Be Nice To Each Other
One of the things I say online is, “You have to avoid controversial topics.” Obviously, you don't want to talk about politics or religion. You don't want to talk about sex or gender, because it stirs up an incredible amount of emotions.
Now, we just finished with one of the most incredible elections that I think anybody's ever seen. I don't care whether you side with the winner or the loser or if you're out there protesting or celebrating. Whatever you are doing, you have a whole set of emotions that are just overwhelming you. Now I don't know about you guys, but as a business owner these things tend to make us lose sleep. Right? I mean, you're worried about, “What's going to happen with my business? Where is the economy going? Am I going to be able to sustain? What's happening?” The future is always unpredictable.
What Keeps You Up At Night?
Today I want to talk about what I've found to be the five things that keep business owners up at night. I'm sure there are many more that you can add to this list, but I researched by looked at a whole bunch of blog posts and reports. I tried to figure out what's keeping you up at night if you're a small to midsize business owner. What are the things that are keeping your head spinning? We all have been there. I mean, you're laying in bed at two o'clock in the morning and you're thinking, “Oh, man, if I only did…” Or you get up first thing in the morning and you're dreaming about processes and things like that. That happens to me all the time.
Below are the five things that keep business owners up at night.
Generating More Sales
Number one is generating more sales. Obviously, if you can generate more sales, your business is going to be a heck of a lot more profitable. Right? I've heard this mentioned many times. I don't know who to attribute it to, but there are literally only three ways to increase your sales…
- Increase your number of customers.
- Increase the average order size.
- Increase the number of repeat purchases.
That's what you have to do. You have to look at your strategy and say, “Which of these things, or a combination of all three, are going to help me increase my sales?”
The second thing that keeps people up at night is cash flow. That's a hard thing to manage. I could tell you this, you have an accounting system, you invoice people, and hopefully they live up to their commitment. I just got off the phone with a buddy of mine, who has spent upwards of almost nine months trying to get people to pay their bill. He's struggling and struggling and they don't pay it, because they want a refund. They don't feel like they got what they wanted. There are other times where you do exactly what they want and they still don't pay you. One of the things I've found is, the larger the project, the easier, generally, it is to get paid. It's the thousand, five thousand, twenty-five thousand dollar projects, where people already have the money allocated, committed and it is ready to go.
It's the fifty, hundred or the two hundred dollar sales that you spend as much time invoicing and reminding people that they owe you money. You spend as much time trying to collect those little invoices, as you do the big ones. The thing you have to think about is trying to focus on larger projects if you can. That's going to help increase your cash flow. You get bigger sums of money in on a regular basis, rather than playing around with the fifty or hundred dollar sales. Think about how you can use your business to grow the size of your customers.
Number three is controlling expenses. That's the third thing that keeps people up at night. If you're like most, there are subscriptions out there, like magazine or newspaper subscriptions. We finally let our newspaper subscription go. I think we had probably ten calls saying, “Hey, we're going to renew your subscription for fifty percent off. Fifty percent a week will cost you only $26 per year and you'll get a weekly newspaper.” Guess what? We don't read it. It gets recycled. Why are we going to pay twenty-six bucks for something we don't use? I bet if you went through and looked at your accounting system, you will find certain things that you're paying on a monthly basis that don't make sense.
Here's the key to controlling expenses, get your arms around them. I am a QuickBooks junkie. I'm looking at what I'm paying every single month. I joined up for so many things and found that I wasn't getting the value and wasn't using them. Now, if you are getting value and are using them, then maybe cancel something else and invest more in the things that you're actually getting value out of. Stop the things you're getting no value. Invest more in the things that you are getting value. That will help you grow your business.
Increasing Your Customer Base
The fourth thing is increasing your customer base. Now, we talked about this in point number one. Right? Increase the number of customers, but the question becomes, “Where do you find them? How do they find you?” It really boils down to how you are marketing. What you have to do is identify who your perfect customer is, what their pain points are, and what methodologies can you use to communicate with them on a regular basis? That may mean a blog, a podcast, or a print newsletter. It could be mailing postcards. It could be doing anything, but you have to identify them, you have to find out where they are. Then you have to constantly keep churning that engine to say, “We're here to help. We're here to help. We have the solution. When you're ready, give us a call.” It's a long-term process. The way you increase the number of customers is building that know, like, and trust. Making sure that people understand that you offer a perfect solution to their most challenging problems. That's how you increase and expand your customer base.
Finally, the fifth item is competition. A lot of people worry about the competition. Now, I'm in a lot of businesses, but one of the key ones is web development. If I spend all my time trying to fight my competition, I would basically be spinning my wheels, because there are people's neighbor's dogs who do websites. There are challenges from India, where they do them for five or ten dollars an hour. The most important thing to do to overcome the competition is be the best that you can be and provide service over and above customer service. When you finish the project or the sale, ask your customer three questions:
- Are you satisfied?
- Is there anything we could have done better to make your experience more pleasurable or more satisfactory or given you a better return on investment?
- Is there anybody you know, in your circle of influence or friends or business cohorts that could benefit from this same kind of product or service?
Let's review the five things one more time.
Number one, generate more sales. You can only do this by increasing the number of customers, increasing the average order size, or increasing the number of repeat purchases.
Number two is cash flow. Try to work on bigger projects. You get more cash in and a bigger influx and you don't have to change those little bills.
Number three is controlling expenses. Focus on what's working and stop spending on what's not.
Number four is expanding your customer base. Find out where your perfect customers are hanging out and communicate with them and get them to engage.
Finally, fifth is competition. We all have competition. You need to focus on your customers exceeding their expectations and getting them to know, like, and trust you enough that they recommend you to their friends.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments and maybe some other tools you love!
To learn more about this and other topics on Internet Marketing, visit our podcast website at http://www.baconpodcast.com/podcasts/