Let me tell you about an experience I had the other day that was the inspiration for this article. I was running a seminar, and during the break an attendee ran up to me and said, “Can you please help me to fix my website?” I said, “Sure, but why do you want to do that?” Her answer: “Because I need to make more money.”

Now clearly I’m in need of a little more information, so I asked, “What do you do?” She said, “I’m a personal trainer.” I told her, “If your desire is to make more money quickly, I don’t think you should be spending any time on your website right now.”

Clearly, this was not the answer she was expecting.

I went on to say that while I’m a big promoter of people improving their websites, this process is not a strategy that will create an immediate cash injection into their business.  Building a successful website takes time and requires thought, constant maintenance and, of course, money.

So again, websites are to be viewed as a medium to long-term strategy. In other words, you should only focus on improving your website when you are in a stable financial position, and your business is producing regular cash flow.

Having said that, here are the seven recommendations I gave her for generating faster cash flow. These can apply to almost any business, so read carefully, and ask yourself how many of them you are practicing in your business.

1. Raise Your Prices

Business owners often fear raising their prices because they think they’ll lose clients. If, however, you are good at what you do, the vast majority of people will be more than happy to pay five to 10 percent more for your product – as long as you can explain why your prices are going up, and you do something new to improve your value proposition.

Also remember that inflation goes up by two to three percent each year. If you aren’t raising your prices each year, you are actually losing money, and when inflation finally forces you to do so, the jump you’ll need to make is greater and will be more jarring to your clients.

Question for Reflection: What else can you offer your clients to justify premium pricing?

You want to move to a position where you have guaranteed revenue coming into your business each and every month

2. Move To Fixed-Term Contracts

Most businesses move from client to client and job to job. In the case of personal trainers, carpet cleaners and hairdressers (and hundreds of others I could name), they service their client and move on to the next. The problem with this type of business is that you are always dependent on the state of the economy, and you start every month with zero dollars in your bank account.

Instead, you want to move to a position where you have guaranteed revenue coming into your business each and every month. To use an analogy: It’s easier to climb up a high mountain if a helicopter drops you a few hundred meters from the summit.

So why not work out what the average person is spending with you every year? Then convert that amount into a weekly fee and invite customers to join your VIP program, which is managed via an automatic debit system. Explain that this process will save you both money and that as a VIP client, they are going to receive extra privileges.

Question for Reflection: What incentives can you offer to move your clients to fixed term contracts?

3. Ask for Referrals

This is an obvious one, and it’s much easier than setting up a website. It’s free and you can reap the benefits of referrals in a matter of days, rather than in months or years.

To explain this strategy simply: Like attracts like. If you have particular clients whom you love, chances are they have friends like them who value the same things.

So at the end of your client sessions, explain to your customers that some extra space has become available, and you are now looking for three new clients to work with. Then ask, “Do you know of anybody like you who could benefit from working with me?”  Then once they start sharing names, be proactive and ask them if they would mind sharing a phone number so you can give their friend a call to offer them a free session.

Once this process is followed through, remember to thank your original clients; better still, send them a surprise gift. This will delight them and lead them to wonder who else they could refer to you.

Question for Reflection: When was the last time you directly asked a client for referrals?

4. Claim Your Google+ Local Listing

If you are a local business selling products or services of any kind, this strategy is a no-brainer. To explain: Google gives you the opportunity to have a free business listing. In short, it’s like you having a half page ad in the yellow pages without having to pay for it. The only difference is that people actually use Google.

The benefit of claiming your Google+ local listing is that if someone searches your product or service and the name of a suburb or general area (for example, ‘wedding dresses North Melbourne’), there is good chance you will be on the first page of Google within a few days. Plus you will also be featured in the Google Maps search.

Find out how you can set up your Google+ Local listing today.

Question for Reflection: When are you going to put time in your schedule to set up your Google+ Local listing?

