Category: Growing Profit

Three Effective Strategies for Boosting Your Voice

Use any available means to get your word out there
Woman trying to be heard

In order to find new clients, you need to boost your voice. In other words, you have to locate opportunities to amplify your message and reach prospective leads. These opportunities won’t come to you! In order to grow your business, you will need to be proactive in tracking them down.

Here are three strategies for boosting your voice:

1) Networking events

Whether you’re new to networking or a seasoned professional, these events are a great way to connect with potential clients. One way to gain access is to join a networking group. Another is to join your local chamber of commerce.

One of the benefits of networking events is that they can be less intimidating than other venues. If you took a sneak peek at other items on this list and felt a shiver of fear run down your spine, then networking events could be the perfect place for you to get started and practice your skills!

Most of us find one-on-one conversations a lot less stressful than speaking to large groups. You have the opportunity to establish a personal connection with the person you are talking with. Plus, since everyone is there for the same reason, you already have something important in common! You can use that shared goal to your advantage when telling people about your business.

As a result, the interactions at a networking event can feel lower-stakes, which reduces the pressure and allows you to focus on delivering your pitch.

Speaking of which, the key to successful networking is having an effective 30-second elevator pitch. I cover that topic here.

Of course, the goal here is to develop a relationship. Do not focus on selling to the people who are there. If leveraged successfully, the members of these networking groups will become your salesforce. Once they get to know, like, and trust you, they will send you prospects who you can convert into clients.

2) Social media

These days, social media connects us all. Using online communities can grow your business exponentially.

Creating a community on Facebook or LinkedIn will take your networking to the next level. Every user on these sites is a potential referral partner or client. Starting a Twitter or Instagram account will give a huge boost to your marketing message. Maintaining an active presence on these sites will allow you to develop a personality around your brand which will attract new clients.

I also suggest looking into a new app called Clubhouse. This audio-sharing community has been used by Elon Musk and Bill Gates—why not you?

Using social media effectively will establish your business as modern, relevant, and accessible. Every social media account you set up is a fresh opportunity to locate leads and convert them into profit.

3) Public speaking

Many people are terrified of public speaking, but it is one of the most effective strategies for reaching potential clients. You can reach dozens or even hundreds of people simultaneously, amplifying your message far beyond what is possible in a one-on-one conversation.

In order to be an effective public speaker, you will first need to develop a compelling message. This is one of the topics I address in my e-book, Mind Your Profits.

Once you’ve developed your message, your next step will be to locate speaking opportunities.

One easy way to boost your voice through public speaking is to appear on podcasts, either as a guest or by starting your own. This is the perfect option if the idea of getting up on stage and talking to a bunch of strangers makes you feel faint! Since podcasts are just like having a one-on-one conversation, they are a lot less scary—but can be just as effective if you are able to reach the right audience.

If you aren’t intimidated by getting in front of a group of people, speaking from a stage can be a great way to get your message out. One way to find such opportunities is to reach out to professional groups in your area. You should also stay abreast of any upcoming conferences and workshops that potential clients might attend. And don’t forget to work those strategic partnerships!

If you want to integrate public speaking into your business practice but struggle with stage fright, contact me to set up a coaching session.

Finally, don’t be afraid to think outside the box! A speaker at a conference I attended told us about a strategy he’d developed that proved as effective as it is unusual. While driving down the freeway, he would jot down the phone numbers on billboards. Then he’d leave a message introducing himself and saying that he couldn’t help but notice an “error” on their billboard.

When he got a call back—and he always got a call back!—he would explain how the billboard’s messaging could be more effective in landing new clients. This would lead to a conversation about how to craft an effective marketing message, which would then lead to a meeting to discuss how he could help this business.

These are just a few strategies for boosting your voice and growing your business. As you become a more confident and effective networker, the number of potential networks you can tap into will grow as well.

Which strategy do you like? Feel free to comment below.

If you’d like help in implementing any or all of these, please reach out.

5 Effective Strategies for Generating Leads Who Want to Work with You

5 Effective Strategies for Generating Leads Who Want to Work with You

Lead Generation button
Lead Generation button on a keyboard

As a business owner, generating leads is one of the most important tasks for growing your business, but it can also be the most daunting.

How do you generate leads? And how do you do it in a way that doesn’t feel slimy, shady, or overly “sales-y”?

Here are five effective strategies for generating strong leads for your business—that won’t make you feel like a used-car salesman.

