It's tempting to simplify our financial planning practice down to "spend less and save more." It’s a practical strategy because it concerns the income we already have. But what about the money we don't have?
On the surface, planning to make more money sounds a little silly. Because income comes from outside sources like a boss, client or customers, we often feel that it is beyond our control. And yet, where there's a will there's a way: One of the best kept secrets to financial success is proactively planning for a larger income.
Here are some tips to pulling a plan for systematically increasing your income into focus:
1. Put together a 12-month cash flow projection
As entrepreneurs, we have to get out month-to-month thinking. Income ebbs and flows each month depending on marketing, holidays, the weather, almost anything really. A better way to gauge how well your business can do is to project your potential income for the next year.
Include a 12-month cash flow projection in your yearly business plan. You can download a sample template here.
The basic structure of a 12-month cash flow projection is this: you record the income you expect to receive on gigs you already have, products you expect to sell based on past sales, and other income sources on which you can count.Then you do a little goal setting and stretch your sales projections based on how much you think you can grow.
Yes, this will feel like guessing and yes, it may or may not come true, but the exercise is powerful in and of itself. Put a concrete amount down on paper and it's very likely that your resourceful brain will figure out how to get to that number.
2. Break down your big goals into small, measurable goals
A cash flow projection will allow you to break down big picture goals into measurable steps.
If you want to sell 1,000 units of something in the next year, that’s only 83 units a month. Also, it’s not a big deal if you only sell 75 units one month because that means you know you need to hit an extra 13 the next month and you can plan for that.
This may mean running a sale, increasing your marketing, changing your marketing plan, or adding an extra salesperson. Whatever you end up needing to do next, your decisions will be based in manageable and tangible goals that you can carry with you each month.
3. Ask for a raise or raise your rates/prices
Whether you still work a day job or you work for yourself full time, don’t be afraid to ask for more money.
If you’ve never asked for a raise before, it’s terrifying and thrilling at the same time. Just keep in mind that the worst that can happen is you are told no, and really that just means no, not right now.
If you need some tips and strategies for how to ask, you can listen to this podcast episode on the steps you can take to prepare for the raise conversation.
Raising your rates or your prices can feel a little trickier. The best way to gauge is going to sound a little strange at first: If no one thinks it’s too expensive or feels like they can’t afford it right now, then you most likely need to raise your rates.
You want people to place value on the amount they are paying you. Otherwise you might find yourself competing with similar products on price alone instead of quality or brand loyalty to you and your products.
4. Supplement your income through side hustles
We’ve talked about this before, but diversifying your income is one of the best ways to truly be financially secure and independent.
Part of this equation is building or creating side hustles, especially as you’re trying to grow your main business and barely breaking even some months.
Make sure the side hustle you choose doesn’t take too much of your time away from building your business. Focus on the side hustles that relate as closely as possible to what you are already doing.
By doing things that relate to your business even indirectly, you might find that the side hustle is just as viable as your initial business idea and that it might make sense to integrate it.
5. Put yourself out there in small ways
This can be the hardest part for most of us. You’ve made your plans, you’ve put together your projections, and you’ve decided what you can do on the side. Now it’s time to actually tell people about what you’re doing. Gulp.
Yes, you will need to step out of your comfort zone as an entrepreneur, especially if you’ve never considered yourself a salesperson, but you can take one step out at a time. Here are some quick ways to start putting yourself out there:
- Reach out to friends and family by sending an excited email
- Post one or two things about your new venture on social media a few times a week
- Leave comments on blogs or websites with audiences that would enjoy your product
- Reach out to bloggers to offer product samples or to do guest blogs
- Find local networking events in your city and commit to going to a few a month
6. Tie your goals to actions
Results-oriented goals are good for tracking purposes, but often not good for motivation purposes. It can feel like a lot of pressure to hit these numbers each month. It can also give you the sense that you might not really be in control.
One of the best pieces of advice I got from my business coach was to find ways to tie your goals to actions that you can take.
For instance, taking a few of the above examples, instead of focusing on how many bloggers respond back to you, make it a goal to reach out to 10 bloggers a week. Who responds it out of your control, but you can play the numbers game and make it work in your favor.
If you decide to go to a networking event, commit to talking to at least 3-5 new people. Those 5 people could turn into one lead and who knows where that might go. I met someone at an event who introduced me to her friend who ended up putting me on a panel of financial experts.
By turning your goals into actions, results will naturally follow.
Pamela Capalad is a Certified Financial Planner™ and the owner of Brunch & Budget. She has a background in private wealth management and she loves helping freelancers and small business owners feel confident about their finances.