A Toy Pug Business Lesson

A Toy Pug Business Lesson

I wrote this while on holiday in beautiful Devon with my 8 year old daughter, Chloe. Something happened while we were away that made me think of you.

It involves a toy pug dog.

Bear with me on this one!

One evening Chloe wanted to go to Paignton Pier to play on the arcade games. It’s her holiday treat.

It wasn’t long before she spotted something – something she wanted very, very much. It was a toy pug and it was in one of those grabber machines – you know the one?

You put in your money and move a big claw till it drops and grabs the toy, then you hope fervently that it will keep hold of the toy as far as the chute where it will deliver it to your grateful arms.

That’s the idea. Except it doesn’t often work like that.

Luckily the grabby machine in question was only 10p per go but believe me, it soon adds up when your child is determined to get the cutest pug toy ever. 50 attempts later (!) and we were £5 down but no closer to winning this blummin pug.

Chloe’s patience was wearing thin.

So we had a chat.

I asked her if she was actually enjoying the grabby machine or whether she just wanted the pug toy. 

She said she thought the machine was really mean because it kept dropping the pug on purpose (she’s right) and she wasn’t enjoying it at all but she really, really would like the pug toy.

So I looked at the pug toy, did a bit of Googling on my phone and found one on Amazon for £9.99.

I asked if she wanted to:

A) use her holiday money to buy the pug or

B) put even more money into the machine in case she won.

She went for option A. 

Sensible child.

And so it came to be that Doughnut the toy pug arrived at our house yesterday.

Chloe learned that there’s a hard way and an easy way to get what you want and actually, the easy way isn’t always more expensive. We could easily have spent another £5 in that machine and still had no pug.

And It Made Me Think Of You

  • Where are you taking a difficult path when an easy one would do?
  • Where are you doing the same thing over and over again and getting nowhere?
  • Where could you invest a small amount of money and get a quick solution?

Think about it – there’s usually an easier way to get what you want, you just have to look at things differently.

Where Are Your Boundaries?

Where Are Your Boundaries?

Ever been woken up by a text or phone call from a customer? Ever agreed to a job from a demanding customer even though you knew you’d have to burn the midnight oil to get done? Ever spend Christmas holidays working when you’d definitely rather have been with the family? Me too!

It’s the fate of many a small business owner to spend our rare spare time working on the business while we build it but then there are some customers and clients for whom that’s not enough. The mickey-takers. The awkward ones. The ‘I’ve got the sun but I want the moon’ types. Sound familiar?

The thing is, you and I are micro business owners, we don’t have a big team of support staff – we do most things ourselves, which means it’s really easy to slip (or be bullied) into doing work and taking calls and answering messages when we should be sleeping or spending time with the family or on holiday.

And when you don’t have boundaries in place in your business, you start getting taken advantage of and that’s something you can ill afford at any time – it’s hard enough running a business without that!

What does that look like?

  • Customers or clients will start to contact you at stupid hours, like 11 o’clock at night and expect a response
  • Some get nasty because they’ve emailed you on a weekend and haven’t had a reply within 10 minutes.
  • Customers are friending you on Facebook and personal messaging you while you’re out with your family.
  • You get people turning up at your house to discuss business when you haven’t invited them

None of them sound like great situations to find yourself in, do they?

The thing is, only YOU can stop it.

  • You are allowing this behaviour.
  • You are allowing people to treat you like garbage
  • By not telling them NOT to do it, you are allowing it
  • If you respond to a text at 10.45pm you are basically saying “I’m available”
  • If you reply to the email whilst you’re on holiday, you are saying “I know I’m supposed to be out of bounds but actually I’m around! Keep talking!”

So, naturally your clients and customers will take advantage of that. If you give them an inch they will take a mile. That’s human nature.

If you let them do it then they will do it. The first thing you need to do is stop allowing it.

Boundary Tips

  1. Get Clear YOURSELF On Your Boundaries

  • What are you going to allow, and what are you not going to allow?
  • Are you on holiday or ‘off duty’ and out of bounds or not?
  • At what point do you switch off?
  • At what point do you stop answering emails, texts and things of an evening?
  • Do you work weekends or not?
  • Stick to your boundaries because they will immediately give you some freedom – you won’t feel tied to the business.
  • Even if you love your business now, clients overstepping boundaries is a really quick way to make you start resenting your business

You need to get really clear on what your boundaries are, realising that you need to have time for you, your family and other stuff that you want to do.

  1. Declare Your Boundaries

Once you know what those boundaries need to be you need to tell people about them.

Put your terms of business and your boundaries on your Facebook page, on your website, on an email auto responder.

If you tell people you’ve got a 48hr response time to emails, you’ve got a 48hr response time to emails, people aren’t going to expect an email from you immediately, they realise it might take some time.