 

1. Join a networking group

Joining a networking group is a great way to attract more leads in a personal, genuine way. Some of these groups meet monthly, some meet weekly, and others meet every other week or every other month. If you’re not sure where to begin, consider joining your local chamber of commerce. They will certainly have networking events that you can attend.

I’m a member of several different networking groups, and I find them an incredibly valuable resource for generating leads—not just in terms of networking with potential clients directly, but in terms of meeting other business owners who can refer people to me from their own network.

When you clearly explain what you do, who you help, and what problem you solve for your clients, the people you meet while networking can send you prospects. Once they get to know, like, and trust you, they essentially turn into your salesforce.

2. Develop your “elevator pitch”

The most important thing about networking is having an effective 30-second elevator pitch. This must include not only who you are and what you do, but most importantly, it should also include what problem you solve for your customers.

In my elevator pitch, I explain that Profit Minds helps our clients create unique strategies to grow their business and create the life of their dreams, and that we can find 30 to $50,000 or more in untapped revenue for any small business in under 45 minutes. This often sparks a conversation about how we do this, which allows me to get more specific about the strategies that I use.

At a regular networking meeting, your elevator pitch should also include what to listen for, with phrases stated in the first person. For example, I might say, “If you hear a client or friend or family member say something like, ‘I need new sources of revenue for my company,’ or ‘I can’t afford this year to be just like the last,’ those would be great referrals for me.” This way, the people I meet know exactly who they can send in my direction.

3. Cultivate relationships with “power partners”

While offering potential partners a referral fee is straightforward and can work, I’ve found there’s a better way to incentivize referrals. To do this, seek out partnerships with businesses that serve the same type of client that you do but offer a complimentary product or service. I call these “power partners.” Then, when you present the referral opportunity, seek to solve a problem your referral source has with your mutual client.

At Profit Minds, we use this strategy to partner with—and solve problems for—CPAs, business brokers, and digital marketing agents, among others.

When I look to partner with a CPA, for example, I explain that if they send me one of their small-business owner clients, I will make sure the client sees them at least four times a year. I do this because the information I get from a CPA is a measurable and reliable way to make sure my methods are working.

This solves the CPA’s problem of only seeing their clients once a year around tax time. When they refer clients to me, they not only get more income from our mutual clients, but they also get to provide financial guidance throughout the year. This is a win all around: the CPA wins, Profit Minds wins, and most importantly, the (mutual) client wins.

4. Take advantage of speaking opportunities

Becoming a public speaker is a great way to build your reputation, establish your authority as an expert, and reach a broad, interested audience. This also helps build your relationship with your prospects as they get to know you and your story in an authentic way.

You can find speaking opportunities through local professional groups, as well as through strategic partnerships. Look for events and conferences in your area, and reach out to your network to learn of other speaking opportunities. If you joined a networking group, you might even find opportunities to speak at their networking meetings. Or check with your local chamber of commerce about setting up your own event where you can be featured.

Keep in mind that speaking opportunities don’t just happen in person. In the wake of COVID, many events are happening online or in other virtual spaces. Clubhouse is one such app, which features an audio-only sharing community.

5. Be a guest on podcasts

If you find the prospect of speaking to a large audience intimidating, appearing on podcasts is a great alternative.

You could of course start your own podcast, but you can also join in as a guest speaker on someone else’s podcast. Since appearing on a podcast is just like having a one-on-one conversation, it’s not nearly as scary as other public speaking opportunities—but if you’re a guest on the right podcasts, it can be just as effective.

With that in mind, don’t restrict your search to only podcasts about your exact same topic, but try to seek out podcasts that might share your audience. What podcasts might your ideal client be listening to? You can even start by asking this question of your current clients!

Strategies for everyone

There are strategies for every taste and ability, whether you enjoy addressing a large audience, prefer focusing on personal relationships, or anything in between.

If you find a strategy that appeals to you, don’t hesitate to reach out—I’d be happy to talk about how you can develop that strategy as you grow your business.

Top 5 Reasons to Hire an Intern

As your business grows, eventually you’ll want to start building a team. Having people in your corner means you don’t have to be the expert at everything, and you can spend more energy on the tasks and projects that truly require you to do them.

But there’s often a fuzzy gray area between recognizing that you could use extra help and actually having the resources to hire that help. Additionally, even established businesses can benefit from reducing their costs—and hiring a team can quickly become a major expense.

This is where I like to consider using an “internship” strategy.

