Creating Steady Cash Flow | Business Cash Flow

Creating Steady Cash Flow: Top 12 Questions Business Owners Ask – Part 1

Creating Steady Cash Flow | Business Cash FlowIn order to run a successful business, you need to create a steady stream of cash flow. For many small business owners, this is easier said than done—leading them to worry, feel constantly stressed and have “bankruptcy” looming over their heads. In this series of articles, I answer the top questions most small business owners ask about successfully creating and managing cash flow. Read on to find out more.

#1 How do I make more money?

The short answer is… by selling more items or raising your prices/rates!

The longer answer is looking at what are you selling and what you can offer. How can you add additional value that’s not necessarily something you have to personally deliver or produce?

To start earning additional income, consider creating online products or offering products from an affiliate partner. In addition, don’t be afraid to raise your prices or service rates. When I advise my clients to increase their prices or rates, their initial reaction is a combination of hesitation and panic because they believe they are going to lose business. A good middle ground is to raise the prices or rates of only a few items or services to test the waters and see what happens. Your most loyal customers will most likely stay. Those who don’t will open up space for new customers willing to pay.

When deciding how much to raise your prices or rates, take a look at your product (or service) funnel and ask yourself the different ways that prospects experience you at different price points and how many sales you need to make at each level in order to create the income you want.

#2 How do I get more clients?

When people ask “How do I get more clients?” they typically mean “How do I get more of the people I want to work with?” The short answer is…talk to more people! Network! Make phone calls! And always, always ask for referrals!

The longer answer is that you need to be really clear on what you mean by more clients. If you haven’t already, this is a good time to define what your ideal clients look like. Who are they? What are their needs? What are their goals and aspirations? Write down what results they get as a result of working with you and how you help them get those results.

Once you have that information, start networking where your ideal clients can be found. Build relationships with them. Tell everyone you know what you do and who a good referral is for you. Finally, one of the best ways to get more clients is by asking for the sale. Ask and you shall receive!

Please share your stories and experiences and stay tuned for more on creating steady cash-flow!
business mistakes

3 Critical Mistakes Business Owners Make

When I first started coaching, I had BIG dreams about the money I’d make and the lives I’d change.

Unfortunately, after two full years of being in business I was making mistakes:
  • Working all the time — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Not making the kind of money I wanted.
  • Not spending nearly enough time with my family.
  • Not helping others improve their lives.
  • Not living the incredible life I’d imagined when I first decided to strike out on my own.

business mistakesAt the time, I had no idea what I was doing wrong. I was working constantly — shouldn’t all of that hard work be reflected in my bank account?

Looking back now, I can see so clearly what I was doing wrong…

Mistake #1: I was a perfectionist.

I wanted things done perfectly or not at all. I knew in my mind what I wanted my opt-in videos, website, and newsletters to be like, and I refused to put anything out into the world until it was perfect. The result? I never put anything out into the world — period.

Mistake #2: I suffered from Entrepreneurial ADD.

I’d be working on my website when I’d get an email about participating in a summit. I’d start working on the summit application when I’d get a call about writing a guest blog. I’d start writing the guest blog when I’d get distracted with updating my Facebook page. By the end of each day I’d have begun dozens of projects and finished zero.

Mistake #3: I always thought I needed to know more than I did.

I never felt like I was “ready” to take action. I felt like I always needed to know more, learn more, and prepare more before I could actually move forward. As a result, I stayed in “research mode” and never moved into “working CEO mode.”

The Solution: Improve Productivity.

Easier said than done, right?

After struggling for more than two years I finally said “enough is enough.” Something isn’t working, and I’m going to go broke if I don’t figure out what it is.

Going on an intuition, I had a feeling that the root of my business troubles was my lack of productivity. I figured that if I could identify and then actually complete the important tasks, goals, and projects on my to-do list, my business would move forward and I would finally be profitable.

So I focused ALL of my attention on becoming more productive. And that’s when I developed my “Get It Done!” Process — a methodology that I use over and over again to reach my goals, finish my projects, and cross tasks off my list.

