Tag Archives: get out of debt

Ten ways to grow your business and your income



Top tips to make money in an economic downturn
Ten ways to create a booming business in a recession


Top tips and survival strategies to create a booming business in an economic downturn

Times ahead look challenging for business owners but you can actually build your business and grow your business income, even during this tough economic climate, if you employ the right strategies.

I’ve interviewed scores of company owners and self-employed people to establish just what it is that separates the winners from the also-rans in times like this, and here’s my summary of what they are doing right, that you can do  too:

1. Refocus: in good times it is easy to have a scatter-gun approach to sales and marketing. Clients, customers or companies who might not be natural buyers from you have the budget to indulge side-projects, and you are the beneficiary.
When budgets are more tightly controlled, only the essentials are purchased. Therefore, it’s time to refocus your business and identify which customers regard your products as essential.
2. Define your customers:  In order to know your core market, you need to define your key customers. How to define your customer? Think about the following: from whom have you had your best repeat business? Who provided the funds for your single biggest source of income last year? If your market is seasonal, what additional products might your key customers need at other times of the year?
3. Visualise your ideal customer as a person, give them a name and think about what is their definition of a good day. Repeat business comes from happy customers whose needs have been met by your product or service.
4. Identify your unique offering:  What are your personal qualities, and those of your business, which make you different from other competitor businesses? Go through the feedback you have received from past clients – what was the recurring theme of their positive experiences? When you distil down what it is that makes people return to you, you can build on this and incorporate it into your marketing message.

5. Be confident in your pricing: How to charge more for your business and services? When you have defined your USP, then you can explain to customers the added value that you are offering. It is business suicide to compete on price alone, because there will always be those who are cheaper than you. If you can justify being “reassuringly expensive” – in terms of enhanced client or customer experience, value and outcomes – then you don’t need to reduce or discount in order to grow. You can’t do this unless you have followed step 2, which is to identify who your key customers are, and what they define as “value”.
6. Be disciplined about your time: Try to establish which effective marketing campaigns – newspaper ads,  website, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, personal referrals, webinars, trade shows, speaking engagements – have generated the greatest and most lucrative leads. Especially if you are an owner-manager of a business you can’t afford to spread yourself too thinly, so work out what is the most productive use of your time. Measure your results through Google Analytics and other web tools.

7. Create positive habits: When you work alone or in a small business it can be mentally challenging to stay focussed during lean periods.  Have a strategy for dealing with times when income is not coming in regularly – such as budgeting for quiet periods, keeping cash on deposit to maintain positive cash flow when clients pay late, and building in sufficiently daily periods of rest, relaxation, and exercise.
8. Let go of the old stuff: it may have worked in the past, but if the market has shifted and it is not working now, don’t continue to flog it. Move on. You need to know when to change business branding, especially if you have identified that you are not currently playing to your full strengths. The book “Who moved my cheese?” takes only an hour to read, costs less than £4 but will make you rethink your objectives and challenge your attitude to change.

9. Think positively: Resolve to implement one positive action every day that will grow your business, produce additional income, raise your profile or promote your brand. To quote Aristotle:  “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act, but a habit.”

10. Pay down your debt:  Position your business well, maintain healthy cashflow, and reduce your overheads as much as you can. Debt is often necessary when you are establishing a business, but you should aim to get out of debt as quickly as possible, because until you do, the profits you are making are benefiting the banks, not you or your business.
Regards, Marianne Curphey

Why compound interest, not diamonds, is a girl’s (or guy’s) best friend

I found myself watching Pretty Woman again the other night (which incidentally, I think is a terrible film, though I am probably in the minority amongst the sisterhood here).

What struck me was that instead of flipping snails in posh restaurants, Julia Roberts’ character should have been learning a few share trading tips from top financier Richard Gere. In fact, she could have asked him a few smart questions about how to run your own business. Because, however nice the trinkets and the diamonds are, it is an understanding of the principles of finance, and particularly, the laws of compound interest, which would have kept her off the streets for the rest of her life. Once she’d learnt that, it wouldn’t matter whether or not he stuck around to pay the bills. She’d have all the skills she needed to manage money successfully.

Of course that wouldn’t have made much of a romantic chick-flick, but we are living in the real world here, so here are the facts:

1. When compound interest works in your favour, you are on a winning streak. When you receive interest in the form of savings income, dividend payments from shares, or from passive income, it accrues. Then you receive interest on the initial capital investment, plus the interest on top. Simple.

2. When you are on the wrong side of compound interest then it is easy for debts to spiral out of control pretty quickly. This is particularly the case at the moment where savings interest rates are still historically low, but the interest rates charged on loans are rising. Once you have a capital debt the charges you pay on that can accumulate very quickly, until it becomes difficult to pay off even the monthly interest, never mind the underlying initial debt.

So the bottom line is, manage your money successfully by thinking twice, if not three or four times, before taking on a personal loan or racking up credit card debt. The only debt you should really have is one which is being paid off for you by someone else, for example, a buy-to-let property.

Had Julia Roberts known that, she wouldn’t have needed to wait for her grumpy handsome prince to come waving the credit card and buying the fancy shoes. She could have done it all herself instead.