Go With the Flow: Managing Cash Flow for a Healthy Business

Guest post by Michael Stephenson of The Entrepreneur Hub

Whether your business is a $10 lemonade stand or a $1,000,000 tech venture, positive cash flow is intertwined with long-term success. But reaching and maintaining healthy incomings/outgoings is not always easy and, in fact, becomes a lot harder as your business grows. That’s why it’s important, while your operations are small, to develop good habits for managing cash flow that you can use in the years to come.

Monitoring

It’s hard to make necessary changes to your work processes if you don’t have a clear overview of inflows and outflows. At any moment, you’ll need to know your expense costs, inventory quantities, active projects, due invoices, fixed assets, and more so that you can accurately calculate cash flow and use your findings to build an airtight financial plan moving forward. Even if you’re a full-time entrepreneur/business owner, it will pay to spend some time building a working knowledge of accountancy.

Once you’ve dug out your bank statements, calculated your overheads, and collected all of your contracts, the next step is to quantify and store this information. If you haven’t already, it’s never too early to invest in accounting software. You can use this software to help track times, build reports, create and monitor invoices, and store receipts. Try to look for software that is suitably designed for small businesses and that you can easily use and operate independently. You can also invest in data analysis services to gain insight into your company’s operations. You can find data analysis professionals on freelance job platforms and vet candidates by reviews, experience, and skills.

Cutting Costs

Even when things are running smoothly, a savvy business owner is always looking to cut costs where possible. The best and perhaps the easiest way of doing this is to aim attention at recurring costs like subscriptions, office supplies, utility bills, insurance plans, or loans. For example, with the popularization of remote working, it’s possible to skip a hefty office contract entirely and conduct all business from home or in shared spaces.

Remember, even though it’s important to save money, you need to be careful how you go about doing this. One of the common mistakes when reviewing your budget is to slash marketing or advertising. This can be tempting for a business, especially during a recession, but oftentimes the value of marketing is multiplied in more difficult economic circumstances. Instead, consider adapting your processes – for example, you might try to utilize cost-efficient strategies such as PPC or paid social, rather than expensive ad campaigns or spending through an agency.

Adapting Your Business

Sometimes, to get to a positive cash flow, it’s necessary to make profound changes not just to your work practices but to the business itself. Using a sole proprietorship, for example, you can usually enjoy reduced tax rates (as there will be no legal separation between you and your business). Registering as a sole proprietorship will also save you on legal costs, as these will no longer pertain to state registration or obtaining an agent. Remember, before you take any major steps, it’s always a good idea to find the right financial advisor first since managing cash flow is just one element of your overall business financial management.

Another common strategy is to move everything to the digital space. Most businesses founded in the 2010s were either digital or have transitioned online. This is a major advantage for erasing geographical limitations, improving your reach across consumers, and, of course, saving cash on personnel and illiquid assets. Even though it’s an easy adjustment, you should make sure you’ve done plenty of research before you buy a domain or spend on online services.

You can also revamp your marketing efforts to improve your cash flow. In today’s business climate, digital marketing is an essential part of promoting your products and services. The pros at Steady Radiance Design can handle all your web design, SEO, and social media management needs so you can build your brand effectively. Need a budget-friendly way to create dynamic images for your marketing materials? You can utilize a free remove background tool which allows you to customize your images.

Recent studies found that 29% of businesses fail due to a lack of cash. If you can’t pay salaries, suppliers, or afford the resources you need to operate as normal, your business simply can’t function. Keeping strict cash management is essential, not just to the working of your business, but also to its long-term future.

 

Image by Pexels

How Much Does Video Really Matter to Your Marketing?

Have you been ignoring video, hoping it will just go away? Or worse, thinking you can accomplish the same goals without it?

I’m here to tell you, video is going nowhere. YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world and TikTok recently overtook YouTube for the number of hours watched per month. Video clips on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter enjoy far more engagement than do plain text or even image-based updates. And when it comes to training programs, most people prefer video to text or at least a combination of the two.

And now with streaming video, this new marketing channel has become even more important.