I worked on identifying the following;
  • My strengths and weaknesses as a CEO, in what I refer to as my “CEO Success Style” (click here for the free report).
  • Prioritizing the projects and goals that are most important and necessary to focus on.
  • Project planning techniques that would allow me to complete the important tasks.
And let me just tell you, the results were POWERFUL. Now, this is what my life and business look like:
  • I attract my ideal clients.
  • I’m making more money while working less.
  • My weekends are MINE.
  • I spend plenty of time with my family.
  • I’m living the fulfilled, exciting life I imagined when I first started my coaching business.

business helpIt all started with figuring out who I was as a CEO- what I did well and what I was doing that, well, wasn’t so great.  Grab your free copy of one of my number 1 business success tools: Learn The One Mindset Trick Guaranteed To Take You From Busy and Broke to Consistently Creating Cash flow.

Share your productivity tips and let me know if you have any questions!

Would You Kiss A Frog to Make You More Money?

iStock_000012129617SmallfrogI was watching The Princess and The Frog with my daughter the other night. The heroine has to decide whether she will kiss the frog (yuck!) in exchange for the money necessary to achieve her dream- opening a restaurant.

So I wondered to myself what would I be willing to do to get my dream? Would I kiss a frog (or any other creature beside my dog)?

All this talk of frogs reminded me of this question I heard many years ago:

3 frogs were sitting on a log.

1 frog decided to jump.

How many were left?

Most the time the answer I get back is 2 (or some people think it is trick question so they say 1) but the answer is 3.

Why? Making a decision is not the same as doing.

You may decide to put together your new website, you may decide to create a workshop. You may decide you are going to put in place a keep in touch strategy for clients or you may decide to make more money this year. But the question is – will you do it?

What gets in the way? Fear.

You know, that little voice in us that says, “No don’t do it” and all the “what ifs” start running through our mind.

What if they say NO?

What if they are already working with someone?

What if they think I am too expensive?

We get so caught up in the “what if’s” that we talk ourselves out of the game by doing nothing. If the “what if’s” don’t get us, our excuses do. We insist, “I do not know how” or “I don’t have time” and put it off until later. We forget what it is we wanted. We forget why it was important. Instead we play small and accept that what we want is not all that important. Sure we make excuses or rationalize; these are really just fear in disguise. You can have reasons or you can have results and to get the results you desire will require you to cure fear.

The way you cure fear (and get things done) is by taking action.

When you find your self lost in the ‘what if’s” or making excuses for why you are not doing something, take these steps to conquer it:

1)    Identify the cause: ask yourself “what is it I am afraid of?”

2)    Acknowledge that it is uncomfortable

3)    Choose to not let fear stand in your way of your success

4)    Take action: ask yourself “what is ONE small step I can take right now?” and do it!

Action cures fear. When you are in action, you don’t have time to think about the “what if’s”, make excuses, or second-guess yourself. The more you do it, the less scary it becomes.

So kissing a frog may not be required but something else just as uncomfortable will be:)

What is the scariest thing you’ve done for your business?

 

 

Is Your Success in 2014 a “Nice to Do” or a “Must Do”?

Wow, it is the 4th week of January – it feels like the year is already zooming by? How are those resolutions or intentions you set at the beginning of the year?

I’ve been having conversations with a variety of business owners and what I am hearing is that there are a lot of big plans for 2014. And with these big plans come a lot of goals. Some of the goals lists look more like a to do list than what is super important.  Now, don’t get me wrong, goals have their place, but when we start out with a huge list of goals a couple of things can happen: we are not sure what to focus on first or which will have the biggest impact, we may go into overwhelm or not take action, which results in not making progress and then we go into our stories about our goals and ourselves – how we should have worked harder or that we failed

As awesome, smart and powerful as we all are – we cannot set up a new website, create a new program, start a newsletter, create a higher converting sales system, network, adopt a new business strategy and build a community of 5000 ALL AT ONCE.

An Alternative: Using Critical Musts

3 Step Process to Create Critical Musts

Important | Critical | SuccessThis 3-step process can be used to set the direction for your business and can also be used for monthly or quarterly check-ins to see how you are doing against your priorities.

Step 1: Create & Connect

As Stephen Covey has said “begin with the end in mind”. Take a few moments to connect to what really matters to you: why are you in business? What is it you want to create for yourself, your family, and your business this year? What will success look like for you in 2014?

