There is one thing that will hold you back more than anything else and that’s being myopic or short-sighted when it comes to how you run your business.
Every single one of your decisions needs to address a long-term strategy and vision for where you want your business to go. In the April 2016 issue of the Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter, I went through my framework for putting together a strategy and what you need to do to successfully execute it so that you focus on the big picture. It’s basically about tactics being the steps you take to achieve your strategic goals.
On an aside, if you’re not already a Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter subscriber, you can click here and go order any of the previous issues individually. I’m not sure why I never mentioned that, but it’s really popular – we send them out via Airmail anywhere in the world within 48 hours of you placing your order.
Anyway, back to our story…
What really doesn’t work is making short-term, financially driven decisions on a regular basis. When your decisions are made under a cloud of putting a few quick bucks in the cash register at any cost, a whole bunch of things tend to get compromised like value and quality. Doing that over time will really hurt you.
Look, I’m not getting on my high horse here. I know that sometimes we all need to generate some cash flow and as a result, we might shift gears to alleviate that pressure. As a result, we have to do the best we can with what we have in front of us.
The key point I made though revolves around the word “regularly” and that’s the piece I want to dive into a bit.
For some folks, they talk about creating funnels and building assets but everything they actually do is geared towards making short-term one-off sales – they will happily pass up longer-term opportunities to bank the small sale right now.
That’s just playing a very small game.
The problem with this approach is that you’re not maximising the return on a sale – you’re effectively leaving money on the table with every transaction.
I also mentioned that there are other people who go for the short-term injection of funds because some sort of compelling event has necessitated it. And like I said, that happens and if your business is well tuned then you can make this work for you.
The bigger problem is when these compelling events happen regularly. You find people who are constantly going to the well looking to pull up “emergency” buckets of water. If this is happening to you, then you need to address the underlying problem that’s causing these frequent “issues” to pop up. I’d be willing to bet that there’s something broken in your business that’s creating these recurring cash flow problems.
If you find yourself in that situation, you need to take action because this is a good way to get business into some really sticky situations. One of these times you’re going to push the magic button and nothing will happen and if you’re like most people, you’ll have started to rely on it always working.
The best way out of a situation like this is to have a bigger picture plan for your business that takes into account the need for cash flow requirements. You plan your products and services around that kind of balancing act.
For example, in my online businesses, we have a mix of one-time purchase products or services and a combination of monthly and annually recurring subscription services.
With our content marketing and SEO business, we sell reports and site audits that bring in a steady stream of one-time sales revenue – sometimes these lead to recurring business, but most times they are just one-off sales. We also have a variety of content and SEO customers that sign up for recurring packages – we have really low churn in this part of the business so it creates predictable income.
In the information product side of our online business, we’ve set up the same kind of model. We have a one-time purchase revenue stream for courses sold via Udemy (and eventually on the Casual Marketer site) as well as some short-term consulting things like Tech Talk Sessions. We also have recurring subscribers from the Newsletter and coaching with some of these paying annually or monthly – about 30% of all Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter subscribers pay annually.
This was a totally strategic, long-term decision to flatten out the money coming in from a variety of sources. About five or so years ago our online business income was very lumpy and it was feast or famine at times. Everything was geared to a one-time service fee or launching an info product during a very short window to create scarcity. Simply put, we were creating cashflow problems for ourselves.
It took the better part of eighteen months to put a plan together and transition out from that crazy roller coaster type business model into one that’s more like a gradual climb up a hill.
Give some thought to the level of certainty and predictability you have in your business’ income. If you’re constantly struggling with boom or bust cycles, do you have a plan to fix that? If so, what steps are required and what are the timeframes involved? I strongly recommend you put a plan together and adjust your strategy to ensure that you’re not being short-sighted about your business.