I was chatting to a lady the other day and she said ‘Claire, this business is bad for my nerves and my blood pressure. One day it’s fine, I have money in the bank and then within days it’s all gone on staff costs, supplies and other bills. Then there are days when sales are GREAT and other days and weeks when nothing I do works, nobody buys. I feel like I’m always playing catch up – why can’t I get a steady stream of customers and money coming in, so I’m not always in this position?
I totally understood what she was talking about – it’s the unpredictability. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to predict the future and know who will buy, and when? To know you have enough money coming in to cover your costs, pay yourself a salary and have some left over? But as you probably know, it’s harder than it looks. Business is like a rollercoaster, where you lurch from highs to lows, seemingly with no control over what’s happening.
It’s a real challenge, because when your business behaves like that the only way to stop that rollercoaster effect is to change the way you do things. You have to smooth out the bumps and level out the ride and that takes time and effort, but once you get there it’s SO much easier (and better for your health).
So, How Do You Stop Those Frightening Ups And Downs?
The ups and downs are caused by a few things.
By not having a steady stream of clients, by not having a steady stream of money coming in and by not having a plan to keep sales moving all the time. So, what can you do about it?
Well, there is one thing you can do that will change the way your business behaves. It will smooth out the lumps and take out the quiet patches. And yet, hardly anyone does it. And even when they do, they hardly ever do it properly and consistently and yet, it could TRANSFORM their business for the better.
What is it?
Build Your Database!
This is one of the most under-rated areas of business EVER!
So many people don’t bother building their database or collecting email addresses – or worse, they collect them and do nothing with them – and yet it could be the ANSWER to most of their business rollercoaster problems!!
Let me explain.
When someone visits your website, they might take a look around, find a few things they like but they don’t buy – why not? Because it’s not the right time for them. Either they are looking for something they don’t need right now, but are just researching (think gifts for upcoming birthdays or other celebrations) or they aren’t in a position to buy YET because they are saving up or need more information or to talk to someone else about it.
So, although they LOVE your stuff, they decided not to buy today. So they go. Forever. And then they forgot what your site was called so even though they vaguely remembered how lovely it was, after a quick Google it didn’t show up so you lost them.
What are you going to do about it?
“What do you mean, what am I going to do about it?” You ask! “I can’t MAKE them buy, I can’t MAKE them come back!” I hear you say. Well here’s the thing: you can’t make them buy TODAY but do you know what? You CAN make them much more likely to come back and buy when they are ready.
You can get them into your database (or onto your mailing list, however you want to describe it) and you can build a relationship with them.
You can send them your regular e-newsletter, packed full of things they will love and find useful. You’ll share new product information, you’ll tell them about any sales or offers you have, you’ll talk about the business, you’ll suggest ways to use your products and services and you’ll include lovely testimonials from happy customers. Every month.
That way, they get used to seeing you in their inbox.
They start to look forward to getting your emails and hearing from you. They look out for your sales and offers. They become familiar with your name and your business and your products and services.
A Transformation Takes Place
They change FROM someone who loved your stuff but wasn’t ready to buy, so they left your website never to return INTO someone who looks forward to your monthly email and buys even when they hadn’t planned to because you put such lovely things under their nose all the time.
You go from being a lost opportunity TO being the business they think of when they need what you sell. And when they are ready to buy, they will buy from YOU. It’s like magic. But it’s actually quite simple, really. You just need to stay in touch, keep sharing stuff they love and keep adding value.
It Just Keeps Getting Better
Not only do they get used to seeing you around in their email, they also start to get to know you (and people buy people, remember?). They learn about your business.
If you’re clever, you’ll have videos and images on your website and social media pages of you and your team so customers know who they are dealing with – it will bridge the gap between you being an ‘untrustworthy stranger’ to being someone your subscribers feel they know. And you can direct people from your newsletters to your website to find out more about you and your team.
People are much more likely to buy from you if they feel there is a ‘real’ person behind the business who loves what they do and can help them if they struggle with a purchase. This is where you have a HUGE advantage over the big faceless corporates who can’t manage that personal touch.
Smoothing Out Cashflow Lumps
And remember we talked about that lurching rollercoaster feeling of ups and downs in sales and money coming in? Well building your database and keeping in touch with your subscribers via regular e-newsletters is an antidote to that. It smooths out the big lumps. It steadies the ride.
Think about it. Most businesses rely on potential customers finding them on Google. If those people visit their website and don’t buy there and then, they have lost them. What a waste.
Not you though, you’re clever and you’ve got this covered. You know now that you need to get them onto your email list and keep in touch with them.
And you’re sending them lovely newsletters packed full of things they will find interesting, useful and valuable.
And then once a month you send them a BIG DEAL newsletter. A newsletter with a FAB offer they can’t resist.
Do you think they will take notice? Well, they will probably take far more notice of YOUR offers than those of any other random company who happens to tout to them. What will actually happen is that you’ll have control over your sales. Let me just repeat that in case you didn’t get it.
YOU WILL HAVE CONTROL OVER YOUR SALES
Because 80% of your newsletters and newsletter content will be non-salesy, added value loveliness, when you DO send out an offer your subscribers will take notice. And BUY.
This is what I do with my business. It’s what ALL successful businesses do – because it works!
It takes time to build your database and build those relationships. You have to put some work in to establish your monthly newsletter and work out what your subscribers love to see and read. But once you get the recipe right, it really works.
When you send out offers, the people on your growing email list will buy.
That counteracts seasonality. It flattens out those horrible rollercoaster peaks and troughs. It gets rid of the stress and the fear of NO SALES. It works whether you have a physical shop or premises, or you’re totally online. Quiet times are a thing of the past. You just need to plan your e-marketing in a very simple way and you’ve got it covered (eg. January Sale, February Valentines, March Spring Offers, April Showcase, you get the idea)
So let me just recap:
- Build your database (another blog coming next week to tell you HOW to do that)
- Keep in touch every month
- Share information that’s topical, useful, valuable and interesting but not SELL, SELL, SELL
- Once in a while, on a regular basis, send out a BIG DEAL OR OFFER newsletter
- Watch the sales come in
Are you up for a challenge? The sooner you start building your list and e-marketing, the sooner the magic will start to happen. I can’t wait to see how you get on!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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?
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?