What if you could keep cash flowing steadily into your business?
You may not have to scramble to find one or two more clients at the end of the month to cover your expenses. You could even have enough left for that new webcam you need.
When you’re in that scrambling mode, it seems even harder than ever to find a good client. I’m pretty sure people can sense your desperation and are a bit put off by it. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need that client and that you wouldn’t do an awesome job for them!
But how can you avoid that frantic hustle for just one more client? If you had more cash flowing into your business, you could be calm about finding the right clients.
I know from years of corporate work, buying and selling big items like cars and houses, and my kid’s toddler years that a confident, calm approach is what I need to have. Whoever you’re working with can read that attitude/mindset and will feel SO much more comfortable working with you. Leads will want to work with you, buyers won’t think they can take advantage of your neediness, and kids know you really mean business this time.
So how do you operate from that place of calm confidence? I sure don’t know all the answers there, I struggle with confidence sometimes. But when it comes to finding new clients and doing my best work, my own confidence comes from knowing I don’t have to scramble for new business to cover my monthly expenses.
Start by knowing your monthly regular expenses, and which months are hit by big yearly expenses. Just make a list for each month – that will go a long way to calming your mind. The unknown is ALWAYS worse in your mind than reality. Even when your expenses are more than you suspected, knowing the actual number immediately switches your brain from worrying about what you owe to figuring out how to cover the exact amount.
Next, build systems and processes to bring in enough monthly cash flow to pay for those expenses. I give you some great ideas below on just how to do that. It might take a while to get these running, but even starting pretty small makes a huge difference. From a small amount of recurring revenue and affiliate income, I can cover my monthly operating expenses.
And finally, before you take on a new monthly expense, check your monthly cash flow numbers to make sure that you can pay for that expense from existing income. That way, new clients are wanted, but not desperately needed.
Ideas to keep cash flowing
1 Recurring revenue product or service
I’ll start here with recurring revenue products and services. Just a few sales of this type of service will make a huge difference in your business and will save you hours of time.
How could you help your clients get better and better results? Or faster and faster progress? Can you save your client time or frustration or worry by completing some basic tasks for them each month?
If you can package up a monthly service that is helpful to your clients and is a no-brainer price, you can create a great win-win situation. Your clients can have their problems solved for a predictable monthly cost that they can schedule and plan for. You can plan and schedule your work because you know exactly what you’ll be doing for your client each month. Plus, this provides a known monthly income you can budget around.
You will save time if you set this up, because you’ll be able to fit known, discrete tasks into blocks of time you have available. You won’t be waiting on clients to come to you with projects, then hustling to finish them on time (at least not for this work!).
Just what you offer will be very different depending on your own business and industry and client needs. This is one reason your really need to know just who your clients are. But some great examples include maintenance and updates to a system or website you’ve built, content creation services, coaching packages, meal planning services, a membership to a community, ongoing training, software as a service, lawn services, licensing, jelly of the month club, magazines, martial arts studio.
2 Affiliate sales
Affiliate sales can be lucrative if you create content in which you can feature products and services from other companies. For every niche you could possibly be in, you can find a product to recommend to your audience.
The easiest way to get started is to investigate the products and services that you already use and recommend. Check out their websites and look at the footers – many companies put a link to their affiliate program in their footer. Some are generous, and some aren’t worth bothering. You’ll need to read about each company’s program to see if it would work for you.
If the company you want to recommend doesn’t offer an affiliate program, but you think you can send them a decent amount of customers, you might as well ask if they would create a program, or give you some sort of referral fee. I haven’t done this one myself, but I imagine that the more traffic you have, the more sway you’ll have with the company.
I recommend approaching affiliate sales with integrity and honesty. Don’t recommend a product that you haven’t tried out yourself. And don’t try to sell a product to someone unless you really believe it will be helpful to them.
Now, affiliate sales may be slow to get started and it may only be a tiny amount of income until either your traffic increases or you add more affiliate programs. But if you’re thinking long term, affiliate income can add up over time like compound interest.
