How Can I Improve My Business and Cash Flow?

For all business to be successful, there must be a healthy cash flow. One of the most powerful lessons I learned early on in my own experience, as well as from my accountant was that cash flow is the life-blood of any business. If the cash stops, so too can your business if the problem goes on for long enough! I am making this point as I want to make clear that whilst this can be a problem in one respect, it can be turned around to your advantage as well.

The answer is actually simpler than you may have guessed. When your business practice is about solving other people’s problems in an area of high demand, you actually reach a point where you can substantially improve your cash flow with an increased number of clients. An alternative situation is being able to charge a premium price for a given service or good. A typical example of this is when I started in business, I lacked the confidence to charge what I was truly worth. By recognizing my abilities, I was able to massively improve my cash flow by charging the market rates for my services. I can assure you that many entrepreneurs are scared to charge their real value because the feel they may lose clients. To better appreciate the situation, ask yourself this question. “Do I want more low quality, complaining clients, or fewer, higher paying ones that are more satisfied with my work?” Please refrain from being shocked or offended here. It took me a while to upgrade from the troublesome clients to the people that were happy to use my products and services. You will often spend more time, and effort in looking after someone who has bought a cheap product, than the person who has bought a high value product.

This is nothing against any particular person. This is about a business process to maximise your cash flow. You actually do have the right to fire your bad clients. It is a free market economy that I am writing about, where you have that choice and privilege. If you are shocked, you may not be earning your true value. If you have actually heard this before, than you may already be doing quite well. It certainly took me a while to come to terms with this at first, but eventually it hit me. I started to have less stress and better results.

It amazed me at first, when I saw the people who complained the most were the ones who bought something at a substantial discount, and the fact is that the time taken to complain actually would have involved a greater cost than replacing the item. This is where you need to put a value on your time. Invest time wisely as your life is lived only once.

Hence, to recap, it is important to aim your business at a market sector that has a problem you can solve, either through a service or good. By maximizing your pricing structure to the market capacity, and chasing the higher quality client, you will automatically be in a better position from a cash flow and profit perspective. Naturally, you still need to ensure that credit terms, and invoice payment cycles work in with each other, and I will be expanding on that in other articles.

Smart Business Email Marketing

Today email marketing is one of the primary ways that businesses stay in touch with customers and partners. However, managing your own email marketing can be cumbersome and time consuming. Trying to stay on top of the constant changes in an email marketing address list can be a full time job. Then there are the challenges involved in composing and sending out effective emails. How do you ensure that people will read it? How do you get them to respond? How do you know how many recipients have responded? Fortunately you don’t have to do all of this alone. A cloud-based firm that specializes in business to business communications can make your job a lot easier – and your campaigns a lot more effective.

Elements of a Successful Email:

  • Subject Line: This may seem like only a small part of your email marketing project, but it’s one of the most important. 40% of a recipient’s decision to open a given piece of email is based on the subject and send-from address. If they don’t open the email, it’s not going to do you much good. So, it’s important to spend some time on the subject line and make sure it’s effective and accurate.
  • Call to Action: Another 40% of the response to your email marketing campaign is driven by how interesting and compelling recipients find your call to action. A call to action is an offer you’re making to the recipient – or an opportunity for them to respond in some way. It might be a white paper or the chance to register for a free webinar. Or it might be “please call me at…” or “please email me at….” Or “register for our conference at….” However, the best calls to action in email marketing are the ones with links right in the email. This allows you to automatically track the response to the email and see how well your call to action works.
  • Content: The text and images in your email need to be informative and useful to your recipients. The email marketing texts must be well-written and concise. While recipients expect an emailed newsletter to be fairly long, they would expect other kinds of emails to get to the point quickly. If the email marketing piece is too long, your reader will simply stop reading – maybe before getting to the important information.
  • Visual Appeal: Any pictures you include in your email marketing piece might seem like a non-essential element, but they are a vital component of making your email visually interesting. And, captions of pictures are one of the first things people read in an email, so they pack a lot of punch. You also want your emails to be well-laid out, visually appealing, and attractive. You need to be able to create beautiful emails in either html or plain text – since some recipients will only accept emails in one format or another. Good email marketing companies will have templates and tools to help you create beautiful emails.
  • Avoid Spam: If your email marketing piece is flagged as spam, it won’t make it to your recipient. Even worse, it could be in violation of CAN-SPAM regs. In order to avoid being caught in the spam filter or sent to the spam folder, make sure your header and subject line are accurate. Include a valid opt-out method. Certain words are more likely to trigger a spam designation; you should know what they are so you can avoid them. Spam designations can damage your business’s reputation and the acceptance rate of future campaigns.

Elements of a Successful Email Marketing Campaign:

So you’ve created a visually pleasing, compelling, and effective email that you want to send out to your email marketing list. Now what? You could take the time and effort to send it out yourself. Or, you could hire a company to do it for you. Such businesses simplify the process considerably. They will maintain your list of subscribers, deleting invalid addresses or unsubscribe requests. They will provide easy-to-use templates that will help you create attractive email pieces. They will track responses to your email campaign – even recording which recipients opened the emails. They can monitor the results of your campaign so that you can make the next email marketing campaign even more effective.