  1. Stop Fretting!

Get rid of that nagging fear that your customers are going to hate you, be annoyed with you, not come back and you’re going to lose orders. I understand! It’s a really scary thing to do, but do you want a life or not? Do you want to be at the beck and call of people who are just taking advantage of you?  It’s very rare that something is so urgent it needs an answer right now.

Your Super Customers won’t mind. They’ll be understanding of the fact that you have boundaries and will work around them.

  1. Get Used To Saying NO

When you get used to this, it will be a revelation. It will be easier for you to set and stick to your boundaries but you’ll also not get guilt-tripped into doing things you don’t want to do (be treasurer of the Parent Teacher Association, make cakes for the school raffle, whatever your weakness is).

Take back control of your time. Stop saying yes to things you don’t want to do.

Say ‘no, I’m sorry I can’t’ then shut up. You do not have to justify saying no.

No explanation required. If they pressure you for more information just repeat “I just can’t, I’m afraid.”

Practise saying it. It works like magic.

This works for needy customers who are taking the mickey. It works on people trying to get you to do stuff during the day because you ‘work from home’. The more you say it, the better you will feel and the more time you will have to do the things you DO want to do.

This is a BIG step. It’s a mindset shift from being ‘little old me’ who is desperate for business to thinking and acting like a business owner. As soon as you start working this way you’ll find you have more energy for your business (including time to plan and think as opposed to just firefighting), more free time to spend doing what you like (OUTSIDE of the business) and your customers will have more respect for you.

Start today, you won’t regret it!


Have you done this in your business already? Share how it worked in the comments, we’d love to know!

 

 

 

7 Ways To Create Money FAST In Your Business

7 Ways To Create Money FAST In Your Business

We all have times when, for one reason or another, we NEED to come up with some quick cash in our business – so how DO you create money when you need it? I have some ideas for you. Some of these depend on what type of business you’ve got, not all of them will work for you, however, one might and then you’ll get some money quickly –YAY! These are NOT strategic business moves, they are one-off quick fixes that will dig you out of a hole. If you keep having to do this, you need to look at what you want from your business, why you keep running out of money and how you can put a business strategy in place with the right pricing, profits and marketing.

  1. Chase Money You Are Owed

If you have got people who owe you money…chase them! If you need money and you’re feeling a bit broke and you’ve got people who owe you on invoices, then chase them. Believe me, the people who shout the loudest get paid first. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a big organisation or a small organisation; do not be embarrassed to ask for money.

If you can’t bear the thought of it, then invest in an hour or two of a Virtual Assistant’s time and get them to make the calls.

The reason your invoices get paid late is because you are not top of the list to be paid. You’re not chasing, you’re scared of being a nuisance. You feel that if you chase money they’re not going to like you anymore and you won’t get any more business. There are two things I want you to think about: firstly, if this customer always pays you late and clearly doesn’t respect or value you enough to pay you on time, do you really want them?

Secondly, the only way to deal with customers like this is to get to the top of the list – they are probably juggling payments and will pay the people who shout loudest. You need to be one of the loudest shouters.

Get to the top of that list, in a lovely, respectful and non-confrontational way, but get to the top!

 

  1. Invoice Quicker!

If you’ve been sitting there with invoices not ready to go out because you only invoice at the end of the month, STOP! Who says that they have to go out at the end of the month? – They don’t!

Why not start invoicing when the job is finished?  You don’t have to do what everybody else does, but if you do something on the first of the month and then you don’t invoice to the end of the month and then they take another month, six weeks, ninety days to pay, how long is it since you did that work? That’s ages!

Invoice once a job or a task is completed. This will help your cashflow and stop the broke/OK/broke rollercoaster that seems to have taken over your business. You’ll have steady income throughout the month – it might be smaller amounts but that’s fine, it all adds up and doesn’t leave you so vulnerable.

The other thing you can do is stop giving people 30 days to pay. Start thinking about changing your terms and making it half up-front, or all up-front, or 7 days or 14 days.

It gives you the right to chase it quicker. Your mind monkeys might be going crazy at this point, telling you “I can’t do that, I’ve always done 30 days, I’ve never chased clients, this is dreadful!”  but I’m telling you, if you need money, you need to start thinking like a business owner.

[Tweet “If you need money, you NEED to start thinking like a business owner! #thegirlsmeanbiz”]

If you’re late with a credit card payment, you get fined. If you’re late paying your suppliers, you get people calling you. Start thinking like a business owner and stop thinking like ‘little old me’ and you’ll find you have far more money in your business and your pocket.

 

  1. Offer An Amazing Deal To Existing Customers

Rather than just chasing after new customers all the time, put together some kind of really attractive deal or offer that you can send out to your existing crowd. Remember, these are people who love you, who know you and who have bought from you so they know the quality of what you offer.  They will feel special because it’s only for them.

There’s a really good chance that your clients will think “I loved her stuff before, so I’m going to take advantage of this, even if I’m not going to need it right now, I’ll get it because that’s a really good deal.” Even better, put a deadline on the offer to encourage them to make a quick decision – urgency is a great sales tool!

