grow-small-business	|	Photo Courtesy of, a few customers may send other business your way simply because you did a good job, but that’s not a growth strategy — that’s just crossing your fingers and hoping. To successfully scale up your small business, you need a plan.

That plan should focus on using automation to accomplish business tasks more efficiently, and driving new referrals by combining common sense tactics and online tools. These five tips can help your company grow by increasing referrals and controlling costs with automation.

  1. Reduce overhead with automation: With any business, there are some unavoidable back-end tasks that take up time, such as payroll, invoicing and protecting business data. Using an automatic, cloud-based data backup can free up time to focus on growth activities and further develop your specialty. For product-based small businesses, such as a boutique or a cupcake shop, automation can cut down on manufacturing, inventory and other aspects of the supply chain.
  2. Increase exposure through cloud tools: Service-based businesses in particular can use cloud-based automation, like Carbonite’s automatic backup, to drive growth. That growth occurs through using social media and email marketing to increase your exposure, or by using cloud services to manage your customer relationships and digital products.
  3. Provide an incentive for referrals: Even though the quality of your work should make for good word-of-mouth advertising, you’ll get more referrals if you also provide an incentive to promote the business, such as a gift card, a free product or a discount.
  4. Make spreading the word easy: Once you’ve decided how to reward people who promote your business, provide a link to refer your business wherever appropriate — on your website and blog, your social media bios, even your email signature.
  5. Ask for referrals at the right moment: The time to ask is a point in the relationship when a customer is extremely satisfied. For example, after you set up a customer with your service, you could email them with a link for your referral program, asking “Is there anyone you know that I can help like I just helped you?” With social media, you also could use positive mentions on Twitter or Facebook as an opportunity to ask people for referrals.

Whether you rely more on referrals or automation to drive growth, remember to also think about local resources, working with the other businesses in your community. If you’re a small business, you’re a part of a community, and that’s the best place to start when you’re looking to develop new customers and grow your business.

As always, we appreciate your feedback. Which of these tips do you find most helpful for driving growth in a small business? Let us know by posting in the comments section!