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How To Scale-Up Your Creative Business and Sell More — Using Ecommerce

How To Scale-Up Your Creative Business and Sell More — Using Ecommerce

Let me guess:

You’re looking to grow your business in leaps and bounds so you never have to work another day in your life, right?

That’s the case with many entrepreneurs. Whether you run a solo business or you work with a team, it’s always the dream to one day have the business make money without much personal effort from your part.

But you’ve probably realized that it’s not as easy as it seems.

Selling your creative service can be hard work, especially when you’re still trading time for money. You want to have more clients but you only have 24 hours in the day…so how do you build that business? You want to start creating your own products so you can tone down client work, but you don’t even have the time for product creation because of the clients you have now.

You’ve probably thought of quitting client work so you can start working on your business, but how will you pay the bills?

Too many questions, not enough answers.

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Well, if you’re looking to scale your present creative business and use ecommerce to really grow that dream, I’ll show you six ways to do it.

But first, why would you want to scale and grow in the first place?

3 Reasons Why You Should Scale

1. You’ll be able to focus on core objectives.

You started that creative business because you had passion and there were things you wanted to achieve. There was a vision you saw that you decided to run with. If not, you wouldn’t have started.

When you have everything in place and revenue starts to come in without your full participation, you’ll be able to “sit your business down” and focus on those core objectives. As Sam Carpenter, author of Work The System said:

“If solid goals are established and the majority of time is spent manipulating systems toward those goals, great results will materialize naturally.”

2. You’ll save time.

Being able to generate revenue for your business without directly trading your time has benefits. If you previously spent most of your day on client work, you’ll be able to tone that down and replace those hours with other important activities.

3. Your quality of service will improve.

This won’t be because you’re investing more personal time in delivering those services. Instead, it’ll be due to the fact that you’ve been able to acquire specialized talent. After all, as the advertising legend, David Ogilvy advised:

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“If you ever find a man who is better than you are — hire him. If necessary, pay him more than you pay yourself.”

That way, everyone stays happy.

How to Scale

So are you ready to scale? Here are the 6 steps you don’t want to ignore:

1. Think big, take action

Sounds cliché right? You’ve probably heard that phrase since you were 10. But guess what? It’s still important.

At this stage, most people daydream for a really long time. Yes, it’s cool to imagine yourself as the next Steve Jobs, but if you don’t do the “take action” part, you’ll only be Jobs in your head.

While thinking, it’s important for you to avoid unrealistic imaginations. Anything is possible, but be careful. You have to think in steps. If your present monthly revenue is barely $20,000, your thought process should be something along the lines of, “How can I make that 10X and what do I have to do to get there in the next 3-6 months?” Not, “In the next 3 months, I’ll work very hard, make $50M and get myself a condo”.

Really? Business growth is not magic.

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2. Determine your value

If you sell services, what’s the way forward? Is it getting more clients or increasing your rates? And if you’re increasing your rates, how can you also increase the value so your clients are encouraged to pay higher?

Note that when you increase your rates, your inflow of clients will reduce and that’s completely okay. You don’t want to work with everyone — only those ideal clients that’ll help you achieve your business goals. As you start to increase the perceived value of your offering by boosting the price, remember to also increase the corresponding intrinsic value.

3. Cut costs down

Since you’re scaling up, aren’t you supposed to be incurring more costs? On the contrary, what you have to do at this step is to get rid of unnecessary costs. You’re probably spending money on unnecessary software and services that you don’t need.

For example, if you use email marketing software like Aweber to communicate with your email list, perhaps paying the yearly plan (instead of monthly) would serve you better. That’ll save you a few dollars.

Using this example, look at other areas of your business where you have expenses and critically answer these two questions:

  • Can my business do without this and still work?
  • How can I spend less on this and still get the same result?

4. Determine your budget and capital

Without a budget, you’ll either spend more than you should or less than required. While cutting down on costs ensures that you don’t keep creating unnecessary expenses as you grow, having a growth budget ensures you increase expenses on the right things.

Your capital depends on how much you need to grow at this point. Will you be building a team? How many people do you need and how much will you pay them? Laying these figures out would give you a financial goal to work towards, especially when you’re not generating much revenue yet.

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You’ll also want to incorporate a “Peace of Mind Policy” into your growth budget. This policy provides security for your life and business by ensuring you make stable and consistent investments that’ll prevent you from unnecessary expenses in future.

One good example of this is getting insurance, in case of any catastrophes. You can shop around for the cheapest insurance rates that’ll give you some peace of mind.

5. Get the best tools, hire the best minds

It’s going to be harder to manage contingencies when you grow, especially if you don’t get the groundwork right. If managing an arrogant team member is hard work, how would managing four with the same attitude be?

If you’re looking to outsource business tasks, ensure you outsource the right ones. Depending on your business needs, you’d want to outsource some of those tasks to the best talent using sites like Upwork or Freelancer.

If you’re looking to equip your website to be able to sell your creative products, then perhaps you should consider hiring a developer to install some premium plugins, or use simple landing page solutions like Spaces or Big Cartel — which are specifically built for creative people like you.

6. Scale!

How? By bringing all your plans and actions from steps one to five together. Now that you’re clear on your figures, you’ve gotten the best tools and hired the best minds, it’s your duty to kick off the whole process. However, without the right systems and documentation in place, you’ll find yourself working more unproductive hours.

That’s it! You’ve successfully taken the first step by reading this article. Your next step is to start from Step 1 and start laying those concrete plans down on paper. It’s not enough for you to get revved up by this and do nothing. The benefits of scaling are endless. And even though the process may take several months, you won’t have a taste of those benefits unless you take action.

So go get started!

Featured photo credit: Giuseppe Milo via flickr.com

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Published on May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

Reference

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