This article covers the one thing you can do every day that will solve the vast majority of your business problems, if not all of them. At the same time it can dramatically increase your cash flow, which should definitely be one of your goals. Once you attain and retain a river of cash flow into your company, 99% of your problems will be over.
Now, I say that like it's simple – as if you can just snap your fingers or wave a magic wand, and all your problems will be vanish. It's not quite that easy, but to be honest, it mostly is. More money coming into your business gives you more choices, especially in regards to the things that you normally could not do without that money. To ease your burdens, you simply have to start by bringing in more cash.
The worst thing in the world for your business is to struggle financially, to be in a position where you can not pay your bills or where most of your time and energy is spent on just staying afloat. The more you struggle, the more time you spend thinking and worrying about the necessities – and the last thing you need is to go to the mailbox and find another bill. Each expense is like a big cinder block weighing you down, forcing your focus downwards and inward to working in your business and not on it.
So, how do you get your cash flow situation right? The most effective strategy is to spend more focused energy and time on a small number of things that you know can increase your sales and profits. Now, every one of us has the same number of hours in our day and week, so 'time management' is a misnomer; you have to learn to manage yourself and how you slice up your time. If your business is struggling, you spend a lot of that time putting out fires, doing things that consume energy and take a lot of time. To really succeed, you have to fight for focus and commit to doing things that carve out the time necessary to innovate within your business, and to think about all the ways you can bring in more sales and profits.
I often say that I belong to the 5 AM Club – which simply means that I get up very early every day, at least an hour before everyone else, and spend time focusing on business strategy before the phones start ringing and people start bugging me . You should do the same, spending this meaningful time focusing your energy on things to create more cash flow in your business. You know the bills are going to be there no matter what; what can you do to work around them? How much money must you make before you can wake up on the first of the month and think, “Well, all the bills are paid; everything beyond this point is profit”? This is especially necessary when times are tough. You've got to find time to focus, to put your energy into things that bring in more money.
Think about ways you can get more business from your existing customers. When you're really struggling, that's a great time to make them an outrageous offer. You do not have to tell them your business is down; just do something crazy that gets the phones and the cash register ringing.
The process starts with intimately knowing your customers, so you can make them a killer offer they can not refuse. These people already know, like, and trust you, which makes them much more likely to do business with you. So make them an excellent offer, knowing what they want based on the kind of benefits that they're looking for, and they'll come through for you. They're the lifeblood of your business. You just have to spend the time to think about what they want.
One of the worst things you can do is to get mired in the negativity that arises when things are going poor. Do not focus on the bad. The bills are still going to be there even if you put them off for a day, so stop worrying about them and spend some time focusing on activities that can bring in the cash. Get that money flowing in. Even if it does not fix all your problems, maybe it'll give you some freedom not to think about them for a while, so you can enjoy some of the success you experience when your cash flow is high. Maybe you can pay an accountant to worry about your money problems later.
Al Davis, the former owner of the Oakland Raiders, used to say, “Just win, baby.” When it comes to business, the equivalent is to just get the cash flow flowing. How do you do depends on your business, and nobody knows that business as well as you – or at least, they're better not!
A few years back, a good friend of my mentor's was telling him that business had been very bad laately. He works with publishers, especially small presses and self-publishers, and that business is going through a lot of changes. He decided he'd better start calling his previous customers, to see if he could help them with anything. So he started making some phone calls – and lo and behold, he had one of his best sales days ever.
The lesson here is to stop waiting for people to come in the door, or to write to you, or to call or email. Get in touch with them yourself. Going back to existing customers you have a good track record with is a great way to stimulate business. Another way to drum up business is to offer basic discounts, even on things that cost you so much you're hesitant to lose money on them. Well, you need the money, so cut the price rather than leave them to gather dust or go to waste. Offer huge discounts – 50%, 60% or 70%. Just go to your customers, especially those you have not heard from for a while, and tell them you just wanted to check in and see how they're doing. Pitch that special order. Be proactive. That's the way to get the cash flowing.