3 Automate small product sales
If you have a small product that relates to your core offering, have you thought about automating sales through email marketing?
Once you get this set up, this automated sales engine can run with little or no maintenance from you. And if it’s done properly, it can set up customers to be clients for your flagship product.
If you don’t have a small product that relates to your core offer, create one that is a prerequisite for the core offer or possibly the first step in your core offer. These are often called “splinter products” because they’re broken off from a larger product. At the end of the product, create a call to action for the purchase of your main product. If your customer loves your splinter product, and you’ve given lots of great value, they’ll be much closer to purchase than someone who hasn’t seen your splinter product.
Offer this small product to new email subscribers or periodically offer it to your email list. Use an email automation software such as Active Campaign, MailChimp, or MailerLite.
4 On-demand products on other platforms
By putting small products that you already have up for sale on other platforms, you can generate some additional monthly cash flow. These can’t have a service component – they need to be products that the customer can consume and use without your input. Some products may need updates or support though, so think through how you would handle support if required.
Some great examples include: ebooks on Amazon.com, apps for web or mobile platforms, design or fine art on Cafepress.com, Redbubble.com, or Society6.com, digital products like printables or worksheets on etsy.com.
You can’t expect these marketplaces to do much for you in the way of promotion, so you’ll have to think of easy ways to promote your products on these platforms. But what most of these will do is the production and distribution. Most marketplaces won’t give you the customer information, so you will also have to incorporate some sort of promotion of your own email list or company in the product you’re selling.
5 Set up processes to generate repeat business
Business processes in general are going to save you so much time and mental energy. Use them to your advantage to increase your monthly cash flow by encouraging repeat business. Build a process of customer follow up to recommend new products and services. Ask questions about their latest struggles or frustrations.
It’s so easy to intend to do this, but to forget or put it off. So, automate reminders in your calendar. You can also use your email autoresponder to automate some follow up, say at 30/60/90 days after you complete a project.
A second approach is to stay on the minds of your previous clients. Get them to sign up for your newsletter, follow them on social media (business accounts from your business account!), send holiday cards or gifts, forward relevant info their way as you come across it. If your business is on their mind when a problem arises, you’ll be the one they call.
I have pretty mixed feelings about advertising, but if you produce content and you have a significant audience, then advertising can create a steady flow of income each month. I don’t include ads on my site, but if you have a blog or YouTube channel, then think about how your audience would react to ads. They could be a good source of income for you.
7 Well established process around collecting payments
Another process – I swear regular processes are awesome because they help you get more work done with less effort and less thinking about what must be done!
You can improve your cash flow if you take a bit of control over the payment collection process. Too often, we’re waiting for clients – to pay the bill, to finish up editing so we can complete the project and send the bill, or to even send content so we can get started on a project.
A great way to avoid all the waiting on clients is to require upfront payment. I’d recommend something like, “All projects under $X must be paid up front.” That dollar amount will depend on your products and your niche.
If you do split the total cost into payments, control the timing yourself. You could bill periodically – $3000 per month for 6 months, no matter where the project is on its timeline. You’d want to time the duration of payments to match the expected duration of the project. Or, you could base the payments on milestones you control, such as when you provide deliverables.
Figure out ahead of time, what you’ll do if someone doesn’t pay their bill. Fortunately, I’ve only had this happen once and it was for a small amount of work. I still hurt though – I needed that payment and I had already turned over the work. Now, I let my clients see and interact with web files so they can approve them, but I don’t let them go live until I receive final payment. There are only a handful of clients I will do any work for that isn’t paid ahead of time.
You’ll be surprised about how little it really takes to relieve that extra pressure you’re feeling that makes you need to scramble for that one client. Now, you will still need to get out there and find clients but you won’t have that ugly aura of desperation. You’ll be able to turn away clients who show you their red flags right up front.
And, you can really embrace some of these income models and build an entire business around them if you like.
How do you make sure you have the monthly cash flow to cover expenses?
You're a business-owning mom, so you use this guide to prioritize your tasks in 2 minutes, and have 41 minutes left to knock out a task.