12 absurdly easy ways to make money in your small biz

Want to make more money in your small business? Who doesn’t?

But usually, when entrepreneurs think of boosting their bottom line, they consider things that are pretty tough: developing new products or services, opening new locations or adding an eighth day of the week so they can work 24/8 instead of just 24/7.

Relax! There are better ways to go about it that won’t take too much time, and most of them won’t cost you much. Some are absurdly easy, even.

1. Rent out unused space. Have extra office space or a conference room that often sits idle? Rent it out on a site such as LiquidSpace or PivotDesk. If you own a retail shop, consider renting extra space to a complementary business. For example, if you have a toy store, find a local craftsperson who makes children’s clothing.

2. Cut expenses. Are you paying for services and subscriptions you no longer use? When’s the last time you renegotiated your Internet service? Your insurance? Utilities? Service providers slowly raise prices, especially on long-term customers. With the FCC about to end Net neutrality, expect your small business Internet prices to rise, so renegotiate rates now.

3. Up-sell. Do you only have one priced product or service? Consider adding more function-rich, pricier versions. Example: Say a spa offers only one hour massages. They’ll make more money when they also offer 90-minute massages, hot-stone massages, aromatherapy massages. What’s the equivalent of a hot-stone massage in your business?

4. Cross-sell. Offer associated products or services. Remember that spa? They also offer body lotions, scrubs and candles for sale, too.

5. Maybe you’re charging too little? Take a look at what your competitors charge. Has it been a long time since you raised your prices? Could you raise your price by 5% or 10%? It’s likely most people won’t notice.

6. Get found, free. The easiest, cheapest advertising is to make sure you’re listed on search engines, with details about your offerings, hours, even pictures. “Claim” your business on Google My Business, Bing Places and Yelp. It’s free and helps you get found when someone in your area looks for a business such as yours.

7. Pay for targeted ads on Facebook. These are incredibly easy to set up, and you can target your market very narrowly. For example, a seafood restaurant can target people who like oysters and dining out and live within one or two Zip codes of the restaurant. Where else can you advertise like that?

8. Buy ads on Google Adwords. Maintaining social media campaigns — writing posts, taking or finding accompanying pics, responding to comments — takes time. You might be better off buying ads from Google Adwords, which makes your business more visible when people search and just put your ads on autopilot.

9. Give yourself a sales quota. Need more customers and already have leads? Make at least three sales calls every day. These calls add up. Over a month, you’ll have made 20 to 60 new sales calls. Contact prospects, current customers and referrals.

10. Get referrals from existing customers. Ask your best customers to tell their friends and family about you — and then reward them when they do with discounts on products or services.

11. Take your three best customers to lunch. People do business with people they like. Don’t make your business lunch seem like a sales call. Instead, ask for an informal get-together. The holidays are a perfect excuse for an invitation. Once you’ve taken the time to get to know your guests, setting up a sales call in the future will be easier.

12. Stop wasting time. Send invoices with a few clicks using QuickBooksOnline,  Xero or FreshBooks; collaborate on documents with Google Docs or Dropbox rather than sending a gazillion emails back and forth; schedule social media posts with Hootsuite  or Buffer. And definitely check out the new Microsoft 365 Business, which offers a full range of small business apps in one online package, including invoicing, document sharing, email marketing and more.  It’s time to enter the 21st century.

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