  • Live video lets viewers get to know you better
  • Your personality and brand shine through in ways written words or pre-recorded video simply cannot manage
  • A built-in sense of urgency makes it easy to connect with your action takers (trust me, FOMO is a real thing – that’s “Fear Of Missing Out”).
  • Repurposing video for other channels is easy and super productive
  • Facebook and other social networks appear to give more weight to video, showing it in more newsfeeds than other post formats

In addition to all of that, video is easy to produce – especially the new streaming services. Simply prop up your smartphone, log into your preferred app, and viola! You’re live.

And because it’s a live, streaming video, your viewers likely have less expectation of perfection. For example, with a scripted webinar, they expect a certain polish. But with streaming video, you can get away with a much more lighthearted, go-with-the-flow style. It’s perfect for Q&A sessions, special announcements, group coaching, or anything else where you simply want to connect with your audience, and there’s no agenda.

Don’t Abandon Your Other Marketing Channels

We see this happen a lot – a hot new marketing tool or strategy comes along, and all of a sudden everyone is on board – much to the detriment of the tried-and-true methods.

Remember, you have loyal fans on many platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, your blog, etc. And these fans won’t always be quick to move to a new site just to stay in touch. You owe it to them to maintain your presence on other social sites as well.

So while Facebook Live (and other streaming video services) definitely matters when it comes to your overall marketing efforts, it’s not the end-all, be-all tool that will outshine all others.

4 Tips To Expand Your Company’s List of Repeat Customers

Guest post by Leslie Campos of Well Parents

Experts assert that repeat customers are more valuable than new ones because those who already have confidence in your business generally spend more money on your products and are willing to recommend your company to friends. Unfortunately, making a great first impression during a patron’s initial visit is not enough to secure his or her business well into the future. Encouraging loyalty in consumers requires careful strategizing and investment of time and resources.

Here are four things your company can do to ensure your customer’s first visit is not their last.

  1. Provide Superior Products
    A critical factor in earning patrons’ continued business is offering goods that exceed people’s expectations. High-quality products should be visually appealing, effective, and simple to obtain and use. When consumers feel they can depend on your company to provide a good value for the money they spend, they are more likely to continue working with you moving forward. This also applies to the way you serve patrons, as, according to Ameritas, statistics show that customer service has a significant impact on the likelihood of keeping current clients and earning their recommendations. Make sure your company is reachable, friendly, and quick to resolve issues.

    While offering exceptional products and services may seem to be straightforward, it isn’t always simple in practice. A good way to improve your skills related to marketing, managing employees, budgeting and similar tasks is to return to school to earn your Master of Business Administration degree. MBA programs cover a wide range of topics to sharpen your business acumen in all these areas and more. And a reputable online MBA degree program gives you the flexibility you need to earn your degree on your terms. You can earn while you learn, continuing to work full-time and manage your responsibilities while earning your degree without having to attend in-person classes.

  1. Foster a Sense of Community
    Although connecting with individuals is a key aspect of holistic marketing techniques, Inc. magazine notes that experienced businesspeople argue that bringing patrons together as a community is another effective way to hold on to previous customers. To accomplish this, your company must consistently provide useful content and engage with patrons on public forums. For instance, you could regularly post updates on social media that people can follow to learn about new merchandise or upcoming events. For automated, high-quality posts and top-notch social media content and service, contact the pros at Steady Radiance Design!
  1. Reward Loyalty
    Harvard Business Review notes studies have shown that rewards programs are an effective way to establish long-term customer relationships. Even so, these strategies must be carefully planned so they target the most valuable patrons without sacrificing profits. There are a number of different types of rewards programs commonly used by various businesses, including tier, subscription, point and partner programs. Though the style you employ depends on your business model, the overall goal is to offer a future benefit that clients can earn by spending more money on your products and services.
  1. Clarify Your Identity and Mission
    While it may seem that consumers do not care who you are as long as you offer what they need, companies’ values are often very important to the public. When patrons feel they share key worldviews with your business, they are much more likely to support you with their purchases. Company goals may vary widely, but they generally speak to a desire to improve the world or individuals’ lives in some way.

Whether your business is large or small, in person or online, repeat customers are essential to your success. Remember to establish relationships with your patrons and to earn their confidence by allowing them to get to know your company and the surrounding community while enjoying your products.

