How to Succeed in Business By Really, Really Trying

This week’s #sbbuzz chat ran a little differently.  We decided to focus the entire conversation on the tools, techniques and innovative ideas that are helping small businesses succeed. So we asked a series of questions probing our small business community on what business techniques are producing real results for their businesses.

Below is the summary of our chat, and better yet, it is a list of tips, tidbits and proven ideas that are helping these forward thinking small businesses succeed.


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  • Below is a summary of the most recent discussion. To see the full conversation, go to


sbbuzz: Q1: What has been your business’ most successful website offering? #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: And for the record, you can define what success means to you. No analytics needed. 🙂 #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q2: What has been your business’ most successful marketing campaign (online or offline)? #sbbuzz

  • mriggen: @sbbuzz Q2 Paying more attention to keywords (though it pained me as a writer to do so!) definitely helped with Google rankings. #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: Hosting seminars with a free meal at a nice restaurant for good potential clients. #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: #sbbuzz Q2 We haven’t had to do any marketing offline because we’re ranked so high. We’ve done zero advertising in 11 years.
  • mriggen: @sbbuzz Not being a Social Media Sleestack!! #sbbuzz
  • scoblitz: @sbbuzz Q2 – Our most successful was a table / flyer handout at a local business expo. #sbbuzz
  • pattianastasia: Q2: good old face-to-face networking always works best for me #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: #sbbuzz Q2 Don’t forget referrals which are over 40% of our business. Lots of happy customers who love to tell other people about us!
  • mindsondesign: Q2- A quarterly email to our mailing list with project updates has proved to spark some new project conversation as well. #sbbuzz
  • selahsynergy: Q2 Networking, in person and web. Speaking engagements. Word-of-mouth has been most successful to drive new business. #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: I also had alot of success with an idea book for potentials followed up with a phone call – everyone I called knew about the book. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q3: What has been your business’ most successful tool for generating referrals? #sbbuzz
  • mcolacurcio: Q3: Partnering with organizations/associations (like IVAA) then providing podcasts for their memberships which can be passed around. #sbbuzz
  • mindsondesign: Q3 – Finding and working with good partners with similar interests/values has helped with referrals. #sbbuzz
  • pattianastasia: Q3: asking clients for referrals and relationships with local professionals (I refer to them, they refer to me) #sbbuzz
  • mindsondesign: Q3 – Also, I have found asking for referrals is a good strategy, too. #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: Q3: We use video referrals. See for an example of a HD video we shot. We now offer this to clients. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q4: What has been your business’ most successful promotion/give-away? #sbbuzz

  • bradfordshimp: Hmmm, we always give away lots of free samples, esp. at meetings, always a big hit and helps book a lot of sales. #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: Q4 I “giveaway” the best free advice to my clients during every interaction. They trust me because of the way I educate them. #sbbuzz
  • mcolacurcio: Q4: Our best press campaigns come when we hitch our wagon to a bigger brand, e.g. Amazon Web Services #sbbuzz
  • scoblitz: @sbbuzz Our 1 hour complimentary consultation works great. They walk out the door armed with knowledge of how we can help them. #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @sbbuzz Q4: We use Small Business Week (in May) as opportunity to celebrate small business owners with contests, profiles etc. #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: Q4: Sometimes I like to surprise clients by sending them books about a topic they were interested in. Guess that’s a “giveaway” too! #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q4: What has been your business’ most successful employee benefit/incentive program? #sbbuzz

  • desireescales: @sbbuzz Q5: don’t have employees, just 1099s. We give them Xmas bonuses every year as if they are employees, they are valued…#sbbuzz
  • GiftForNoReason: Working atmosphere. A small company has to hire a “family”. Personal birthday party (w/gift), Christmas gettogethers, time off #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @sbbuzz We’re a virtual company, we love the flexible schedule that affords us. Huge benefit to us, esp. with young families. #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: Q5: I bought Jeff, an 8 year designer with us, an iPhone for his 40th birthday. He about died! He’s been loyal for over 8 years. #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: I thinking letting employees go home early once and awhile but paying them for the full day is nice. Also, pizza parties! #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q5: What would your customers say is most successful about your customer service? #sbbuzz

