I am writing today’s post for the same reason I have written many of my posts, a bunch of things happened just recently and I sensed a common theme. Within the last week three of my peeps have come to me and said they really HAD to make some money.
As entrepreneurs pursuing our dreams sometimes we really can just coast. We have enough money coming in the door and are doing fine. But then something happens, like losing your highest paying customer, or you really can’t stand your “real” job anymore or your home situation changes and you have to take on additional financial responsibilities.
This post is for those people, the ones who really do HAVE to make money and want to keep living the dream of being an entrepreneur!
I thought it would be neat to talk about the different situations that our three “guinea pigs” for this post find themselves in. While your situation may not be exactly yours, I know that if you are reading this post you will find shades of you in one of their situations.
Stupendous Stan. Stan has been building a business for years and has really gotten some good traction in some ways, but in others (like making boatloads of money) he has not. He has a really great website that people love but which is making him no money, a strong email list that doesn’t buy and is a popular writer for an industry online magazine. Looking at all that you would think that he should be making money but he is not (at least at levels that he would like to become accustomed to!)
Miraculous Mindy. Mindy is a entrepreneur to her toes and is super excited to be moving to a new state. She is in transition with work (doesn’t have a job right now) because of her move and is determined to get her business up and making money so she doesn’t have to go back to the 9-to-5 grind. She has a super popular podcast with enviable numbers, but is not making money from it right now because she tried having sponsors and it was a mini-disaster. She made money but it was not worth the stress it caused her.
Fantastic Flo. Flo has had successful brick and mortar businesses in the past, but can’t seem to get it together when it comes to a services business. She feels like she can never figure out how to present a product and when she has done so it has gone badly. Even though she told the customer what they would get, they were not satisfied or still seemed unhappy with her work. She is the only one working at a “job job currently” but she wants to change her situation sooner rather than later.
This is not a sugar-coaty kind of post. Instead it is a way for you take a hard look at what your actual situation is and what you can or can not do to fix it.
So first off, know that you are not alone! I needed to make quite a bit of money at the end of last year due to a part of my business that had not made any money but had cost a bunch. Some of the things that I am telling you today are things from my own actions at that time of crisis and some are things I have counseled my coaching clients over the years that I have seen work to make RIGHT NOW money.
Shit Or Get Off The Pot
It is time. If you are reading this post and things look pretty dire or exciting but scary, you need to stop for a few minutes and judge your level of willingness to try and make the situation better.
IS this still your dream or would really rather pursue some other course of action. Maybe getting a job-job will take you away from all this and give you more time to knit or pursue other hobbies that you just haven’t been able to do while you were working like a dog. Just know that whenever entrepreneurs are in a pickle we start thinking, “screw it, I will just go work for someone else”. Mostly that is a really bad idea. Most of us are unemployable.
>> To Do. Stop, go to Starbucks and have a meeting with yourself. Really dig in and find out if you are willing to do whatever it takes or if you are just too tired and willing to close this chapter of your life.
What Got You Here Will Keep You Here
If you have decided that “YES! I still want to do this” just know that things are going to have to change. Your previously held beliefs about what is okay to do and not okay to do will have to take a backseat (at least for now).
Stan works in an industry that is typically paid after a sale is completed. The sales cycle for his item is about 4 months on a good day. Ack. That will not work for this situation. YES, he can keep the lights on for his regular customers, but he is going to have to pivot and find some income with a shorter life cycle to stay afloat AND get ahead.
If you keep doing what you are doing now, you will keep getting the same results that got you in this pickle to begin with. Starting today you will have to be willing to question EVERYTHING and ignore the status quo or what you have always done.
>> To Do. Ask yourself if you are willing to do whatever it takes to make this happen. If not, please stop reading and go find another solution.
Establish Your Defcon State
All three of these peeps are at different levels of Defcon (the alert state used by the United States Armed Forces to determine how dire our homeland is). A state of Defcon 1 means everything is cruising along and we are at peace. A state of Defcon 3, the armed forces are ready to move in 15 minutes and at Defcon 5 we are ready to face nuclear war.
