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Top 15 growth hacking tips for small businesses

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

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You have a great idea for a small business startup that you’re confident will succeed. Or perhaps you already launched your small business and are struggling to find ways to grow. Both scenarios pose a host of challenges. After all, nine out of ten (90%) of small business startups eventually fail. But with the help of some growth hacking tips, you can ensure that your business is part of the 10% that succeed.

Starting and running a new small business can seem like a monumental challenge. But if you stay up-to-date on industry trends and embrace growth hacking tips, your chances of survival are much higher.

Here, we uncover the most important growth hacking tips and techniques for 2019. Use these, and you’ll be more likely to outperform your competition.

Growth hacking tips to ensure your survival

1. Automate as much as possible

One of the most important steps you can take to ensure your small business maintains high levels of productivity is to implement software that automates manual, time-consuming processes. This is one of the most critical growth hacking best practices.

Assess your needs and decide which types of software would benefit your specific business. There are loads of software solutions that automate numerous tasks. However, these two, in particular, are must-haves for every business:

Customer relationship management (CRM)

Customer relationship management (CRM) software automates loads of manual tasks, allows all teams to work with the same data, can be used for project management purposes, gives all users a 360-degree view into every contact in your database, and much more.

Now, you can acquire an all-in-one CRM, which includes sales, marketing, and support automation, all on the same platform. Plus, you can integrate tons of other apps—via built-in plugins—so that you can complete nearly all work-related tasks in the same system. Small businesses are increasingly selecting this option because it saves time, improves collaboration, and reduces technology costs.

Marketing automation

If you decide to go with an all-in-one CRM, you’ll have a built-in marketing automation solution, which will eliminate the need to acquire a separate solution for that purpose. If not, you certainly need to invest in a separate marketing automation solution to automate and drive your marketing efforts.

Marketing automation solutions streamline processes, automate tasks, allow you to increase brand awareness, and make it easy to attract new leads. With built-in features like email marketing, landing page builders, lead generation web forms, metrics, and more, marketing automation is an essential marketing growth hack idea.

2. Don’t be afraid to invest heavily

Only in rare cases can a startup succeed without a significant investment from the outset. As they say, you have to spend money to make money.

Startups need operating capital for various reasons, including:

  • Investing in technology

  • Running social media ad campaigns

  • Hiring top talent

  • Obtaining operating agreements and other legal documents

  • Acquiring offices or a storefront if you plan to have a physical location

  • And much more

A recent study undertaken by U.S. Bank—reported by Visual Capitalist—indicates that 82% of small businesses and startups fail because of poor cash flow management.

Taking out a small business loan to ensure you have enough capital to eliminate cash flow-related obstacles is well worth the risk. Or, if you can entice investors to help fund your effort, that’s even better.

3. Train employees on the software you use

When you invest in technology to automate tasks and streamline operations, it’s imperative that you fully train your employees on how to successfully and efficiently leverage that technology.

Most high-quality software solutions provide free onboarding and training during implementation. This ensures that your team fully understands how to use your new systems and is ready to leverage them to the fullest of their capacity.

If you are unsure what a robust onboarding and training program looks like, check out this article about effective software implementation and onboarding.

4. Track engagement and buyer intent

With CRM and marketing automation solutions in place, you can track the engagement levels of prospects and leads. These engagement behaviors include websites they visit, content they view or download, online events they attend, emails they open, etc.

The more engagement they show, the more sales-ready they are, as more engagement equals a higher propensity to buy.

The best way to do this is to create an automated lead scoring mechanism that tracks engagement and awards points for each defined behavior that leads display. This helps your sales team focus on only those that display interest, and leave the rest to marketing for further nurturing. Learn more about lead scoring.

5. Focus on content marketing

Content marketing is the practice of producing helpful and relevant content that solves common problems your target market faces. This type of content doesn’t overtly aim to sell your product. Rather, it focuses on establishing you as an authority in your space.

Once prospects see that your content solves their problems, they will keep coming back for more, and you’ll have them engaged. The more engaged they are, the closer they are to becoming customers.

Content marketing is an increasingly important element of small business growth and is one of the most important growth hacking tips you can leverage. Learn how to master content marketing.

6. Create a killer blog

Yes, blogging is part of content marketing. But it deserves a separate mention here due to its importance.

Blog regularly and focus your articles on topics that solve common problems for your readers. Be sure to share your blog posts on your social media channels for increased exposure.

And always be sure to include a subscription form on your blog so that new readers can sign up to receive your blog articles via email every time you publish a new one. This not only expands your readership but is also a great lead generation tactic.  

