4. Ditch the mindset of scarcity. In famine, it can feel like there is never going to be another job or another sale. If you have done your planning, you should have reasonable confidence that the actions you are taking will produce a sale or a job at the right price. Learn to say no to the ones that do not have the right price. In our example above, our hero / heroine (see blog pt1) could have saved a lot of heartache and stayed in control of their marketing if he /she had said no to that first job and maybe even the second. This is not about having a positive attitude or having an ego trip that you are worth more. You can say no because you have done your planning. You are confident that your plan will produce work at the right price.
If that feels too much of a leap, you can at least start with negotiating your work. For example the situation above would look completely different if our hero / heroine had put some conditions on taking the first job on at a reduced price. What if she /he had said “I usually charge double for this work. I am willing to look at it if we can come to an agreement about the deadline. I cannot agree a firm deadline because if a job paying properly comes up, I will need to fulfill that first and this job may get pushed back. I will compromise on price if you will compromise on this aspect of the work.”
Also know when you have enough work and resist the temptation to accept more. If you accept more, other aspects of the business will suffer. What is more when you say no in this kind of situation you begin to establish the idea in the mind of your clients that your service or product has more value than your competitors. In the mind of the potential client, they are thinking “This person is turning down work. They must be in demand. They must be good. Damn, I wish they were available.” Then they will be prepared to pay more when you are available.
5. Use pricing to control the flow. Large companies do this all the time, so why not you? For example if you book your plane ticket with CheapPlanes.com five months in advance you pay £30 but if you book one week in advance it is £130. Offer your services at different rates according to the timescale. Make clients pay over standard rate if they want the job delivered this month but tell them that if they are prepared to wait for three months to do the work you will reduce to below standard rate. Even if they can’t make it work for this job they will remember for the future. Imagine the difference it would make to have half the work you need for March already booked by December. Get a retainer upfront and earn interest on it. Charge regular work at a different rate to one-off work.
6. Find ways to charge more. Really this is a combination of items 2 and 3 above. The more you charge, the more resources of time and money you can devote to your marketing. I know it feels like we are in a recession and the market place is competitive. All the same, the more creative ways you can find to charge more the bigger impact you will make to this cycle because you will need to do less delivery work or sell less product to maintain your income and this will leave you with more time and money to do your marketing. This is a whole topic to itself and worthy of another blog at another time. All the same, here are some ideas to start thinking: offering added extras; becoming an expert in something; having a really strong brand; charging for changes to your contract or the job specification.
7. Explore employing people or outsourcing your work. Are there aspects of your work you can get someone else to do in times of feast? Be careful to factor in time to manage these people if you do go down this route. Nevertheless bringing someone on who can take care of some aspects of your business is worth exploring. It has the added attraction of allowing your business to grow. If you are serious about your business growing significantly you will need to address this at some point anyway, otherwise your business will always be limited by your time. Be careful to know when this turns into employment from a legal perspective with Inland Revenue.
If anyone out there has experience of putting any of the above advice into action, it would be great to get your feedback.