While we are not at war, we are fighting to live the life of our dreams so we have to know the level of our need. For Flo, she is keeping her head above water (barely) and has become great at moving money around to just cover everything. Yes, she wanted change in the past, but just recently she decided to move her money making urgency up to Defcon 4. Because she is a single Mom and has a job, she still has obligations that keep her from being on high alert at all time.
>> To Do. Figure out which Defcon state you are in.
What Do You NEED To Make
Just saying that you “need to make more money” will not work in this situation. You need to know EXACTLY how much money you need to make this month, next month and through about the next six months until momentum kicks in and you can back on cruise control for a little bit.
Back in December when I did a big push, in my head I had a number ($4,000) extra that I had to make over and above the regular income I had to generate to pay my employees and cover my expenses. Now to you that might seem like a lot or not a lot, doesn’t matter it was my number.
I thought of it like those stupid thermometer goal sheets that get hung on the wall and when you reach the goal stuff spurts out the top.
Now this might feel like “budgeting” when you are dead broke, but it is a thing because it works. Once you set your intentions clearly, the universe will start to make things happen.
>> To Do. Write down how much you need to make.
Things To Do
Alrighty then, I am sure by now you are like, “for heck’s sake, get on with the money making schemes”. But know that none of them will work until you have the right mindset so if you skipped down here, hike your little eyeballs up and read the whole thing.
I have tried to rank these in somewhat of an order from “easiest to hardest”, but please note that what may be super easy for you may be the worst thing another person could consider doing.
1. Have A Sale
If you already have products to sell, put them on a discount. I KNOW there is a whole bunch of data out there saying that this will train your peeps to expect sales or that they will start negotiating with you, BUT this is a Defcon situation.
Selling anything, even at a discount will help move your thermometer up!
Create scarcity by saying you are only going to sell X number at a discounted rate and when they are gone they are gone. Create urgency by putting a time limit on the deal.
Example. Mindy has had advertisers on her show in the past and sort of hated them, but she could generate money fast by contacting 10-20 companies that she likes and offering them a discounted rate of advertising just through the end of this year. That way she is not on the hook for a long time, but she is getting “right now” money in the door.
2. Followup On Leads
For heck’s sake this is the one that drives me the most crazy. We all have leads out there who have asked about our business or people who have sent us leads that weren’t perfect or who have said call me in 6 months. If you are at Defcon 4 or higher contact everything that even looks lead-ish.
Plan on spending at least a whole day “dailing for dollars” and reaching out to anyone who expressed an interest in working with you ever. Call old customers and see if they need anything right now.
Example. Flo has people who have said, “I will pay you money to this thing” and she hasn’t followed up and gotten the payment in the door. She has excuses like “not enough time” or “don’t know what to do” but at the end of the day, it is really fear of closing. She just needs to suck it up and ask for a PayPal payment.
3. Make Money Doing What You Do Already
When you are fat, dumb and happy and everything is going well in your business, you can afford to be generous with your time and talents. When you are drowning, you have to stop anything but what makes money. If you are doing something successfully right now but not being paid for it, then start charging.
If it doesn’t pay, don’t do it right now!
Example. Stan is a stupendous blogger and writes for a national magazine. He “donates” his time in exchange for the exposure and links back to his website. He is one of the most popular authors on the site. Stan needs to approach the owner and ask to be paid. It could be per article or per month, but somehow, someway Stan needs to get filthy lucre for helping that site be successful. DO NOT accept an offer to email their list or anything else, ask for pay. Think of this way, if you go under, you are quitting with them anyways, why not let them be part of the solution!
4. Do More Of The Things That Make You Money
If you have been in business any length of time you probably do have things that make you money. Could be that you sell a few books on Amazon or an item or two on Etsy, but nothing to write home about. Double down on those sales and really try to make a go of it.
I have found that people often have a lot of “stuff” out there that is done but not making money. They feel like they tried and failed because it is generating only a trickle of revenue instead of a flood. In every case I find that they did not really “try” to sell it, they just put it up and hoped it would fly.
Terrific Tara. Oh, there is a new player on the board, me! I am great at producing things and then never really promoting them, or at least I was. Just recently I started selling little forms and business planners which makes me REALLY happy. I feel like before this I was “trying” to sell things to please other people and now I am “determined” to sell something that I love.