How to Have a Successful In-Person Event

It’s been a long year and many live, in-person events have been put on hold due to the pandemic. That doesn’t mean that live events are a thing of the past though. We’re slowly starting to see them come back and we think people are ready to get out of their houses and attend more in-person events! From conferences and workshops to fairs and festivals, we still think it’s definitely possible to have a successful in-person event. We fully support the idea of keeping your business and your community safe, so please keep that in mind before planning an in-person event! Even if it can’t happen now, there’s no better time to start the planning phase than right now!

Having a successful in-person event requires a little more work than a webinar or Zoom event, but they are much more profitable and fun for all involved. Sure, they take a bit of planning, but if you follow these tips you’ll be well on your way.

  1. Have a Clear Objective – Your first need is to have a clear objective for the event. That is the only way you can successfully market it to your audience as well as potential JV partners and sponsors. People can see when something is well-considered or not.
  2. Find JV Partners – A joint venture partner (or two or three) can help you pull off a much larger and well-attended event than if you did it all alone. The JV partners should be people who offer complementary products and services to yours rather than direct competitors.
  3. Hire an Event Planner – The cost of an event planner is more than worth it when you consider all the little things that need to be done to ensure your event goes smoothly. An experienced event planner can actually save you money by helping prevent costly mistakes.
  4. Recruit Volunteers – Once you know that the event is going to happen and you’ve sold a few tickets, it’s time to recruit some volunteers. The best volunteers are those who have signed up for information about your event but for whatever reason cannot afford to go but fit within your demographic.
  5. Market Everywhere – Well, market wherever your audience lives, plays, works, and socializes. Your marketing should be directed and specific in order to get a good response. You can have Facebook Live videos, webinars, articles, blog posts, eReports, and more to promote your event. Everyone involved should be promoting the event. Also, consider advertising your event in the local paper or on local radio stations to attract new people who might not find you online.
  6. Collect Leads – During your marketing, find ways to collect leads because the people you market to via email directly are more likely to sign up for your event than people who find your information in other ways. Consider allowing affiliates to market your event too.
  7. Land Sponsorships – If you can land a well-known sponsor for your event it will make your event seem even more impressive when you say “sponsored by XYZ Corporation” if that corporation or entity is well known and trusted by your audience.
  8. Choose the Right Venue – One of the most important decisions you’ll make is where your event will occur. Ensure that the space is right for the size of your event. You don’t want people to feel too crowded, or as if they are swallowed up by the venue. You also want the style of the event to fit in with the style your audience has in terms of them worrying about what to wear and how to present themselves.
  9. Get Technical Help – Even if you’re great with technology, monitors, computers, microphones, and whatnot you really want someone else to take care of these issues. You want to be a personality at the event, not the technical person because it will take away from some of the fun for you. You’ll have enough things to do as it is.
  10. Practice the Performance – Your speech, the order of the talks, the use of the technology, and so forth needs to be completed on-site at the event location when possible to avoid any issues with lighting, technology, or even walking up a step or two to get to the podium. This will make you all look more professional and avoid mishaps.
  11. Test Technology – It’s been mentioned more than once in this list, but that’s how important it is. You should ask speakers to send you a copy of their presentation prior to the event so that if something happens you’ll have a copy, they’ll have a copy, and put a copy in the cloud just in case. But do not assume the internet will work. Have backup plans.
  12. Allow for Breaks – Don’t forget to put realistic breaks into your event so that your participants do not get too fatigued or uncomfortable. Even interesting talks can put people to sleep if they are uncomfortable, hungry, or need to use the restroom.
  13. Ensure the Temperature is Comfortable – A very important component of a successful event is how the environment feels to the participants. You don’t want it to be too cold or too warm in the location. If there is an issue, ask it to be fixed on behalf of your guests.
  14. Serve Healthy Food – It’s tempting to go crazy and serve heavy food that will shock and awe the participants but you really want them to focus on your message and not their full and possibly sick and overfed stomachs. Give options for different types of people. You can survey those who purchased a ticket to ensure the food choice fits most people.

Good planning and plenty of forethought will help ensure a successful in-person event. Not only that, but you’ll be able to create a profitable and fun outing for everyone involved.

3 Tips for Better Live Videos

Live videos are everywhere – Periscope, YouTube, Facebook, and who knows how many more in the future.

