In my last blog, I talked about why you don’t need to prove yourself to everyone before you offer. Now, let me share with you 5 things you can do to increase your confidence about a product or service offer.
You don't have to do all five. You don't have to do any of them if you don't want to. But it gives you at least some knowledge about the things you can do if you want to elevate your confidence before you make that offer and potentially make a better offer.
#1: Conducting research
A lot of times before I offer a new product or service, I do market research. I often start with a SWOT analysis. I'm going to look for my strengths, my weaknesses, my opportunities, and the threats to me and in my business, but you can also do this with a product or service.
This will also help you when you move into market research and start interviewing your target audience. It'll help you to understand their needs and wants much better.
Sidenote, it might also move one of these people helping you with market research to eventually purchase from you. You might be able to move them into being one of your customers because you're going to give them exactly what they're wanting.
Another thing under this umbrella of conducting market research or doing your research is that it'll help you identify potential competitors and gaps in the market that your product or your service can fill. That's how I started the Dynamic Women group because I was out networking, and I was so sick of surface-level, pressure-based, sales-driven networking, where it was just about selling to each other. If they couldn’t make a customer out of you then they’d have no use for you. There was not enough relationship building. I saw there was a huge gap that needed to be filled, so I offered the Dynamic Women Global Club.
Also, by doing research, it's going to help you to be able to refine your product or your service. Why? To better meet the needs of your target market, not to refine it to make it perfect per se, but to just give them exactly what they're looking for.
This is how research is one way you can increase your confidence and provide a better product or service.
#2: Gathering feedback
You can go to potential customers, so not just market research, but potential customers and gather feedback from them. It can help you understand, “How do they perceive this product, this service that I'm going to offer?”
You can identify at that point, any issues, any concerns they have about it, and make improvements before you launch. In my previous blog, I shared about how we don't have to offer free or beta products. Also, that we shouldn't fully develop a product or a service, like a course, until we kind of start to jump into it and offer it and make sure there's a need for it.
Gathering feedback and developing it as you go will allow you to launch earlier. I had a course I fully developed before I launched it. Then when I did, no one bought it. That's because the name was wrong. The name made people feel intimidated. Instead, I thought it would give them permission to not have that trouble. But instead, it evoked a limiting belief in them.
Just by a simple name change, I was able to have a better course that actually sold, but not until I rebranded it. The problem was I had already recorded the materials and so I had to re-record videos and remake handouts, which was really annoying. Gathering feedback would have really helped me to make this improvement.
You can do this in many different ways like surveys, focus groups, and yes, you can do a beta version, but let's not call it beta. Let's just reach out to people and say, “Hey, I'm going to offer this course, program, or service to a small group of customers, I'm inviting you before I offer it to the general public.” I did this with the Dynamic You program the very first time and 25 women paid to be in the program, invest to be in the program. I got paid, and they got results.
Is the program better now that I've run it a few dozen times? Of course, of course it is. Did they invest less money than people do now? They did. So I think that was a complete Win-Win!
#3: Test your product or service
Now, when you're testing them, you want to make sure you're testing in real world conditions. If you're going to test a course, or test a product, make sure it's with who is actually going to be the end user.
When I first started coaching, I offered 30 sample sessions in 30 days so that I could get better at coaching. What I said to people was, “I don't want you to say yes to having a session if you don't really want the coaching, and you just want to help me reach my goal.” You see, it’s nice, but that's not the real world for me. I want the people who are actually going to use it, not just family or friends or people who would never pay for it.
Try to find the right people to test it in the right conditions because that way, you're going to really be able to identify any issues, any bugs, make any improvements before launching.
It can also include conducting tests on “Is this usable?” You can run a pilot program to test for results if you want. Just offer it to a small group of customers before you make it public, get the feedback, make the changes, and then put it out there for real.