Step 2: Reflect & Assess

In order to move forward in 2014 need to take reflection on 2013. Ask and answer the following 3 questions:

1) What were your successes?  This is not just the numbers driven results like revenue, conversion rates, number of sales, or size of list, but also the softer things like stretching yourself and doing a telelclass or in person workshop, learning a new skill, or delegating and being okay with it.

2) What did you learn?  Maybe you realized you are more comfortable having face-to-face meetings versus on the phone, or that asking your family and friends for referrals isn’t as scary as you thought. Perhaps you learned that need to network or speak more to have the number of clients you really want to work with.

3) How do your success and learnings inform 2014? Taking into account your successes and what you learned throughout the year what do you need to stop, start and continue achieve the results you desire this year. We tend to focus on what we need to do or keep doing, but many times there are things we need to stop doing also so be sure to make this list as well.

Step 3: Create Your Critical Musts

Critical Musts are the 3-5 overarching strategies for your business. They are the things that are the most critical to you achieving your vision, your bigger purpose and will serve as the compass fro all your activity and decisions throughout the year. In the business and corporate worlds, these overarching strategies have been called strategic imperatives or business imperatives.

Examples of Critical Musts include Superior customer service, Create a high-end group coaching program, Increase sales conversion, Shift to fee based planning. They do not describe how it will be done, but are the big overarching “what” will be done to have your business achieve its goals.

To create your Critical Musts:

Answer the question: If nothing else in 2014, I will ___________________. For each one, also answer: This is important to me because ______________. I know it may seem obvious, but answering this question really connects you to why this is important to you so you can choose to do it versus feeling like it is something you have to do.

Write down your 3-5 Critical Musts and keep them visible. Whenever something comes across your desk or a new opportunity presents itself, ask yourself “which of my Critical Musts is this aligned with” so that you can stay on plan, on purpose and be profitable.

What is 1 of your Critical Musts for 2014? Please share it here.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3 Simple Business Growth Strategies You Can Start Today To Finish 2013 With a Cha-Ching

2013 year calendar. December. Isolated 3D imageWith all the articles on wrapping up the year, setting goals for next year, and the holidays around the corner, it can feel like 2013 has already ended.

Like many of you, I still have several things I want to accomplish before the year ends.

One of the questions I regularly get from busy entrepreneurs like you is “what can I do to hit my goals before the end of the year?”.

Whether it be hitting your sales goals, completing that project or injecting some cash into your bank account – it is possible.  This is the time of year when I see folks start to slow down, assume everyone else is busy or decide to wait until next year.

Here is what I know to be true: what you accomplish in the next 6 weeks is going to be reflected in your bank balance next year AND getting them off your plate now will allow you to focus on 12 months of business growth, and more importantly, revenue in 2014, not 10 or 11 (which is what will happen if these uncompleted goals linger any longer).

I do have some tried and true business growth strategies that will help you finish 2013 with a bang and ensure you are poised to make 2014 the best year yet.

Here are three to get you started:

#1: Leverage the holidays to drive sales!

December and January are big sales months for business (if you let them be). Everyone is making and breaking resolutions (lose weight anyone?), making life-changing decisions (new house, new career, make more money) and they need your help to make it happen.

I hear you saying but Kim, everyone is so busy and people don’t want to spend money. Here’s the thing, helping your prospects make the decision and commitment NOW will enable them to go into the holidays with that weight off their shoulders knowing that when the New Year starts and the kids are back in school- you, your system, your product are there to support them in accomplishing their goals.

Think about how the holiday season plays into your business plan. What does your target market want more than anything else around this time of year? Speak to their desires and their pain, and help them achieve their goals.

#2: Cross a major project off your to-do list.

Carrying around unfinished projects weighs you down physically, mentally, and emotionally. Don’t let your to do list get in the way of serving the people you are meant to serve and being more profitable.

