citi logo

7 Growth-Boosting Small Business Secrets

by Megan Nye |September 8, 2023

Starting a successful company isn't just about having a great idea and executing it. Giving your teams the right tools and systems is crucial too, to help the day-to-day flow smoothly. Think about it: Every bit of time you save by streamlining a process can go toward ideation and innovation.

Whether you're launching a small business or wanting to expand the one you've already started, here are seven tips to help you and your young company grow.

Bakery owners review billing on their laptop

Give group work some structure

Emailing certainly has its place at the office, but it's not always the best way to communicate or collaborate; sometimes all that back-and-forth can lead to wasted time, overlooked steps and buried attachments. That's where cloud-based, work sharing software and apps can come into play, allowing you to create dedicated channels for projects or teams. Here are some top ways to use these tools.

  • Simplify communication with a service that enables conference calls, group video chats or live chats.
  • Set up online calendars that allow everyone to view available times and booked slots, making meeting-scheduling a breeze.
  • File share with a basic online site that staffers can all access, making it easy to see each other's notes and comments and cutting down on the confusion that can come from duplicate versions.
  • Optimize collaboration with an online project management system. Many providers offer free or low-cost versions with helpful data-organizing and tracking features.
a man and a woman sit together at a coffee shop working together on laptops

Look for areas to automate

Many day-to-day business tasks can take up valuable time, especially if you're operating with a lean staff, which is why you may want to harness the power of automation tools. Consider these options to streamline processes and help you feel as though you have another set of hands.

  • A client management system can store key client details and track prospects through your marketing funnel.
  • With an invoicing system, you can create client bills quickly, facilitate online payments and send past-due reminders.
  • An auto-responder can send a welcome message to your new email subscribers.
  • A social media scheduler can post updates on a predetermined schedule and loop content

Explore options for capital

Your type of business and early growth goals will likely play a major role in determining the amount of money you'll need to get it off the ground. These are some sources you might tap for potential funding.

  • Investors: If you're willing to split the wins and losses with additional stakeholders, you might try soliciting funds from friends, angel investors or venture capitalists, or crowdfunding more broadly.
  • Line of credit: You don't need to be a mega corporation to get attention from lenders. Some banks offer lines of credit designed specifically for small business owners.
  • Credit cards: A strong personal credit history can help you get approved for a business credit card, which may provide flexibility as financial needs arise. You'll want to repay the entire statement balance on time to avoid penalties and interest charges.
  • Bootstrapping: If you've got the funds and resources in your own pocket, you may be able to start your business single-handedly and build it up with your profits.
Two restaurant owners review paperwork

Think about going the influencer route

Enlisting the help of someone with credibility and widespread recognition among your target audience can be a useful marketing move; if they're willing to promote your business or product, it could mean a major boost for your brand awareness. You might not land a major celebrity endorsement, but you can create a beneficial business relationship with someone who adds value to your enterprise.

Start by searching social media for people who are respected in your industry and have a big following. You'll want to choose a person whose image and reach resonate with your marketing goals and ideal client. Popular bloggers, prolific authors and thought leaders can be good options too.

Keep in mind that certain legal disclosures are needed if you do engage an influencer. It must be clear in your posts and the influencer's post that they are paid by you and that it is a paid promotion.

Tap into the gig economy

Hiring the right people is always a smart way to cover the workload and bring in experts so you don't have to know (and do) everything. If you aren't ready for the commitment and cost of a full-time worker, consider hiring a part-time employee or freelancer to tackle necessary tasks that are too time-consuming or outside your area of expertise.

The gig economy is only growing, and so is the pool of skilled people who are able to step in quickly for short-term projects in a range of fields, from accounting and graphic design to building maintenance and order fulfillment.

Step back and strategize

Getting a small business off the ground takes focus, so it can be easy to lose sight of the grand plan. To tackle things efficiently, it can help to disconnect from day-to-day tasks long enough to take in the big picture and prioritize next steps.

Try the "eat the frog" approach, which means taking care of your most challenging task first. By allowing you to gather momentum and power through your lighter tasks faster, it can give the rest of your day a boost.

Make employees a priority

No matter how many smart processes and systems you have in place, their usefulness can't compare to the effect the human element has in determining your company's success. Ensuring your teams feel appreciated and have what they need is essential to building a business that runs smoothly.

"[Employees] are more valuable than key technology, fancy offices or even money in the bank," says The SnapBar co-founder Sam Eitzen, and regularly recognizing your team's accomplishments can ultimately help build camaraderie and foster a sense of pride for your brand.

— With additional reporting from Life and Money by Citi editors.

Megan Nye

is a personal finance freelance writer and small business owner who loves picking the brains of successful entrepreneurs. Her writing has been published by Business Insider, Credit Karma, LendingTree, U.S. News & World Report, Personal Capital and Northwestern Mutual.

The content reflects the view of the author of the article and does not necessarily reflect the views of Citi or its employees, and we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article.