Last January was grim. Our biggest client experienced budget cuts, which didn’t allow them to continue working with us in 2016. We picked up some small clients and a few projects, but nothing that could equate to the loss we suffered. In March, I decided to hire an executive coach to help steer us in the right direction. It was an investment that kept us alive, and eventually, helped us thrive.
I’m happy to report that our January 2017 gross profit doubled and our net profit increased by over 300% from the previous year. Talk about the difference a year makes.
I was fearful to share this update with others, however. I’ve been in business long enough to know that it’s ebb and flow. Anything can go up and it can also come down. I want to make our current situation sustainable, but I’m not naïve to the possible downside.
I can say with certainty that we are better positioned to sustain these numbers – and potentially grow them more – than ever before. And, it’s because we did things differently. Here are the top three tactics we employed to increase our revenue.
Spend time ‘on’ the business. Business owners say this a lot, but how much time do we really spend planning for growth? I know some people who would say the monthly coaching session would be the time they dedicate to furthering their business. For us, the coaching meeting was to help guide us as we navigated the work that we did on our own. We read the book Traction – and completed every exercise in the book. For two days, we held an off-site strategic planning session. For six months, we met weekly to analyze, prioritize and plan. And this was just the starting point. It’s too easy to get swept up in the day-to-day of running a business. We realized that if we wanted to grow, we must get real about spending time on the business. This meant late nights, early mornings and everything in between, but it was necessary to move us forward.
Track data. Traction offers a six-component system for managing a business called the Entrepreneurs Operating System. Data is among the six. The concept here is simple: what can be measured, can be improved. While I had data in my head, it meant nothing without tracking it on paper. We created a company scorecard that we evaluated weekly. This allowed us to track trends so we could see what was working and what wasn’t working. It was our goal to eliminate or improve the items that scored poorly and maximize areas where we thrived.
Articulate core values. Vision is another component of the Entrepreneurs Operating System. And, to us, the most significant of the six. Defining our vision revealed our core values. Once we understood our core values, we could better define who would be a good fit for us. Most importantly, our core values helped us disqualify those who did not align with our vision. We wasted so much time on the wrong people – those that did not share our values. This single tactic was paramount because we could stop spinning our wheels. We could focus on the people who were a better fit for our company.
I realize that some of my readers will be disappointed with this post. I’ve found that headlines can be deceiving and that tactics often mean a quick fix. I wish I could say that increasing revenue is simple as doubling your rates, but the reality is, changing rates is a result of spending time in these areas. Moreover, that kind of tactic is only effective if it aligns with the company purpose. Perhaps a better headline would be, “Three Strategies to Increase Revenue.” The word strategy often indicates more work, so if you’ve read this blog the whole way through, I’ve achieved my goal without scaring you off immediately. Bottom line: It takes work!
What a great post this is Rachel - very inspirational! You are a true professional and entrepreneur who understand how business works and that means taking risks and investing in your business. You have shown vision and sustainability and a genuine desire to help others who can learn from this good advice. Recently, we had to 'dump' two clients who didn't value what we did, always wanted more without paying for it, and still complained. It takes guts to do this as no-one likes to decrease revenue, but it also left us open to accept new clients, who appreciate what we do, so definitely a win for us.
Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for tweeting me and thank you for reaching out with this comment. Only a fellow entrepreneur can understand what we go through. Sometimes dumping a client is the best way you can move forward. It certainly takes guts, but then again, so does owning a business!
Rachel, this is indeed the "perfect" column and title. Thank you. Quite a few years ago I wrote a piece for you on Critical Thinking. We haven't visited since, although I follow you here. The bottom line is that I have learned a lot from you and you have not made one thin dime from me...I simply have not been in a position for us to work together. Thank you for sticking with me 🙂
Maybe someday I will just send you money. In the meantime I recommend you often, appreciate your columns and ideas, and wish you the best always.
Wow, thanks Mike. I'm sorry we haven't talked recently, but I do appreciate your feedback here. Feel free to reach out via email to re-connect. Thank you again for reading and please stay in touch.