  • desireescales: Q5: Reaction time is immediate when there is a problem. We don’t hide from issues, we welcome them as a chance to grow. #sbbuzz
  • mcolacurcio: Q5: We list a customer service phone number and we answer it! #sbbuzz
  • selahsynergy: @sbbuzz Q5 I think they would say I listen first and provide advice/service tailored to their needs. #sbbuzz
  • GiftForNoReason: For us 1: Speedy delivery 2: We answer the phone (no tree) #sbbuzz
  • dacort: @sbbuzz My “customers” of my various twitter apps are always very appreciative with quick, detailed replies. #sbbuzz
  • mindsondesign: Q5: Responsiveness, listening/understanding the issue, following up, and being honest. #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: I think being responsive is very important, also anticipating needs and providing the information when people need it. #sbbuzz
  • mattharrell: Q5 Real Support: “I’m very impressed by your support and will be giving glowing accolades to anyone who asks about MemberHub.” #sbbuzz
  • mariaduron: Q5: looking out for resources/tools that will help them achieve THEIR definition of success + identifying the metrics that reveal it #sbbuzz
  • mcolacurcio: Q5: Honesty . “I don’t know the answer to that but let me get back to you.” And then following through. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Q6: What has been your most successful tool for increasing yours or the business’ productivity? #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: @sbbuzz Q6: Adapting social media tools to network effectively and with many versus few. #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: Q6 – better time management – ideas through Simpleology and Chet Holmes’ The Ultimate Sales Machine. #sbbuzz
  • GiftForNoReason: Q6 For us order management software that has a decent CRM system. And.. anything to cut out the tedium of work. #sbbuzz
  • mindsondesign: Q6: We use lots of tools, but for productivity, I’d say google reader for one, and of course RSS and content providers … #sbbuzz
  • scoblitz: @sbbuzz Q6: Finding and utilizing a to-do / task management system that I trust, and that really works for me has been critical. #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: Q6: Adding Meebo to our site was another great channel for customers and potential clients to ask questions and save time. #sbbuzz
  • mcolacurcio: Q6: Shameless plug, but that’s what my company offers. Online task management to help w/ productivity.
  • mattharrell: Q6 I’m a Mac guy and love Things for organizing tasks and todos #sbbuzz
  • bradfordshimp: The core of the method I use successfully is defining the six most important things to do today and then organizing them w/ times. #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: Q6: We use Basecamp for our clients and designers to keep up with project management. That has been HUGE for us & our clients. #sbbuzz
  • scoblitz: @sbbuzz Q6 – Finally settling on a CRM has helped a lot as well, especially because it’s an awesome one. #sbbuzz

sbbuzz: Q7: What has been your most successful effort in supporting your community? #sbbuzz

  • bradfordshimp: I am involved personally with a community group trying to revitalize downtown – putting my talents to work there. #sbbuzz
  • scoblitz: @sbbuzz Q7: It’s still in planning but I’m part of a group that is developing a community wiki for the village where I live. #sbbuzz
  • splashet: Was looking for a voicemail system to help homeless job seekers at a Rescue Mission last week and found one during last week’s chat! #sbbuzz
  • mariaduron: Q7: Doing online identity reviews for free career bailout program 4 those downsized in last 6 mos. #sbbuzz
  • mriggen: @sbbuzz We’re kind of hippies. We do Geeks for Good projects, food drives, sponsor kids’ robot-building events, as much as we can. #sbbuzz
  • eproulx: @sbbuzz Started a blog for unemployed advertising people, currently evolving it into a free talent/agency matchmaking site. #sbbuzz
  • desireescales: Q7: We’ve done pro-bono work for non-profits since our first year in business, started with one site a year, now doing 3. #sbbuzz
  • 99designs: Q7 #sbbuzz We are a community based business| over $4million to our community so far during the Austrailan brus


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