Many entrepreneurs in one-person businesses and partnerships wish they could bring in more revenue but don’t know how. Fortunately, it is very easy to achieve greater revenue and profits in your business.
In this article you will learn how to increase your revenue by freeing time for important revenue producing activities through automation, leveraging what one person can do through outsourcing and hiring contractors, and expanding your reach through inexpensive online marketing.
These are some of the strategies that worked for entrepreneurs in more than 30 high-revenue, ultra-lean businesses interviewed for The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business (Random House, Jan. 2, 2018).
The number of these businesses is growing rapidly. There were 35,584 “nonemployer” firms—the government’s name for businesses that do not employ anyone other than the owners— that brought in $1 million to $2.49 million in annual revenue in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau—up 33% from 2011. The number of entrepreneurs breaking into the mid- and high-six figures is climbing, too.
If they can do it, others can do it, too. Here are three ways to boost your revenue this year.
1. Automate aggressively
Many ultra-lean businesses stay small because the owners tie up their time on routine tasks that could be automated easily and inexpensively—instead of on high-value activities like fine-tuning their marketing strategy and spending time with their ideal clients.
You don’t need to be a techie to automate time wasters in your business. I suggest that every entrepreneur find ways to automate seven hours’ worth of routine tasks per week. That’ll give you back a full day to devote to growth-oriented activities.
There are many free and low-cost services the will help you do this.
Start with your inbox
Using a program like unroll.me can help you reduce the number of newsletters cluttering up your inbox—by rolling them into a single daily digest or letting you unsubscribe by checking a box—so you don’t have to waste time deleting them. Another time-saver is Maelstrom, which uses artificial intelligence algorithms to sort giant batches of email all at once or to help you mass unsubscribe.
Schedule appointments more efficiently
Try sharing your availability with clients and colleagues by sending them a link on a service such as ScheduleOnce or Calendly, rather than emailing back and forth. For entrepreneurs who schedule a lot of appointments, this can save two to three hours a week.
Automate your accounting
If you haven’t already connected your business bank account and business credit card transactions to your QuickBooks, FreshBooks or other accounting software, schedule an hour this week to get set up. While you still have to review the transactions, you can easily save an hour or two a week over manually entering them.
Add a mileage tracker to your phone
Make it easier to deduct your mileage on your taxes by using an inexpensive app such as Everlance or MileIQ on your mobile phone to track it. Constantly pausing to write down your mileage and manually add it up wastes time. If you drive a lot for work, this can easily save you an hour a week.
2. Rely more on freelancers and outsourcing
Many owners of solo businesses and partnerships are do-it-yourselfers but if you want to grow your business, you need to offload tasks that others can do so you can focus on the big picture work that really grows your revenue.
The first step for many is hiring freelancers, as your budget permits. Whether you hire a freelance web designer or bookkeeper, chances are a pro will do the job better than you will, unless you happen to work in those fields.
Farming out back-office tasks to a specialized service in your industry can also free you to devote yourself to high-value tasks.
That is what helped some of the entrepreneurs in The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business grow. For instance, Harry Ein, who brings in $3.5 to $4 million a year in revenue selling swag such as tote bags with companies’ names on it, relies on a company that serves sellers in his industry to handle back-office operations, like sending out invoices. That gives him time to focus on building strong relationships with this client and making sure his operations are working smoothly.
Similarly, Chris Cadigan broke the million-dollar mark at his shipping business Unishippers of Nassau County South in Oyster Bay, New York, in part because he outsourced billing, collections and customer service to a virtual management firm in Melbourne, Fla., so he could devote his time to growing the business.
In ecommerce businesses, many one-person businesses and partnerships are able to scale their revenue quickly by outsourcing fulfillment. For instance, many Amazon sellers use Fulfillment by Amazon.
3. Master low-cost marketing
Many of the businesses in The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business were able to grow rapidly because they made good use of low-cost advertising and marketing options. For some, like Toronto entrepreneur Sol Orwell, who sells reports on nutritional supplements through his site Examine.com, that is a matter of building a robust email list and using it carefully to keep in touch with his customers and followers. For many small business owners, using a good customer relationship management (CRM) system makes it easier to maintaining a robust email list.
For others, Facebook marketing is key. It was an essential tool for Justin Goff, an entrepreneur in the book who built two million-dollar, ultra-lean businesses—an ebook venture focused on helping people lose weight (with help from his personal trainer) and a supplements business.
No matter how great your product or service, you’ll only be able to scale revenue to one million dollars if potential customers know you’re in business—so it’s essential to spread the word.