My Secret Sauce (5 Tips To Make More Money)
Do you have a business that sometimes feels more like a hobby (because you're not getting paid enough) yet somehow takes up way too much of your time and is causing you to feel overwhelmed? I meet with business owners every week who are making WAY less than they want or need to be making yet feel like they're barely treading water in terms of getting everything done. Why does this happen? Why do we feel swamped while our bank accounts refuse to reflect all of that hard work??? We've been sold a lie that the harder we work the more it should pay off and we feel resentful.
If you can relate to this at all, then give me a loud and clear, "AMEN!" (You can take the preacher's daughter out of the church but you can't take the church out of the preacher's daughter. Just sayin'.)
I shared something personal on my IG feed yesterday about my finances last month. I have a budget tracker that I diligently check in with every week and when I sat down the other day to finish up May, I realized that I had (gasp) made more in May then I HAVE EVER MADE IN ONE MONTH IN MY ENTIRE CAREER. This, in and of itself, is an achievement I'm proud of, but what makes it extra special to me is that May was my first full month as a full-time business owner and not just a "side hustler". This realization moved me to write a blog post about the few things I've committed to that I believe have helped me reach this goal.
Let me share them with you.
Tip #1: Commit to the math. Be able to list your services and their prices easily and readily and make sure those prices match your financial goals. Many people create pricing by pulling a number out of thin air. Another huge group just look at their competitors and do something similar. Very few take the time to think about how much they want their business to make in a year and then break that down into monthly and weekly goals that result in pricing that makes sense for how much time they want to work each week. Here's an example of one powerful way you can think about pricing:
Example: Think about how much you need to make in a year to cover your bills and give you a sense of financial freedom. That number is different for everyone. Let's say it's $50,000. When you break $50,000 into 12 (months out of the year) then you come up with a very clear monthly goal of $4,166. For some people this feels utterly attainable. For others it may as well be a million! Wherever you are on that scale, you have to really look at those numbers and consider, "How can I make this happen with my product or service?" A secondary thing to consider is how much you want to work in a week. Are you willing to put in 40 hours or would you rather keep it to 20 because you have kids and other responsibilities that are taking priority right now? Believe it or not, this is revolutionary thinking for many small business owners.
To Continue The Example: If you are willing to work 40 hours a week to make that $4,166 a month then your hourly rate will be right around $26 an hour (dividing it between 160 hours).
How do you feel about 1) working 40 hours a week and 2) making $26 an hour? You want to ask yourself these questions because, again, everyone is different and has different time constraints, obligations, and ways of thinking and working. This all directly leads to how you price your services. If you need 10 hours to complete a service or project then you can only do 4 of them in a week. Sit with that thought. FOUR services or projects. That's you working to your capacity in a reasonable way. You will need to sell the equivalent of 4 packages (or items) a week (because you are working 40 hours and it takes you 10 hours to create 1 service or product) and because you are shooting for $4,166 in a month. You will then need to divide that number into 16 chunks (160 work hours a month/10 hour chunks which is how long it takes you to complete one). This means your product must cost $260. If this seems crazy unreasonable when you look at the market then you have some adjustments to make. You need to do it faster so you can make it cheaper, for instance. In some cases it may even mean you need to re-evaluate the nature of your product and if it's worth pursuing. Does it fit with your financial and time goals?
Have I lost you with my math madness or are you still following along?
If you can do this math for yourself then you will feel in control of your pricing, how many hours you have to work each week, and what your monthly goals are. It will give you a clear template to measure your financial success along the way and will lessen your sense of overwhelm around money. Of course you then need to find ways to sell yourself so you get 16 purchases a month, but the very fist step in that process is to know how much your product is "worth" and connect that to your time. The cost of NOT doing this exercise is that you will end up accidentally spending 40 hours on one project that only pays you $200. When you do this you are being HUGELY inefficient and losing money. In addition, you are going to end up feeling super mad at your business because it's like a relationship that's asking you for everything and not giving back. I've spoken with business owners who spend entire MONTHS of their time doing things that result in zero cash. It seems kind of nuts when you step back and look at it, but in the moment it's so easy to let it happen. We make excuses like, "I may meet someone important doing this thing..." or "It's great for networking..." OR "I'm getting my name out there...". In a few cases this is actually true. In most cases it's a huge distraction.
