6 Ways to Step Up Your Business This Year

Posted on January 17, 2017

I’m big on transparency and have no problem sharing our Intern Queen keys to success with all of you, after all, we have to learn from each other, right? We just had our company retreat a few weeks back. At the retreat, we had three different “sessions”. First, we reflected on 2016 and talked about what worked and what didn’t work. Second, we did a big brainstorming session. And third, we talked about our goals for 2017. I wanted to share with you, what worked for us in 2016. Perhaps you already know this stuff, but maybe you don’t. We learn new things each year and I thought it might be helpful for all of you to learn from our business over the past year. So here are 6 ways to step up your business this year!


  • Forget Full-time, Go Flex Hires! For the past few years, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of hiring full-time employees as I thought that was a sign of success and I wanted to be seen as and considered “successful”. After hiring a few full-time employees (who didn’t last very long for a variety of reasons), I decided to forget that philosophy and focus on the team members that were working – the part-time hires and contract workers. Hiring people on as “flex workers” gave them an opportunity to test out the business and gave our business an opportunity to test them out. Today, our most successful full-time team members started out as flex hires.


  • Passionate People Who Hustle. Look, at the end of the day I can hire the most passionate people in the world but if they can’t hustle and get things done, it’s never going to work – especially in a small business. So, don’t only focus on passion and don’t only focus on the hustle – you need both to find a successful team member.


  • Teamwork is Mandatory. I used to focus on keeping team members in their zone – not encouraging them to work with other team members. I realized this was a flawed philosophy. In a business of fewer than 10 employees, it’s crucial for them to rely on each other, help each other, and work together. They must have the mentality that we are only as good as our weakest link. If you don’t want to help your team members and you don’t want to work as a team, please work somewhere else.


  • Focus on Renewal Business Just as Much as New Business. When you are trying to grow and scale quickly, you often close business­­ and then move onto the next thing. Your sales team passes off the new relationship to the marketing team and the marketing team either impresses the client or doesn’t. The business either renews (if you are lucky)   or doesn’t. The sales team quickly moves onto the next piece of new business. This is how we used to operate – but not anymore. This past year, ­we refocused our sales reps and encouraged them to see the importance of renewal business. Our sales team stays in the conversation longer, making sure our marketing team meets all of their deliverables week-to-week. Our sales team makes sure the client is happy and stays happy throughout the campaign so they are more likely to renew. In many cases, renewal business is more important than new business – and it allows us to try new things, learn from each campaign, and build stronger relationships with our clients.


  • Have a Strong Executive Assitant to Keep the Team Organized. At Intern Queen, I’m not the only person who has the opportunity to work with our executive assistant – our entire team does. This person helps to manage our calendars, ensures that external meetings don’t conflict with internal meetings, and keeps us organized. I highly recommend that you consider hiring someone to handle scheduling and admin tasks to enable the rest of your team to move faster. Remember, this person can be a part-timer. We have a new executive assistant starting and she’s working about 20 hours per week as that is all the business needs at this point.


  • Focus on Aggressive Payment Terms. When you don’t have investor money (we do not), you need to have aggressive payment terms. For years we were scared to be to stern with clients about collections. After a few scary months when our accounts receivable became quite scary and our bank accounts became quite slim, we needed to refocus our energy. It was important for me, the boss, to relay that message to our sales team. Today, when they close a sale, payment terms are immediately brought up and they are invoiced right away. If the project is rushed we say that payment is due upon receipt of the invoice and otherwise it’s net 30. The only time we make an exception is if we’re working with a Fortune 500 company who has a net 60 policy and we have a signed contract with them. This has been crucial to our growth as a company. At the end of the day, if they aren’t going to pay us, we cannot work with them.


Good luck with growing your business in 2017 and if you have any tips for us, please comment below as we are always looking to learn from our peers!