5. Train Three Influencers for Free

If you are looking for more clients, one of the best ways is to work for free. Before you simply wipe this idea, let me finish. I’m not talking about working for free for just anybody; I’m talking about working for someone who is either a celebrity or a big mover and shaker in your industry.

When you do this work for free, it must be under these two conditions. Number one: if the people like what you do, they will supply you with a written and video testimonial which shares their experience and endorses your work. And number two: they agree to help spread the word and tell others about what you do.

In order to find more about the people you identify as being useful to you for this strategy, look on their website, try contacting them through Facebook or Twitter, or try the directories you can purchase online that display the contact details of high profile people.

Question for Reflection: Who are three people for whom you would work for free?

6. Offer a Group Service

There are going to be some clients who are able to afford your one-on-one service, and there are going to be ones who can’t. For those who don’t have the money for your usual service, consider introducing a group model where you are able to service more that one client at a time.

For this you’ll be charging a lesser price; however, because you’ll be servicing many clients concurrently, you may be able to earn two or even three times your normal rate. This is a total win/win scenario.

Now you might say, “Well, sure, this strategy is obvious if you’re a personal trainer.”  With a little mental gymnastics, though, this strategy can be tailored and made applicable to hundreds of other business types.

For example: you are a wedding planner and your objective is to secure more clients. You meet a couple and they love your work, but when they see your premium price, they just can’t afford it. Rather than moving on, you could offer a DIY Wedding Planner Package. It’s 40% less than your regular price and involves meeting you alongside 10 other like-minded couples, rather than one-on-one. To make this easy to manage, you do an intake of couples every quarter.

Once you start getting to capacity and you’re finding it hard to schedule clients, increase your one-on-one prices by as much as 50%. This will steady the flow and you can start running more group sessions.

Question for Reflection: How can you offer group sessions?

7. Create a Limited Time Offer

A number of years ago a great book was written called Influence by Dr. Robert Cialdini. It outlined six key principles of how to influence potential customers to buy. Of these six principles, many believe the most powerful one to be the principle of ‘scarcity’ – basically when supply is scarce, people are influenced to act.

As an example, when British Airways announced they were retiring the Concorde, all remaining seats where sold within a matter of hours. You too can use this principle in your marketing. In fact, if you are a small business trying to grow, never run an advertisement without including an offer.

Offers you may wish to use include: two for one, ‘X’ percent discount, free trial, ‘X’ dollar gift voucher and special bonus, just to name a few. The key to using an offer is to always add scarcity. To do this, you can either use time-based incentives (expires at the end of the month) or limited number offers (only available to the first 16 callers).

Question for Reflection: What is your next marketing offer going to be, and when will you run it?

I’m a big fan of people developing their websites. However, success in business is all about finding the balance between generating cash flow today and implementing strategies that will generate cash flow in three, six or 12 months from now. As much as I love websites, they’re not going to generate cash flow today, so spend your immediate time focusing on the strategies mentioned above. Only when you have regular clients and cash is flowing, should you put the time and money into your website.

Now it’s over to you. Get busy and until next time, enjoy putting these ideas into practice.

About Dale Beaumont

Dale Beaumont is best known as a serial entrepreneur and passionate promoter of education. He’s the author and publisher of 16 best-selling books, which have collectively sold over a quarter of a million copies. Incredibly, 11 of those 16 books were published in a single year, a feat that earned him the title “Australia Most Prolific Author”.

As a result of Dale’s success, he has been interviewed on Sunrise, Today Show, Mornings with Kerri-Anne, Ten News, ABC Radio, Radio 2UE as well as being featured in over 100 newspapers and magazines, including Wealth Creator, My Business Magazine, AFR Boss and Virgin’s In-flight magazine.

Outside of business Dale has a passion for educating teenagers: He cofounded Tomorrows Youth International, which runs self-development programs for 13 to 21-year-olds in six countries. Dale’s flagship ‘2-Day Empower U Program’ is still running to this day and over 27,000 young people have now been impacted by the program he started.

About Guest Voices