by Brook McCarthy
04 October 2019
The first time I hit the mythical ‘6-figures’ income, I became really depressed. This was a turning point in my business since I first begun back in 2008, but there was a problem – I had had a miserable year.
My kids weren’t yet at school and I was overworked, constantly stressed, and extremely frustrated. I secretly resented my clients and I hated feeling that. Anger simmered just below the surface, pretty much all the time.
So the following year, I dipped below $100,000 as I set out to deliberately design my business in a way which not only earned me excellent money, but supported a life that I loved, not just tolerated.
As a business coach, I work with sole traders and small business owners to reduce their working hours while increasing their income. Because working more hours isn’t sustainable let alone enjoyable. My clients don’t want to earn millions. They simply want a business that supports their life, not the other way around.
The two main things to focus on to earn $100,000 and more is your business model and your beliefs and attitudes. Your business model is simply the ways in which you get paid. Your beliefs and attitudes determine your behaviour, which underpins everything else.
We humans have a tendency to overcomplicate things. The longer you’ve been in business, the more complicated things tend to become. You cannot add more stuff to do onto an already-overflowing list and expect success. First, you need to clear some space and time.
Look at your profit and loss and cut from the bottom: the services that you offer that earns you the least; the clients takes up a disproportionate amount of time and stress for a small amount of money; and the tasks that take up too much time for too little reward.
Consider raising your prices, and remember that it’s just as challenging to sell something for a lower price as a higher price. Stop worrying about whether or not people can afford you – that’s none of your business. Instead, focus on communicating the value of what you do – that’s your responsibility and within your control.
Financial forecasting and projections doesn’t need to be complicated and only requires a pen and calculator. Sketch out some possibilities at your current rates: how many hours at what rate of pay to earn a specific target income. Keep sketching through as many iterations as you need until you have a plan you’re happy with.
Don’t overcomplicate and procrastinate with the finer details of your expenses and charging different hourly rates for different types of work. But do factor in your time off and your tax. I do my financial projections for a 10-month year, seeing as how my family and I love travelling and January is pretty much dead every year. Don’t stop sketching until you’ve hit an annual target that you’re happy with – and then add 10 per cent for unanticipated circumstances. Now you have a weekly or monthly revenue target to aim for.
Your premium products serve many purposes beyond increased profitability. They allow your clients to enjoy a deeper, more fulfilling experience of your business.
This strengthens your client retention rate (which cuts down on your marketing costs), increases the likelihood that the client will have an awesome experience (which means raving fans and more word-of-mouth referrals), and is likely to be far more enjoyable for you (and your staff if you have them) to create and deliver. Happy you equals happy business.
Packaging your services is not about offering a group discount for purchasing more hours up front. It’s about understanding the best possible outcome from your clients’ perspective and selling them that – in just one proposal. Whether your package is a monthly retainer, a suite of services, or a marketing plan plus execution, you’re only limited by your imagination.
One of the biggest mistakes I made over the years was waiting before proposing what I could see warranted a bigger piece of work. Instead, I’d quote and deliver a smaller piece of work, which gave a smaller result. I thought I was gaining their trust before pitching them something bigger and better, but instead I was leaving money on the table and denying myself the opportunity to demonstrate far greater value for the client.
Since January 2010, I’ve published at least one blog post and sent at least one mass email per month. Over time, I’ve added more frequency and more variety, including guest blogs (such as this one), podcast appearances, speaking at events, and regular live video on social media.
If you want to earn more, you need to commit to regular marketing. Stop waiting for referrals and start building your professional reputation and growing your online community.
Your marketing should be regular and consistent, offering value – giving first – and asking later.
When your marketing focuses on consistently delivering useful, valuable and relevant content to your community, you’re generating regular leads who are informed and committed. They know you because you’ve taken the time to develop a rapport. They don’t need to be sold to – they just need to be asked to buy.
For several years, I ignored all the hoopla on the internet about the mythical ‘mindset’. First, I hate the word mindset (my mind is anything but set), and second, I thought that was impractical waffle and I was made of sterner stuff. Ha! How naïve.
Your psychology has everything to do with how much you earn. Your beliefs and behaviours around money, your emotional resilience, enthusiasm, grit, open-mindedness, imagination and self-belief all directly translate into your business’s bottom line.
When my beliefs were challenged and proven to be untrue marked the key turning points in my business to date. Perhaps central to this is our popular, deep-seated belief that work is dirge and enjoyment is frivolous. When you are doing something that feeling like play and being paid excellent money, you will try to sabotage yourself. It’s a radical concept that we can do something we enjoy, which comes easily to us, while being well-compensated for this.
As well as a business coach and trainer, I’m also a long-term yoga and meditation teacher. Self-employment is, hand’s down, the most accelerated form of self-development there is. Each earning threshold you hit will bring a new level of discomfort, exploration and challenges, but not the ones you may imagine. Half the skill in business is knowing what you want – not only in earnings but in your work, your clients and how you can best deliver this. Once you’ve figured out what you want, you’re half way to getting it.
Do you agree with Brook’s ways to hit $100K? Anything else you’re trying or want to try to raise your income?