pour back into your business, further driving your growth and improvement.
Business hacks are all about working smarter, not necessarily harder. When you implement those hacks across your organization, you can see massive changes in every area of your business, from productivity to employee engagement to customer retention and satisfaction.
The Business Hacks You Need to Take Your Business to the Next Level
Understanding what business hacks are—and why they’re beneficial—is important. But which hacks are going to deliver the most bang for your buck—and help you dramatically improve your results without dramatically increasing your efforts?
Let’s take a look at six must-try business hacks that will drive real results for your small business—and help you take things to the next level in the process.
1. Use AI to Streamline Your Customer Service
Your customers deserve the highest level of support. But providing that support can be time-consuming and repetitive—especially when 90% of your customer inquiries cover the same one or two FAQs.
If your customer service team is spending the majority of their time dealing with the same customer issues over and over again, there’s a business hack you can use to help get back their time and energy—and that’s adding a chatbot to your website.
Chatbots offer the best of both worlds. When you program a chatbot to answer your customer FAQs, you’re giving your customers the targeted support and answers they need—while also freeing up your customer service team’s time to focus on more urgent and complex customer support issues.
Adding a chatbot to your website also ensures that no customer issues fall through the cracks. When a customer reaches out, the chatbot will automatically respond. If it’s a request the chatbot can handle, it will take care of it—and if it’s not, you can program the chatbot to pass the request on to one of your customer service reps.
You’ll have to invest some time, energy and money in getting your chatbot set up and programmed. But once you do, the amount of time and energy it will save your customer service team—and the improvements it will drive to your customer service strategy as a whole—will more than make up for it.
2. Embrace Automation
Chatbots are a great business hack for automating your customer service process. But automation as a business hack doesn’t stop with customer service. There are a TON of tasks and processes you can automate in your business—all of which will save you and your team time, increase your efficiency and drive growth.
Some of the prime candidates for automation include:
- Social media: Instead of having your team spend time every day posting to social media platforms, you can use a social media automation tool like Hootsuite to schedule your posts in advance
- Financial tasks: Instead of trying to track all your business finances manually, you can use an accounting platform like FreshBooks to handle a slew of financial tasks, from automatically sending client invoices to collecting payment to tracking, importing and categorizing your business expenses
- Email management: Instead of spending an hour every day sifting through your inbox and deleting spam, you can use an email management tool like SaneBox to automatically filter, organize and prioritize your emails
- Project management: Instead of trying to keep track of project deliverables—and make sure your team is on track to deliver on time—you can use a project management platform like Asana or Trello to assign tasks, organize deliverables and send automatic reminders (both to you and your team) as deadlines approach
The point is, you can use the automation business hack in one way or another in virtually every area of your business—saving yourself and your team a serious amount of time, energy and effort in the process.
3. Be Cutthroat With Processes That No Longer Serve You
Your current business processes got you to where you are now. But the processes that got you to where you are now may not be the processes that will take you where you want to go. So, if you want a hack to grow your business and take things to the next level?
Take stock of your current business processes—and be absolutely unflinching in getting rid of the processes that no longer serve you, your team, or your business.
For example, having your sales team share client updates at their weekly sales meeting might have made sense when you were just starting out and had three sales reps—but now that you have 15, it might make more sense to streamline the process and invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform.
Or maybe you started your business 10 years ago with a policy that prohibited employees from working from home. But in today’s mostly remote world, that policy is likely causing you to lose out on top talent—and it would probably make sense to get rid of that policy and draft up more WFH-friendly processes.
The point is, the processes that were effective in getting your business off the ground might not be the best processes for growing your business. So if you want to grow, get rid of the processes that are no longer serving you—and don’t look back.
4. Get the Most Lead Generation Bang for Your Buck With Content Marketing
As mentioned, business hacks are all about driving the maximum results with minimal effort. And when it comes to lead generation, the business hack that will deliver the most bang for your buck is, without a doubt, content marketing.
Content marketing is much less time-intensive than other outbound lead generation strategies, like cold calling. With content marketing, you have to invest time and effort up-front in creating the content—but once that content is created, it can continue to drive new, qualified leads to your business.
Think about it this way. You can spend five hours cold calling new leads or you can spend five hours developing a piece of content to drive new leads for your business. In the five hours you spend cold calling, you might get a customer or two—but the following week, in order to connect with those same one or two customers, you’ll need to spend another five hours cold calling.
On the other hand, in the five hours it takes you to create the content, you won’t connect with any new customers initially. But once the content is created, it will continue to drive new leads next week, next month, even next year—with no (or very little) additional time investment necessary.
5. Use Your Existing Customers to Drive New Business
Social proof is an extremely powerful thing: If a person sees that a product or service works for someone else, they’re far more likely to believe that same product or service will also work for them.
So, if you want to drive new customers into your business, one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal? Your existing customers.
Tapping into your existing customer base is a great hack to drive new growth for your business. Not only does it require minimal effort on your part, but leveraging your current customers to connect with new customers can actually strengthen your existing relationships—and, in the end, not only bring in new customers, but bring in new business from your existing customers as well.
For example, you could offer your existing clients an exclusive discount code for providing a customer testimonial to your website or referring a new customer.
It’s a win-win situation. Not only does the social proof of the testimonial or personal recommendation help to bring new customers into your business, but because your existing customer has a discount code, they now have an added incentive to buy your products or engage your services—which will bring in additional revenue to your business.
Bottom line? Incentivizing your existing customers to refer or attract new customers is the perfect business hack—because it allows you to both bring in new customers and drive more revenue from your existing customer base.
6. Introduce a Daily ‘No Phone’ Power Hour
Technology plays a major role in most business hacks. But one of the most effective business hacks for driving productivity has to do with removing technology—and, more specifically, removing smartphones.
Smartphones are distracting and can be a huge drain on productivity—even if your team isn’t actively using their phones. A recent study found that the presence of a smartphone can seriously hinder focus, performance and cognitive functioning—even if the phone is powered off.
Now, we’re not saying you need to ban your team from having their smartphones at work. That’s both unrealistic and counterproductive. But carving out time every day for your team to work without them can be a great way to increase efficiency, supercharge productivity and get things done.
Implement a policy where, for an hour every day, each team member within your organization (yourself included!) powers down their smartphone and stores it out of view (for example, in a purse or desk drawer). Without smartphones to distract you and your team, you can focus on your most important and demanding work—and power through that work in less time than you thought possible.
Hack Your Way to a Thriving Business
Your business is already doing well. But with these business hacks, you have the strategies you need to hack your way to an even more successful, productive and lucrative business. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and use these business hacks to take your business to the next level!
This post was updated in November, 2020.