 

  1. Hold A ‘Flash Sale’

Flash sales are quick, easy sales that last a day or two at most and have heavy reductions on your products/services – they are great for generating interest, creating a buzz and bringing some money in quickly. I do these a couple of times a year, for example for 24-48 hours, everything in my shop is half price.

Because my products are virtual products, I don’t have any costs associated with them. Clearly you can’t do that if you’ve paid out for stock – you need to at least recoup the cost of the stock, but imagine the interest you could create on social media and among your subscribers if you marketed the heck of out this special, one-off sale?

Flash sales are a great way to let people dip their toe in the water. People who have never previously bought from you can try out your products or services at a greatly reduced price. If they love what they see, they will be back and they’ll be paying more but they won’t mind because they know your business is a perfect fit for them – the Flash sales was a low-risk way for them to see if they like you. Works like a treat AND brings in some nice chunks of cash in the meantime.

5. Be Open To Money Flowing To You

If you set your intention that you are going to let the money flow in, you’ll suddenly see lots of opportunities open up around you. The more you focus on being open to opportunity, the more opportunities will present themselves.

If you’re into the law of attraction and if your into energy work, which I very much am, setting your intention to say “money will flow to me easily, I’m going to get lots of money coming to me today”  can change your mind-set and change your entire perspective and change your energy.

So if you want money to come to you, believe that money will come to you!

6. Sell Stuff You Don’t Need

A really basic one, if you need some money quickly to pay a bill or book a holiday…sell stuff you don’t need! If you’re sitting there with piles of clothes you don’t wear, get onto eBay, start selling them. If you’ve got a photocopier or a printer sitting there unused, put it out on Facebook. Maybe you’ve got baby stuff from when the kids were little, just start getting stuff out there. Spend a day selling stuff that you don’t need and following on from point 5, be open to money flowing.  You’re getting rid of stuff that you no longer need, which is great for your energy and decluttering at the same time.

Imagine if just one of these ideas worked in your business – you’d have cash in your hand within days. Imagine if several of them worked! But it’s no use just thinking about it – action is everything. Pick one to try and implement it today.

7. Create Something That Will Create Money!

Depending on your type of business, you could create a class or workshop to teach what you do – either online or in person. You know your stuff inside out. Other people want to know what you know and will pay to learn. What could you teach?

Note:

Clearly, none of these are long-term, strategic business moves. They are short term fixes for when you need cash, fast. You can’t run a business like this all the time because all the tips above will lose impact if you overuse them, and you’ll lose credibility.

Instead of lurching from one cashflow crisis to another, now would be a great time to think about what you WANT from your business, how much you want to make each month and where those sales will come from.

Get a plan together.

Take control of your business and start to think like a business owner.

Put some sales targets in place and get to grips with your numbers.

Before you know it, you’ll be a business whiz with a healthy cashflow and a healthy income. There are loads of free resources at www.thegirlsmeanbusiness.com to help you with this, all it takes is a few simple steps and a determination to make it happen, so what are you waiting for?

How To Set Your Prices When You Don’t Know Where To Start

How To Set Your Prices When You Don’t Know Where To Start

I guess nearly every women in business has asked this question at some point – how do you decide what to charge, when you don’t know where to start?

I know it’s a big issue because I get questions about it every week on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/thegirlsmeanbusiness so let me help. Let me share what I teach my clients about pricing so you can get a better feel for where to start and how to make a profit.

Pricing Starts With Knowing Your Costs

It’s the only place to start, because if you don’t know what it costs you to make a product or provide a service, how can you possibly know if you are covering your costs at all, let alone making a profit?

I know lots of women who really struggle with this side of things because they are scared of the numbers , so if you feel this way you’re definitely not alone. However, I’m not letting you off the hook. Time to put on your big girl knickers and get brave, face the numbers and get some clarity in your business

What Are The Costs In Your Business?

In my business my costs are heat/light, electricity, my equipment (computers/phones, tablets and microphone for podcasts), my support team (website lady, designer, business manager, virtual assistant), my coach and advertising, specifically Facebook advertising.

I don’t have premises, so no rent, rates or taxes to pay there.

Now look at YOUR business. What do you pay out every month or every year?

Some will be direct costs, meaning they are directly related to producing a product or service. These might be:

  • Stock
  • Ingredients
  • Components
  • Staff time
  • Your time
  • Travel / fuel
  • An hourly venue rate if you hire premises by the hour

Other costs like

  • marketing
  • rent
  • rates
  • taxes
  • phones
  • broadband
  • utilities
  • vehicles …

and other things that you need to pay but that are not directly related to producing a product or delivering service still need factoring in. Speak to your accountant about how best to do this for your business but a simple way would be to work out roughly what this would cost you in a year (as best you can) then divide it by 12 so you know roughly how much per month you need to make before you have sold anything. These are your overheads.

What’s Next?

Ok, you are doing brilliantly so far. It’s not so scary after all, and even if you don’t have exact figures an educated guess based on the information you have is much better than doing nothing.

