As a business owner, entrepreneur or just starting out online, you need to achieve this one goal quickly … rapid growth.
While there are hundreds of tips and techniques out there to help you grow any business, in this post I’ll share the 10 hacks that have worked for me that have helped me grow from a single website to a multi-million dollar business with over 60 employees.
Most of these tips have to do with yourself and your state of mind. Through experience, I know that if you don’t have the right growth mindset from the beginning, you won’t get very far. What sets successful entrepreneurs apart from the rest is not special marketing, SEO or email funnels, but the way they apply themselves to the tasks at hand. You can do that too.
Here are the ten hacks that have supercharged my own business growth, which I share with you and are especially important now.
1. Build a Plan and Set Goals
This is one of the basic blocks of building your business. You’ve heard it again and again, but it still amazes me how few people actually make a plan on a spreadsheet or even a simple piece of paper.
I use the “12 Week Year” method and a spreadsheet. Steve, my business partner, uses Trello to write down his plans and goals. Regardless of your method, just think about where you want to be in 12 months time, and then plot your path backwards.
For instance, you have the goal of achieving one hundred thousand dollars in profit by this time next year … a comfortable full time income. Okay, you have a goal. Now, plan how you will get to that point by starting backwards.
Ask yourself, “How will I get to one hundred thousand dollars?“
Let me give you an example. Say that you have an ecommerce business you are just starting up. To get to $100,000 profit, you will need to clear about $274 per day profit. Assuming a 30% margin (and that’s on the low end), it means you need to sell a little over $900 per day. If you calculate that you make $20 profit per item, you need 45 customers per day to achieve your goals.
How many people shop online globally? Nearly 2 billion people. You only need 45 of them per day to achieve your financial goals!
You’ll be amazed how many business owners I’ve talked to don’t even know this basic information … “How many customers do you need per day to achieve your business goals?“
Now that you know your goals, use whatever planning method you need to get there. If you use the 12 week year, divide your year into quarters. Work backwards at a high level, starting with the last quarter, then second last, then second, then the first.
Your last quarter could be “45 customers per day”, which will achieve your financial run-rate. Your second last quarter could be 30 customers a day. Then 20, then start with 10.
Good, your first 12 week year goal is 10 customers per day. Now, break down your first 12 weeks. What will you do in week 1? Week 2? And so on, until you finish your weeks to accomplish bringing in 10 paying customers per day at the end of your first quarter.
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Using this method, you are connecting your long-term business goals with what you are doing on a day-to-day basis. When you wake up each morning, you’ll know exactly what you have planned, and what deadlines to meet.
2. Focus on One Thing at a Time
So many people spread themselves too thin. One thing that’s always helped me out is… if in doubt, do less rather than more. Meaning, do fewer different things in the day and instead focus on ONE task at a time.
One of my Top 5 marketing books is called The One Thing, by Gary Keller. He has a really good goal setting process as well. He says that to find out that one thing you need to focus on, you first create a “someday goal”. What’s that one thing you want to have “someday” in your life? Maybe it’s a real estate portfolio worth $20 million or a piece of software with 10,000 users.
Whatever it is, you then take one step backwards and ask… where do I need to be in 5 years time to reach that someday goal? Then, in order to get to that 5 year goal, where do I need to be in 1 year?
You do see the similarity here to Tip #1? Work backwards towards your goal.
Continue with going one step lower until you can’t break it down anymore. In order to achieve this 1 year goal, what do you need to do this month? To hit that monthly goal, what do you need to be doing in the next week? The next day? What is the ONE thing do I need to do right now to move forward?
3. Split-test Something … Anything
Why split-test? If you create a landing page, or even just an email form, how do you know that this is the best you can do?
By split-testing, you create one email form, then the same email form but with one single change. Maybe the button is red instead of green. Maybe the header has a single different word. It’s important to change only ONE thing, because if version 2 receives a higher conversion rate than version 1, if you’ve changed more than 1 element, you won’t know which was the reason.
Then, your split-testing software will run version 1 to half your traffic, and version 2 to the other half of your traffic. You then find out which did better.
One of the primary metrics that VWO tracks is revenue per visitor. We did one small campaign where our email resulted in $0.59 per visitor. Version 2, where we changed the headline, resulted in $1.10 per visitor!
