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Double Your Income This Year
By Paul Myers

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The goal is in the title. This article will focus on the techniques you need to use to get it done.

Actually, you might want to make the same money, but in half the time. Nice to have all that extra time to enjoy it. Or maybe you want to do both ? It can be done. It takes a bit more application of the ideas here, and a bit of creativity, but it can be done.

The first thing you need to do is list all the activities you engage in during the day to day operation of your business. All of them. Accounting, sales, maintenance, administrative, phone calls, chit chat. All the things you do every day. List the amount of time spent on each task in the course of a typical week.

Now go down the list and assign an hourly income derived from each of these activities. And be honest. Accounting doesn't make you money. (Analysing the books and looking for extra ways to cut costs or increase profits is not accounting.) Sweeping the floors and mowing the lawn doesn't make you money either. Be specific, and be able to explain where you got the numbers.

Now you know the highest paying activity. And you know the lowest. Determine which of the low- or no-pay activities you can delegate or hire someone else to do. If you can take the same hours and use them to pursue the activities that make you the most money, it's a smart move.

Yes, lots of us think the world will collapse if we don't handle each and every detail personally. It won't. I promise you that Bill Gates didn't make his money hand delivering every piece of software and doing all the books himself. Honest. You can ask him. (askbill@microsoft.com)

If more than half your time was spent on unproductive things, and you either dump the activity altogether or farm it out for hire, you have probably just doubled your income already. Or close to it.

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Now look at the things you make money from and ask yourself "What can I do to get these things done in a more efficient manner ? How much time can I save on them without hurting my results or reducing the benefits to my customers ?" Many times you'll find that the same things that help you get the job done faster provide improvements for your customers. This is especially true in the service industries.

Okay, so you're down to spending your time on only the most efficient systems of doing what makes you the most money. If you're still not at the doubled level, or you'd like to do more, read on. Here's where it gets interesting.

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The next step is to look at what *actions* produce the most income per hour, and find ways to do more of them. For example, let's say that your time is most productive when you are consulting with a client, but you only have enough clients to fill 10 hours a week. How do you get more clients ?

Or you have a high sales ratio on qualified prospects. How do you get more leads ?

How do you get your clients or prospects now ? You probably use a number of different systems. Determine which of those is the most effective in terms of leads brought in per hour spent and which the least. The important thing is the return per hour, not what some expert says is the slickest. If classified ads get you business, they're probably a high performer by this standard. How much time does it really take to place an ad ?

Find out what you do that gets you contacts the quickest, and do more of it. The extra time will come from dropping the things that work the least efficiently.

Does this all sound like simple common sense ? Yes, it is. But many of us seem to forget, usually because we are wrapped up in the details.

Whether you use direct mail, cold calling, referrals, drop boxes, classified ads, flyers, radio and TV spots, sponsorships, space ads, billboards or blimps, there are systems that work well for you and ones that don't. Drop the ones that are lowest in return and concentrate all your efforts in the ones that work the best.

When you know which systems produce the most business for you, the nextstep is to fine tune the way you use the system to maximise results. This is actually a lot easier than it might sound.

First, forget about the traditional concept of a "professional image". Don't do things that make your prospects avoid you or question your credibility, but don't let effective advertising techniques go by just because they don't preserve some kind of mystique.

For example, if you use methods that require advertising, get a professional copy writer to punch up your copy. Make sure you get someone who is results oriented. In fact, look at every aspect of your search for customers from that one standpoint. Results.

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In addition to looking carefully at your advertising copy, sit down and examine the ways you market, from beginning to end. From the first time a person hears of you to the service after the job is paid.

There are a lot of different marketing methods available to the small business person. Look into as many as you think might be applicable to your situation. Every time you see a marketing method, ask yourself how you could make it work for you. From "drop boxes" for business cards and flyers on the front porch all they way to massive TV advertising.

An excellent book on the subject is Guerilla Marketing, by Jay Conrad Levinson. If you haven't read it, get a copy. This book is worth thousands of dollars in new business alone, not mentioning the potential for increasing repeat sales.

Before you implement a new marketing or advertising strategy, ask how you could do it better, cheaper, or faster, and get better results from it. You may be surprised to find that the best advertising is often free or very inexpensive.

Test new methods. Don't blow thw whole budget on one thing. As one method proves itself, put more money into it. Specifically the money generated by that method. This ensures that unworkable techniques weed themselves out, and profitable ones expand under their own steam.