  • Subscriber Management: If you’re always sending emails to invalid addresses and aren’t honoring unsubscribe requests, it can damage your reputation – and the deliverability of your emails. An email marketing service should automatically remove invalid addresses and un-subscriptions – along with any contacts that should be globally banned. But, you also want a service that will look at emails that bounce back and figure out why. Sometimes technical problems can be addressed so that the email marketing message can be re-sent successfully.
  • Collecting Addresses: Since you probably already have a list of email marketing addresses, you want a service that will allow you to seamlessly import your list into their service. The email marketing service should also be able to create a database with information about those addresses. They should provide simple methods for interested parties to add their email addresses to your list – for instance, by using a lead capture form linked from your website.
  • Recipient Targeting: If you’re sending out a reminder email, you usually send it to everyone who was on the first list. But, what if you could just send it to the people who didn’t respond to the previous email? That way you don’t need to bug the people who have already responded! Or what if you could send emails just to those people who visited your website recently? Don’t you want a service that can provide this level of targeting? If you monitor your recipients’ behavior and tailor your email marketing campaign accordingly, you will greatly enhance the chances of success.
  • Reporting: Each campaign constitutes an opportunity to learn more about your customer base. But you won’t learn if you don’t gather the information. Look for an email marketing solution that will create in-depth reports for you. You want to know how many recipients responded to your email’s call to action, how many people opened your email, how many unsubscribed, how many bounced back, and if any got caught in the spam filter. You want reports with the flexibility to show you data for weeks, months, or other time periods. This information is invaluable in planning your marketing strategy and refining your next email marketing campaign.
  • Design: You want a service that will help you design attractive, effective messages. Look for one with templates for newsletters and other kinds of emails that can be customized for your business. Or, if you want to design in another program, you need an email marketing service that will allow you to seamlessly paste emails created in MS Word, Frontpage, or other html editors. Look for a service that is intuitive and easy to use and that offers what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing. So you know that what you see on screen is exactly what your recipients will receive.
  • Spam: You want a service that adheres to all the CAN-SPAM regulations and observes all best practices. Choose a service that will evaluate all elements of your email – html coding, header, links, tags – for spam triggers. You want a service that can score the likelihood of a spam label and will suggest necessary changes. A good email marketing service can also record instances of messages being caught in spam filters and help you avoid that fate in the future.

Online Business and Internet Marketing – Is It For You?

So you think you might want to make some money from the internet, but you are not sure if it is really for you. There is such a mass of information and mis-information out there that you have no idea where to start. This short article is aimed at pointing you towards a realistic approach.

The good news is that making money on the internet is something many people from all over the world are doing successfully right now to fund their dream lifestyles.

One reason online business is so popular and accessible is that the start-up costs are relatively small. For around $50 or so (depending on the length of time paid for and the options you choose), you can set up and your own domain name and website hosting for your business. Another reason for internet business to be so popular is that they can be set up to run automatically with minimal ongoing overhead or support.

Can I become an instant millionaire? This is very unlikely despite many unscrupulous internet marketers telling you that you can make money almost instantly from your first day. Don’t give up your day job immediately as it generally takes many months to crank up to decent cash flows. However, this can be a perfect business to work on in your spare time, with the longer term aim of replacing your current income.

As with any other business that intends to stick around, you need to set some realistic goals and to make an action plan. Then you need to put in the effort and take the required actions to implement your plan. Not surprisingly, if you do nothing then you will not get any results. The folk that stick at it are the ones that do make the large five to seven plus figure incomes.

What do I need to do? Let’s look at an analogy of building a house.

  • First you need to clear the site. For our online business this means you need to educate yourself in all the jargon, the types of online business that are out there, and to then select one to run with.
  • Next comes the foundations – this involves obtaining your site name and hosting, establishing a source of product to sell, choosing an auto-mail handling site and setting up relationships with other sites or businesses you may need. – Now the actual construction takes place, where you build your website.
  • This is followed by the decorating and finishing which for the internet business is the promotion of your site by a variety of means. As with house building
  • this is the part that involves more than you imagined and takes longer than you think.
  • Finally you can move in. At last your site will be producing income on automatic pilot. So apart from the odd moving of furniture where you may do the odd tweak, it’s time to sit back and admire what you have achieved.

You now have a working template, so you can repeat these steps as many times as you wish.

Where do I start? There are many ways to make money online such as writing web content, affiliate marketing, email marketing, selling your own products, etc

If you like writing, you might consider writing your own blog and place ads on it, or you could perhaps consider free-lance web content writing for others.

If you have your own products, or intend to produce them, then you can sell these via your website.

If you have no products, or limited time or money, then the best way to get started is with Affiliate Marketing, where you market products for a commission. The product producer generally does all the cash handling, servicing, delivery, customer service and paying you, so you do not need to worry about any of that. If you build up a list of customers and provide them with goods or services that they need, your business should prosper.

I will cover these ways to get started in more detail in another article.