One of the core messages we often receive as business owners is that in order for a business to be successful it must grow. Indeed, government and other funding bodies allocate money and grants entirely based on whether you're growing, are trying to grow or your ability to employ more people.
But, my experience of micro businesses (mostly the 0-5 employee size) says something slightly different. It's often not 'growth' in its traditional sense that's the big goal. Businesses are much more likely to want to improve their income or turnover, make more on what they sell or perhaps think of getting more help in their business, either with an employee or contractor keeping their business in a thriving state that makes life positive and finances growing without more risk.
So how can we, as micro businesses, create more income in our little enterprises without having to grow in a straight line so that our businesses become bigger than we ever wanted or needed? What if we want our companies to stay flexible, and bijou without the the potential pressure of employees, larger rent or more work that's hard to manage.
The simple answer is often more of a tweak and mindset reset than large wholesale change. That said, of course some of you will want to head towards scaling your business and these ideas might help you take steps towards that too!
Here are some ideas and reminders that might help you see where more income can come from and how you can take a step towards more financial freedom.
It goes without saying in some ways that we need to foster a 'growth mindset' if we're going to prime our brains for creative ideas and determination to succeed. There are many brilliant people out there who talk about an 'abundance mindset' i.e. thinking about money in the wider context of abundance to allow us to see all the opportunities that surround us. Why not start by checking in with your inner voice and how you talk about money in general and note what words are repeated. Are you someone who says things like 'I'm skint' or 'money is always tight' or 'everything is so expensive'? Although you may feel that these things are true, you're also establishing a mindset that there's a limit to what money comes your way or your ability to create more flow of money into your life. Far from being 'woo woo', science shows us that the more we operate a positive or growth approach in our language and self talk, the more creative we will be, the more opportunities we'll notice and the more agile we will remain.
Using your value to unlock opportunity
It's useful to revisit the real value that we offer as a business to unlock potential and ideas. Our 'value proposition' in our business is defined as the additional value that we provide to our customers in relation to the function of what we do and compared to others. For example, if you sell handmade products, it will not only be their beauty and function that sells them but the raw materials you use, how ethical you are, how you make them, how long they last and the stories you tell about you the maker. If we use this example, then let's take a moment to imagine how the 'value' that a maker like this creates could be harnessed to create more income. How about workshops to learn the basics of what they do. What about limited editions? What about collaborations with other high end brands or retailers? Take time to step back from your business and think about the wider value that you really bring and how you could expand your offer or create higher ticket offers that could impact your turnover.
Upgrade your customer journey
What you already do is fabulous but perhaps there's an opportunity to welcome or encourage more custom. It could be new customers that take the decision to buy or existing customers that upgrade what they buy. You can do this by tweaking and refining your customer journey to help those travelling to take action and the action you want. Start by breaking down all the ways in which your audience can access your business and the encouragements you've added in to prompt them to the next step. For example, you might use Instagram from where you want the audience to visit your website or sign up to your email news or perhaps access a free taster. It's useful to draw these out on a large piece of paper and the think of better ways to join each element and what small innovations you could implement to amplify each step in the journey. Can you gain more customers this way or can you encourage people to buy again or buy more?
Get some help
It sounds counter productive to mention that you might want to hire help but perhaps an investment like that could help create more income. Imagine that you were able to unlock additional income by streamlining your book keeping or that you got an expert to help you with a task that takes you forever to complete and takes you away from your 'earning' work. Think about all the tasks and processes within your business and ask yourself what impact each has on earning potential. Now think about which of those tasks must be done by you e.g. you make something, you deliver a service or your voice is essential to your blog or social content. If you had more hours in the week to do those earning tasks by offloading other tasks that take time but don't impact income directly, what difference could that make? Play with some numbers and you might be surprised.
If any of these tips prompt some action or give you some ideas, then why not hop over to the Member Hub Forum and natter there - you never know what connections can be made.