Isn’t there something giddy about the new year period? Something heady and liberating? An explosion of possibilities, each more exciting than the last, combined with a cathartic clean slate?
Of course, it’s just a date on a man-made calendar says cynical you, but idealistic you is too busy splashing in an ocean of elation to hear.
If this the year you finally make the money that you’ve been dreaming about then it’s time to stop dreaming and start doing, with these 13 steps that together, will double your earnings.*
At the end of each step are a few questions to ponder. Write down your answers in one document and then start implementing.
1: Double your earnings: declare yourself in business
I can’t count the number of people I’ve met who are denial about being in business. Even though they send invoices and take care of their own taxes. Oftentimes this is because they think that “business” looks very different from what they do, or that people in business act a certain way that they don’t relate to.
If you want to double your earnings, you need to recognise that you’re in business. This might involve taking back ownership of the word ‘business’ or rejigging your sense of identity. If you identify as someone who ‘does what they love’ but isn’t an ‘owner’, a ‘boss’ or ‘in business’, then it’s likely that you’ll always struggle to earn a good income.
How do you introduce yourself to others? If you tell people you’re in business for yourself, what are the exact words or phrases you use? Do these give the impression that you want to give, or could they be tweaked?
2: Recognise that you’re in service
If you don’t sell products then, regardless of whether you’re a yoga teacher, psychologist, graphic designer or marketing consultant, you are in service. People don’t necessarily refer business to the most talented professional but to the professional who gave the best service possible.
You’re not only selling your professional services, you’re instilling confidence in your abilities, allaying any fears or doubts, informing clients of work in progress, and better enabling clients to use your services in the best possible way.
Do you have a process to onboard new clients? How could this be improved to set expectations and give all the essential detail (and none of the fluff)? How do you measure your clients’ satisfaction? Could this be improved and streamlined? Do you need to create a project completion process that is thorough as well as personal?
3: Take ‘self-worth’ out of it
For the love of all things holy, can we please stop conflating self-worth with earnings with feminism? We’re only muddying the waters of business and creating further distractions for ourselves.
Your self-worth has nothing to do with how much you earn in business, otherwise it would be seriously fragile.
If a prospect tries to negotiate your prices, asks for an extension on your payment terms or asks you to work for the ever-elusive ‘exposure’ rather than payment, it’s not because you lack self-worth, it’s simply because they are trying it on. Depending on the circumstances, you may choose to make an exception – again, not because you’re lacking in self-worth, but because you’re human and perhaps it’s in your best interests too.
Confidence is needed in business but this can be practiced. Your self-worth is different – it’s invaluable and has nothing to do with your earnings.
4: Acknowledge what you want to earn
To achieve anything, the first step is to visualise it. So what do you want to earn? Add tax on top and then divide by twelve. Now you have a monthly target to aim for. Remember, this is net earnings, not gross earnings.
5: Track your incomings and outgoings
I meet far too many business owners who don’t have an accurate picture of their monthly incomings or outgoings. Knowing your break-even point is essential to making smart business decisions.
How much do you need to earn every week or month to cover your expenses?
Looking at your revenue, which offering brings in the majority of your income? What offering brings in the least?
What marketing expenses do you have that aren’t paying for themselves? If you have a marketing expense that you know pays for itself, how can you increase your spending on this?
6: Change up your business model
Your business model needs to make sense for your goals, not the other way around. Each business model requires a different approach to make it work.
If your income goals, lifestyle and personal tendencies aren’t in harmony with your business model, it’s about time that you designed your business to work for you.
What are your income goals? Do your income goals correlate with your business model? If not, in what ways?
Does your business make sense with your lifestyle? If not, in what ways?
7: Sell premium products
Premium priced products can make up a disproportionate contribution to your business profits. Not only are premium priced products good for doubling your earnings, they also tend to be great at better retaining clients and improving your levels of client satisfaction.
Clients often leave businesses because they aren’t able to get more from your services or aren’t aware that you have more to offer.
What is the logical ‘next step’ for clients from your existing service offerings? How can you create a better, more fulfilling experience of your offerings?
8: Learn to upsell
Upselling isn’t only about improving profits – it’s about offering clients other options that they may not have been aware of. This might involve selling clients on your premium priced or more profitable services, but it is also about giving the client a better overall experience of your business.
What services do you think should be selling better that aren’t, and which of your other offerings complement this under-sold offering? What do you think that clients need to consider that they don’t tend to? How can you make upselling habitual? Can you offer your staff an incentive to upsell?
9: Get out of your business
You likely already know that you need to spend less time on the nitty gritty of business and more time on your long-term growth strategy and sales. If you’re not making time to work on your business then here’s a hint – you’ll never find the time unless you make the time.
This likely involves a combination of scheduling and prioritising your time better, or outsourcing and delegating more.
What day are you going to schedule for regular strategy and sales work? What tasks should you drop this year to free up more time for this high-value work?
10: Change the conversation
In the Mad Men television series, Don Draper advises his colleague to “change the conversation”. We see this most often in media interviews with politicians who are skilled in the art of persuasion – they can change the focus of an interview, effectively using the media as a mouthpiece. Sometimes the conversation that needs changing is simply a lack of engagement with our content marketing, social media updates or PR strategy.
What is your industry focusing on that you think is far less relevant or interesting? What do you think your industry should be focusing on? What are your clients or customers focusing on that relates to what you do? How could you join that conversation, while moving the focus a little towards what you believe is more important?
11: Get help
You don’t need help with everything. You likely know more than you appreciate and have more opportunities than you believe. But you do need help. Not because you’re lacking but because you’re wanting more.
You can’t double your income with the same skillset and attitude as you had last year. You need to improve some particular skills and boost your attitude so it’s as robust as possible. A business coach can help with both (though they tend to be good at only two things).
What key skills do you believe you need to improve? When does your attitude let you down? What likely causes your attitude to let you down?
12: Be your own cheerleader
Your attitude is your most valuable business asset. A key skill in business – and in life – is to take the hard knocks and every day tragedies that everyone is privy to while remaining upbeat and hopeful.
Now I’m not talking about delusion, nor am I brushing over the importance of grieving or taking time out. These are important. But emotional resilience helps with both of these and it’s vital to your business’s bottom line.
How do you recharge your batteries? When do you do this? Do you need to schedule this in to make it a priority?
13: Declare your CEO status
Isn’t it time you declared your CEO status? Becoming boss means taking responsibility for your wins and losses, making smart decisions like a ninja, managing money with skill, delegating appropriately, seeking wise counsel, and treating your time off with respect.
In what ways don’t you act like a boss? In what ways can you start deliberately acting like a boss?
Are you ready to double your earnings this year? Then check out Hustle & Heart.