How to Grow Your Business the Easy But Boring Way

I asked Carol Tice of Make a Living Writing to share how her just-published new book can benefit us.

You’d like to grow your sales, wouldn’t you? There’s a way to do it that many business owners ignore, because it’s considered kind of boring.

But it’s so powerful for helping your business survive and then flourish that I recently wrote a whole book for startups about it, The Pocket Small Business Owner’s Guide to Starting on a Shoestring, because I’d really like to spread the word about it and help more startups survive.

If you can adopt this mentality, you’ve got a
much better shot at avoiding business death.

It’s not as splashy as adding a big, new client or getting 1,000 new prospects onto your marketing list. You don’t win any awards for it and nobody takes you out to dinner for doing it. But this activity is just as powerful when it comes to keeping your business growing.

Here it is: The trick is to avoid wasting money in your business.

You may think you’re doing this now, but after 20 years of talking to business owners and running three solo business of my own, my experience is that most small businesses waste a lot of money without even noticing.

Loads of start-ups go out of business as a result. The SBA reports only
half of startups are still operating five years
after they open their doors.

If you want to be in the winning half of that equation, then adopt this mentality: Challenge every cost in your business and question whether it’s necessary and whether it is helping to drive sales. If not, then seek to reduce or eliminate it.

The greatest hits of business waste

How do startups waste money? Let me share just a few of the most popular ways:

  • Failing to do market research, so you launch with a product or service that lacks consumer demand
  • Renting a retail space that is too big and/or in the wrong location
  • Paying a pricey designer to make a flashy website when a simple one would convert better
  • Hiring employees when you could use interns, barter, students, or contractors
  • Overpaying for recurring monthly services such as telecom or web hosting, and never reviewing and re-bidding the contracts
  • Not taking advantage of early-pay discounts and getting hit with late-pay penalties instead
  • Disorganized buying means you don’t get volume discounts
  • Not scrutinizing detailed bills to find billing errors and hidden costs
  • Financing business costs on credit cards with high interest rates

Once you develop the habit of questioning each of these costs, you start to save boatloads of money. Now you’ve got the instincts that will keep your business afloat.

Don’t fall asleep — we’re getting to the good part

There’s one basic reason why most businesses close.
It’s because they run out of money.

Entrepreneurs are a diehard bunch. As long as they can keep the lights on, they will. They tend to ride it to the end of the line and only give up when they must.

This is why the money-saving habit is so important. As you cut your startup’s burn rate, you lengthen the time your business has to find the revenue that makes your model pencil out. You get more sand in the hourglass before time runs out on your idea.

Here’s the part many entrepreneurs overlook:
Saving money is as good as getting more revenue.
It improves your bottom line just the same.

It’s nobody’s favorite thing, squinting at the fine print comparing cell-phone plans or calling vendors to negotiate a better deal. It’s boring grunt work, which is why many owners give these dollar-squeezing activities low priority. It can’t compare to the thrill of chasing that elusive big customer or the elation of landing a big contract.

But at the same time, money-saving activities are mostly fairly simple. Any owner can do them. You don’t have to master any algorithms or have a huge Twitter following or nothing.

Small Business Growth

When you learn to cut wasteful spending out of your enterprise, you build a more profitable business. You also build a cash stash you can use for productive marketing and sales activities that do bring in more business.

As your business grows, the lower-cost business you’ve built will let you take home a lot more cash.

And isn’t that worth a little boredom?

The Pocket Small Business Owner’s Guide to Starting Your Business on a Shoestring.

Buy Carol’s book in July and get a free Shoestring Startups Guide — a workbook that boils down all the book’s tips with handy checklists you can use to brainstorm your business’s money-saving opportunities!

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Carol Tice

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  1. Yes, saving money is as good as generating it. Small businesses should also focus on growing it, and for that you need money.I would also suggest the business owners to take training in business consulting, so that they acquire the knowledge of business expanding and do not need a business consultant to consult them.

