Small Business

Cracking the Code to Boost Business

Carol Roth, Guest Columnist

QR Codes — those little squares that look like a chessboard gone wild — are popping up everywhere. In fact, a recent report put out by, a leading website for free QR code creation, showed a 1,235 percent increase in QR code activity in 2011 alone.

Even though the use of QR codes is growing, can they really be used to grow a small business? Some small business owners seem to think so. Here are some innovative ways that entrepreneurs have been using QR codes to grow their businesses.

Increasing Demand by Weaving Information into Small Spaces

Jason White hit on the idea to use QR codes as a way to increase demand for his label business. After watching his wife scurry around a big-box clothing store scanning QR codes in an attempt to unlock the largest discount or win a prize, White wondered why they weren’t seeing them on clothing tags. Thus, Quality Woven Labels was born, which now weaves QR codes into clothing labels.

White says that clothing tags with QR codes prevent clothing designers from having to cram too much unsightly information onto their tags. Washing instructions can now be given remotely. Also, it makes clothing more social and interactive. Companies can offer information about the product via video, pictures, or text, and show product reviews while the consumer is still in the store or facilitate active sharing after the item is purchased.

By using QR codes, Jason was able to differentiate his products from the competition and find a way to increase demand. "With so many clothing designers going tagless, we used the QR code strategy to reinvent the woven label," he said.

QR Codes as a Product Extension

Sarah Boisvert, co-founder of PotomacPhotonics Inc.,saw QR codes as a way to extend her company’s product offering. Already working in the microfabrication industry, her company decided to focus on making your QR codes permanent through laser engraved QR codes on permanent objects, such as a key chain or card case, to create a paperless business card.

A laser engraved paperless business card that Potomac Photonics made for a pet rescue society in Utah; no card is exchanged, it is merely scanned to deliver contact information.More information is available at:

Boisvert says that by doing this, “You don't have to worry about locating your business card or even having your customer lose it because you can scan it right into your smart phone.” She has found this to be quite a novelty during tradeshows, which makes it more effective. They saw 3,000 scans in their booth at a recent laser/photonics industry trade show, which was enhanced by linking their QR code with a bonus — a drawing for a free iPad.

By using their existing technology and combining it with a QR code, they created an entirely new product that has the extra benefits of conserving paper and facilitating the exchange of information.

QR Codes Enhance Product Functionality decided to enhance its phone recording service offering through QR codes. During the 2011 holiday season, let users record voice greeting messages using its call recording service for free during the holidays. These recordings were reachable by scanning the QR code, ultimately making gift notes interactive.

By scanning the QR code, the holiday card recipient gets to hear a recorded holiday greeting from the sender.More Information is at: had more than 2,000 codes generated in the span of just over two weeks. The service also attaches QR codes to other phone recordings, so that individuals can imbed voice dictation right into documents.

By using QR codes, created extra demand for an existing product offering.

While there are almost no limits to how you can use QR codes, it’s the results that count. QR codes can be more than just a novelty. If you are strategic, they can be a catalyst for growth in your business.

Carol Roth is a business strategist, former investment banker and bestselling author of The Entrepreneur Equation. She was named as a Top 100 Small Business Influencer for 2011.