Don’t stop there! Use your better version and continue split testing.
4. Terminate Distractions
This is an ongoing challenge, especially if you work at home. What I’ve seen over and over again is that when you get desperate, the distractions will disappear. You need to be ruthless.
This used to happen to me all the time when I was studying. Up until the last few hours before the exam there would be too many distractions, and then suddenly I would think, “Alright, there’s a deadline and I have to do this NOW.“
The key here is to create deadlines for yourself, and follow through. In conjunction with having a business plan, this reinforces getting things done. Why? Because if you miss a deadline due to other distractions, it cascades down, because you will then miss the next deadline you have already planned.
5. Plan the Night Before
This is part of your business planning. Ask yourself, what can you do to make more time in the day?
The answer is … nothing … there’s only 24 hours!
However, you can become much more efficient by making a list of what you want to achieve the next day. The key is to only write down two or three big things that will move you forward towards growing your business. Looking at your business plan and your deadlines will really help with this.
You can write down more takes, but accomplishing those two or three big things not only moves you forward, but gives yourself a huge psychological boost that you’ve had a productive day. You’ve accomplished things!
6. Talk To Your Customers
While planning on achieving your goals, you also need to make sure your customers are satisfied with your services and products … you need to know exactly who your customers are!
To do this, send personal emails, create a Facebook Group specifically for paid and potential customers, research the target niche your business is in, and send out surveys. All of this will also help you build up your customer avatar.
Understand who your customer is, find out what their concerns are, how they liked your product or service, and what they really want.
7. Get Help
Get a business partner, involve your spouse, outsource all the repetitive tasks, hire a CEO… and get the hell out of the way! This is what we’ve had to do. Many times when Steve and I got out of the way, our projects have really taken off.
Doing everything alone is 10 times more difficult… the most successful businesses we see have been built by people who are not alone. Microsoft’s Bill Gates had Paul Allen. Apple’s Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. Amazon wouldn’t exist as it is without MacKenzie Bezos, Jeff Bezos’s (now) ex-wife.
Behind the most successful businesses, there’s always a partner or some kind of support system in place.
8. Measure Everything
You can’t manage what you can’t measure – Peter Drucker
Tied in with split-testing and business planning, make sure your measurements align with your goals. Are you achieving the number of new (and satisfied) customers per day? Are you on track with building your sales funnel? Are you writing and publishing a certain number of content pieces per month?
For any project, you need to measure what you’ve done, and how effective it is. For your business planning, actually record what you have accomplished. You can use a spreadsheet for this.
This isn’t just for business, but for every aspect of life. Do you want to lose 10 pounds? Go to the gym three times a week … however, actually measure and record that you are going three times a week.
If your measurements are not in line with the goal you have set up in your plan, you need to reevaluate why this is, find some way to change course, modify your routine, and get back on track.
9. Share Your Goals
Have some kind of accountability partner. When I share my goals with my friends or family, it puts me on the spot and I feel like I have to do it at this point. With my business partner, he expects me to get it done.
If you’re reporting to another person, you are much more likely to actually do the thing you said you will do. This is because you are now not the only person who knows about it. Somebody else is expecting you to do it.
So expose yourself to the possibility of humiliating failure, and you won’t fail!
10. Set Up Rewards and Consequences
Celebrate the small wins. I do this on a weekly basis. I like to build rewards for myself into my own planning. For instance, if I finish a task, I give myself a break for 20 minutes. It could be as simple as that.
If you have a large project, set yourself a reward. Maybe it’s going out for dinner. Maybe it’s something as large as rewarding you and your entire family a trip to Disneyworld.
If you fail to meet an objective, build in a punishment. Yes, your growth may stall, but think of something specific, like not allowing yourself to go out to a movie on Friday night … think of something you want to do and now will not be able to do.
However, if I achieve certain objectives, then I’ll do something for myself and my family as a reward. This trains and motivates me to keep on going!
I hope you enjoyed these ten growth hacks. They have been invaluable to me when growing my business, and even though I have succeeded far beyond my original business goals, I’m still doing the exact same hacks today to keep my business growing ever higher for the long run.