Some business owners work 60+ hour work weeks and they're earning less than they need to be for financial freedom (and so are their employees, sadly). The result is a love/hate relationship with their business and total burnout. I love you so I don't want to see you follow this path. Follow the math above and create yourself a financial plan that helps in preventing this from occurring.
Tip #2: Get a clear product or service and stop with the 25 different offerings. You've got to get great at a few things before you can be great at a lot of things. Too many services or products can creates a sense of confusion in your clients (unless you're a boutique and the whole point is to have a variety of things). Even if your products are clear, is your branding cohesive? Make sure you're not unintentionally running your audience all over the place and exhausting them in the process. Know what you sell and then know what that looks, feels, and sounds like. You should be able to sum it up in one or two sentences easily. A boozy snow cone company should be "I make frozen treats that give you a buzz". Done. I get what you do. A boutique flower company should be, "I create dramatic flower arrangements that stop people in their tracks". I'm intrigued. A powerful yoga teacher should be, "I teach yoga that leaves you empowered to tackle life." I need that in my life! Spend time with your tagline. It's your bff when it comes to selling your product fast. Someday you can build on the solid foundation you've created, but right now you need FOCUS and SIMPLICITY.
Tip #3: Use every resource you have to brand yourself and get your name out there with structured intention & hack it every step of the way. Never minimize a connection with someone. They may become your best client. Tell friends. Tell FB. Tell IG. Tell Mailchimp. Tell your blog. Tell EVERYONE what you're up to. Get a great website so you have an online home. Share it with the new people you come in contact with... and keep doing that over and over and over. Make yourself a plan to hit up every outlet you have at least once a week with intention. What I mean by "intention" is that you should share your brand with a plan in mind of 1) who you are trying to connect with and 2) what you are trying to get that person to do.
Get really good at describing people's problems that you have the answer to! That's good marketing in a nutshell. People believe you can solve their problem if you're REALLY good at describing it to them.
Here's an example:
"Are you feeling overwhelmed when you wake up in the morning with a 'to do' list that makes you sweat? Are you constantly stressed about money and not sure what works towards your goals and what doesn't? Do you feel like you have a few areas in your business that you are just not skilled enough to tackle but you know you have the goods to make the rest of it work?" When you ask these questions to a business owner it's pretty rare that they can't relate. We're all familiar with those feelings. When I ask those questions, what I'm doing is describing your problems to you. As a result, people DM or e-mail me ALL THE TIME asking me, "Will you help???" This is true for any product. Not just mine. I'll say it again: When you get really good at describing people's problems to them, they will think you are the one to solve them. Try it out with your own! Make a list of the problems your business solves. How can you describe those problems to your dream clients?
Selling dog bones? Your product solves the problem of 1) not having quality/healthy treats to offer your dogs 2) not having a healthy alternative when training by using treats/positive re-enforcement 3) they're delivered to your door every month so you don't have to think about re-stocking. I would ask my dream client, "Running out of snacks for your favorite furry friends all the time? It's tough to predict how many treats you'll go through in a month, right? Well, we've solved that problem for you. Head on over to our website and fill out a cosmo-style quiz that asks you questions like, "What do you use treats for at your house? Training? Getting dogs to go in their crates? An after-dinner snack? How many pets do you have? How many treats do you shell out each day? Do your dogs prefer bacon or chicken? Based on your results we recommend a package and send it your way at the start of each month! Our treats are small, healthy, and are fresh for up to 90 days if left in a sealed container."
SOLD! I have two dogs so I'm your dream client AND I do have the problem of ALWAYS running out of treats. Now I can sign up and not think about it again. You described my problem to me and then you solved it for me. You have a client for life as long as your product is good and you have integrity in delivering on your promises to me. (Go ahead and steal this dog biscuit business idea if you like. I think it's a good one! It likely already exists, actually.)