Instead of hiring new personnel as you grow, consider offering an internship. Go to your local junior college, college, or university and offer an internship for the semester—or the year—to those seeking degrees or experience in a similar field or area of expertise as needed for your business.

But how do you know if offering an internship is the right approach?

Here are my top five reasons hiring an intern is a great move for the growing small business.

1. Internships can help cut down on labor costs

Labor costs make up a huge expense for any small business. Salary, benefits, social security taxes, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, and other costs really add up.

And yet, what can you do? You must​​ have the labor you need to operate your business, especially as your business grows.

Hiring an intern can help cut down on labor costs in a couple of ways. First, student interns are more likely to work part-time, since they usually have classes to attend in addition to the internship.

Second, their lack of experience means they can start at a lower salary than other prospective employees, and they don’t need a huge benefits package to make the job appealing. This is in part because most of the benefit for interns comes from the experience, which brings us to reason number two:

2. You are helping students gain real-world experience which makes them more competitive in the job market

Schools love​ it when a business offers internships because internships act as a value-add to their educational offerings by providing their students with real-world experience. Some schools even offer course credit for internships as an extra incentive. Many schools have a job placement office that will be happy to help you find the right candidate.

And the students love them, too!

Not only does an internship put some money in their pocket, but it also gives them practical, hands-on experience in their field.

This experience looks great on their resume. It gives them a jumpstart on their peers when they graduate, especially if the company providing the internship hires them upon graduation.

And given the state of the economy and the sparseness of the current job market, any competitive edge is a big deal.

3. Administrative help allows you to focus on the important things

Every business could use additional administrative help.

Offering an internship to a student majoring in business administration not only helps the student gain hands-on work experience, but this can also be a low-cost way to take some of the administrative tasks off your plate.

What could you get done in your business if you could pass off your admin tasks to someone who is actually interested in business administration?

Spending less time fretting over administrative details and more time working in your zone of genius can have major ripple effects that spread through your entire business.

4. Student interns are dedicated and enthusiastic

Just because interns work part-time, have less experience, or accept a lower starting pay doesn’t mean their work will be subpar.

Far from it: Interns are enthusiastic and eager to learn, and they’re highly motivated to produce quality work.

This is especially true if there is a possibility of being hired full-time after graduation, but even the promise of adding your glowing recommendation to their job materials can be an excellent motivator.

And since interns’ goals are often centered on learning how to work in a particular field, they tend to be especially open to critique and have a genuine desire to improve. Sometimes they even possess skills or a perspective that older, more experienced workers may not—consider their skill with social media or reaching that younger demographic.

5. Interns can fill the gaps as you grow

If you’re a micro-business or solopreneur, you probably don’t need a full-time employee. But as your business continues to grow, you may find having extra help to be a huge asset.

In this way, hiring an intern part-time can be a gap fill until your business grows enough that you need full-time help.

And by the time you’re ready for a full-time employee, then perhaps this intern will have graduated and will be ready for a full-time job—and they’ll already be trained and familiar with your processes. It’s a win-win!

Is offering an internship right for you?

Internships could potentially save small-business owners thousands of dollars each year, but as we’ve seen, that’s not the only reason to hire an intern.

Internships can provide enthusiastic help for the tasks you don’t need to do yourself, and can be an excellent stepping stone as your business continues to grow.

To decide if an internship approach is right for you, take a look at the administrative tasks you wish you didn’t have to do.

  • What would you pay a full-time professional or contract worker to do them?
  • Could an intern handle these tasks, or do they require professional expertise?
  • What would you pay an intern? How much would that save you?
  • What would it cost (in additional time or money) to train the intern as compared to a more seasoned worker in the areas where they lack experience? Would your hiring savings outweigh these costs?
  • Could the intern bring some additional skills or perspective that you don’t need to train (and maybe can’t)?

And perhaps even more importantly:

  • What would you focus on if you didn’t have to do those tasks?
  • How would the time you spend on your business look different?
  • What could you accomplish in a year by focusing on the aspects of your business that sit firmly in your zone of genius?

If you’d like to dig deeper on this and other strategies for increasing your profits, grab your free copy of my e-book, Mind Your Profits, at www.profitminds.net.

Don’t Let that Prospect Just Walk Away

What happens when a prospect isn’t ready to spend the amount you’re charging?

Short version: they leave.

Whether by walking out of your brick-and-mortar store or closing a browser tab, if a prospect decides not to buy your offer, they’re gone. They might try to find a better option elsewhere, or they might not.