Now you need to work out what it costs you to produce your product or service.

If it’s a handbag, you’ll have fabric, components such as the clasp, thread and your time.

If it’s an hour of coaching, you need to factor in your preparation time (there’s always some, even if it’s just revisiting the notes from the last session) and the time delivering the coaching/training plus travel time/costs.

How Do I Price My Time?

If you’re a maker/crafter/artist or you sell your time you’re going to have to put a price on it. Where do you start? Well a good place to start is by looking at jobs – if you were going to take a job what is the minimum hourly rate you would be comfortable with? £10 per hour? £20 per hour?

Whatever you’d accept, start pricing your time in YOUR business the same way. As you get more confidence you can increase your hourly rate but if you’ve been pricing bad

ly and not factoring it in up until you, this is a good place to start.

What often happens is that we do this and then get a HUGE shock because when we price our products properly with a decent hourly rate, the price they OUGHT to be nearly makes us fall off our chair. It’s way higher than we’ve been charging. And that sets off the mind monkeys in hour head who tell us no-one will ever pay that, who do we think we are?

The trouble is, if you’ve been under-pricing, which is usually the case then you’re kidding yourself. You’re not running a business; you’ve got an expensive hobby. That’s a wake-up call, if ever you needed one.

You Can’t Un-know It

Once you know what it really costs you to make or deliver your product or service, you can’t un-know it, which means you HAVE to put up your prices.

Now before you go and hide in the cupboard with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, don’t despair. You’ve already made a huge leap by getting clear on your costs – loads of small business owners never get that far. Stop worrying that nobody will ever pay your new prices and start working on your Super Customer (there’s a BLOG here all about that – if this is all new to you, I suggest you pop over and read it now).

Why Am I Telling You All This?

Because YOU can do this in YOUR business. It’s not rocket science, it’s getting clear on who the best fit person is for your business, your Super Customer and then spending time getting inside her head and figuring out why she should care about you and how to get her attention.

If you’re struggling, brainstorm with a friend. Even better, ask a Super Customer.

Why Super Customers Are Important In Your Pricing

OK now you understand the concept of Super Customers, let me explain why they are so important in your pricing.

You know now that you have to price properly which means your prices will be higher than the hobbyists and the uninformed out there – rest assured they are losing money.

You also know who your Super Customer is. Now you need to work out why they will happily pay more for what you sell.

Let’s look at some examples:

When Chloe was a baby I spent a FORTUNE on prams, on all sorts of equipment (most of which I never used) on clothes – I always got the best I could afford, even when money was tight.

These days I don’t value that stuff at all. If you GAVE me a £1000 buggy I would have no use for it. I might give it away or sell it but I certainly wouldn’t keep it or value it because it’s not important to me now.

I have a 9 month old Jack Russell /Chihuahua cross puppy called Meg. Rather than buying cheap dog food, I always get really good quality dog food from places like Lily’s Kitchen. It’s NOT cheap, it’s blummin expensive but it’s important to me to get good quality because I’ve committed to looking after this little dog for life. I value her welfare. Where Meg is concerned, money isn’t really an issue. Before I had a dog, you could have given me £1000 worth of Lily’s Kitchen dogfood and I would not have valued it.

The things I value change over time, depending on my needs. When something is important to me, I spend as much as I can afford on it. Price is less of an issue than VALUE – how well it meets my needs.

Do you see? You just need to work out who VALUES you and price becomes a secondary issue.

When have YOU spent MORE on something (even when it was a real financial stretch) because it was IMPORTANT to you?

What do YOUR Super Customers value about your products / services and why?

  • What will make them happily spend more with you?
  • Is it your quality?
  • Your service?
  • What is it about what you sell that makes people come to you rather than other (possibly more convenient) suppliers?

I know I’m making you do lots of thinking but I promise it’s for the right reasons because when you know what it costs you to produce something AND you know you have people out there who will happily pay the right price (i.e. a price that easily covers your costs and gives you a profit) then it’s happy days.

How NOT To Price Your Products or Services

Have you ever wondered how your competitors price their products/services, especially if they are way lower than yours?

Well, what usually happens is they look around to see what everyone else is charging, then they figure out where they are in the pecking order (better than HER, not been around as long as HER) and they pitch their price somewhere in between, usually at the bottom end.

The trouble is, everyone they are looking to for pricing usually set THEIR prices the same way. So nobody has costed out their time, they are all running at a loss and the only way they can drive more business is to drop their prices AGAIN, making even more of a loss.

Do you see now why that is a bad idea?

If you price this way – by looking around and deciding where you fit in the pecking order, rather than looking at where you ADD VALUE – there is nothing that makes you stand out. People don’t look at your value, they are shopping around on price. When your only selling point is price, the only way you can compete with other businesses is to CUT your prices. And if you haven’t been costing properly, it won’t be long before you are PAYING customers to take your stock. Hmmm.