7. Prioritize the customer experience and customer satisfaction

The customer experience is quickly overtaking product and price as the key factor in consumers’ decision-making processes. People are increasingly open to spending more for a product if the customer experience they receive is world-class. Customer experience is a broad and nuanced topic, which is too expansive to cover here. So, check out this article to learn more about the importance of the customer experience.

A great customer experience leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers stick around longer and spend more over the long-term. Plus, it costs a company five to ten times more to acquire a new client than to retain an existing one. Learn how to maintain world-class customer satisfaction levels.

8. Invest in top talent to drive growth

If you are starting a new company, it’s not the time to skimp on the staff you hire to run and grow your budding business. You get what you pay for. Your goal is to grow, and you can’t do that if you hire inexperienced workers straight out of college.

Sure, it sounds enticing to save some cash by hiring staffers who you can pay less. But do you want them at the front lines of your growth strategy?

Instead, take the time to identify and hire top talent that can take the reins and run with your business. The customer experience they deliver, the high-quality of their output, and the experience and knowledge they bring will be well worth the investment—and will pay off dividends in the future.

9. Focus on employee satisfaction

Satisfied employees work harder, care more about the success of your business, and deliver a better customer experience.

That’s why it’s imperative that you go out of your way to ensure that your staffers are happy and inspired. Otherwise, employee turnover will become a huge problem and could potentially lead to the failure of your business.

On average it costs a company 33% of an entry-level employee’s salary to replace them. And it is a huge time drain finding and training someone to replace a lost employee. So, make employee satisfaction a priority.

10. Dive head first into social media

Millennials are now the largest consumer demographic in the United States. And where do most of them get their information? From social media!

Becoming active on social media is one of the most important growth hacking tips for small businesses and startups. Here are a few tips to help you succeed in your social media efforts:

  • Join social media groups and share helpful insights to grow your reputation

  • Ask questions in your company’s posts to engage your audience

  • Always share your inbound marketing content across social media channels

  • Incorporate calls-to-action in your social media postsLeverage social listening tools

  • Run social media contests

That’s a brief list. To dig into this topic further, read our article about best practices for increasing social media engagement.

11. Run targeted social media ads

Targeted social media ads can put your brand in front of new potential customers, based on the segmentation criteria that you select. If you want the ad to only appear in the feeds of construction workers in Minnesota, you can specify that.

Facebook is perhaps the best bet for getting your feet wet with social media advertising. It’s the cheapest option and allows for highly-specific targeting, making it one of our favorite growth hacking tips. 

12. Make mobile optimization a must

As mentioned above, millennials are now the largest consumer demographic in the US. And they use mobile devices all day. In fact, most consumers—regardless of their age—are now using mobile devices daily as well.

If your website or marketing emails don’t render properly on a mobile device, people will close them, and you will have lost their attention. Ensure that everything you present digitally to the public is mobile optimized and does not require excessive zooming or panning. 

13. Connect with industry influencers

Industry influencers are those in your industry who consumers consider to be authorities in your space. They have huge followings on social media, and if you can form relationships with them, you can potentially expand the reach of your content and brand exposure exponentially.

If you form relationships with influencers, you can exchange blog posts, co-host webinars, and implement a variety of additional tactics to put your brand in front of their following. There are many tactics involved in establishing relationships with influencers. Check out these influencer marketing tips.

14. Generate and nurture brand advocates

Brand advocates are customers, employees, or anyone else who is willing to promote your brand to their friends and family. They do it for free, which is great. Plus, people trust brand recommendations from friends and family much more than they do traditional forms of brand promotion.

Creating and nurturing brand advocates provides numerous benefits to your business and helps you grow, making it one of our top growth hacking tips. If you’re unsure how to attract and nurture them, read this article and learn how to create brand advocates.

15. Measure your results constantly

Measurement of your efforts is one of the most important growth hacking tips, especially when you are in the early stages of launching your business. With CRM and marketing automation software, you have access to extensive CRM reporting and metrics that help guide your decision-making process.

You can monitor your sales pipeline, gain forward-looking revenue estimates, measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, and a lot more.

Every small business needs to make data-driven decisions to grow sustainably. The metrics and analytics offered by these software solutions provide the insight and numbers you need to make more informed decisions about how to grow your business.


Launching a startup—or trying to grow a new small business—is a challenge. There are many risks involved. But it’s not impossible to be part of the 10% of startups that succeed.

If you follow the growth hacking tips laid out above, you’ll be way more prepared for success than those who do not. And it’s probably safe to say that most startups and small businesses do not follow all of these tips.

Embrace these best practices, and you will set yourself apart from your competition and position yourself as a company that’s prepared to weather the initial storm that is growing a small business.

Do you have any growth hacking tips that worked for you? Share them with us in the comments section below. And good luck growing your business!

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