If you don’t have a strategy for capturing that prospect’s business, you could be leaving money on the table.

What is down-selling?

Down-selling is nothing more than offering a prospect an alternative at a lower price when they decline your original offer.

The goal is to turn the prospect into a client. You not only get the short-term financial benefit, but you also​ gain the opportunity to do business with them again in the future.

Gyms do this all the time. They always start by trying to sell new members a full one-year membership.

If the prospect declines, they’ll offer a 90-day “health makeover” membership. If that fails, they may go to a 30-day or possibly a one-week “trial” membership.

Gyms and health clubs know if they can just get a prospect to buy something, the odds of them staying with them in the long term goes up exponentially.

Small sales add up to big results

Consider the local florist.

Many people show up at a florist to buy roses for their better half—Valentine’s Day, a birthday, an anniversary, Mother’s Day, and so on.

But suppose a bouquet of a dozen roses costs $50, and they don’t have that much money to spend. If the florist didn’t have other options, that’s a prospect out the door and buying at another shop.

If the florist has a less expensive alternative—say, a dozen carnations for $25—the florist might make a smaller sale (instead of no sale at all).

This seems like a minuscule move, but it makes a big difference.

If our hypothetical florist only used that down-sell once each day, this would still add up to almost $8,000 in additional annual revenue.

I do this in my business, too: My highest priced offer is one-on-one coaching, but I also offer group coaching at a lower price point. More affordable still is my e-learning site. By providing high-quality options at multiple price points, I make my services more accessible to a wider portion of my prospects.

Having a solid down-sell strategy increases the value of each prospective customer by turning a no-sale into a smaller sale.

How to create a down-sell offer for your business

What’s your current price point for what you currently sell?

Cut that price in half and try to come up with an alternative for this new price.

How many of this new product or service would you conservatively estimate you could sell each week?

To see how this strategy can affect your revenue, multiply your reduced price by your number of weekly sales, then multiply that number by 52 weeks to reveal your annual increase.

And that’s just one down-sell. How many additional down-sell opportunities would you estimate you could easily develop?

In addition to less expensive bouquet options, our florist could create down-sell alternatives for weddings, lower-priced options for funerals, less expensive boutonnieres for prom, and so on.

Ultimately, a small sale is better than no sale. And if you really “wow” them, if you over-deliver on your promises, if you give them an exceptional experience, they’ll want to keep coming back and giving you their business over and over again.

Want to understand down-selling better or learn more about how this might fit in your overall profitability strategy? Grab your free copy of my e-book, Mind your Profits, from my website www.profitminds.net.

Why aren’t my prospects buying?

The Buyer’s Journey

You have a great product at a no-brainer price. Your sales copy is excellent. Traffic is coming to your website at reasonably consistent rates.

And yet: almost no one is biting.

This can be so frustrating because we know our product or service will help prospects solve their problems. We’ve spent so much time and energy making our product/service into the best solution out there.

It can feel like we’re one of those sign spinners—pointing the way, sweating in the hot sun, and dancing until our muscles ache—and no one’s making the turn.

What gives?

The fact is, only 1% of prospective customers are ready to buy right now. The other 99% still have to go on a journey before they’ll be ready to buy.

Think of the customer relationship like a romantic courtship. While maybe 1% of people are ready to fly to Vegas to tie the knot then and there, most need to go through a few key steps before they’re ready to settle down.

By recognizing the buyer’s journey, you can better understand where your prospects are along that path, what they’re thinking about, and what they need from you at each stage.

1. Future Buyers

For most buyers, the journey starts when the prospect is still a “future buyer.”

These prospects aren’t comparing companies, weighing options, or picking out which color product they like. Prospects at this stage likely don’t even know that they want a product or service to begin with.

The question they’re asking (and the question you need to answer) is “why should I buy?”

Not “why should I buy from you” but “why should I buy anything in the first place?”

How do you answer this question? By highlighting the benefits of a purchase. They need to know what problem your product or service solves and why they want a solution.

This is a very different question from what most small-business owners try to answer on their websites. Their content most often focuses on choosing a vendor once the buying decision is made—but that marketing content is skipping crucial steps.

For example, if I’m selling air conditioners, at this stage I’m not talking about my appliance’s features but about the benefits of having an air conditioner. I’m talking about the discomfort of hot rooms and unsightly pit stains. I’m talking about the comfort of cool air after working in the garden all day.

