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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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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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