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Add products and services to your line. Ask your customers what they would like to see you sell or do for them. This increases customer loyalty, and drives down the cost of servicing each new customer. Many times this is a great way to upgrade a customer from a small account into a large one. They may start out with small purchases, and as you add products for them, and properly handle their concerns and needs, they will increase the amount of faith they have in you, and be willing to spend more with you.

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Add value. Don't drop price.

This is one that a lot of new businesspeople are afraid of. Rather than simply dropping the price to get new accounts, add value to the service or product. Give them an instruction book or video with that new system, or spend time teaching them how to use it. Find the unique factors in your offer and emphasize them and improve on them. Make it worth twice the difference between you and the shop down the street.

When you drop the price or charge too little, people will perceive your offer as being worth less than it is. If you add value, in terms of what the individual customer wants, you show professionalism and confidence in your product or service. People want to deal with professionals.

One way to add value is to show them the convenience of being able to accomplish more in less time by dealing with you. The addition of products to your line is a good way to start.

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Give your business P.O.P. : One of the most well known and little used factors in the success is the Power Of People. This alone can double your income and more. And it can supply you with another rich reward, the friendships of many of the best people you will meet.

There are a lot of ways to harness this business advantage. The main thing to remember in any of them is, if you give people what they want and treat them with respect and fairness, they will lift you to the top in your field. This isn't hype or simply positive thinking. It's a simple reality. People will help others that they like and respect.

Can your business employ commission salespeople ? If so, and you're not, why ? You can increase income for yourself, and provide others with employment all at once, at little cost to you. If your margins allow it, and you can find good salespeople, train them and let them make money for themselves and you at the same time.

Can your service be performed by people you could train as field representatives ? If you can generate leads faster than you can do the work, why not train others to do the extra ?

One note on training. The best way to teach someone a job is to take them with you and let them watch you do the job. Their past experience isn't as important as their ability to give the customer the quality and kind of service you would give them yourself. Let the trainee see how you do it, and explain each thing as you go along. Let them ask questions, and be patient with them. It will mean big returns down the road.

Look for referrals. If they come from established customers, give them something in return. A discount, extra service, or just a sincere thank you, if the contact is such that a thank you is all that is appropriate. Make sure they feel good about having helped you out.

Pay people for referrals. If it is appropriate to your relationship with the person, pay them well. They will have a personal incentive to send you work. And they will feel good about it as long as you do the job well.

Build an active network, both through new contacts and old friends and customers.

And never forget your most important human resources, your customers. They will buy from you time and again if you keep them happy. Price will cease to be an issue as long as you remember to go the extra mile for them. Add value in everything you do.

The best way to add value is to become a problem solver. Instead of preplanning what you think they need, make sure you ask them what they want. And then find a way to give it to them.

If you see potential troubles that they might not think to look for, certainly it is your responsibility to alert them and prepare them for the problems. Find out, though, what results are most important to them, and work to fill that desire as well as you can. Do that, and prepare them along the way for the things they might not think of, and you will have a customer for life.

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Develop confidence : Believe in yourself. If anyone on earth can do a thing, you can do it too. For you, some things will be easier than for others, and the reverse is also true. But anything which is possible for them is possible for you as well. Your customers will enjoy dealing with you and have greater belief in you if you have confidence in yourself.

The best way to develop confidence is to build competence.

Be the best you can at what you do.

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The biggest key is to give your customers what they want. Not what they need or what you think they need. Give them what they want. To find out, ask them. When they give you logical reasons, ask them what they would most enjoy about it. Find the emotional key that they are offering.

While you practice this, here's something useful to help you along. Most people want three things above all else. Security, entertainment, and convenience. Add these to your service, and you will see an increase. Add them to your explanation of your service and the increase will be big.

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Not all of these tips will be usable by every business. You'll have to sit down and figure out for yourself which ones will work out the best in your situation and work on implementing those.

Start with the easiest ones to implement. Build on them. Fit the ones you use into a consistent approach, and keep working on it. And keep in mind that your goal is a specific result. It is better to make $1000 as a result of an ad that pulled 1% rather than $500 from an ad that pulled 20%, all other things being equal. Focus on results and you'll soon find that you're making that doubled income. Often times it will be more.

Another benefit to this approach is that you will find yourself dropping the distracting and aggravating things that didn't make you money before. You will enjoy your business more, and have more time for the other things in your life as well.

Good luck, and a profitable year to you !

Paul go@pair.com

Paul Myers publishes a weekly small business newsletter called Saturday Night Specials. It contains regular columns from professionals in the fields of marketing, time management, networking, hardware and software, and motivation as well as guest features from a wide range of sources. To subscribe, email your request, with subscribe as the subject or message.

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