It might sound counter-intuitive to talk about increasing your income when it seems like the rest of the world is complaining about how bad the economy is. But savvy business owners know that there's no such thing as a "bad market." In fact, some of the biggest fortunes have been made thanks to smart business strategies first implemented during recessions.
The even better news is that increasing your income doesn't have to be complicated. Here are five ideas you can use right now.
1. Raise your rates and/or prices. Many entrepreneurs - especially women - grossly underestimate what the market will bear when it comes to "price elasticity." During a recession, raising your rates might seem down right crazy... at least on the surface. But if you are not charging what you are worth, you are discounting the value you provide and, in turn, telling your clients to discount your worth as well.
One business owner that I work with told me recently that she had never increased her rates on existing clients. Having started her business almost a decade ago, that meant some of her clients were paying less than HALF of her current rate. She was reluctant to charge them more because she was afraid of losing them as clients. At the same time, she was turning down projects from higher-paying clients because she was overworked! After our conversation, she finally agreed to bring all of her clients up to her current rate structure. Some of the original clients did leave-which was a good thing because now she's earning more money in fewer hours!
2. Build multiple revenue streams. If you're not already on this bandwagon and still only earning "per hour" fees then you're missing out on a huge opportunity to multiply your income. No matter what industry you are in, you can productize your expertise once and sell it over and over again. Here are just a few of the ways you can package what you know:
* Information products (i.e. e-books, special reports, tool kits, etc.)
* Audio seminars and webinars
* Continuity programs (i.e. monthly coaching, membership or mastermind groups)
* Affiliate marketing
* In-person coaching seminars to small or large groups
* Membership-only content websites
* Joint ventures
* Paid speaking
The important thing here is to get your first product together quickly or it can become overwhelming. In a future blog post, I'll talk about how you can create an information product in just one weekend.
3. Create more billable hours. "How," you say? First, start by outsourcing all non-revenue generating responsibilities, such as bookkeeping and administrative tasks. Virtual assistants are an affordable and practical option as you grow your business. Next, look into investing in the growth of your business by hiring a productivity consultant who can help maximize your time. Even if you consider yourself a highly organized person, you would be surprised just how much more efficient you can be if you learn from a trained productivity expert. The extra billable time you gain will more than pay for the service.
Here's a great resource to get you started:
"7 Power Steps to Peak Productivity" http://www.productiveday.com/powersteps/
4. Sell more to existing clients. If you've ever been through the drive through lane and the voice in the speaker has asked, "Do you want fries with that?" then you know what up-selling is. McDonald's estimates that it makes an additional $19 million PER DAY by simply up-selling the words french fries!!! The good news for you (although maybe not for your hips) is that up-selling works-and it can be applied in any type of business. If you're a coach or consultant that typically works one-on-one, try offering your current clients a group rate package or a premium service. If you're a paid speaker, work with the meeting organizer to book multiple presentations. If you use an automated shopping cart system to sell information products, leverage its up-sell feature to offer additional products or services that complement what your customer is already buying, or consider offering a special "bundle" price if they purchase more than one product or service at a time.
5. Expand upstream or downstream. Chances are, no matter what product or service you're offering, it's only one piece of a larger puzzle. By looking at what your client needs before they get to you or what the next logical step in the process is after they work with you, you can identify opportunities to better serve your clients while also increasing your revenue.
Here's an example: Our original business was supporting clients' marketing and communication needs, such as writing copy for websites and brochures, supporting media relations efforts, and managing social media content. However, before we can develop effective marketing materials, our client must first have a solid business plan, a clearly identified target market, a robust e-list, and so on. Therefore, it was a natural extension to also help our clients with these other needs as well... and that's how Richer. Smarter. Happier. was born!
The bottom line is this: Be sure to take time at least once a month to review your sources of income and give thought to how you can maximize the parts of your business that you already have in place. Chances are, you'll surprise yourself with the number of opportunities you find if you just take the time to look.