Small business growth hacks: Turning your business needs into stackable projects [4 Steps]

Whether you’re starting a new business or looking to expand an existing one, there will always be a constant cycle of identifying business challenges and opportunities, exploring solutions, and assigning resources.
August 18, 2022
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Whether you’re starting a new business or looking to expand an existing one, there will always be a constant cycle of identifying business challenges and opportunities, exploring solutions, and assigning resources.

At times, the sheer volume of business needs that need solutions can seem insurmountable and resources remain limited, but there is a way to tackle them systematically and boost productivity - by turning them into fully-scoped, stackable projects that are completed with the help of the right talent!

Small Business Growth Hacks - Find out how your small business can grow with these productivity hacks!

Follow these 4 small business growth hack steps to start turning your most pressing business needs into manageable projects today!

Step 1: Identify your challenges or opportunities for growth.

The first step to this small business growth hack strategy is to reflect on where your business is now and ask yourself some key questions:

  • Where do I want my business to be in 5 years?
  • What are we doing now that needs to change?
  • What projects on my to-do list keep getting put aside?

Using the above prompts, write down the challenge or opportunity that you would like to focus on to help your small business grow.


You own a health food store. In 5 years you want to double revenue and become the number one option for healthy living in your city. You’re currently having issues with online ordering and need to change how you streamline your process.

The Challenge: You want to start using social media and digital marketing strategies but don’t have the time to start.

Step 2: Identify the expertise that you need.

Once you’ve identified your challenge or opportunity, the next step in creating a successful growth strategy for your business will be to think about what types of expertise you will need to achieve your goals.


  • To double revenue and spread the word about your business you need to reach a larger audience.
    Expertise Needed: Market Research, Public Relations
  • To solve issues with online orders you need someone to do an analysis of your current process to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and improve logistics.
    Expertise Needed: Operations, Logistics Management
  • To get you started with digital marketing you need someone to audit your current marketing strategies and develop a digital marketing plan and campaigns.
    Expertise Needed: Marketing Analytics, Social Media

Small Business Growth Hacks - Small Business owners looking for talent.

Step 3: Prioritize and scope your project(s).

Now that you’ve identified the areas of expertise you will need, prioritize your list and turn them into one project, or many “stackable” projects completed in stages. Scoping a project will help you list out all the to-dos in one place and focus on the key tasks for your growth strategy. Breaking them down into multiple projects allows you to focus on the priority tasks first.

After you have scoped your project you will need help implementing it. There are several ways you can look to achieve this help. One option is to hire full-time employees for each area of expertise, but this will require a lot of money and time. You could also hire junior employees and train them, but this takes even more time. What if, instead, students could work on your real-world projects for course credit under the mentorship of their professors?

At Riipen, we want to help business owners turn their business challenges into fully scoped projects that can then be posted to our open marketplace. Your projects will be immediately visible to instructors and faculty at hundreds of higher education institutions looking to add real-world experiences to students enrolled in their courses.

Why work with student talent? Here are just a few benefits:

  • Expertise: Students are mentored by academic leaders in their fields of study, and can work in groups to bring multiple perspectives
  • Innovation: Students at higher education institutions are exposed to the latest innovations in their fields and can bring fresh and creative perspectives to your project
  • Resources: Students are enthusiastic and motivated to work on your projects while also earning course credit and/or paid internship stipends

You can join Riipen’s network as one of over 20,000 employers posting their projects to the largest experiential learning platform in the world and collaborating with bright student talent. To get started, use the Riipen Project Creation Tool, or explore the Riipen Project Template Library for inspiration!


  1. Market Research and PR - Students will do market research into your target audience and identify who you should be targeting and how. They will then develop a PR strategy to identify the proper news outlets and advertising channels you should use to help promote and spread the word about your business.
    Template: Market Research Project
  2. Operations and Logistics Management: MBA students will do a full analysis of your online order processes to identify where inefficiencies are and provide you with an actionable implementation plan to improve your online order process making it more efficient, effective and cost saving.
    Template: Sales Process Optimization Project
  3. Website Update and UX/UI Design: Web development students will do an analysis of your website identifying what gets the most traction, is it user friendly, are you getting your message across, etc. Students will then update your website making it easier for customers to check out online, highlighting new products at your store, and improving your SEO to ensure you’re the top search for health food in your city. Driving online orders and revenue.
    Template: Website UI/UX Design Project, Website UI/UX Analysis Project
  4. Digital Marketing: Marketing students will complete a full audit of your current marketing strategy providing you with an updated branding and style guide. Students will create a new digital marketing strategy designed to bring in new customers and attract your target audience. You’ll be provided with a new strategy, content calendar, implementation plan and campaign content to make running social media accounts time efficient and easy for you.
    Template: Digital Marketing Strategy Project, SEO and Social Media Strategy Project

Step 4: Find talent with the right expertise.

So your project is ready to go, the final step is finding the right talent. Instead of the usual job boards or LinkedIn post, publish your project on Riipen and you can match with dozens of talent at once through a Riipen course!

Here’s how it works:

  1. First, submit your Riipen project to our marketplace and specify how many teams you want working on your project. (Hint: You can match with teams from multiple courses and schools, or all from the same course!)
  2. Next, either browse and apply to open courses offering student talent with the expertise you need, or wait for an educator to send you a match request.
  3. You can communicate with your matches right on the platform to confirm compatibility first before hammering out details and timelines for your project.
  4. Riipen lets you keep all your project communications in one place, including milestones tracking, deliverables submission, and final feedback.

If you already have your free Riipen employer account, it’s easy to publish your project, or choose from our full library of project templates for a quick start.

Otherwise, sign up for your free employer account and get access to thousands of student talent from 400+ top universities and colleges from across North America, and around the world.

Never worked with student talent before? Download our Employer Success Guide to Working with Student Talent.

What are you waiting for? Whether you’re a nonprofit looking for some extra help, a solopreneur with ambitious plans, or a small business owner with growth projects collecting dust, use the above small business growth strategy to turn your business challenges into stackable projects and connect with the right talent today!

Don’t just take our word for it, check out our Wall of Love for how dozens of businesses and nonprofits just like yours have already collaborated with student talent to grow and expand their brands.

Don't have a Riipen account? Create a free account today!

About the author:

Victoria King is Senior Business Consultant at Riipen. Victoria started as a Riipen intern while earning her Bachelor of Commerce degree at Dalhousie University. Working at Riipen sparked a passion in Victoria for providing students with better experiential learning opportunities in their education while at the same time supporting businesses to grow and achieve their goals with student talent.

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