  2. Thank you so much for great post.I think every small business owner must read this for increasing their online presence

  3. I agree with some of your points and take them on board but there are those that are very aware of these problems and do avoid these. We started our business with very little capital investment and I mean very little. We have been growing the business very slowly over the past year and have put every penny back into it. I’m happy to report that it’s going very well and we’ve already tripled our previous years turnover in the first 6 months of this year. It’s been stressful, hard work but extremely rewarding and we’re learning all the time. The best thing about a small business is that you can adapt quickly and can be flexible. I think if we hadn’t started with so little we would have made more mistakes, as it is, we’re so careful to watch every single penny.

  4. I think in todays day and age, no one is going to complain about their business growing slowly or in boring way as long as the business is growing. It seems as though your book, based upon the short video introduction, is sure to give some good advice and techniques that should be welcoming for both the new and experienced entrepreneur to help establish and grow and maintain their business.

  5. Thanks for sharing some good tips about running a successful start up business. I’m sure the book has a lot more good information. As the article mentions, I also have seen many companies spend way to much money on fancy websites that don’t convert well and some of that money could have been put to greater use in other places to help the company generate more business.

  6. very nice article Carol. Worth reading it as well as watching. really helpful.

  7. Siraj Wahid says:

    Ummm, Interesting! I never started any business but got some tips. Bye the way this article was not boring at all.
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  8. This is a great review and useful information the video, and clean information about the post How to Grow Your Business the Easy But Boring Way.Thanks for shared for such valuable information.Really nice post

  9. Thanks for the great tips! Just commenting as I was just looking at your advertising rates ect. I cannot find anywhere how much traffic the site is getting or anything, without that information getting people to advertise is going to be very difficult. Great blog! keep up the good work!

    • Hi Charles,

      Usually there are traffic amounts on the advertise on growmap page, but they are obviously not working. I’ll have to check into that. We usually average 20-30,000 uniques a month.

  10. Saving money is as good as getting more revenue.
    It improves your bottom line just the same.

    Bwah ! this saying has alot to say than it just says !
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  11. Best success wanna more way, If we wanna more success in bussiness we can’t care about boring way. I think success is most special thing in our business.
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  12. Cutting of wasteful spending is very much important for new business owner , because he has limited budget to get start a new business and lot of preliminary expense to meet , therefore some times entrepreneurs suffer loss due to wasteful expenses and heavy initial advertisement cost.
    The post is well organized and structured, Thanks!
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  13. This is sound advice and something I have been trying to practice for a long time. It gets more difficult to accomplish this when you have more than one business owner unless that person is on the same page as you. I have built a few businesses in my life and although a few have flourished, in the end, they all took a nosedive. I have been more into capitalizing on success in the short run (not the best strategy) and if there is any advice I can give any entrepreneur, it’s to watch where your money goes, don’t involve too many people/partners (more than one is already pushing it), and aim for a brand that will last a lifetime.

  14. World News says:

    After reading your post i think my expenses are going out of budget i will reconsider them.
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  15. surely i’ll start cutting down my wastefull and extra expenses now!! Thanx Carol!
    Aashish Sahni would love you to read ..How To Install Whatsapp On Your Pc/Laptop/MacMy Profile

  16. Aashish Sahni says:

    i’ll surely start cutting down my wastefull and extra expenses now!! Thanx Carol! :)

  17. Houston movers says:

    Hi Carol, After reading you post I’m I started looking in to my spending’s and I think I can cut back on some expenses, I own a moving company and even when we have good busy month its seems that our expenses goes up and out of control, for example in a good month when our sales about 120K our expanses can go up to 90k-100k, cutting in expenses will defiantly will be helpful, I will go thru your list and will follow up to let you know if it was helpful, thanks for carrying .

    • That’s great Houston! If you buy the book, you get a link at the end to a workbook/checklist compilation that allows you to quickly brainstorm through all the tips in the book to remind you which might apply to your business.

      With a business like yours I’d look at labor costs and staffing — are too many people standing around? Do you really need a crew that big on that run?

      Also look at vendor invoices and scrutinize detail billings — look for hidden/mistake charges. It’s so easy to take the eye off the cost ball when you have a busy spurt, but as you’ve seen if you do, it can eat up all the extra profit you imagined was about to come from that uptick.

      Best of luck with it!

  18. Pramod

    Small Businesses should do a thorough analysis before spending their money …considering the budget limitations.Beautifully structured points .Thanks for sharing .

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