Live video is clearly the hottest thing since Facebook, and marketers in every niche are taking advantage by hosting their own events.

Some of them are good. They’re well attended, fun to watch, and you feel like you benefitted from attending. But some of them feel like they’re an afterthought, put together at the last minute, and don’t really bring out the best in the host.

If you’re thinking of hosting a live video event, you don’t want to fall into that latter group! Here’s how to avoid it.

Promote, Promote, Promote

On many platforms, a live video event is just a few clicks away. You can literally plan and host a video in just a few minutes, and an impromptu event can be fun.

But with a little planning, you’ll have a much better turnout. And that planning must include promotion.

Let your private groups know about upcoming events. Email your list. Post a blog. Even consider running paid ads for your upcoming video event if there’s the potential to grow your list or increase your sales.

In short, don’t throw a party without extending invitations to your friends!

Interact with Your Audience

One of the biggest draws of a live video event is the opportunity to interact with the host. Your viewers want to get to know you better. They want to chat with the other participants. They may have questions to ask.

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring them. To do so is to say, “You’re not important to me.”

Instead, take the time to chat up the audience, acknowledge their presence, and answer their questions. Even if it takes you out of the flow and you lose your place momentarily, it’s worth it to make viewers feel respected and as if they’re a part of the event rather than just a passive viewer.

Remember to check the comments later, too. If your video is available for viewing after the live event is over, encourage the conversation in the comments.

Repeat What Works

You have a lot of options when it comes to live video. Periscope, YouTube, Facebook, and others all have their place, and I encourage you to try them all. But in the end, you’ll want to concentrate on what’s working.

If your audience loves Facebook but can’t figure out Periscope, it makes no sense to broadcast there. The same goes for length, topic choices, and day and time of broadcast. You’ll want to test all the variables, track your results, and do more of what’s working.

Here’s what you don’t need to worry about when it comes to live video: Perfection.

No one expects you to look like a cover model or to speak like a news anchor. In fact, if you do look that perfect, it might actually negatively impact your results, simply because your audience loves to feel connected to you. They know they aren’t perfect, and if you can show off your imperfections, it will help create a stronger connection.

BONUS TIP – Topic Ideas for Live Videos:

If you’re struggling to think of topics for your live videos, here are some great options to get the juices flowing!

  • Behind the scenes for your business (what goes into making your business run, how you make the things you sell, etc.)
  • How-to videos for something you’re great at
  • On-location at conferences, conventions, festivals, or fairs that relate to your business
  • Interviews with staff, other business owners in your industries, past clients, etc.
  • How your product or service solves problems (read this to learn how to identify your potential client’s problems a.k.a. pain points)

No matter if your video is impromptu or planned and no matter the topic, the one thing you absolutely must remember is to be yourself. It’s usually quite obvious when someone is pretending or trying hard to be something they’re not, and you are amazing and have so much to offer the world. So just be you and you’ll already be ahead of the game.

Email Subject Lines That Increase Your Open Rates

It’s one metric we consistently watch and try to improve: email open rates. There’s a good reason for it, too. If your subscribers aren’t opening your email, then they can’t read about:

  • Your newest coaching program
  • Your latest must-have tool discovery
  • That epic blog post you just wrote

The trouble is, you only have about two seconds to entice a reader to open your email. Even worse, you have to do it in ten words or less.
Yikes! That’s a pretty tall order, even for seasoned copywriters. But there are some simple tricks you can use with your email subject lines.

Be Ambiguous

If you’ve been on Facebook lately you’ve no doubt seen those “clickbait” headlines that say things like, “She adds this to a box of Wheat Thins and I’m drooling!” The reason headlines like that work is because we can’t help but want to know what “this” is that she’s adding to her Wheat Thins. Is it sugar? Salt? Peanut butter? We imagine the possibilities, but in the end, we have to find out, so we click.
You can employ the same technique in your email subject lines. Just substitute the word “this” for the actual thing you’re writing about, and you’ve got instant enticement.

