How many yellow sticky notes can you juggle before they mysteriously start crawling away? In desperation, you start doing things the same way each time and voila you’ve developed a system! Let’s take it to the next level; actively search for routines you can systematize.
Save YourSelf. It’s your business so the benefits of more saved time, energy, and money will flow to you.
Time. By doing things the same way each time, you have the tools, forms, and answers closer to-hand saving you time. You’ll spend less time tweaking the tools, finding the forms, and searching for solutions. Systems can be trained into employees, so you’ll be able to delegate confidently, leaving you to spend that time elsewhere.
Energy. Let’s face it; it’s exhausting making dozens of decisions and creating new ideas every day. Systematizing may improve those numbers to a more energizing level.
Money. Also you’ll save money. When you’ve created systems, you can spend less money paying for customization, special skills, and training. Starbucks delivers high quality, high value, high priced products, yet delivers it with minimum wage employees. Using systems, you’ll be able to measure and fine tune your results. Only through repetition can you hone your skills to see where faster, cheaper, better results can be achieved.
Here’s an example. When I meet new people, I use a simple follow up system.
1) I send them a hand written note card so they’ll remember me. I have blank cards, stamps, and an assistant to help make this fast, easy, and meaningful.
2) My intern enters them immediately into my contact management system. So if I need to follow up by phone or email, they’re in my iphone quickly.
3) I add details about their interests next time we meet. Thus, I can learn what they’re interested in, so I can make suggestions or referrals and remember what’s important to them.,
4) I send them emails of my upcoming events, seminars, and socials; but only if I think they’d be interested.
5) About the 4th or 5th time I ‘chat’ with someone, I have an idea if any of my services or products would make sense to them so I can make a helpful offer rather than an intrusive sales pitch.
6) Once a week, I look for my ‘network’ of connected people using Internet social networking services LinkedIn and Facebook. I get notices of their profiles being updated (new job, new project, new interest). I compliment, congratulate, commiserate or contribute in a meaningful way depending on what’s happening in their lives.
7) I use referral groups like PRE (professional Referral Exchange, LEADS and WIN (Women in Networking) to meet, connect with, and find referrals for others.
This system steadily increases the ‘connectedness’ I have with ever larger number of people. It becomes easier to spend my time and energy thinking of ways to really help people since my system handles the mechanical part of deciding when and how to connect and keeps the tools near to hand.
If you are looking for better systems to connect to more entrepreneurs in a meaningful way to build your business, ask me about the new Greater Reading Chamber’s LEADS program or a group in your area. Drop me an email or give me a call.
Now stop reading about Saving yourself Time Energy and Money and start doing! Let’s create YOUR personal profit strategies for growing profit. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at, 888-920-2030 or by email at email@example.com.
If your clients pay slowly, here’s how to collect client pay faster and with less effort.
There is a growing trend among companies to pay later and later. What was 30 days to pay is now becoming 45. Those previously at 45 are going to 60. Worse, small companies are typically targeted first. Here’s what you can do to speed up clients who pay slow:
- Get paid at time of service. If your service is completed on the same day you show up, request payment immediately. You’ll need to ensure the client is there to pay you or get credit card authorization before you start. This works well when dealing with individuals as clients, but is a little harder when working with a business.
- Invoice early and often. For longer projects, you will want to have progress payments. Make sure your project is broken down into small enough segments so you can bill about every 2 weeks. So even if your clients pay slow, you’ll have started the pipeline earlier.
- Begin charging a down payment on start of project. You can typically charge up to 30% to start the project, especially if you have materials to buy for the client.
- Reduce the amount of credit you extend. If a client’s receivables become too large, request payment before signing up for any new projects. Be respectful, this is probably one of your larger clients and you value the relationship.
- Keep better records of shipments and deliveries. Companies strapped for cash will claim they didn’t receive shipments or give spurious complaints to delay the time to pay. Make sure you are keeping delivery receipts, service authorization records, and correspondence about the project.