Pick one item from your to-do list and use the next 6 weeks to get it done. Here are some project ideas to consider:

– Create marketing calendar

– Launch (or relaunch) your website

– Set up your entity

– Create your product funnel

– Hire a virtual assistant

– Plan for 2014

– Create a new course or product

– Start your blog or newsletter

It can be anything. Just choose one project to complete within the 6 weeks and commit to getting it done. Crossing even one thing off your to-do list will reflect in your bank account next year (and make you feel awesome that is done and not nagging you anymore)!

#3: Express your gratitude to your clients.

The holidays are a great time to communicate your gratitude to your clients, colleagues and team members. Send a handwritten note to thank them for working with you and being in your life (sending chocolates or other goodies is a nice touch!).

Stand out from other business owners by eschewing a card featuring your company’s logo or your business card (they usually end up in the trash and make it about YOU when it really is about THEM) in favor of a more personalized card or note.

So, there you have it: 3 powerful action items that – if implemented correctly – will help you make December and January your most profitable months yet.

What strategies have you used to keep up the momentum during the holiday season? Please share them here.

2013 – Awesome or OMG! Do This Quick Peformance Appraisal to Find Out Where Your Business Stands

Exceptional Rating

When I was in corporate I used to strongly dislike performance appraisals, which is a little amusing considering I used to design them 🙂

Even though they were not supposed to be annual event, they were always done at the end of the year. You found everything you were doing wrong, also commonly referred to as your “development needs” so you could change it for the next year. If you had a great boss, this was not new news or a surprise. If not, well, you strongly disliked the whole process.

It was like 50 weeks of effort, sweat and maybe even tears were boiled down to a number or word. Even though it was a rating, it always felt like a grade, and I always wanted the “A”. It almost didn’t matter the monetary reward, as long as I got the ‘A”.

The one good thing about performance appraisals is you knew what you had accomplished and what you didn’t and what you needed to focus on the next year, basically you knew where you stood. You may have wished you were standing somewhere else, but you knew where you stood.

As we move into the ending months of 2013, I suggest taking some time out to evaluate your business so that you can measure your progress, identify the gaps, and make adjustments as necessary to stay on purpose and on plan for the remainder of 2014.

There is no fancy form to complete, just some questions to guide your self-reflection. TIP: create 5 columns (I love matrixes!) and work through these questions for each of your primary goals. Include non-revenue goals as well as revenue ones.

  • What were your primary goals for 2013?
  • What did you accomplish?
  • What’s helped you stay on course? What did you/your business do well?
  • What didn’t work or got in the way?
  • How can you leverage your strengths, what worked well and learning’s from what didn’t work (or got in the way) to frame the remainder of the year?

To make sure you stay on track (or get back on), now is a good time to also evaluate your skills and resources.

  • What do I already have to complete my goal?
  • What do I still need to complete my goal?
  • How will I get what I need to complete my goal?

If you don’t feel you have the time or inclination to do this now, bookmark this page and come back to it in a couple of weeks. At the risk of sounding like the stern human resources director, this really is a “must do” before the year ends. The earlier you do it, the greater your chances of achieving or exceeding your goals.

Remember, “you cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight” (Jim Rohn), but only if you know that the direction needs changing.

Let me know how your business check-in is going and what I can do to support you in achieving your goal.

 

3 Mistakes Business Owners Make When Asking for Referrals, and How to Avoid Them

network of people3 Mistakes Business Owners Make When Asking for Referrals, and How to Avoid Them

As discussed in a previous article, Referral Marketing can result in serving more people, more satisfied customers, and more revenue. It can also free up your time by eliminating cold calling and chasing pseudo leads. This business building strategy can also save money on advertising and marketing.

All of that is possible, but only if it is done right. Unfortunately I’ve seen business owners make some serious missteps when trying to leverage referrals to build their business:

1) Asking for a referral to soon after a close.

Asking for a referral before your new client has had an opportunity to really experience your product or service is like asking someone to marry you on the first date. You don’t really know each other well, it feels awkward, and the person being proposed to is trying to figure out how to get out of there 🙂

People want to be comfortable recommending someone to their family, friends and colleagues. It takes time to build that comfort level and you work will speak for itself. Be patient, let the client get results and then make the request. Chances are they will connect you to their community because of the great service and benefits they get from working with you.

2) Asking everyone you’ve worked with for a referral.

