You’re probably in business for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is living out your dreams. But even if your driving force is to help people or fulfill a nagging passion, you still need revenue to keep your organization humming along. Without a steady source of money flowing into your corporate coffers, you’ll have trouble keeping your doors open, let alone scaling in the future.
Even if you’ve been on an entrepreneurial career path for years, you can always improve the way you make and manage money. Always. You just need to get creative and keep looking for innovative solutions. Below are several cost-effective actions to help you fuel your sales funnel and turn up your cash flow.
1. Find yourself some blue oceans.
In the world of marketing, blue oceans have become a unicorn type of rarity. Red oceans, or ones swimming with competitors, are far more prevalent. Still, you shouldn’t assume that you’ll never come across a blue ocean because they’re hardly extinct.
Case in point: Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne believe these blue oceans are where the real profitable growth opportunities lie. Uber would be one such example, as the company redefined the old and uninspired transportation industry.
Of course, blue oceans can be found anywhere and in any industry. Do a little digging and look for opportunities that others are underestimating. You could find yourself sailing smoothly right into a wave of profits.
2. Rethink your operational workflows.
Do you ever feel like your team has hit a plateau in terms of time available to search for leads or serve customers? Before adding more people to your payroll, take a fine-toothed comb to your workflows. Chances are high that with a few tweaks and a little tech, you and your colleagues could get more done than you imagined.
Author and entrepreneur David Finkel believe inefficiencies could be hurting your bottom line. His time management research suggests that the average worker wastes more than 21 hours weekly. His answer to this shocking problem? He recommends restructuring everyone’s responsibilities to get more from every minute.
For instance, take a case-by-case look at your direct reports’ daily tasks. Could some be automated with the help of cloud-based software or a plug-in that integrates with your central knowledge system? For example, your customer service agents could get a lot more done with the help of a cloud IVR system. This technology not only improves the customer experience but gives your live agents back some time to complete other tasks.
Dig deep and ask bold questions. Then, help staffers reconfigure their days to maximize resources and focus more on revenue-producing must-dos. Just make sure you’re willing to invest in additions to your tech stack, if appropriate.
3. Court (or unearth) new audiences.
You know your target clients well. In fact, you can describe them right down to their favorite fast foods and preferred Netflix binge shows. Still, you could be overlooking other audiences in your realm in order to get in tune with the ones you do know well. Quite honestly, you may already have people making purchases who aren’t part of your target market.
It’s happened before. Consider the story of Timberland, the company well-known for its apparel and gear so appealing to nature enthusiasts, hikers, and all-around outdoorsy types. In the 1990s, the retailer experienced an unexpected bump when hip-hop artists began wearing Timberland gear. The unexpected audience attention brought the brand fame—and boosted its profits.
Whether you sell a service or product, you may be missing a swath of potential buyers. Find out more about the customers you serve through surveys, data mining, or social listening. The information you glean will help you decide if branching out to a different group could make sense. Just make sure that you stay loyal to your core clients while you build another fan base. Your goal should be to expand, not to replace.
You might feel like your profits have stalled, but they probably haven’t. Make a few changes, starting with the trio of steps listed above. You just might see an uptick in revenue that you wouldn’t have thought possible over the next couple of quarters.