You have reached stability, you pay expenses and taxes without too many sacrifices but you are not enough and you want to start earning more money? Here are 10 tips for you …
The first goal when starting a business is to get to that point where you can consider yourself “placed”. In short, your liquidity is stable, you can pay expenses and taxes without great sacrifices, and everything goes smoothly. At this point, however, you are faced with a choice: either you enjoy the moment or you are aiming for new growth.
Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong if you are happy and serene at the point where you arrived, or if you have other priorities than a rate of growth year after year, and prefer to take your time. This can be established only and only you based on your goals, your expectations and, precisely, your priorities, which include the extra-work sphere.
If, on the other hand, you are eager to make a qualitative leap, here are 10 useful tips on how to make more money. Implementing these strategies will be neither more nor less demanding than starting a business from scratch, which you have already shown to be able to do. Simply, you need to start thinking about your work differently. In a more… smart way.
Get paid per project (not per hour)
Getting paid at an hourly rate may seem like the best choice, since you just need to mark the time you spend on a project and send the time account to your client. It is there, and in reality it is sometimes the only way forward, but consider that:
- You are not paid to become more efficient and faster in completing the job;
- Some customers may dispute your hourly rate and “pull” on the price;
- By placing too much emphasis on the time taken to complete the project, you risk diminishing its value.
If your price is instead fixed directly on the project, shift your attention to its value, and in this case the fact that you conclude it soon and well will be another merit that will be recognized by the customer.
Increase your rates with new customers
All too often they concentrate their forces in the continuous search for new jobs by investing a lot of energy in marketing and in negotiations with new customers. Which is fine, if it weren’t for the fact that almost everyone doesn’t think about raising their rates, or just avoid doing it for fear of scaring off new potential customers.
Many set a rate, which they consider to be the infamous “market price”, and year after year they also maintain it with new customers. It is right to offer a competitive price when you need to gain experience or make a name for yourself in a particular sector. But when you have the experience and you have the name, there’s no reason to keep it.
The market price does not exist! Even the supermarkets do not sell the same apples for the same price!
How much should you increase your rates? There is no rule. Ed Gandia, author of the bestseller The Wealthy Freelancer and co-founder of the International Freelance Academy, suggests increasing your usual rates by 20% when you propose yourself to new clients.
Does it seem too much? If you know you are offering a quality service that satisfies your current customers, at least try. You’re not cheating anyone, and if you’re really convinced of the service you are able to offer, it will be a good way to see if others are convinced and are willing to pay for it.
Improve your productivity
Think of any project you’ve completed: the installation of a boiler, the laying of a floor, the creation of a site design, the writing of a text, a photo editing job …
No matter what type of project it is, the important thing is that before starting you have a rough idea of the time it will take you to get it done. You got it? Well, now imagine being able to deliver the project in less time and still be paid the same amount. It wouldn’t be bad, right? It would mean having more time to devote to other projects. In other words, it would mean improving your productivity.
How could you do it? Here are some ways:
- Use the 50-20-50 technique: concentrate on work for 50 minutes, take a 20-minute break and then resume for another 50 minutes.
- Think about tasks that make you lose more time and do not explicitly require your person and delegate a virtual assistant, external professionals, or hire someone to do it for you, leaving you free to dedicate yourself to your real work.
- Digitize and automate tasks such as billing and accounting by relying on management systems or billing software.
Sell more through existing customers
Selling to an existing customer is much easier than doing it with new customers.
Acquired customers have a propensity to purchase 50% more than potential new customers and are ready to spend up to 31% more.
It is therefore worth contacting them first of all to increase sales. If, for example, you have been offering a service for a customer for some time, you can try to offer a more substantial package with greater added value.
There are basically three strategies to increase sales through existing customers:
- Offer the opportunity to get a more complete version of your usual job. Propose different packages with different advantages. The more complete the package, the more the price goes up.
- Offer extra services that can relieve the customer of certain activities. For example: does the customer ask you for the texts for a catalog that will then have to paginate internally? Try to collaborate with a graphic designer and propose the complete and paged “turnkey” catalog.
- Always try to listen to the client, and to understand what he really needs. It may happen that you start a certain type of work and realize as you proceed that changes must be made because in the meantime some conditions have changed. If you have this feeling, stop, analyze and propose to the customer a new solution that can satisfy his new needs.