It’s not about mass marketing. With referral marketing, you want to pick the top 20% of your fan base. Their enthusiasm is genuine and they often are happy to help! Chances are if they are your top raving fans, they know other potential clients who would be a good fit for you and whom you could effectively serve.

3) Not having a system or process in place to follow-up with referrals and referees.

You’ve been given a referral from someone. Now what? How do you contact the referral? What do you do with them? Are they a name on a slip of paper that gets filed away? Is the referee left wondering whatever happened? Create a system for contacting the referral within 24 hours of receiving their information, and for following up with the referee (even if it just an email to let them know you called and left a voicemail). Provide quality follow-up and service to those who do refer you – they are doing you a favor and helping to grow your business!

Avoiding these 3-referral marketing mistakes will support you in building a more profitable business (and even more raving fans). What is one step you can take to strengthen your referral marketing strategy?

Did you miss my 5 Strategies for Using Referral Marketing Techniques to Boost Your Bottom Line? Check it out here.

5 Strategies for Using Referral Marketing Techniques to Boost Your Bottom Line

solutions-next-exitAs a small business owner you might have come across the idea of referral marketing. If you’re wondering what it is, and if it’s for you, the resounding answer is “YES!”

Referral marketing is essential to your business’ growth and its bottom line. How?

The core of referral marketing begins with your current fan base. Essentially, those individuals who’ve previously purchased your goods or services and who are willing to recommend what you have to offer to people outside your immediate network. It is considered one of the most effective ways for companies to build a business.

The key is building trust. Most importantly, clients need to feel confident and satisfied with your offerings and you must be delivering a reliable product or service.

So why do it?

Instead of worrying about the cold call, small business owners can stop the legwork and have warm leads come to them. It requires patience, but is often well worth the invested time.

My 5 Strategies in Referral Marketing and Boosting Your Bottom Line:

1) Build strategic alliances with like-minded business owners, especially those who market complementary services or products to your ideal client population. Team up with and create allies in the industry in order to gain access to that individual’s network and to showcase both their talent and yours.

2) Provide incentives: reward program, free reports, referral program, etc. Incentive programs are often a welcome bonus for true fans and people promoting your work.

3) Bring in other experts relevant to your client base, to be guest bloggers or an expert interview; both parties can expand their audience bases. This can provide more practical how-to tips for clients, causing them to refer out your work and share on social media. Plus, you’ll expand your reach and be viewed as a “go to” resource.

4) Create a marketing strategy and program to let people know exactly how they can refer you. For example, use social media to promote both your work and your program, give clear instructions on how people can share with their friends and family. It’s as simple as adding share buttons to blog posts.

5) Focus on the relationship, not the sell. Referral marketing is a wonderful business opportunity, but remember the core usage of this technique relies on the person. It’s essential to keep in mind the person behind the numbers.

How have you used referral marketing to expand you reach or increase your revenue? Please share in the comments below!

Is Stinking Thinking Showing Up In Your Bank Balance?

 “Who do you think you are?”

“Who is going to work with you?”

“Why do you even bother calling, they are going to say NO”

“You just don’t have what it takes”

Would you say that to a close friend or colleague? Probably not, in fact, you probably wouldn’t even say those things to a stranger. Yet, it is not uncommon for business owners to have that conversation with themselves. You know, that little voice that reaches in from the sidelines. It’s that inner voice of doubt, pessimism and fear that plagues our wildest dreams. It’s the soft cynicism that appears in the moments of true inspiration.

Call it your Inner Critic, Gremlin, Demon, Saboteur, or Bully. The fact is, it is there, telling you that you are not good enough. This “stinking thinking” keeps you playing small. The more you listen to it, the smaller you play. The smaller you play, the less people you meet, the less calls you make, the less people you serve, the less revenue you create.

Whatever you choose to call it, that little voice in our head impacts our thoughts, which influence the actions we take, or don’t take and ultimately our bank balance.  I want to share a simple process to address it, to quite it down, so you can move forward.

STOP and observe when and where the saboteurs are showing up, maybe it’s when you are following up with potential clients, or when you talk with a “competitor”. Tune into the conversation you are having with yourself.