If I’m an accountant, the future buyer doesn’t need to know my expertise and qualifications. They need to understand what a relief it is to let someone else manage their books and completely remove any concern about taxes.

2. Soon-to-be Buyers

The next stage is the “soon-to-be buyer.” These prospects understand the benefits of buying a product or service to solve their problems.

The question they’re grappling with at this stage is “why shouldn’t I buy?”

This is the stage when all the objections come out of the woodwork: Is it worth it? Will it be too expensive? Is it time-consuming to implement? Sure it works for some people, but will it work for me?

The information you provide at this stage should work to overcome those objections. Soon-to-be buyers need to know that the solution you’ve presented (a) will work, and (b) will work for them.

Soon-to-be buyers of air conditioners, for instance, might be concerned about how an AC unit will affect their electric bill. Effective marketing, then, would address the importance of energy efficiency, or how energy-efficient appliances can save money on electric bills in the long run.

An accountant’s soon-to-be buyers might be wondering if they actually need to pay for a professional: “Couldn’t I just have my nephew keep track of my books?” Marketing in this stage, then, could address “return on investment” and how professional management of cashflow can actually add to a business’s bottom line.

3. Now Buyers

The “now buyer” is that 1% we talked about earlier: prospects who are ready to make a purchase right now.

Their main concern is vendor selection. Now that they know they want to buy, they’re asking “who should I buy from?”

Now buyers are ready to hear what separates your product from the competition. Why my air conditioners are more energy efficient than other brands. What expertise and certifications make my accounting services first rate.

The issue is most marketing starts with this step.

While setting yourself apart from competition is important, most prospects aren’t going to care about this until they’re ready to buy.

By nurturing your prospects with the valuable information you have provided through every stage of the journey, they already trust you more than your competition by the time they make it to this stage.

The answer is simple

Why aren’t prospects buying? Short answer: They don’t know you.

A slightly longer answer: They don’t know you—yet.

The goal, then, is not to sell to the prospect right away. (You wouldn’t propose on a first date, after all!) Instead, the goal is to nurture the prospect along their journey so that when they are ready to buy, you’ve given them all the information they need every step of the way. This builds trust and makes them naturally want to buy from you.

To learn more about how to nurture your prospects, check out my ebook, Mind Your Profits.

How to Discover Your Ideal Customer in 2 Simple Steps

How to Discover Your Ideal Customer in 2 Simple Steps

How do you describe your perfect client avatar?

When it comes to marketing, many business gurus offer some version of this advice:
• figure out who your ideal customer is
• be really specific
• then sell to that person

Most entrepreneurs know they need to have an ideal customer (or ideal client, or ideal customer avatar, etc.) in mind. Understanding the specifics about the person you’re selling to can be incredibly helpful, whether you’re crafting your message, working on your marketing, or developing your products.

But when it comes to actually figuring out that ideal customer, the strategies these gurus suggest tend to be pretty abstract, asking us to “imagine,” “picture,” or “visualize.”

We’re supposed to “imagine a day in the life” of someone—but how can we do that if we don’t know who that someone is?

The old way works (sometimes)

While ideal client visualization exercises can be helpful once you know who they are, visualization can be challenging if you don’t immediately know the type of prospect you’re looking for.

Some business owners know instinctively who their ideal customer should be. If you’ve been selling a service for a long time, you may have a sense of who you enjoy working with (and who you don’t enjoy working with—but that’s a topic for a later blog).

Others start with a specific client in mind and design a product around their needs. That approach is a little better, but it doesn’t help those who already have a product or service and need to figure out who to target in their new marketing campaign to take their business to the next level.

Unfortunately, most business owners lack a strategy for zeroing in on their ideal customer avatar.

Consider my client, Elaine, who is a coach for women executives. While “women executives” may feel specific already, Elaine knows that the more specific she is about who she serves, the more effective her marketing campaigns will be.

But waiting for a client avatar inspiration is no way to run a business. We need a strategy.

Here’s a new approach:

Step 1: What is your unique selling proposition?

Instead of trying to pull an idea customer avatar out of thin air, start by looking at your offer.

What is unique about your product or service?

What is the superpower that only you can offer?

An accountant, for example, might be especially good at sorting through an unorganized mess of documents and receipts. A painter might be especially good at capturing the dynamic movements of water and the ocean.