Use Numbers

Here’s another strategy for creating must-read content: numbers.
“7 Hidden Benefits of Waking Up at 5am”
“3 Unlikely Ways to Close the Sale”
“5 Social Media Platforms You Shouldn’t Be Ignoring”
The reason numbers work so well in subject lines is because we are ego-centric and curious. We simply must know if we already use those three ways to close the sale. We will either walk away feeling good for being a marketing maven, or we will have learned something. Both are compelling reasons to open an email.

Use Power Words

Just as with all writing, choosing power words is far more effective than settling for their weaker counterparts. Imagine these two subject lines appear in your inbox. Which are you more likely to open:
“WordPress Makes Better Looking Websites for Non-Designers”
or
“Create a Gorgeous Website—Even if You’re Not a Designer”
While both subjects offer the same information, the first is weak, while the second is far more compelling.

When it comes to email subjects, there are a few more tips to keep in mind if you want to up your open rates:

  • Keep it short – no more than 10 words at the very most, and fewer if you can.
  • Test everything. Use your autoresponder’s split-testing functionality to see which subject line styles perform best in your market.
  • Use personalization, but sparingly. Occasional use of your reader’s first name can be a powerful technique.

Here’s the bottom line: If your subscribers aren’t opening your email, they’re not buying. Paying closer attention to your email subject lines is the single most important thing you can do for your email marketing campaigns.

Generate More Sales and Repeat Customers With Automation

As any smart business owner knows, the key to passive income is a well-established (and full) funnel.
So of course you’ve optimized your opt-in pages and monetized your download pages and encourage more buyers through well-placed upsells and downsells.

Well done! But what about the follow-up?

Do you contact customers about the products or services they didn’t buy? Do you encourage them to use the products they have purchased? Are you making sure they know about all your other wonderful programs?
If not, you’re missing the boat. But the good news is, this can be easily managed with just a bit of simple automation, and when done right, it will smoothly lead your customers from one purchase to the next, at the exact right time for them to take advantage of your best offers.

Segment Your Audience

Many autoresponder services allow you to target emails based on reader action. Want to send a follow-up email to those who clicked a specific link? Create a segment and mail away. Want to re-engage with those who haven’t opened your emails in a while? Easy to do, and you can potentially recover subscribers who have gone missing.
In more sophisticated systems you can dig even deeper, and move people from one series to another based on their buying habits. That way you’ll never promote a product a reader already owns. Not only that, but you’ll always be able to offer the very best next thing, no matter where a subscriber is in your funnel.

Still another way to segment your list is according to what they do not buy. If a subscriber has been on a list where you’re promoting your top-level coaching program, and she has not yet purchased, it may simply be too expensive for her at this time. Consider moving these readers to an autoresponder series promoting a lower cost option instead.

All of these tactics require that you know your audience and your products exceptionally well. Study your stats. Know your open and click rates. Pay attention to the promotions that work, as well as those that fall flat. With that information in hand, you’ll be better able to effectively segment your lists and make the most of all the parts of your funnel.

Common Mistakes That Send Affiliate Partners Running

Affiliate Partners are a huge asset for any coach or product seller. They’re the ones who are out there singing your praises, spreading the word about your services, and helping you reach a larger audience than you could on your own. Not only that, but they generously lend their good name and reputation to your business, so it makes sense that you want to treat them as well as possible.
But there are some mistakes that product sellers make over and over again that will frustrate and even turn your potential affiliates away. Here’s how to fix them.

No Promotional Calendar

Busy entrepreneurs are obsessive planners. They know they need to produce content, mail their lists, create products, speak at events, and all the other marketing tasks that go with owning a business. They very likely maintain a calendar that helps them stay focused and on track. If you want them to promote you, it’s a good idea to publish your own promotional calendar so they know what’s coming up.
This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and it doesn’t have to stretch for weeks or months ahead, but it should give them a bit of notice about upcoming launches so they can work your products into their schedule.

Launching Without Them

Got a big product launch coming up? Excellent! But don’t even think about launching without your affiliates on board. Your lists most likely have some overlap, and promoting to your list before you allow affiliates to mail will result in lost sales for them—and angry affiliates who won’t be anxious to promote you again.

Stealing Their Sales

This should go without saying, but if you’re considering creating your own affiliate link for your products, stop. Mailing your list or posting on Facebook with your own affiliate link will—in most systems—result in your promotions overriding those of your affiliates. In short, you’ll be stealing their sales, and no affiliate partner will want to promote you after that.
If you need a tracking link, there are far better ways to go about it than to create an affiliate link in your own system.