#4: Develop a marketing plan
This is often something that people don't do, even though it makes sense you would do it, even if you're going to offer a course pretty quickly. When you have the right marketing plan, it's going to help you to reach your target market. It'll help you to get the right interest in your product or service. If you're just going to throw it out there and hope that people find it and buy it, it's probably not going to happen.
Then that's going to kill your confidence.
Some pieces that you're going to want to have in your marketing plan are:
When someone asks me, “Which way should I market this?” I'm like, “Write them all down, and then pick as many as you want.” You might want to only have one way you market. There are some people that only do Facebook ads. Some people will only offer from the stage. Some people will only do podcast interviews. My feeling is why not do as many of these different options as you can. Do all of them so you can bring the required or your ideal number of sales in.
It's much easier when you have multiple ways to market your product/service, and to bring the clients in. That will increase your confidence rather than just trying to put all your eggs in one basket.
#5: Build a strong team
They can help you execute putting together the product or service, the marketing and the offer. They can also help to address any issues, any concerns that arise. I am so grateful that I have my two main virtual assistants, Kristine and Karissa, who help me to develop and market my products and services plus delivery to my clients.
I can be more confident because I’m not that great at building landing pages, email sequences, all these things. I can do them all, but do I want to do them? No. I want to stay in my own lane, which are skills in my zone of genius like talking on summits, having my own podcast, speaking from stage running events, doing sales calls and serving my clients. These are the things that I want to do. Having a team who can do everything else is great (and a relief).
Also it might mean that you hire experienced professionals. I have a business advisor. I have a speaker business coach. I have other professionals around me who provide different expertise in different areas, especially when I'm going to offer a product or service. Things they can help with might be product development, marketing, customer service, it might just be mindset.
A bad mindset is a thief of action. Sometimes it's clarity on what to do. So clarity, confidence and getting into action around the thing you're doing. Other times you need someone there to do the coaching piece to kick your butt and keep you accountable to be moving things along.
I just gave you five different things you can do to increase your confidence when you're offering a product or a service: conducting research, gathering the feedback, testing your product or service, developing a marketing plan, and building a strong team.
Take the steps. It can't hurt. You can do all of them. They will increase your confidence, and make your product or service even better when you make your offer. It can help you be better positioned for success when you're making your launch.
Which one are you going to do? All of them, some of them, one of them, or none of them? Let me know in the comments!
I'm encouraging you. If you have a specific topic you’d like me to answer or talk through it with you, then email me at email@example.com and let me know what it is.
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Are you sitting on a course, product or a service you feel like you have to prove yourself to everyone first before you offer it?
I've been in business for 12 years in my coaching practice, and I totally understand why people have these feelings before they offer because I personally have experienced them:
Where does this come from?
I've heard this from clients. I've even heard this from mentors of mine. Over the years, I've met colleagues and people when I've done speaking engagements who have said, “Yeah, I've always wanted to do that, but I haven’t” or “Oh, I'm developing it”. But they've been developing it for years.
If you continue to develop yourself or your offering forever without making an offer, what could happen is that by the time you are ready to offer, it's not what your ideal client needs anymore.
Or by the time you offer, it is not something your clients even wanted. But you have now spent so much time, energy, and money into developing something fully. Then you're not even going to get the rewards from it.
I'm quite passionate about this because so many women out there have really amazing offerings inside of them. They're hesitant. They feel like:
I had a client, and we talked about how she was going to start offering her courses. She's an expert in her industry and great at what she does, so I was so excited for her saying, “Okay, let's get these out there, Did you want to start with the ones you already have, the ones you're currently developing, or the new ones your clients have asked you for?”
Then she sent me a message and said, “You know, I haven't done it yet because I feel like I want to spend the next two months doing research and getting things ready. Then I’ll be able to prove myself because not everyone knows me yet.”
Well, that's right, not EVERYONE knows her. But how many times have you bought a product, and you didn't know the company's owner or you didn't know about the company? You just thought, “Oh, yeah, I want that” and you bought it. That's what happens so often.