5. Go Get Right Now Money (Networking)
The easiest way to make money is belly to belly. Figure out something that you can sell TODAY and go out to every networking group where you potential customers gather.
Have flyers made up with your offer (and sale) and just start talking. This is the least comfortable for most people because they worry the stench of fear will drown out their message, but I guarantee that there are at least a few people in your area who want to buy what you are selling right now.
Maybe they need help or guidance (coaching) or they need you to do some work for them (services) or they may be even be a perfect candidate to buy your stuff (products). Doesn’t matter what they are, they have money and they will spend it with someone, why not you?
6. Message For Help
You need to get together a short message and send it out to at least 20 people (50 is better). You can do this on email, through Facebook messenger or by owl, but get the message out. KNOW that some people will say no, some people will snarky and some people will have a lead for you!
Hi! I am just getting ready to launch my coaching program but I need some “test subjects” to go through and make sure it is perfect… do you know anyone who is interested in X right now? (notice I didn’t ask if they knew anyone who wanted to buy, just if they knew anyone)
Hi! I am super excited to be starting up my business and am taking on just 3 new clients so I can serve them in an amazing way…who do you know with a business that needs X help?
It is asking for a specific type of person that works. Just saying generally, do you know anyone who needs X will not work. Their reticular activator gets turned on when you ask for something specific!
7. Sell Advertising
All three of my peeps have assets that other people wish they had! One has a huge podcast base, one has a popular website and one has epic social media networks. Offer to advertise other people’s products on your assets for up-front money.
Send a message like this:
I am opening up three spots to advertise on my (website, social media, podcast). The cost for this is a flat $X a month and will be sold to the first three people who sign up for a three month contract. I will also be promoting your product or service to my email list and sharing it on social media. There will be no other spots open for at least 3 months so if you want to claim a spot, jump on it now!
8. Strafe Your Email List
WOW am I violent today, but hard times call for strong measures. If you are on the edge of going out of business, stop worrying about people leaving your email list (you won’t need it if you quit anyways).
Send out a message to sell something, a purely sales message. Could be advertising or services, coaching or consulting. Then do it again the next few days. I KNOW, that sounds horrible to most of us. We are worried about making them mad or that they will unsubscribe but if the situation is dire, what do you have to lose?
Make it fun! Do a “do you know what I can do?” series and start it with a message like this…
I was super sad the other day to hear that one of my favorite accounting clients had purchased a bad life insurance policy (one that pays much less than the one I sell does). At first I was grumpy thinking, “why didn’t he call me first” and then I realized that he had no idea I sold life insurance too. With that in mind I am going to take the next few days and “introduce” you to all the things that I sell and ways I could help you make your life wonderful!
(this goes for your social media sites too…turn into a selling machine there)
9. Sell Air (Services)
Getting together a physical product or closing on a house sale takes time, but selling air (services) can happen today. One of the things that I did when I needed to make money was to sell 4 year long coaching spots. That is all I could commit to, and it isn’t my dream job, but I made the commitment to those four people and we have had a great year together.
The only reason this one is so far down is that it does take a little thought and sucking up that you may have to do something that is not exactly in your fabulous life. Additionally I find most business owners have a hard time mapping out a service package. They get too enmeshed in the details instead of just saying that they will do amazing work and then just getting to it.
10. Get A Job
Oh the humanity. For most entrepreneurs this is the last thing they want to hear but having a job (even a part time one) will start bringing consistent money in the door.
This is a total “suck it up buttercup” moment when you realize that you need to have money to live but you don’t want to give up on your dream entirely. Use the time that you are working to plan for how you are going to get your business profitable.
BONUS – Get A Coach
Yes, I am a business mentor and yes all the people that I am talking about have paid me to help them navigate this time in their business (that is how I get my best examples). That said, you can hire someone like me, look online for inspiration or even ask a successful business friend to talk things out with you.
However you do it, there is NEVER any shame in asking for help. Every entrepreneur has to raise their hand from time to time and admit that that they can’t do it alone.
Get some help!
If you are in this situation and need some guidance, please don’t hesitate to email me. If you are a client, I am happy to talk, if you are just wanting a little guidance, a quick email might just be enough to get you on the right track…. tara (at) marketingartfully.com
Just know there is someone here who is routing for you and who believes that “you got this!”