Entrepreneurs sometimes focus too much on creating complicated strategies to improve business, and are left with less-than-stellar results--and hours of lost time.
Instead, try taking a step back to really look at your current practices. Chances are, you'll find at least a few simple ways to invest in your future that make a lasting impact.
To find out which areas of business are easiest to impact quickly, we asked 13 founders from Young Entrepreneur Council to share simple changes, from cleaning up email subscription lists to making the right hires, that led to the highest ROI.
1. Ask your customers why they decided to leave your service.
You'll be utterly amazed at the feedback you get from ex-clients when you take the time to pick up the phone and talk one-on-one with them. Ask why they stopped using your product or service and, of course, what you can do to improve and bring them back. They will be stunned at your level of commitment to deliver what they're looking for, and it will result in more business for you. --Alex Miller, PosiRank LLC
2. Enable email drip campaigns.
Formerly, we had no email strategy. All of our earlier emails could be considered as purely transactional. Realizing we needed to develop a voice with our users and set an uplifting tone that would get folks excited about the Grapevine platform, we created several powerful email drip campaigns to guide users through the sales funnel, onboarding, and retention. --Danny Wong, Grapevine
3. Launch a new product.
We launched a new product that allows any business to search for vetted mobile and web developers on our site. This has been very useful for customers, as they can easily search and learn more about available development teams within seconds. --Randy Rayess, VenturePact
4. Fire quickly.
As the saying goes, "Business is easy; people make it difficult." As soon we let go of two people who were a drag on our operations, we quickly realized a shift in our operations. The remaining staff had to push harder and work a little longer, but all of the loose ends have since been tightened and we have seen a huge increase in revenue. Always make sure to hire slowly and fire quickly. --Engelo Rumora, Ohio Cashflow
5. Hire smarter.
When you are used to doing everything for your business, sometimes it can be hard to let go, especially when it means spending more money through payroll. But hiring people who are the proper fit for the position will quickly bring a return. We made two hires in January who have more than paid for themselves in the months since and allowed me to focus on the growth of the business. --Bailey Spaulding, Jackalope Brewing Company
6. Try SMS marketing.
Until recently, we only encouraged customers to share their name and email with us, but we recently tried asking for mobile telephone numbers as well. While we were nervous this might decrease opt-ins, it did not. Now we're able to communicate with our clients through SMS as well as email. Early indications show SMS to be far more responsive, so it's something I encourage testing for yourself. --Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net
7. Communicate clearly.
If there's one thing that can slow down exceptional staff, it's poor communication. We made several great hires in the first quarter whose mission was to develop a better framework for communicating company and individual goals. As we're rapidly growing, clear communication has only become more important in keeping the team operating at the highest level. --Eddie Lou, Shiftgig
8. Activate latent buyers.
The single biggest change that had yielded the best ROI has been a focus on customers who haven't purchased in 60 days or more. We call these folks "latent buyers," and we send an incentive to activate them into buyers each month. We've activated more than 100 customers since January and generated nearly six figures of revenue that we wouldn't have otherwise. --Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com
9. Generate more unique content.
The single most effective change we have made in 2015 that has yielded the best ROI is publishing new content on a regular basis. Creating unique content is core to our SEO strategy and is also the best way for us to differentiate from the fierce competition in the travel space. We find that each piece of content has a measurable return on investment and think it's critical to dominating travel. --Obinna Ekezie, Wakanow.com
10. Clean up your email marketing list.
Our MailChimp costs grew as our subscriber list grew, but the conversion rate as a percentage of those emailed remained steady. So we filtered out the emails of the consumers who seemed the least engaged and least likely to convert and wrote better customized content for the remaining subscribers. As a result, we got a lower-priced MailChimp package and our click-through percentage and conversion rate actually increased. --Manpreet Singh, TalkLocal
11. Take time to think critically.
This has resulted in several changes to our approach and methodical planning, which, in turn, has increased revenue and boosted productivity. Keeping a to-do list is an easy way to ensure your ideas and tasks aren't forgotten when switching gears. It sounds basic, but keeping a running list of items you need to accomplish helps maintain focus and instills a sense of pride in your work. --Daniel Wesley, Quote.com
12. Promote collaboration as your competitive advantage.
As a marketing tech company, we have to be able to collaborate quickly and effectively. It's built into our culture. Improving knowledge transfer and cross-departmental collaboration has been huge. We've adopted many tools to help achieve these collaborative goals, but aligning human perspectives, priorities, and processes across all departments is key. Behavior and technology reinforce each other. --Jason Kulpa, Underground Elephant
13. Invest in new software and unsubscribe from the old.
We recently evaluated just how useful the software and services we pay for really are to our team. We realized that some software that we paid (a ton) for was not truly making a difference for our success and growth, so we unsubscribed. We then took time to practice "out with the old and in with the new," and have seen a huge positive return. --Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com