When you offer the most amazing product that is perfect for your client, they usually don't care who made it. They're just like, “Can you deliver on what you're offering? Great, I want to get it.” You don't need to prove to everyone in the world that you can do something before you offer it. Otherwise, how will you ever be ready to offer the course?
I'm going to talk mainly about courses, but if you have a product or a service, please think about that as I continue on. Also, if you’re making a product and you’re going to manufacture it, and it will be a huge expenditure, then please do your do-diligence and do full research and a SWOT analysis. Take the time to do the backend of things because your upfront costs are so much higher than offering a course or a service.
It is possible to offer (sell) your courses before you fully create them. What do you need to be able to do that? Here are the 3 things:
The key part is you don’t have to develop every single module, with every single video, and every single handout already locked in. I'll tell you a little secret. The Dynamic You program was basically developed in 24 hours. The first module was developed, 24 hours before my clients started the program. Then as soon as I finished the coaching call about that first module, I’d be developing the next module and then the next day they would get it. I was only ever a day or two ahead of them.
The benefit of that, for me, has been that I can see what my clients are going through in the moment. I can add things. I can change things. I can change the order of when they learn different pieces. So know it’s an opportunity for you. It will answer questions such as:
Why is it okay to offer a product or a service before you have proven results?
Do you want to know probably the one reason your limiting beliefs are going to lock into? It is common practice in many industries, particularly in startups, small businesses, new ventures, where the product or service is still being developed or tested. It's common practice. It's normal to put things out there even in the start-up stage.
Now even if we think about products in the food industry. How many times have you seen a fast food restaurant say, “For a limited time” and they'll offer a special burger. They're testing it out. They're seeing how it does. Know that for the course or program you're offering, you can offer it for a limited time to just test it out. Then if it doesn’t work you pull it.
What you can do
There are several things you can do to improve your confidence about a product or a service. I was talking with someone who I saw as my mentor in my early years of business. I brought her my concerns, my questions, my worries, and my obstacles. I also shared my successes with her. One day she was sharing about how she needed to take another course and do another set of schooling before she would offer her course or program.
I said to her, “I bet if I brought together a group of people tomorrow, gave you two hours, you could teach them.” She said, “So of course, I could.” Well, there you go. There's your answer. She just felt she had to be more. But you don't.
Here's what you can do instead:
The 5 Steps
Now, you want to know the real secret here?
It's five steps, actually.
Step 1: Pick what you're passionate about.
Step 2: Run it
Just run it. Now a lot of times people say, “I'm going to run a beta course and I'm going to make it free.”
You don't have to.
Now, here's the one thing if you don't have the education behind it… if you don't have the knowledge. Don't offer.
This is the problem with overnight coaches: the people who haven't done any of the schooling or certification to be a coach. Please don't go out there and offer courses, services, and programs if you don’t have the background.
On the flip side you don't need to get yet another certificate before you can offer. Enough already. Make your offer and don’t give is away for free or peanuts because you’re new or it’s new.
Not sure where you fit in this? Here's the question, you can ask yourself: Will your clients or customers have the intended result by the end of that course or program? Can you guarantee that?
Step 3: Deliver on your promise
This is a key thing - deliver on your promise.
If you're guaranteeing they’re going to make a million dollars by the end of your 30-day course, you better make sure they can do that. If you’re guaranteeing they're going to have a plan or a blueprint filled in for how they're going to increase their marketing, their sales, their confidence, whatever it may be, if you can guarantee they're going to get to the end and be able to do or have what you say they can, then by all means, go and offer. It's that easy.
If by chance your customer or client doesn't have that intended result, what are you going to do about it? If they don't have the intended result, and they’ve done all of the work to get there. We have to be responsible for it.
If a client says to you, “Oh, I didn't get the result you promised.” Look at their progress. If they didn't do the work. They didn't fill in the activities and didn't attend the sessions. Of course, they didn't get the result. They didn't go through your process. They didn't finish it.
