Many of the small business owners I know are looking for brand new ways to boost revenues after a lousy 2009. Here are a dozen ideas on how to grow your sales. A few of them are so obvious that I know you already know them, but I think there’s some value in having them all listed in one place.
Even if you had a great 2009, it’s never a bad idea to brainstorm new ways to make your business more profitable. As you read through the list, which ones are right for you? Are there any that provide some “low-hanging fruit,” i.e. quick profits with less effort?
- If you have an hourly business model, ask yourself how you can sell more hours. I just spoke to a group that spent only 30 – 40 percent of their time on billable work for clients. The rest of their time was spent on admin and marketing. That’s too low; it should be double. This group needs to either delegate their admin to assistants or sell more of their billable time.
- Raise your rates. In this economy, you’ll want to be careful about this option. One example of a good time to raise your price is when you’ve gained new skills or a new certification that your client values.
- Go after a different type of client that will pay more. If you currently sell to small businesses, try moving up into medium-sized enterprises, which will pay more. (This is counter-intuitive, but right now, if you serve large businesses, drop down into medium-sized businesses. Their budgets are less likely to be frozen.) Also, look to do more business with businesses in industries that are recession-proof.
- Raise your total sale per client. Sell more to each client you already have. This greatly reduces marketing costs and time.
- Teach people to do what you do. This gives you a whole new service line and opens you up to a different client base. If a lot of your competitors are out of work and you are a leader in the field, this is a perfect way to reposition yourself in the new economy.
- Sell other people’s stuff and receive a commission. A good example is an accountant who helps clients with QuickBooks can sell them QuickBooks and receive a commission from Intuit from the sale. This is also called becoming an affiliate. If you have a great following, take a look at what they need, and see if you can find a product that fits their needs.
- Develop a new service line that complements your business. If you’re a speaker, you may be a great speech coach for others who have a talk coming up and need help. It’s no small task to develop a whole new service line, of course, but the businesses who have all their eggs in one basket will take longer to recover in this economy.
- Develop a product that clients can buy to implement your service. If you’re a writer, write a book to teach people how to write.
- Build a team. Add employees or contractors so you can serve more clients and bill for both their time and yours.
- Consider new revenue models besides the traditional service model. In a service model that is priced by the hourly rate, you serve clients one at a time. How can you serve more than one client at a time to leverage your knowledge and time, and to boost your income? One idea is to hold an event.
- Make your service time more efficient. Do you travel from client to client, losing time that you could be billing? If so, see if you can use technology to meet with the client remotely, cutting down your unbillable time.
- Automate or delegate as much marketing, admin, and even billable hours that you dare to, to free up more of your time for your higher-paying, thought-provoking work.