For Elaine, her superpower is helping women speak with voices that will be heard. So often, diversity is treated as a checklist; while women and people of color may be invited to the meeting and allowed to “sit at the table,” their ideas are not always taken seriously. Elaine’s unique selling proposition is helping people position those ideas so others will really listen.

Step 2: Who is going to benefit most from that proposition?

Once you’ve zeroed in on what you offer and why it’s unique, use that to brainstorm your ideal client.

Who is going to benefit most from your superpower?

Who is going to want or need your unique product or service the most?

That accountant who is good at making the disorganized organized could be especially helpful for business owners with ADHD. That gifted ocean painter could market their work to avid surfers.

As Elaine and I started working together, we realized that the person who most needs her superpower is the female chief diversity officer. This woman not only clearly gets the problem—she lives it every day in her job.

And here’s the beauty of this particular avatar: After Elaine is effective in helping the chief diversity officer be heard, she is a great conduit into the C-suite, with potential introductions to other women executives who experience this same problem on a daily basis.

Stop waiting and start strategizing

The days of aimless visualization are over. We no longer need to close our eyes and cross our fingers, hoping the perfect idea for an ideal customer avatar will somehow fall into our laps.

Instead, we can use a concrete strategy to reverse engineer our market based on what makes our offers unique.

It’s a simple exercise, but it works. By taking the guesswork out of developing an ideal customer avatar, this strategy leaves more time for us to dig into the details of who this person is and what is motivating them so we can actually put the avatar to use in our marketing.

If you try this exercise, comment below to let us know who your ideal client is!

How to Get More Referrals from Business Partnerships

partnership
shaking hands

The business world is going through a major shift right now.

For many, business is very slow indeed. Some businesses may find themselves unable to work the way they normally do because of the lockdown.

But if you can’t work in your business—work on your business.

As more and more people are able to connect using video conferencing technology and other communication apps, this is the perfect time to build relationships.

One great relationship to cultivate right now is a joint venture partnership.

A joint venture, or JV, refers to any situation where two parties engage in a commercial enterprise together while retaining their individual identities and businesses. A common example is giving referrals in exchange for some amount of affiliate income.

Seems simple enough, right?

Unfortunately, a lot of small-business owners are going about joint ventures the wrong way. And this can significantly limit how effective those relationships are—and how much profit they can bring in.

The mistake you’re probably making:

Here’s an example of the typical way most joint ventures work: “I’ll send you a referral, and you send me 10% of whatever you make from that referral.”

This quid-pro-quo is how most small businesses are thinking about joint ventures.

Typically, a small-business owner will look for potential partners who solve different kinds of problems for a similar client base. For example, one of my clients is an interior designer. Homeowners who hire her are probably also looking to hire a contractor to complete her designs.

If she went about it the usual way, she would partner with a contractor or two and send the homeowner to them to get bids. Then the homeowner would pick one and that would be the end of it. Perhaps one or both of the contractors would send referrals to the interior designer, and maybe there would be some money that changes hands in exchange.

And that would work.

But there’s a much more powerful way to connect with referral partners that has the potential to bring in a lot more clients.

Do this instead:

Think about the problems that your referral partners have when they work with your common clients.

What are the hot button issues for these potential partners? What are their concerns? And how can you or your offerings help alleviate those pain points?

My interior designer client noticed that contractors really don’t like working with clients who constantly change their mind. When clients can’t make a decision, it usually results in lots of change orders for the contractor. It can really impact the schedule and it’s a huge hassle.

When setting up their referral relationship, then, this interior designer stresses to the contractor that she will help them deal with those client issues. She explains how she’s not just a designer—she’s a project manager, too.

She doesn’t just throw her design and the clients at the contractor saying, “it’s your problem now.” Instead, she stays with the project from start to finish—and even helps coordinate deliveries of hard goods like cabinets and appliances. She takes care of all the things that distract the contractor from doing what he’s there to do.

By emphasizing these aspects of her work as an interior designer, she helps contractors understand how she can solve their problems.

As a result, her JV contractors are much more likely to send clients her way.

Here’s another example:

As a business coach, accountants are a great resource for me. One of the biggest problems they have is when their clients come to visit them in March with an overflowing box of receipts and invoices and expect them to solve their tax issues in two weeks.

I help my CPA partners by guaranteeing that the clients they send to me will come to see them at least two to four times per year, if not more. This way, they get an opportunity to work with clients throughout the year, instead of dealing with a mad scramble to get things done during tax season. The CPA can finally move from being a bookkeeper and on-demand tax preparer, to building a valued relationship with that client.