If they did all the work, if they went through the program, and they didn't get the intended result, what would you do about it? Will you offer to support them on-on-one until they have that result? Will you let them go through the program again? Will you give them a refund? What's your guarantee if they don't get the results? If you commit to making it right then you can offer.
Now, one thing with your customers too, as you develop a new program, you need to manage the expectations of your customers, you need to be very transparent about where you're at with the development. For example, I'm often on Kickstarter. I'm supporting businesses that are starting out. One product I backed about a year and a half ago and I still don't have the product. However, they give me updates every month or so about where they're at with it and why it's not ready. I appreciate their transparency and communication.
Also, in the beginning with my VA Made Easy program, I said to the first eight clients, “Okay, we're going to figure it out as we go. I'm going to put all my effort in, and I'm going to give you the process I see best at this time, but things will probably change.” Now that I have 38 clients in the program who are using my virtual assistants, I've said to them, “Some Modules will be recorded again.” I keep communicating clearly about what's happening. As I learn more, the program grows.
The way you offer something in the early stages might then be different later on because of unforeseen issues, new learnings, and an evolving process. My Dynamic You program started off as a 45-minute workshop. It’s now a four-week program with modules, group coaching sessions, or it's a one-day live event with pre and post-sessions. It also became a retreat. There are many different ways I've been offering this over the years in order to give even better results, a more powerful experience and deeper impact.
Step 4: Get feedback and testimonials
As you go through your program or course, get that feedback and get testimonials.
How have I been able to do that? Here's the key: gather feedback along the process. Gather feedback from those early customers. This will help you to be able to develop that product or service over time. It also ensures that what you're offering is meeting the needs and the expectations of those customers or clients who purchase from you.
Step 5: Do it again
Do it again. You’re not done. Do it again. Offer it again. Unless it's absolute garbage, you're going to offer it again. You're going to make the changes, and you're going to offer it again.
For anyone who’s sitting there and saying, “I have to prove myself to everyone”, trust me, in every level you get to, you'll feel like you need to prove yourself at that new level.
I don't know how many times I bought things online or from people, and I haven't asked their background. I haven't asked how many courses they've taken or how many certifications they have.
I just look at the offer, and ask myself if I think they can take me from point A to point B faster than I can take myself, easier than I can take myself, and less painful than if I did it myself? If I see they can do that for me, great I buy itt. If they don't deliver on it, then well, I'm going to have a plan to recoup my time, energy, and money.
When you follow the 5 Steps, your clients/customers will be getting a great product from you and your expertise. So don't delay. Jump out there and put your offer out within the next 30 days. Give yourself a timeline. If you don't give yourself a timeline, it won't happen.
If you are thinking that this is, “Ok Diane, but I want to write a book”. Same thing. You don't need to prove yourself to anyone or everyone. How are you going to put a book out and already have social proof you’re a great author? It goes for everything that you do. You just need to step into it and make it happen.
I'm curious, what's the thing you're going to put into the world? Leave me a comment. Let me know.
If you're still feeling like you could really use some support to make this happen, why don't you reach out to me and we'll have a conversation. You can just email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll have a chat, and see how I can better support you to achieve your goals. If it’s putting a course out, definitely. I have a lot of lean strategies, a lot of efficiencies around getting it out there. If you want my team to help you put it out there, my virtual assistant team can make that happen.
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In my last blog, I talked about the 5 ways that will prepare your business for economic declines.
Now, is it possible to grow your business in a recession? There are steps that you can take to grow your business in a time like this when things are just so unpredictable.
Recessions bring hesitation to purchase. As business owners, it's kind of a crazy time because it can cause you to experience reduced sales and increased competition. To grow your business during this time, it may be helpful to take some steps and put some things into place.
The 5 Steps
Here are five steps I am currently doing in my business and will continue to do. I hope you will find them helpful to recession-proof your business now, and even during a recession they’ll help you to continue to build your business or at least maintain where it is.