When you price your products or services like that, based on what everyone else is charging, you are not factoring in your ME factor. You’re not looking at your Super Customers. You’re not looking at value.

So, that’s a long answer to a short question but it’s important you understand this. Start pricing properly NOW, look at where you add value, look at why your Super Customers come to YOU, love you and value you (read my blog if you’re struggling) and before you know it your attitude to pricing will have turned on its head. You won’t care what others are charging, you will be able to charge a good price and make a good profit and your Super Customers will be happy as clams.

Try it, I think you’ll like it.

Love, Claire xx

7 Places You Are LOSING MONEY In Your Business

7 Places You Are LOSING MONEY In Your Business

Have you ever felt like money is going out of your business quicker than you can bring it in? It might be because you’ve got a whole load of money leaks in your business that are adding up to one big money drain, without you even realising. You are wasting and losing money in your business all over the place and you need to stop! Now!

It’s really easy to have tiny amounts of  money leaking out of your business but when you add them all up they can amount to a serious chunk of cash  being frittered away on stuff you don’t want or use. Maybe you’re sitting on untapped cash in the form of work you have to bill or overdue invoices you haven’t chased? Maybe you just need a spring clean on your subscriptions? Either way, now would be a great time to stop the leaks and get money flowing into your business so you can benefit from it. Let’s have a look at 7 ways you are losing money in your business, today!

1. SUBSCRIPTIONS

I decided to tackle my money leaks one day and I found I had lots of little subscriptions going out of my bank – most of them were for things I don’t use any

more, things I don’t need had totally forgotten I was still paying for. Some were for tiny amounts but I’d been paying them for YEARS – that soon adds up!

There were services I’d signed up for because I really loved them at the time but I hadn’t used them properly for ages. I decided I needed to go through and make a decision on each subscription about “am I going to give it more focus and make it work better, or am I going to let it go?”

It’s not just subscriptions for services, think about software or magazines. The kind of subscriptions that I have are social media scheduling software, backup software, little tools I tried out and forgot to cancel. It could be those things where you sign up to get your credit report every month, do you actually need it now?

Before you know it, you will have freed up, maybe quite a lot of money, every month just because you’ve taken the time to go through and cancel.

Money Leak Challenge 1

Do an audit – go through your bank details, go through your emails, look for subscriptions that are coming out every month, every year, every quarter. Give yourself a good hour to do this, you might not even be able to cancel them all in the hour, depending on how difficult they make it, but you can certainly identify them all in an hour. Then you make a list and say ‘OK I’m going to spend another hour later in the week and cancel all of these’. Make a note of how much money you’ll be saving by stopping those unwanted subscriptions.

 2. FREE TRIALS

How often have you seen a free trial for some software or a service and have taken it up, just to forget to cancel before the deadline and got charged? Yep, me too!

Usually the companies in question get you to put your credit or debit card details in in order to get your free trial. Now they’re not silly! They do this, so that ideally you will just keep going (maybe they’re being a bit naughty and think you’ll forget to cancel it and it will just roll on and keep going). Even one payment from you is a big amount for them when they multiply it across everyone who forgets to cancel.

My advice is always to mark it in your diary, not just on the day but 2 days before, in big red letters. Put it on your calendar, on your phone, set a reminder and make it beep and be in your face when it is time to cancel.

Because there’s a really good chance that in 30 days’ time or 28 days’ time you’ll have forgotten that you even signed up to this!

I’ve been caught out with this before, with Amazon Prime and I know a lot of people who also did this. Now, for me it turned out to be a good thing because once I LOOKED at what I was getting for my money, I ended up renewing Amazon Prime on purpose because I get such a lot of value out of it.

Money Leak Challenge 2

When you sign up for a free trial and put in your card details, try to schedule in an hour sometime between now and the deadline. ONE HOUR of your life, to properly try out the service – you were impressed enough to sign up so at least give yourself a chance to see if it might really help you. What was it that got you excited about the free trial in the first place? What is it about it that you think will help your business? Give it your attention, try it out and if it’s not for you CANCEL it there and then!

 3. OVERDUE INVOICES

I have a question for you. Do you issue invoices in your business? If so, when you’ve issued an invoice, how good are people at paying you? At any one time in your business, how much money is outstanding? How much money is overdue? How much money is owing to you?

If you don’t know, you need to start knowing NOW because knowledge is power.

Cash is the lifeblood of your business. Without cash your business fails. All the time you’ve got money outstanding, you are subsidising somebody else’s business. All the time you’ve got money outstanding, that’s money that you could be using to pay you, to pay your suppliers, to pay your tax bill. Money owing to you is money that you need in. And you’re losing out on the interest you WOULD have had on that money in your bank. Gah!

Money Leak Challenge 3

Start Before You Invoice!

The best way to deal with invoices is to start BEFORE you issue them. That is, when you sign up with a client, you put really clear terms in place.

