If you’ve been running a business for some time you will find at some point that you need to increase your income. You are not in business primarily to make money – there are other legitimate ways to make money without running a business – but you need to make money to stay in business. Cash flow is the lifeblood of business; you can’t remain in business for long if you’re not making money. In this blog post, we’ll discuss five ways to scale up your business and make more money without huge investment.
Ask for referrals
I’m treating ‘ASK’ here as an acrostic that means ask, seek and knock. Jesus Christ said: Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asks receives… (Matthew 7:7-8). You can apply this principle to make more money in your business. That means instead of waiting for customers to come to you, you adopt a proactive approach to bring them in or meet them where they are.
You can start by drawing up a list of your satisfied clients and asking each of them to recommend five of their friends or connections who may also need your services. You then go ahead and contact those people. However, make sure that you approach them in a way that puts value ahead of money. For example, you can provide some practical advice or useful feedback before telling them about your products and services.Don't sit down and expect customers to come to you. You've got to bring them in. Click To Tweet
If you do this consistently and conscientiously some of them will eventually become your customers or connect you with someone else they know who needs your products and services. You can make serve more people and make more money simply by asking your existing clients for referrals, seeking other ways to serve them and knocking on the doors of people who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
Build a team
There’s a limit to how much you can achieve alone. If you’re looking to make more money or attain a higher level of success you need to build a team. I like the way King Solomon puts it in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: “It’s better to have a friend than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. If you fall, your friend can help you. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble.” That gives you a picture of the vast possibilities that come with having a team. You can handle more projects, serve people and make more money when you’re working with people who complement your skills and increase your capacity.
Building a team can take various forms. We’ll discuss two – apprenticeship and partnership. Apprenticeship is perhaps the most effective way to raise seasoned professionals. Some prefer to call it mentorship but mentorship and apprenticeship are not exactly the same. I am using the word ‘apprenticeship’ in the context of a mutually beneficial relationship between a learner and an expert.
As an expert you can build a team of learners in whom you can replicate your skills. Since apprenticeship is a hands-on experience that involves learning by doing, your team members will help you get more work done and in the process, they will become experts themselves. This is similar to what Father Abraham did with the 318 men born in his house and what King David did with his 30 mighty men. Remember how Abraham and David were able to take on huge challenges by virtue of this advantage? You can apply the same principle in your business.
Another way to build a team is through partnership. Unlike apprenticeship which happens between a learner and an expert, partnership is a relationship between two or more experts where all parties leverage on one another’s strengths to get more done.
Teach what you know
We live in a knowledge-driven world. People are willing to pay for knowledge that will improve their lives, solve problems for them or help them achieve their goals. What this means is that if you have the knowledge that people need you can trade that knowledge for money. You can organise training programs and mentoring sessions where people pay to access your knowledge and experience.
One of the factors likely to mitigate your desire to teach is the thought or feeling of not being an expert or not knowing enough. You don’t want to sound fake or look like an impostor, so you refrain from teaching. But holding back because you’re not an expert is not the best approach. You don’t need to know everything to teach, you only need to teach what you know. Did you get that?
The point is to teach at your own level. Let’s assume the proficiency scale in your area of interest runs from 0 – 10 you don’t need to be on level 10 or even level 7 to teach. If you’re on level 5 you can teach those on level 4 or level 3. That’s actually an advantage. Since you are only one step or two ahead of the people you’re teaching, you will be able to speak their language and deliver your transformation in the context of their current situation.
Apart from teaching other [aspiring] professionals you might even be able to sell your teaching services to the regular school system. For example, as a fashion designer you can approach forward thinking secondary schools or higher institutions with a proposal to teach fashion entrepreneurship as part of their extracurricular activities. That’s just one example. You can think of many other ways to apply this principle in your own business.
Distil and diversify
In most cases we underutilise our resources. As a businessperson you should always look for ways to get more value from what you already have. Explore the value chain of your products and services and see if there’s any gap that you can fill or a perceived need that is yet to be met. You can distil what you have into various forms for different markets or diversify by offering complementary products and add-on services.Always look for ways to get more value from what you already have. Click To Tweet
Take Volkswagen for example. They have the relatively cheap ‘Beetle car’ and the very expensive Lamborghini. Both of them are good quality products in their own right but each one is targeted at different segments of the automobile market. This is an example of ‘distilling’ your products and service offerings into distinctive packages for different markets or market segments.
We can also look at Omo and Sunlight detergents, both of which are Unilever products. Whether you buy Omo or Sunlight the money goes to the same company. The point is to give people options so that if they don’t like a version of your product or service, they can buy another version. So you get them to do business with you instead of spending their money elsewhere.
Here are three ideas for implementing the ‘distil and diversify’ principle:
- If you’re selling to the lower end of the market how can you refine what you have to offer and sell to an upscale market?
- If you’re currently serving a high end market, can you develop a basic version of your product or service for people who don’t need or are not able to afford the higher option?
- Can you offer additional products and services that complement what you’re already doing?
Boost Your Visibility
What you’re looking for is also looking for you. Are you visible enough to be found? The money you’re looking for is in the hands of people. Your goal is to make them give you that money in exchange for your products and services, and that’s where business happens. However, before people can do business with you they must first know you, like you and trust you. And that requires having a platform that will boost your visibility. I like the way Michael Hyatt puts it: “Great ideas are no longer enough. Without a platform – something that enables you to get seen and heard – you don’t stand a chance. Having an awesome product, an outstanding service, or a compelling cause is no longer enough.”Jesus used a mountain to reach his audience (Matthew 5). You need a platform to reach your market. Click To Tweet
Remember the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) which is considered Jesus’ most popular sermon? The sermon is so named because Jesus actually went up a mountain and taught from there. He needed to do that so he could be seen and heard by the people who had gathered to hear him. So Jesus used a platform to reach his audience. In the same way, you need a platform to raise your visibility and reach your target market.
However, as someone fortunate to be living in the ‘internet dispensation’, your platform is more digital than physical. The essential components include a website, an email list and social media platforms. Your website is your online home from where you reach out to the world, your email list is your directory of people that are interested in your message and your social media platforms are like your outposts or the roads that lead to your home.
Having a good product or service without a platform is like dancing in the dark. You know what you’re doing but no one else does. Having a platform allows you to reach more people. It increases your possibilities and makes it easier for people that need you to not only find you but also interact and develop a relationship with you. That means you can do more business with more people. And that translates to more money.
Question: Which of these five ways have you explored in your business and what other ideas would you like to add? Share with us in the comments.