We definitely want to make sure you’re in a place where you feel confident that you can still build or at least feel comfortable you can just ride out the storm. While I go through these five steps, ask yourself these two questions:
#1: Cut costs
This is something I am constantly doing. What does that mean? Costs are either operating costs or expenses in your business you have to pay for. It could be your:
The key thing here is to review your expenses. Look through every month what you're doing and spending your money on. I say spending because maybe you're throwing away money. Hopefully, when you put money into your expenses, it’s an investment because you know you can make your money back.
Review your expenses and identify areas where you can reduce your spending. We want to not only reduce, but consistently be able to reduce. When you focus on cost-cutting measures, it's going to help you reduce those costs you have every month, therefore increasing the profit that you get to take home without compromising the quality of your products or services.
There are some places you don't want to cheap out. There are some apps and some connections to my different programs that really help things to connect. If they don't connect, then it means maybe people have to be the ones to do that work. It may be costing us time in wages and labor. Maybe the customer experience isn't as good or mistakes are being made.
Another thing that I just did almost a year ago was cut down the platforms I use. I had a lot of platforms like Thinkific where I keep my courses, and I was also just about to purchase a membership platform. I also used ClickFunnels. I also have a CRM called Infusionsoft, which is really robust and quite expensive every month.
I was looking at all these pieces of software and thinking how can I get rid of some of them. Then a client offered me a platform, and I responded, “Oh my gosh, I don't need another piece of software that I pay for.” But the cool thing was I could replace Thinkific, which was like over $600 a year. I could replace ClickFunnels, which I think was $150 a month. I could potentially replace my CRM, though I have decided not to and I didn't have to purchase a membership site. That's a huge savings every month if I can just pay for one or as I look at it, invest in one piece of software that takes care of 3-4 or even more platforms. It's also a lot easier to deal with one than it is with all the different ones.
The other amazing part was this platform has a lifetime deal. I could invest once rather than monthly, so I figured out it was saving me at least $400 a month. So it would take only six months for me to be able to recoup the investment in that platform. You can try it out for free or get the same lifetime deal. Getting lifetime access to any platform for one low investment has been amazing.
Another way you can cut your costs is with your employees, or team members. Rather than paying for someone local or even within the United States or Canada, where you could be investing in someone who is $40-100 or more dollars an hour, you can cut costs by bringing on a virtual assistant from the Philippines. It's a service I offer. In my business, I've been able to increase the hours that I have with an assistant and decrease my costs by bringing Filipino VAs on board for my own business. That's a benefit you can have, too. Plus, when you hire virtual workers you don’t need to pay to rent an office, furnish it or pay the office electricity and Wifi bills.
#2: Customer retention
Do you know it’s much easier to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones? You may have heard this before, but now is the time to be providing excellent customer service and building strong relationships.
For longer than I probably needed to, I have supported or used certain services because we have a strong relationship. There's actually someone who sends me a monthly newsletter that comes to my mailbox. Even though I haven't used their services in 13 years, I'm more than likely to reach out to them because they have kept in contact with me.
How can you provide a better customer experience and a better customer journey so that you can retain more of your customers?
If you’re thinking, “I can't discount my services.” Can you add to the package so they're getting more value, but it doesn't cost you more? One idea is if you’re selling a program, course, or coaching and you throw in a group session, an online training, an e-book or something that you already have that doesn't cost you out of pocket to hand it over to them as a bonus.
You still have to invest in marketing. You cannot go silent. Invest in marketing and invest in advertising. Make sure your business is visible to your potential customers and consider some new marketing channels. Which social media platforms are you not on yet? Maybe online advertising makes sense for you, like Facebook Ads, Google Ads, or YouTube Ads. Maybe it’s about developing a better marketing strategy.
Do you need to be consistently visible online? If you only put out one or two posts a week, could you put out more? Could you be on more platforms? If you're thinking, “Ah Diane, that's too much. I'm already busy.” This, again, is where a virtual assistant would come into play. We're also bringing in-house content creation now to take care of this for business owners to create more visibility and consistency for your marketing.
