Business and leadership mastermind groups are full of people promising to help you “level up” your company with the newest inspirational trends, products, and tools. The fact is, however, that many of the best-proven tips to kick your business up a notch have been around for years – even decades!
Before you spend one penny on programs or courses, check out this list of expert hacks for growth that you can start putting into practice right away. We bet you’ll discover that you can begin the best ones with the talent and tools you already have on hand.
6 Ways to Level Up Your Business
1. Walk the Talk
Most businesses have mission statements. When is the last time you truly revisited it? We’re not talking about hiring an outside consultancy to create a new slogan, creed, or promise for your brand. Rather, it’s necessary to take a look at what your customers already come to expect from you and ask “are we doing this?”
Identify the gaps between what you claim to do in your business and what you’re actually putting on the table. Make a list of two major opportunities to deliver, and map out how you can start keeping those promises you made when you first began. Customers –and employees—will notice, and good things will start to happen as a result.
2. Hire (Better) Talent
If your HR department relies on a slush pile of resumes to get fresh team members, it may be time to revamp your talent search. Today’s best new hires may not be responding to ads; they may not even be actively looking. UpWork, an online marketplace for freelancers, chooses to use third-party feedback and portfolio samples, rather than checking out traditional work histories. Their approach to skipping an interview in lieu of paid skills testing is somewhat new, a bit controversial, but highly effective.
You may also try asking your best workers who they know that can bring the same sort of work ethic to the team. Look for innovative ways to seek out the skillset you need for projects, especially if you’re looking to expand your remote workforce or add freelancers. The standby methods of scanning keyword-stuffed CVs just aren’t working anymore.
3. Upgrade Customer Service
In keeping with tip #1 for revising your mission statement, your focus had better involve the customer. One way to see through on that promise is to examine every step of the customer service process fully. Is it easy to reach you with questions? When is the last time you sent out a customer satisfaction survey or feedback opportunity? Are there redundancies in the resolution cycle? Can everyone who works for your company direct customer issues to the appropriate channel?
Remember, every worker is an ambassador to your business; make sure that they know why they are in business and how the customer creates the demand for their skills.
4. Take Advantage of Tax Benefits
One of the quickest ways to jump-start those next-level initiatives waiting to be started is to infuse your company with a bit of cash. Freeing up money may be a bit easier this year, thanks to recent tax breaks for businesses. Know how specific tax law changes will affect your industry specifically, and see what savings you can pocket.
You can choose to use the extras to pay down debt, expand your services, or beef up employee benefits (which can a long way to boosting worker retention.) Whatever you elect to do, consult your tax professional to see what the tax savings will look like before you adjust your budget and compare that to any offsets recent tariffs may have cost your company.
5. Reconsider Security
With the EU and other countries working hard to protect consumer privacy, it’s probably just a matter of time before the U.S. implements tougher regulations on how consumer data is collected, stored, and used. Most small companies are already pretty good and keeping data under wraps, but as companies grow (and implement more tech solutions to market and advertise to their key demographic), opportunities for bad actors to compromise data will increase.
You should already have IT and security professionals working for your company, even if just in a consultancy capacity. Ensure that they have recent regulations and the newest threats at top of mind when creating and updating your systems this year. Don’t hesitate to invest in the latest training and education to be sure your team is at the top of their game. You cannot afford to get this wrong, and your growth as a company will depend on your reputation in handling such matters.
6. Don’t Push Too Hard
Careful planning, open communication, and a capable team are necessary to push you to your next product launch, building expansion, or rebranding. You may also need to work a little bit more than you usually do, but do not make this a habit. Damon Brown, author of The Ultimate Bite-Sized Entrepreneur, shares how it’s possible (and quite often necessary) to take a step back and tackle the big projects in chunks.
While occasional streaks of working at a maddening pace are sometimes needed (like the night before a new offering reveal), it shouldn’t be your new normal. Celebrity entrepreneurs, like Elon Musk, claim that 80-hour workweeks are where it’s at, but many thriving and successful startup founders say otherwise. The only place frantic, reckless work schedules will get you is in the hospital. Your company needs you. Your customers need you. Don’t put your health at risk in the name of working harder.
If it seems like the tips mentioned above are a lot to consider, it’s because they are. The best way to move your company ahead this year is to tackle some of those sizable goals that we know we should be working on but choose not to. Whether you have been avoiding them due to a limited budget, time constraints, or fear, make this the year you meet your biggest growth challenges head-on. The future of business isn’t necessarily about the latest automation software or influencer trends; these tips are here to stay and work for companies of every size.
This article was originally written on January 17, 2019 and updated on January 3, 2022.