 Train Your Clients

Clients will respect you for handling this in a professional way. Make the terms really clear when somebody signs up with you.

When you issue your invoice,  say something like ‘we expect payment within X days and if you are late paying, we will chase you because this money is important to us as a small business. We are strict on our payment terms and all outstanding work will stop immediately, we cannot carry on with projects for you if you don’t pay.’

This might sound harsh but who do you think’s going to get paid first? You want to be at the top of the queue and the people who shout the loudest get paid first. You know how it feels if you’ve got someone chasing you for payment and they’re relentless and persistent (and preferably polite at the same time). But they’re going to get paid before the people who aren’t bothering you. That’s how our minds work, that’s human behaviour.

Stick To Your Word

On the day the invoice goes out re-iterate your payment terms in a nice polite way and give them a date on which you expect the invoice to be paid.

On the day that it’s due you send them a reminder to say you are hoping to get payment today from them, please let us know if there is a problem. (forwarned is forarmed)

Once it goes 2 or 3 days over, they get another email saying ‘ooh its outstanding and overdue, let us know what the problem is. Get in touch if you’re struggling to pay, but let’s talk about it because we expect that money in and we won’t be doing any more work on your account until that invoice is settled’.

Once it gets to a week they get a slightly sterner email saying ‘come on guys, we need paying’ and then after that you need to call.

If you can’t call, because you’re worried about compromising the relationship, then hire a virtual assistant.

Virtual assistants are brilliant at this because all of the emotion gets taken out of the situation. You are emotionally involved with your clients but a virtual assistant is outside of that loop there is no emotional charge with that, there is no baggage, they just go in, explain the situation and they will be able to get a factual response.

Watch your business change and watch the way that clients deal with you change. That kind of behaviour earns you respect from the right clients and will weed out the bad-fit clients. Yay!

4. UNBILLED INVOICES

Let’s look at how you issue your invoices because unbilled invoices might as well be no invoices at all – they are just in your head. The longer you leave it, the longer it takes for that money to be in your bank. You’re missing out on interest payments AND you’re potentially leaving yourself short, meaning you might incur overdraft charges or penalties. No good!

fed up womanThe old fashioned way, when everybody did this by mail, was that you sent out your invoices at the end of the month after you had completed the work. Then the client got it, and they paid anywhere between 30 and however many days afterwards. So it could be 2 or 3 months after you’d actually finished the work that you got the money in your hand. That is not a healthy way to run your business!

These days you could email out an invoice and have it with somebody in a second. If you do what I suggested above and set your terms before you start working with somebody, then you can make it really clear that you will invoice as soon as you’ve finished a project.

If you wait to invoice at the end of the month after you’ve carried out the work, it means you’ve completed your side of the bargain and you’re waiting to issue the invoice. Whereas if you issued the invoice on the day that you finished the job and it was signed off, and then you did this several times a week, then your invoices due are not all lumped together at the end of some random month in the future.This is great for cashflow.

Your business will be so much healthier. While we’re talking about this, why are you giving people 30 days payment terms, if you are? You don’t have to give 30 days’ payment, you can give 14, you can give 7. When I started giving 7 days payment terms it made a massive difference to my business when I was a marketing consultant. Because all of a sudden I could set that email series and system up much earlier, I could get my virtual assistant doing credit control calls much earlier and things that might have taken 3 or 4 months even to get paid, started to get paid, they were still late! But they started to get paid within the month rather than 2 or 3 months down the line. That had a huge impact on my cash flow. I wasn’t subsidising peoples businesses – I wasn’t bank rolling them.

Money Leak Challenge 4

Look at how and when you invoice and WHY you invoice the way you do. Can you charge a deposit up front? Can you get clients to pre-pay? Can you reduce your credit time you give to customers?

Let’s start running your business properly, let’s start running your business in a way that works for you. Let’s start getting some money up front at the time of booking. Let’s change the way we do this, so that you have a profitable business that doesn’t make you worry and wake up at 4am in a cold sweat about how you’re going to pay the bills! I’ve been there, it’s not nice. Change it, make it work for you!

4. FINES AND PENALTIES

How many times have you run over a tax deadline? Or missed an early bird booking rate? Or paid extra because you had to pay for ‘Express’ delivery as you’d forgotten to order something?

yay-10047270-digitalA really common example is tax deadlines, where if you’re late filing your tax return, you will get hit with a fine. And that is completely unnecessary, yet I see it happening every year with women in my network. The trouble is, they find tax baffling and scary, so they put it off until the last minute then find there is information they still need to find, which takes them over the deadline. Gah!

Book A TAX DAY (Eeek!)

With tax, there is no excuse. You just have to bite the bullet and deal with it early. Schedule some time in your diary – a TAX DAY – to do your return (ideally 6 months before it’s due, you’ll thank yourself later) then reward yourself with something lovely once you’ve got it done.