During a recession, you really have to think about customers who tend to be more cautious with their spending. They're holding their wallet a lot tighter. That’s why it's important to adjust your marketing strategy to reflect this. You can focus on a few key aspects of your offering: how it’s a wise decision for specific reasons, the value, affordability, focus on the necessities if possible, in case people are thinking it’s just a luxury to have your service or product.
Another area to highlight in your marketing are customer testimonials, so your ideal client sees social proof. They’ll tell themselves, “Oh, okay, that person used their service, and that worked out well for them. Maybe I can get the same result.” Also put your face and your voice in front of your ideal customer so they can get to know you. We all know the saying: know, like, and trust. We want our ideal customer to get to know us and feel like they can trust us. Then they're going to be more willing to open their wallet to invest in your services or your products.
#4: Being adaptable
During the pandemic, we heard the word “pivot” all the time, instead we want to be adaptable. That's part of why I like the word dynamic because it's about active change. We should always be changing in our businesses, not only to match the economy, but to match our customers' needs, wants, and desires. What they're telling us they need. That's why I brought in the VA Made Easy Program, and now offer a lot of virtual assistant services because this is what people are needing. I saw they had a lot of ideas, they had all this strategy from their coaches, from advisors, and from experts, but they couldn't implement everything. The businesses were growing, but they were getting too busy.
Being prepared to change all the time is a business strategy, especially being open to new opportunities that might present themselves to you. Be prepared to be flexible. If you can move your business strategy, then you're going to be able to change with the market's conditions, no matter where they're at.
#5: Seek advice and support.
Don't hesitate to reach out to mentors, coaches, business organizations, or other resources that will provide guidance and support. Maybe there's government support out there. So look for government programs, grants, and incentives that can help you and your business weather the recession.
Getting advice and support could save you lots of time. It can also save you lots of money. By getting a strategy session here or a coaching session there or paying an expert to lay out the plan for you, you know that you're going to be in good hands and you're going to be able to take the next steps more confidently, especially in a time when things feel very challenging.
You've now got five steps you can take to still build your business during a recession. Which one of the five will work best for you?
Start to order them in importance, put one into place, then the next one, and work your way through. It's not just about how we deal with the recession, but more important how we prepare for it.
Do you feel like a recession is coming or the economy is about to crash? And what does that mean for your business?
There are five different ways that can help prepare your business for economic declines - even if you think the economy is going to be good for a while or good forever (if you’re an optimist)! These 5 ways will still help you save time, money, and energy in running your business even if it’s a side hustle.
#1: Seek advice and support
The first thing you can do is to seek advice and support. If you can get advice in advance of an economic downturn, this is going to help you plan with that expert’s support. Maybe you have a financial advisor or a coach to help you strategize with your business.
When the decline comes, you’re going to have a course of action that is set-in-place. It's time to reach out to mentors, business organizations, and other resources for guidance and support.
Also, if you can take classes or get the training now, this is a time when you can focus. You have the emotional stamina and the emotional bandwidth to be able to handle and think about bigger planning and strategizing. You want to be able to do that now, rather than in the future when you're trying to put out fires.
If you do work with a coach now, someone to support you, they're going to:
Then when the hard times come, they'll be able to support you through it because they already know you. They already know what works in your business. They are going to see what doesn't work. They're going to have background knowledge and history with you so they can work well with you and your business.
There was a time when I needed my book printed, and I needed 2000 copies of the Dynamic Woman Success Secrets book. This was at a time when there was a paper shortage coming. Thankfully, the printing company who was printing my book had enough paper because they had someone supporting them who gave them advice in advance telling them, “Hey, there's a paper shortage coming, you need to prepare.” Because of their advice they rented a storage facility and bought as much paper as they could so they were able to withstand the paper shortage.
