5 tips for cheap business growth

July 27, 2022

A video of Mira Sorvino’s 1996 Oscar win is making the social media rounds following the passing of her father, actor Paul Sorvino, on Monday (RIP). We’re not crying, you’re crying.

In this week’s edition:

  • The machines are taking over. (And why that’s good for your SMB.)
  • Exploring 5 cheap ways to grow your biz.
  • Learning how to craft a *tight* startup org chart.
  • How a pinch of snark can boost your brand’s value. 

But first… 👉 playbook2022.com.

Banner ad for Trainual Playbook 2022, featuring picture of Seth Godin.


How small businesses can use AI in their operations

Two diffrerent side by side graphics of robot arms making tacos on a conveyer belt.

Let’s play a game — which image was produced by an AI?
Last month, a digital image design AI called DALL-E 2 produced its first magazine cover. (And the DALL-E mini designed the left hand image above — congrats if you won!)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way businesses are operating. From fast food drive-thrus to tractors-turned-robots, companies are using AI to automate their operations, saving themselves time and money.

What exactly is AI?
AI is the overarching term for any computer software that can simulate human intelligence and engage in human actions. And while AI can seem mysterious or overly complicated, it’s pretty common. (You know Siri? Guess what — AI.)

And AI isn’t limited to businesses with big bucks.
While some companies are pouring a lot of capital into their AI projects, SMBs can also leverage AI to automate some of their operations.

  1. Business process automation. Data input, form processing — these tasks can be time-consuming. But with robotic process automation, these data-intensive tasks are taken care of quickly and efficiently.
  2. Customer service and relations. One of the foundations of a successful company is the customer-business relationship. When they’re happy, we’re happy — and AI-powered programs like chatbots and customer relationship management (CRM) systems make it easy to maintain those happy relationships.

👉 Learn more about AI in small biz.


Tips for growing your SMB on the cheap

Being a small business owner is tough…
…and getting tougher. Supply chain woes, inflation, a possible recession — there are a lot of roadblocks to growing your business in this day and age. But there are still ways to scale your SMB without dipping too deep into your wallet.

The solution?
You don’t have to budget for wide-reaching social media campaigns or pay for larger-than-life billboards to find new consumers. All you have to do is leverage an advantage that you’ve already got: your happy customers.

You’ve probably got a few raving fans amongst your customer base (it’s definitely more than a few. We get it, you’re popular). Ask them for testimonials to help sell your business — feature them in your storefront or on your website, and try to get as many reviews as possible on Yelp and your Google Business profile.

You can also set up a referral rewards program for customers who can help advertise your business word-of-mouth style. Offer discounts in exchange for a feature on their social media. And people want to support their local small businesses, so maybe all you have to do to get them to pass your name along is ask — with a please.

👉 Find more tips here.


Social media clapbacks can work in your SMB’s favor 

But aren’t clapbacks… rude?
Not if they’re done right.

First, a quick primer: Clapbacks are witty (and sometimes snarky) comebacks that shut a conversation down. And they’re nothing new — Winston Churchill and Gandhi (!) were master clapback artists.

Man in sunglasses saying, "Now that's what you call a clapback Jack!"

Yep, and he did it with style and grace — something businesses can learn from when responding to customers on social media. Because when it comes to criticism that challenges your company’s core values, you should take a stand

Take Star Wars, for example. The franchise wasn’t taking any guff from Twitter warriors making comments on the cast’s race and identities. Their response to some inflammatory tweets worked to strengthen their relationship with fans and reaffirm their commitment to their values.

*cracks knuckles* Welcome to the Thunderdome, haters.
Hold on. Before you start slinging mud, it’s crucial to be shrewd with your responses. While it might be tempting to shut-down all the haters, a good portion of your business’ online complaints are legitimate concerns that need to be addressed. So, don’t be like Delta, who responded to a less-than-pleased customer with this tweet. Instead, listen to your customers and respond respectfully with concern and actionable steps.

But if a witty comeback works to support your customer community and bolster your brand’s values, well, get to clappin’. 👏👏👏


This week’s highlight reel

  • Pump up the (gas) volume. Hear ye, hear ye. We bring good tidings for your budget. U.S. gas prices have fallen to a two-month low. More good news: They’re predicted to keep falling. More, more, good news: Your hair looks great today.  
  • Don’t call it a comeback. At least, not the clapback kind. Toys ‘R Us has been resurrected from the land of misfit toys and is making its way to a Macy’s near you. Hey, it’s okay that you grew up — you’re still a Toys ‘R Us kid in our books.
  • Google, out. TikTok, in. Are you still searching through Google? You’re in a growing minority. Younger people are turning to apps like Instagram and TikTok instead of Google Search or Maps for discovery purposes, according to a Google exec. In other words, time to revisit your SMB’s dusty TikTok account.
  • How do you say “waterfall chart” in Valyrian? To promote the upcoming “Game of Thrones” (GOT) spin-off “House of Dragons,” HBO partnered with Duolingo to create a High Valyrian course with over 150 new words and more than 700 new sentences. You’re one step closer to becoming the dragon whisperer of your dreams.


Here’s what else is on The Manual’s mind

Tempted to re-binge GOT now (you’re welcome)? Before you get sucked in, be sure to catch up on the latest small business news. We incest. Sorry — insist.

  • Think big. Business development consultant Terry Rice jumped on the Organize Chaos podcast with pro tips on adopting an exponential mindset. Check it out.
  • What’s your function? Greg Gunther, director and founder of Your Business Momentum coaching firm, describes a functional structure as an organizational structure with added context for what each person does. See why you need one
  • Let it flow. When you create an employee flowchart, your team can see how their responsibilities relate to those of their peers. Learn how to build one.

Organize the chaos
of your small business