Have A System

And during the year why not put a system in place that will help you when you do tackle your tax return? Do a weekly invoice/receipt file-away, keep a mileage book in your car, have a spreadsheet with sales listed if your shopping cart software doesn’t already do that. That way, all you’re doing is taking information that’s already up-to-date and just filling in some boxes. Easy!

Early Birds

If you know you’re going to book tickets for an event, or buy a product or programme, look out for the Early Bird deals. Businesses offer these at a really reduced rate because they help with their cashflow AND give them an indication of interest. You can often get over 50% off the list price by buying on Early Bird.

Money Leak Challenge 5

When is your tax return due? If it’s months away in the future, book a TAX DAY into your diary NOW for some time over the next couple of weeks.

Whether it’s school trips, air fares, plane tickets or coaching programmes, if you KNOW you’re going to buy it anyway, look for the early bird rate.

 6. DISCOUNTS AND CASH BACK

So, first of all let’s look at discounts from other people. Are you taking advantage of any bulk buying discounts for your home or business? Are you leaking money because you’re buying the same thing in small quantities over the year, instead of buying in bulk and making a saving? Now how might that work? Could it work with you for stock? For stationery? Could it work for fuel?

yay-18039842-digitalHere’s an example that I use in my life rather than my business. We have oil heating in our house and in our village we bulk buy our oil with other people in the village. So instead of us buying 1,000 litres and everybody else, the other 130 people in the village buying 1,000 litres separately from different suppliers we all go in together and say ‘we’d like 100,000 litres please, what’s the best price?’ that works brilliantly because we get a really good price, the oil suppliers are over the moon because they get a really big discount, it makes them work a little bit harder but it helps them to bulk buy from their suppliers as well, so it goes right back down the chain. But that’s a really good example of how you can group together with other people and bulk buy in a way that you couldn’t do yourself.

Cash Back

Could you be getting cash back by going through one of these big cashback sites and buying things online that way? I’ve had cash back on mobile phone contracts, stationery, office equipment, all sorts of things where I still bought from my usual suppliers, I just went via a link on a cashback site to get there.

Discounting In YOUR Business

Are you leaking money in your business by giving too many discounts? I have included this one because I know loads of ladies who do, mainly because they are not confident in their pricing.

Now I’ll give you an example of a lovely lady I know. She’s a coach, and she had somebody come up to her a while ago and ask her how much it was for her coaching sessions. She told the guy how much it was but in the space of one breath she carried on talking and she discounted it not once, but TWICE!

It went something like this…”Well, it’s this much, but because you’re in this group I’ll knock some off, and actually because you’re buying it now I’ve got this offer on, so it’s only THIS much”. She discounted it twice in one breath before the guy had even had a chance to register the price, let alone come back with anything.

He might have quite happily paid the first price, she’ll never know.

Mind Monkeys

I’m not surprised. We’ve got mind monkeys in our brains telling us that nobody will ever pay that, that it’s too expensive and quite often we’ve got friends and family reinforcing that message.

Let me share a secret: If you make it really clear what the value is to that person, and if you’re showing them why it’s a really good fit for them, you don’t need to discount.

Money Leak Challenge 6

1. Look for areas where you can bulk buy and save money

2. Look for cashback sites that will let you buy your usual stuff from your usual suppliers, but will reward you with cash back in the process

3. Figure out who your SUPER customers are. Who really values what you do? Who loves what you sell? Who keeps coming back and spending more? Who’s a perfect fit for your business? These are the people who are saying you’re undercharging and you need to be charging more – do it!

Stop discounting for no reason. Find the people who understand that you’re worth what you charge and market to them, attract more of them and stop trying to please everybody by putting silly discounts in place for people who don’t value you anyway.

7. ROGUE PAYMENTS

So what’s number 7? Well, it’s those rogue money leaks that just kind of appear. Here’s an example that happened to me recently: I get my milk delivered from an organic dairy and I saw on their Facebook page that they were selling asparagus. yay-4846638-digitalThe following Saturday I got some asparagus on my doorstep with my milk; I thought ‘that’s nice, giving me a sample to try!’ Then it happened again the next week. Now, I don’t really look at my weekly milk invoice because I kind of know what goes out and it’s fine, but then last week I got some MORE asparagus. Don’t get me wrong I like asparagus but not every week! I was like ‘ah not more asparagus, they keep giving us this free asparagus, they must be really struggling to sell it’ UNTIL I looked on my invoice and found they’ve charged me for it!

The thing is, I’d let this go for three weeks in a row because it hadn’t occurred to me to look on my invoice. Over the course of 4 weeks that’s was £10 I accidentally spent on asparagus! I could have used that £10 for all sorts of things.

It’s these little rogue money leaks that sneak in and add up.

Bank charges, little extras people sneak onto the end of invoices. service charges… You often just go along with them because you’re busy or because you are scared to question them. I wonder how much money has leaked out of your bank account over the last few years because of these rogue little payments?