Now, while that's not a recession, that would have been very detrimental. How do I know it was detrimental? Because a lot of other publishing companies went under. It meant that this company was able to withstand that time, and it's because they sought advice and support in advance of any trouble coming. They even took on other printing companies’ jobs because they were prepared.
The first piece is to seek advice and support. Get someone on your team to help you especially if you're a solopreneur, small business owner, or entrepreneur, where you're doing a lot of the things by yourself. They will give you an outside view to help you make good decisions and plan things out especially when the going gets tough and then they’ll also help you through it.
#2: Diversify your revenue streams
This is something I have done in my business, thankfully, because when COVID hit, I got screwed in some areas. I do online and in-person coaching, events, and speaking engagements. I have a podcast, books, and online courses. I have a bunch of different offerings. That's not even all of them.
But if right now, before a downturn, you can look for new products and services you could offer your customers, it gives you time to explore the current market you're in, but also, some similar markets you can expand into.
If you look for new products or services to offer your clients, it will help reduce the negative impact. When a downturn comes, you're going to be able to flip into this new product or service.
This is actually what happened to me. When COVID hit, I had a whole week of in-person events happening in Ontario I'd flown in for. I was at the hotel, and I was so disappointed in realizing, “Man, I have a social responsibility to cancel everything.”
Now, the year before, this was an $80,000 week for me. That week was on track to be a $100-125k plus week. Can you imagine losing six figures in one week? That was pretty detrimental. Thankfully, I had diversified my revenue streams in advance.
A question to ask yourself at this time is, “Can I repurpose what I already have whether it be a service or a product so that I’m ready to roll things out if something happens?”
You might be thinking, “Well, if the economic decline comes then maybe people aren't buying what I'm currently offering.” Okay, well, what would your ideal customer always need? Always pay for? The reality may be, “Oh, yeah, that's a luxury” or “That's nice to have”. But…
Also, if you want to do any research around the diversity of your revenue streams and which offerings you should do, your target audience would be more willing to answer questions now than when things get a little bit crazy.
Even if they’re answering questions in a downturn, you still should ask them questions now, to get some feedback about what they really need. It's better to ask now because you're going to really be able to hear them and they're going to be able to answer clearly. Then you can prepare the new offering while you're also emotionally regulated.
#3: Prioritize cash flow management
What does this mean in super easy terms? How much money is coming in, how much money is going out of the business, and really being on top of that. You need to know your numbers because then you know how long you can last and you know what you need to keep going and you know what profit will be coming in.
When you know your numbers, it helps you to make better decisions. When you know your numbers, you can have money saved for a rainy day. As my parents would say, “Always, always save for a rainy day because you never know.”
Well, business declines or economic declines come. They do. Whether it is from a pandemic or something else, there's going to be a time when things change. Knowing your numbers and having cash flow is important.
If you feel like something's coming soon, maybe it does make sense for you to do payment plans on different programs you're taking or different software you're purchasing or different options. You might say, “I'm not going to pay for it all upfront. I'm going to spread this out even though it might cost me more, it's going to keep more cash flow in my business.”
Then, once you know what your numbers are, really keep a close eye on the cash flow because you want to make sure you have enough cash on hand to meet all of your financial obligations. Just like in a family or with someone who has a mortgage, you want to make sure you have enough money to be able to pay that mortgage every month. You want to know your numbers so you can pay for your office space, your internet, your employees, whatever it may be because these are your financial obligations in your business, especially the things that you have to pay in order to make the money (your cost of goods). Those are key, and knowing which things you could maybe push off.
Now, for some of you, I do want to go back to the payment plan suggestion. For some periods of my life, I know that paying all upfront for something did save me and actually helped me to clear that off and pushed me to work harder to pay for it. I can remember investing in a coach. It was around $15,000 US and right away I was like, “Boom, I'm going to have an event. I'm going to do this offer and pay this all off in one go.” I did that, so that might be a key thing for you. I shared a little bit about my story of that week in Ontario right when COVID happened. I have financial obligations, right? That day, literally, the income that I was expecting to come in, was gone. It was gone right away. I had to refund everyone for the events because I couldn't put another date on with all of the restrictions.