Ask not what your partners can do for you, but what you can do for your partners.

When you set up a joint venture, don’t just think about how you and your JV partner can solve your mutual clients’ problems. While that can be a useful first step in finding a good referral partner, it is not the only ingredient in cultivating a fruitful relationship.

In addition to solving your customers’ problems, think about how you can solve your JV partner’s problems—especially the problems that arise when they work with your mutual clients. If you don’t know, perhaps that can be a topic of conversation at your next (virtual) coffee meeting.

When you emphasize how you can make their work easier, smoother, or more profitable, they will be even more motivated to send their clients to you.

It’s the very definition of “win-win.”

The Simple Way to Find More Money for Your Business

The Simple Way to Find More Money for Your Business

man working with calculator to calculate numbers.
Saving money by reviewing your expenses

The current pandemic crisis has made things especially difficult for small businesses. Funds are low. For many, business has slowed to a crawl—if not halted entirely.

Many business owners are concerned that their businesses will fail. They worry that people will stop buying, and they’ll lose all of their customers.

But here’s the truth: no one goes out of business because they lack customers. Businesses fail because they run out of cash.

Every business owner should have 6 months of expenses in reserve, but most do not. Why is that?

Consider one of my clients (we’ll call her Amy). Her interior design business was growing, but her expenses were growing, too. Her business was making just barely enough to break-even.

Even in her best quarter she wasn’t able to bring much of that hard-earned money home—and she certainly wasn’t able to keep enough on reserve.

This wasn’t for lack of clients. In fact, Amy had more business coming in than she could handle all by herself. She needed to hire a junior designer to help relieve some of the workload, but didn’t think she could afford one.

The issue? Expenses.

Amy’s expenses were simply too high. And when expenses are high and growing as fast as revenue, it’s difficult to increase the bottom line, no matter how many customers are coming in.

This is why it’s so important to review your expenses. You may be leaving money on the table!

 

The simple way to audit your expenses:

Reviewing your expenses is a simple, straightforward way to figure out how to cut costs and improve your bottom line.

I recommend following the process laid out in Profit First, by Mike Michalowicz.

First, get out all of your bank and credit card statements. You may find it useful to print them out.

Next, categorize your expenses using the following metrics:

1. For anything that creates Profit, mark those expenses with a P.

This might include employee payroll, necessary software, and professional development resources.

For Amy, this included things like Quickbooks, her customer relationship management system, her project management software and her part-time office manager.

2. Label expenses with an R if they are Replaceable.

Are there expenses you might be able to switch to a cheaper option?

Now is a great time to review all of your expenses and see if there are better rates available. Some vendors may cut you a deal rather than to lose you as a customer.

For Amy, this meant looking at her internet and phone bill and asking a Technology Services Agent to review her service to see if she could get a better deal. We also reviewed her business insurance to see if she could reduce her costs there as well.

3. If expenses are Unnecessary, mark them with a U.

These are expenses you can do without entirely. For example, if you have a gym membership, are they still charging you even though they’re closed during the lockdown?

Amy had signed up with a credit card processing service, expecting clients to pay that way—but none had. She was able to cancel that $70/month contract.

She also discovered her 401(k) plan was costing her more money than she was saving in taxes, so that became another unnecessary expense.

 

Now it’s time to cut

Once you have marked all of the items in your statements, it’s easy to see where to cut expenses.

Eliminate anything marked with a U, and look into alternatives for anything marked with an R.

Keep the items marked with a P, since those are what actually create profit. Ideally, these goods or services should essentially pay for themselves.

This process also allows you to spot redundancies.

For example, Amy had switched project management software but had neglected to cancel the old one, so she was paying twice. We were also able to trim back marketing expenses by cutting out the services that were not bringing in new prospects.

Once we reviewed all of Amy’s expenses, she realized she actually could go out and hire that junior designer for at least 20 hours a week. Taking away some of her workload (and her stress!) will allow her to continue to grow her business—and continue to service her clients with the quality of attention they deserve.

 

Don’t leave money on the table

Many entrepreneurs think of increasing profits as solely increasing the revenue that comes in—but the expenses that come out of that income are just as important a part of the profit equation.

Furthermore, freeing up expenses allows business owners to put more money towards things that will actually lead to generating profit—like marketing, professional development, or hiring an assistant or a business coach.

What will reviewing your expenses make possible?