 Money Leak Challenge 7

Look through your bank account today. If you’re not in the habit of going through your statements regularly and making sure you know what every payment is, now is the time to start, because every £2 or £3 or $10 dollars here and there  could add up to a holiday deposit or a car payment, or a trip to the spa!

The Biggest Enemies Of Money Leaks Are Time And Knowledge

Your secret weapon against money leaks is making time to do something about it;  Making time to look at your bank statements, making time to cancel the subscriptions, making time to evaluate those products before the free trial ends so you can make a decision based on knowledge. It’s making time to look at your outstanding invoices and see what’s missing, see what’s still outstanding in your business. It’s making time to hire a VA, it’s making time to invoice weekly or daily rather than every month. It’s making time. It’s making time.

It’s time to stop those money leaks. And while you’re dealing with them, why not keep a little record of how much you’re saving as you go? I’ll bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much money you can save and hang onto just by giving yourself the time to deal with it.

I’d love to know if you’ve dealt with money leaks in your life or business? What’s your biggest saving? Have you got any more advice to add to my list? Share them in the comments!

5 Things You Should Never Post On Your Business Facebook Page

5 Things You Should Never Post On Your Business Facebook Page

Your business Facebook page can be a fantastic marketing tool. Used properly, it can build relationships, build your brand, build trust and credibility and drive enquiries and sales. However, there are some common mistakes you need to avoid if you’re going to get your Facebook page really working for your business. If you are doing any of the 5 things below, you’re at best wasting your time on a Facebook page that’s just not going to do you justice and at worst heading for trouble, even getting your page shut down.

Here’s a list of the 5 biggest mistakes I see on Facebook pages – there’s no excuse to fall foul of them now.

1. Rants

I know, it’s so tempting to vent your anger/frustration/opinion of your competitors on your Facebook page but it’s the equivalent of washing your dirty linen in public. It doesn’t look good and doesn’t help anyone, least of all you. It looks unprofessional and all you’ll do is create a pity party, which is a total distraction from your business. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no angel, but I think I’ve ranted just once on my page in 3 years (in response to a spate of really rude emails) and I regretted it almost immediately. It’s just not worth it. Complain to your pals, vent to your family but keep it OFF Facebook and other social media. Better to maintain a dignified silence and let karma take care of the rest.

2. Other People’s Memes (Rather Than Sharing The Original Post)

SHARING other people’s memes or posts is fine, in fact it’s a brilliant idea. When you share from their page, they benefit from the shares which helps their page engagement. This is called Ethical Sharing. The great thing is you benefit too as Facebook seems to give greater weight and reach to popular posts shared from other pages. It’s a win win. If you do the opposite – in other words you just save the image to your computer and post it on your page, rather than sharing then that’s just not cool. Not only that but if the owner of the meme or artwork finds out, they can legitimately report you for stealing their intellectual property. Ethical sharing is the only way!

3. Sell Sell Sell Posts

Nobody wants to be sold to. Everyone wants to be helped. If all you post on your business Facebook page is pushy sales message after pushy sales message, pretty soon you’ll end up with a page that’s as flat as a pancake. Nobody is going to engage with that! Instead, think about the people you want to attract to your page and think about what they want to see. By all means post offers and deals, but put a bit of YOU into the page. Record some videos showing your products, talking about your suppliers, telling a story about your business – anything to inject some personality into your page and start to build relationships with your page fans. Ask questions, share tips, HELP people. You’ll get a much more engaged page and remember, people buy people!

[Tweet “Nobody wants to be sold to. Everyone wants to be helped #tgmb #bizitalk”]

4. Like & Share Competitions

They are against Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines (See E.3) which means YOU SHOULD NOT USE THEM and Facebook can and will shut down your page if they catch you. I’ve seen it happen more than once – it’s just not worth the risk. And apart from that, they are a huge wasted opportunity – it’s much MUCH better to use a dedicated competition app that lets you collect email addresses of entrants, that way you grow your list while you’re promoting. Even if the app charges you a small amount to add the ‘collect emails’ feature, it’s definitely worth it because you NEED to start building your email list.

5. Anything NOT Aimed At Your Ideal Customers

By ideal customers, I mean people who are a good fit for your business and are most likely to buy. If you’re not clear who you’re trying to attract to your page then you’re going to be wasting a ton of time, money and energy and getting lukewarm results. Instead, figure out who is most likely to buy from you and target all your marketing at them – including your business Facebook page. Work out how you can add value, how you can help them, what sort of stuff they are likely to love and share. The more ideal customers you can attract, the more engagement you’ll get on your Facebook page. The more engagement you get on your Facebook page, the more likely people are to stick around and take up any offers you put in front of them.

6. SWEARING

I’ve added a sixth ‘no-no’ to the list even though I feel like this shouldn’t even need to be said. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT EVER swear on your business facebook page unless your audience is full of sweary types themselves, and even then think twice. I know a couple of people who can get away with this because it’s totally part of them and their brand but even they do it in a considered way.

So, there you go. I’d love to know what you think and if you’ve got any more to add!