In my first 7 years in business, I did a lot of things right, but I did just as many things wrong.
The truth is, at that point in my life I was content to roll with how things were. I had flexibility and work I enjoyed. This, while running multiple businesses, a husband working shift work and some major volunteer commitments. Not to mention a kid averse to sleep which meant we were playing musical beds on the regular…so my business was good enough.
But what happens when “good enough” isn’t working for you anymore?
Eventually the time comes when things change. You enter a new season. You want more. (And there’s no apologizing around here for ambition and vision!)
It becomes painfully obvious you need to make a change.
If you’re ready to make more money in your business and play by your own rules, here are five ways you can actually make that a reality:
#1. Stop Being a Freelancer
Just because you’re self-employed, doesn’t mean you have to be a freelancer. It took me a while to realize there was a BIG difference between being a freelancer and a true business owner.
So, what’s the difference?
As a freelancer, you’re self-employed, but you tend to work in contractual arrangements that are not unlike having a 9-to-5. You’re basically a free agent working with a number of clients at any given time.
The major difference for me between freelancer and business owner comes down to mindset. As a freelancer I was bobbing along and not giving a lot of thought to the long-term plan (at least in the first few years – sleep deprivation is real, yo!).
Once I changed my thinking to that of being a business owner, I was in a place where I wasn’t just a person to fill in X role for company Y, but someone with a strong brand who could command much, much higher prices.
Even if you’re a team of one, you can still be a business owner. As an owner, you have a handle not only on your client work, but marketing, finance and all the things that go with actually “running” a business. You work on the business and not just in it.
It’s a subtle distinction but one that can make a massive difference in the long run, especially on your bottom line.
#2. Raise Your Rates
Have I ever told you the story about how I didn’t raise my rates for, like, 7 years? Yep, true story.
Not the most inspired business decision, but it made a lot of sense at the time for the work I was doing and for my level of commitment. (A classic story of divided focus as I juggled three businesses + my family!)
But don’t let this happen to you. If you worked in a 9-to-5, you’d be all kinds of pissy if you didn’t get a raise for 7 years. So don’t do this to yourself and be the worst boss ever.
The key to raising your rates is to ensure those rates are reflective of the value you deliver. You can’t deliver craptastic quality and then keep jacking up your rates.
To navigate a rate increase, be thoughtful in how you communicate it to your clients and how exactly you roll it out. No one likes an expensive surprise!
#3. Create a Productized Service
One of the fastest ways to make more money is with productized services. This is a service that’s built around a clearly defined package and you can systematize a lot of it.
The value of a productized service really happens when it’s something you can become known for and/or niche your business around.
My Story Distillery package is the perfect example of a productized service in action. Instead of me deciding that it takes me X hours, so it should cost Y, I’m able to set a flat rate regardless of hours involved. Then, because it’s a service that is offered regularly, certain efficiencies can be realized as each and every step is mapped out.
The end result? An offering that’s more profitable and gives you an instant pay raise.
(Side Note: This service started at a lower price point and it’s been raised over time as I have more happy clients and a greater demand for the package.)
#4. Say Sayonara to Clients That Suck
This one may sound a bit crazy, but can saying goodbye to clients actually help you make more money?
Yes. Yes it can.
Clients that are badly behaved, push boundaries or are downright disrespectful, cost you dearly. With these types of clients, you usually over service them to keep them happy and it impacts your profitability.
And that’s not even addressing the energetic cost of a client that sucks the life out of you. (NOT WORTH IT!)
Every single time I’ve wrapped up work with a client like this, it was the right decision. #noregrets
All the time you spend on those clients keeps you from potential clients that will be a pleasure to work with and help you reach your goals.
Take stock of what clients you may have that aren’t doing you or your business any good, and make a plan to figure out how to say goodbye.
#5. Get Help
There are no bonus points for doing this business thing on your own. No gold stars. No rewards at the end.
Yet, it’s easy to think we need to suffer through things or do it by ourselves.
I know, because I’ve been there. It’s lonely and makes running a business about 10x harder than it really should be.
Funny thing, once I started getting help with my business, it started to grow in a big way. In the Fall of 2013, I worked with a couple different coaches, as well as joined a program for business owners looking to grow their business.
I know that getting help is what let me start my business over in an entirely new industry in 2014 and have my best year ever. It is also what helped me grow my business by 2.5x in 2015.
That is what’s possible when you stop getting in your own way, and for me, it was a small price to pay to get where I wanted to go.