CHALLENGE the beliefs and thoughts that are keeping you for acting.

  • What am I telling myself about this event, person or situation?
  • What evidence do I have that this is true?
  • What are other possible interpretations?

CHOOSE a new belief that is more empowering, more connected to your goals and take action.

Below you will find a letter to my inner critic. I’d love to hear how you have (or have not) defeated your inner critic. Leave a comment and share with me your tips!

Well, old friend. Thank you for being there when I needed you. Thank you for protecting me from the hurt and disappointments that certainly would have occurred if I had taken risks and not listened to you. It felt so safe and cozy staying in my little cocoon. No challenges, risk taking or failing. Of course, since there were none of those, there was also very little success.

The thought of success is sweet and tempting, like stealing away in the night to meet a long lost lover. But since your love for me is so deep, I stayed locked up in the comfy confines of my home only reading about the excitement and fun that I so desperately craved.

When will it be my turn?” I wondered. Alas, it is time to break free.

I am bored in this tiny, cocoon of a home. I want the excitement, fun and fulfillment that others seem to experience.

“Oh, but you’ll never make it,” you say. “You are not smart enough, creative enough or talented enough to make it out there on your own. You will be disappointed and hurt.”

You have filled my head and heart with fear and worry. Too afraid to be open and vulnerable; I need and want to experience that which you have so sheltered me from. It is my time.

There is a saying that if you love something, set it free. So today, I set you free. By doing so I free myself. Please, don’t be sad and let’s not pout. You will always be there and I appreciate your constant attention, but I really must do this on my own. Feel free to check in and in time, perhaps you can change the song you whisper in my ear. How I long to hear a different song that moves me closer to success. Could you do that for me? Would you?

For now, I must say goodbye. A new day is waiting for me and I cannot let it down.

All my love,
Kim (aka Kim Possible)

Part 2: Is Your Networking Not Working? Do This ONE Thing and Put More Profits in Your Pocket

If I could only give ONE tip on what will increase a business owners bottom line and put more profits in their pocket, it is this: give your contacts a chance to say YES.Crossword - business and success

According to the National Sales Executive Association it takes five to twelve contacts before someone buys from you and 80% of sales are made after the 5th contact. The same goes for referrals. Additionally, 48% of leads that are pursued are dropped after one contact. And here is the depressing one, 67% of the people you meet will ultimately buy the product or service you are selling, from someone else.

Too often I see business owners give up before their potential clients have a chance to say YES, resulting in leaving potential profit on the table.  Remember 67% of the folks are going to buy. It is a matter of whether it is from you (because you kept on top of mind) or a competitor because they happened to show up when the buyer was ready.

Business is a lot of dating. Women (and men) want to be courted, they want to get to know you before a commitment can be made. Yet, in business we are so quick to leap to marriage on the first date and then we wonder why we are still “single”. We make excuses “no one is buying in this economy”, “my market is saturated”, “if only I had a better website” and so on.

Give people a chance to say yes (or even a “maybe” or “no”) by letting them get to know you and by adding value to their lives in some way. Reach out regularly and in a variety of ways. This can take many forms:
• Phone call and email
• Newsletters blogs or other written media (just make sure you have their permission first, and getting their business card is not getting permission)
• Invitation to a webinar, teleseminar, or workshop
• Introductions to your contacts that are good referrals or partners
• Sharing articles, links that are relevant or interesting
• Nice to Meet You, Thank You or Congratulations greeting card
• Connect on Linked In (with a personal note)

Got a stack of business cards that you never followed up on? Don’t worry, we all have had this at some point in time and probably still do. It is not too late to pick up the phone, or send an email, a LinkedIn invite if applicable, and reintroduce yourself and your business. You can send a relevant article, or even a “your business card crossed my desk today and made me think of you” note! Who wouldn’t want to get one of those?!

Remember you have a gift and what you provide could benefit that person or someone they know.

Relationships start with a simple “hello”. 50% of the world is waiting for the other 50% to say “hello”. This week, be in the 50% that reaches out first!

Have a great strategy for follow up? Please share it here!

Miss part 1: 3  Tips You Can Implement NOW to Accelerate Your Business Growth? You can get it here.