Slow Pay

No excuse is ever good enough for failing to pay your affiliates on time. If you promise to pay monthly, then you must make that a priority. It’s never okay to “borrow” from your affiliate payments to cover an unexpected bill or take advantage of an opportunity. To do so is bad form, bad karma, and will give you a reputation for unreliability.

Your affiliate partners are some of your most precious assets. Treat them as such, and they will return the favor with increased sales, more leads, and plenty of social love.

3 Proven Ways to Market Your Business (Marketing Made Easy)

The world is filled with great ideas and broke business owners with fabulous products but no sales.
The fact is, ideas are not what drives most businesses success. Marketing does. So before you quit your day job to branch out on your own, it pays to have a solid marketing plan in place. Start with these 5 ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Free Webinars

For information product sellers, coaches, and service providers, one of the best sources of new clients is in free training webinars. No matter what your niche, the promise of in-depth training at no cost is enough to entice potential clients to part with an email address (which you’ll be able to market to later) and an hour of their time.
Not only that, but webinars are a fantastic way for those potential customers to get to know you better. And the better they know you, the more likely they are to buy.

Content Marketing

Not comfortable hosting a webinar? Hit the keyboard and start sharing your thoughts and ideas via your blog, ebooks, guest articles, and other written content. For internet marketers, this gives readers a taste of what they can expect from your product. If you sell physical products, it provides the perfect opportunity to share useful tips and other important information with your buyers.
Of course, there’s another important benefit to content marketing, too: search engine optimization. Google and other search engines index the words on your website and use the information to present search results to their users. Content marketing is a tool you can use to make the most of these results and to bring more potential buyers to your website.

Paid Advertising

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google, and plenty of other sites all offer paid placement, and with today’s powerful analytics tools, it’s easy to create ads and drive traffic inexpensively. Consider starting with Facebook, since the cost is low and it’s easy to target your ads to your ideal client. Once you’ve perfected your funnel, you can branch out into more costly ads with a larger reach, such as Google AdWords or another ad network.

Don’t limit yourself to these three marketing methods though. There are dozens of others you can try, including affiliate programs, automated funnels, direct mail campaigns, and even television advertising. The key is to keep testing and tweaking to make the most of every marketing effort so that your business continues to grow.

The Art of the Soft Sell: How to Get the Click on Your Sales Page Without (Really) Asking for It

We’ve all seen those old-style sales pages filled with yellow highlights and screaming red text and lots of “BUY NOW” buttons, and when we think of copywriting, that’s often what comes to mind. While that style of sales page can be effective, it’s not the only way to make sales.
In fact, by taking a more subtle approach, you might even find that you generate more interest—and potentially more sales.

Stories Sell

One effective way to entice readers to click through to your sales page is with stories. These can be your stories or those of other people, with the goal of helping your readers to see themselves in the same situation.
Did you help a client turn her chaotic household into a calm oasis with better organizational skills? Her story on your sales page will get more clicks than all the yellow highlights you can buy.
What about that time you trashed your entire business plan and started over because you simply weren’t passionate about your work? Your potential business coaching clients will be anxious to learn more and will click through without you even asking.
That’s the power of stories, and you can use them everywhere: in your blog posts, in your emails, on your sales pages, and even in videos and on social media.

Be Genuinely Helpful

Want to build a reputation as the go-to person in your niche? All it takes is to help people. Answer questions on social media, volunteer to speak to groups who need your advice, write blog posts that address the most common issues your readers face.
By volunteering your time and knowledge, you’ll attract a wide audience of potential customers who may need your services in the future. Who will they turn to? That very helpful person who went out of their way to offer assistance in the past.
Now we’re not saying you have to give away all your time, but if you really want to show off your expertise, you can’t do better than a little volunteer work. Not only will you make an impression with the person you help. But chances are good they’ll share with their friends as well, further expanding your audience.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that there is no place in your business for a strong call to action. “Click here to buy” and “Learn more right now” are still useful (and even necessary) on sales and opt-in pages. The key is to know when to make a subtle offer, and when to offer a bit more hand-holding.