I want you to ask yourself, if your income stopped tomorrow, how long could you last for? How long could your business run for? Where would you pull cash from? And going back to the other pieces, who would you ask for support, and how could you diversify? How could you do another offering?
#4: Start to build relationships with your suppliers and your partners
Start to build relationships with people you collaborate with, your suppliers/vendors and other people in your industry. Build really strong relationships. You want to do it now rather than when things get tough.
Now, why would you do that? Well, you'll be in it together. A lot of times with my vendors, suppliers, and partners, we want to see each other succeed. So when you have these strong relationships with them, they are more willing to help you out.
It can also increase your chances of success because you'll have other people who are invested in your success. Actually, then it’s also their success because if you stop hiring them as your vendor, your supplier, or partner, they're going to lose out as well. It’s nice to have a mutual desire of wanting others to succeed.
If I go back to that publishing company who had the paper, if you had a relationship with them then maybe they would help you out. There are a few ways this could work:
If you were unable to fulfill an obligation or hit an obstacle, do you have other people who could step in and support you? I hope so. So you can ask yourself, “Which of my suppliers, partners, people in my industry, or vendors do I need to build a stronger relationship with now to help me weather a storm if it comes?”
#5: Increase your efficiency
It’s important to increase the efficiency of you, your employees, and the company. Now is the time to make it a well-oiled machine, not when there's so much stress and fires to focus on.
Now's the time to really put some strong systems and processes into place. Now you don't have to be the one to build the systems and processes, it might be time to bring in a virtual assistant to be able to document those processes for you and to help make things happen there.
The other piece of this is it's time to invest in some digital technology and automation so you can start to reduce your costs and make things more efficient. Digital technology can be a more robust or efficient CRM. It could be bringing in other software or other platforms that are really going to cut down on the amount of time needed.
Now, this is not just so you can get rid of people from your company. But it might be so you can make everyone's position more efficient. You can reduce the amount of tasks you do. You can also increase accuracy because there's less human error.
If you're feeling like, “Ah technology, I don't like it”, again a virtual assistant might be able to be the answer for you to set up the technology and to keep the technology running. Since I have mentioned having a virtual assistant, I now have a team of 17 virtual assistants that work with 30+ CEOs/small business owners.
The CEOs I work with who are passing off work to their virtual assistants are now able to strategize, plan, goal set, and prepare for an economic downturn. If you're thinking about, “Well, how do I find the time to create additional income streams or revenue streams?” Well, if you pass off work, you'd be able to do that or even better they can create additional income streams for you.
This is also a very smart decision to make because when you want to prepare for something, you need time and energy. The best way to have time and energy is to pass things off. The other piece is that the VAs I hire are from the Philippines, so you're also able to reduce your employment, staffing, or contract costs in order to run your business. If you want to talk about this as an option for you, just message me email@example.com. We can have a chat about it.
So now you have the five ways you can prepare your business for economic declines. You may think, “Ah, this is too much!” No, it's not. Just bookmark this, flag it, whatever you need to do. What if, over the next five weeks, you took one of these each week and implemented it? In five weeks, you'd be sleeping better, you'd be running a better business, and you're going to start to feel that you're prepared, rather than being worried.
A lot of times in our lives, the worry is more debilitating than the actual negative situation when it comes. So I hope you'll put your own plan in place to prepare in case the economy goes on a downturn. Even if it doesn't, you have just put five great strategies into place, which are going to help you to build a stronger business, decrease your expenses, the time it takes, and reduce the amount of energy you need to put out. Who doesn't want more time, energy, and money?
If I can be of any service, please reach out to me. Maybe there's a coaching program I have that would be supportive of you or building up that strategy. I'm curious, what piece was most valuable to you? Share a comment, hit like, and share with a friend because “Friends don't let friends not be prepared for a recession”. That's not really a quote, but it's the truth!
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