Any content you create that doesn't have a purpose (to make you more money) is just more noise and noise doesn't result in reaching your dream clients and living your best life. I promise. Noise is just annoying. In addition, utilize every tool you have to "hack" this so you aren't constantly overwhelmed. Use gmail's canned e-mail responses for the things you find yourself repeating over and over. Use apps that post to social media for you so you can do the work ONCE at the start of each month and then let it go. Create a simple, color-coded spreadsheet for each client where you house their important information and any calls or conversations you have that you don't want to forget. Find ways to more easily and simply do all of the things you do on a daily basis so you are free to be creative and meet with people more. Automate, automate, automate.
Tip #4: Get comfortable with planning. Choose your poison: a google calendar, a physical planner, or a notepad... I don't care. Pick one and check in with it every business day. All of your work will be wasted if people can't rely on you to be where you say you're going to be and do what you say you're going to do. Your brand must have integrity to flourish and proper planning supports that process. I use a weekly planner that's actually just a notepad that sits on my desk. I rip of last week, throw it in the trash, and start with the next one every Monday morning and it works for me. Yes, I have to take notes from my phone and then move them to my notepad but so far it's fine. I like glancing at my week as it sits next to my laptop to see what's next. If you schedule 5 things for one day and that makes you feel stressed then (you won't believe what I'm about to say) DON'T DO THAT! Figure out what works for you. I don't like to do more than 3 photo sessions in a day for instance. That's just what I've learned works best for me so that I'm still having fun and not dreading the experience. Some people could do 8 and be fine. Don't get caught up in what others are doing. Be realistic about what makes you feel balanced and happy and stick to that when you're creating your schedule. I also don't like to do more than 2 coffee dates in a day. More than that feel like too much one-on-one connection time and I'm an introvert by nature so I cap myself at two and then I'm looking forward to them both and know that I'll also have time for other things on that day. If you create a schedule for yourself that makes you want to cry, you really have no one to blame but yourself and your poor planning. "BUT I HAVE TO DO ALL OF THE THINGS IN ORDER TO SUCCEED!!!" To that, I would ask you (lovingly), "Do you though?" More often then not, people spend way too much time on things that are not income producing. They do it for a variety of reasons but much of it is tied up in things like: having a lot on your plate makes you feel boss, feeling overwhelmed makes you feel successful, you like many of the things you're doing even though they don't make you money, and some of the things you're doing make you look good (even though they don't result in money). People love to feel boss, feel successful, love what they do, AND look good. These are all really appealing reasons to do things EVEN WHEN THEY ARE CREATING STRESS AND NOT MAKING YOU MONEY. So stop. I can't MAKE you stop, but I can take you by the hand and speak in kind tones and pull you slowly away from the shiny things that are distracting you from ACTUALLY being boss and having the time and money to prove it.
Tip 5: Be the master of flexibility. If people aren't responding then you need to reconsider your prices, your packages, and your marketing plans ASAP and tweak as needed. Your website is NEVER done. It needs to constantly evolve. Your bio? Evolving. Your photos? Evolving. So do your packages. So does your marketing. And here's the thing: it needs to happen often and fast. You can't afford to wait things out. Evaluate, re-evaluate, make changes. Get really good at noticing what works and doing more of that thing. Get really good at noticing what's a flop and getting rid of that thing. I see over and over again that people get emotionally attached to things (prices, products, people) that are no longer serving them - or maybe never did - but they refuse to let go. This will hold you back and drain your energy every single time.
And that's it, folks! I honestly believe these 5 tips have the power to upgrade ANYONE who puts them into practice. Being successful is not magic. It's doing the right things with the right people at the right time... and you, my love, are perfectly capable of figuring that out.
If you have questions and would like to discuss more of this in person, then reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get together for a free coffee or tea chat! Nothing lights me up more than learning about your business and helping you succeed.