Make sure your regular customers know all the services you offer
Has it ever happened to you that a customer contacts you for a specific job, and that in a hurry to get started you don’t take the time to explain all the services you can offer?
In this case, the customer will continue to think that you only do what he requested. Risks therefore of losing an opportunity and maybe even good money.
It is always better to put all the cards on the table immediately when you start a new work relationship, to make customers understand all the range of services that you, your employees or your network of contacts can offer. And it is also useful to warn your customers if over time you acquire new skills, expand your business, increase your offer, and keep them updated on the new solutions you have available for them.
Evaluate and update your services continuously
Regardless of the sector in which your business operates, the markets are constantly changing, and so are the customers. So, you always have to ask yourself:
- Am I keeping up to date and am I proposing new services that can increase my earnings?
- Are they up to date and adequate to market innovations in terms of skills and technologies?
It may happen that a customer is tempted to replace you with another professional because this has proven to be able to support him in his new needs. But if you prove to the customer that you are also able to do it, you will not feel the need to go elsewhere and you will not risk losing the customer.
The best way to continue to be the point of reference for your customers is by building a good relationship with them, involving dialogue, constant comparison. This way you will always know which direction their goals and needs are evolving.
Participating in meetings, organizing periodic briefings, or having a direct contact person with whom to discuss problems and solutions is therefore fundamental. You could also, even just once a year, send your customers a questionnaire that can help you take stock of the situation.
Recover inactive customers
Do you have any clients for whom you have done different jobs in the past, but you haven’t heard from in a long time? Using the right approach you could contact them again and bring them back to work with you.
For example, you could:
- Send an (apparently) informal email in which you greet them, ask how they are and what they are working on, remembering that “you remain at their disposal”.
- Give some suggestions that can help them in their business. Propose some ideas that you would be able to put into practice. A restyling of the site? A blog area? Better social media coverage? The important thing is to make these ideas appear as a plus, without diminishing what the customer has done or is doing. In short, trying not to start with “I saw that your site has stopped 5 years ago” …
- Activate your newsletter and invite them to register. It can be a great way to feed potential business contacts.
Feed your contacts
You have reached new potential customers. Very well. But at this point you realize that:
- You don’t have enough time to dedicate to everyone;
- They fail to include you in their budgets;
- They manage everything internally or have other suppliers.
In some cases you can stay with the “promise” to update yourself in the future, when “the time will be ripe”, or “there will be the necessary budget” or any other condition will have occurred. In this case, the suggestions you received in the previous chapter will be useful.
The newsletter system, in particular, is very effective in these cases. Remind your prospective clients that you are there and that you are always on the piece, and when they need to address someone they will be more likely to think of you.
Ask for references
Do you know which is the main means by which professionals and small businesses acquire new customers? Search engine? Paying ads? LinkedIn? No, it’s word of mouth.
It is quite logical, after all. If someone is satisfied with your work and talks to someone else, there is a good chance that the new contact will become a new customer, because he considers the reference reliable. This can happen spontaneously. But you can make it happen by explicitly asking your customers to do it.
And if at the moment you are thinking that such a thing would embarrass you – let me tell you – you are not on the right track. There is a way and a way to do it, and doing it right will seem the most natural thing in the world. You can, for example, present it clearly and once and for all at the beginning of a new project. After all, your customers know well that you are carrying out an activity, and it is normal that you aspire to make yourself known and acquire new jobs. Doing it the wrong way, instead, you will look like one at the gas pipe.
A wrong way, for example, is to persistently ask a customer to talk about you to a specific contact, or to compulsively invite him to post reviews on your site or on your social profiles, or worse, to forcibly share your post.
In any case, you don’t have to ask all your customers to do it, but you have to feel free to do so – perhaps through an email every quarter – with the customers with whom you have established a good relationship, not only from a business point of view but also from human and personal level.
Work with long-term contracts
“Subscriber” customers are a great way to secure stable and recurring revenue. If you are not convinced that this commercial approach can work with your customers, start testing it or presenting it as an option with historical customers and with whom you are constantly working cyclically.
Think about it:
- You will reduce estimates and bargaining, and the risks naturally associated with this phase: frictions, errors of assessment (over or underestimation), risk of entry of competitors …
- You will have recurring and planned or even early payments, with a small discount you could see your client anticipate 6 months or even 1 year of work and have the liquidity for that business investment you had to make.