- Start a credit and collections activity system. If you are not getting an Accounts Receivable report from your accounting system, start immediately. There’s not a lot of time involved if you systematically follow up with clients after 45 days, 60 days, 75 days. Call them with a friendly reminder, ask about the payment. Specifically, ask them when you can expect payment.
- Have a credit policy. Specify your payment terms, how they can pay you, and what will happen if they don’t pay on time. Write these down. You can include them in your statement of work, your original proposal or even summarize verbally. You don’t want to appear heavy handed, just business like, so don’t make a big issue out of it.
Systematically working through these ideas will dramatically reduce your slow paying clients. Collect your client pay sooner following these hints and turn your slow paying clients into fast paying clients. While there’s no quick fix, you’ll see results in just a few weeks.
Now stop reading about slow paying clients and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit today. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at 888-920-2030 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Seek new clients, seize better income, capture more profit”
Let’s talk about better cash flow – how to hold onto and conserve the cash you have on hand. This is not about cutting expenses; see Cutting Costs Now: 9 Hot Areas for Creative Small Business Owners. This is about holding onto your cash for as long as possible. For ways to collect cash faster, see 14 Ways to Collect Cash Faster.
Better cash flow can be achieved if you:
- Barter. Small businesses find that trading for goods and services will not only conserve cash; but also can substitute for borrowing and rack up savings. You don’t have to find a company to trade directly with; just join a barter network. Joining a group such as Corporate Barter Network gives you hundreds of local businesses and thousands nationally. In addition, they open your account with a credit so you can get started if there is something you need before someone else buys from you.
- Ask for credit terms. Many bills can be paid in 30 days. But be sure you pay on time or your credit agreement could be removed. You want to keep that relationship on an even keel as well as avoid late payment charges.
- Pay when bills are due, and not before. To save time, you can write your checks every week, but don’t mail them until two or three days before they are due. The time frame depends on the mail delay.
- Create a forecast of incoming and outgoing cash expected for the next three months. Continue to forecast your cash flow monthly to ensure that expenses and planned expenditures are in line with accounts receivable. Avoid using your credit line if you can.
- Create a 30-day wish list before committing any new spending. If there is something you think your business needs and it is NOT directly related to delivery for a customer, pause before buying. You’ll get better cash flow by slowing your spending decisions.
- Remove discretionary spending authority. If anyone besides you makes purchase decisions, say your spouse or your assistant or a partner, agree that nothing will be purchased before specifically discussing it. This may seem like a small thing especially if we’re talking about postage or office supplies, but can conserve cash and possibly reduce spending.
- Create a self-imposed moratorium on new spending. Unless you can find something else of equal value to remove or suspend. This exercise will help you rethink if the new item is going to provide enough value to supplant something else. For example, if you want to add a marketing campaign which costs $100 a month you might find a way to cut your telecom costs by $100 a month.
- Cut Inventory. Think you don’t have any inventory if you are a service business; what about office supplies? Buying just what you need for the moment, conserves cash and keeps the employees and yourself from taking them home for needs there.
- Buy Used. Furniture Soup here in Reading sells previously enjoyed furniture at dramatically discounted prices. Other items typically available used include books.
- Re-negotiate with your suppliers, lenders, and landlord. You value these relationships and so do they. Ask if there is anything you can do to pay on a slower schedule, remove travel charges (hey, gas is down 50%), or reduce shipping charges.
- Implement a cost cutting program with a top 3 list. For a simple system, see A Cunning Cost Cutting System for the Busy Business Owner. This way you’ll consistently cut costs without losing focus on building your customer base and keeping up revenues.
So summing up, better cash flow comes from spending less, spending slower and speeding income. See Does Your Client Pay Slow? for more on speeding income. Give me comments below. What’s happening with your cash flow?
Now stop reading about better cash flow and start doing! Let’s create your personal profit strategies for growing profit today. Call small business profitability coach Merra Lee Moffitt, CFP®. She can be reached at 888-920-2030 or by email at email@example.com.
“Seek new clients, seize better income, capture more profit”