There are smarter ways to increase your earnings
Wealth solves all problems, right?
Well, yes and no. As you grow your business and consequent wealth, what actually happens is that you graduate to new problems. You move from problems in an old shirt, to problems that wear Armani. Problems, difficulties and challenges are a natural and healthy state for
human beings. They are the grindstone against which we sharpen ourselves and we need them. Even the multi-millionaire with the Bentley, the private island and the yacht faces them. Just different ones. Problems that are nicer to have. In 2011, I started bumping my head against a new problem. I was becoming busier than one person can handle. The nature of my work is such, though, that it’s difficult to outsource. When you run a burgeoning beauty salon, you can hire more beauticians. When you deliver keynote speeches on your own specific skill-set, the load becomes more difficult to spread.
Misidentifying a problem
For a long while I agonized over possible solutions (Virtual PA’s, small support teams and time-management courses). But when I read Alan Weiss’s book, Million Dollar Speaking, and learned that this incredibly prosperous man gets by without any support staff whatsoever, it occurred to me that my thinking was entirely wrong. I was in need of a Copernican Revolution. My problem was that I was trying to apply the labourer’s concept of how to get richer, which is: Carry more bricks.
Expanding Your Scope is Not Necessarily the Road to Wealth
‘Carry more bricks to earn more coins;’ this is classic working-class thinking. I don’t mean this in any elitist sort of way; it is simply a fact. Day labourers, when not coping with workload or prospering to the degree they feel they should, will strive to work longer hours, handle more and expand the scope of their labour. The thinking is oriented around ‘getting an extra coin.’ To achieve this, they might get a second job. In simple terms, their philosophical approach is:
More hours = more coins.
This thinking will keep you poor. It will also ensure that you burn yourself out.
The Rich Man’s Copernican Revolution:
The solution is not to carry more bricks. The solution is to think completely differently. The solution, in fact, is to carry something that is worth more than bricks. In this way, your equation becomes: Carry something more valuable over the same time period = receive more coins. In my case, this meant a decision to actively position myself on a higher level
as a speaker. It meant raising my fees and jettisoning my lower-paying, high-input clients.
Think of how elegantly such an approach solves the problem of capacity: Do less work for more money. Instead of constantly scrambling for lots of low-end work, you are, at your leisure, taking on fewer, higher-paid assignments. I am in no way advocating laziness. It takes a great deal of work to hold your position at the top end of the market. But it will mean less consumption of time for higher reward, and that is a meaningful goal.
Of Course, You Have to Be Worth It
Positioning is an art. And the danger is that you are simply seen to be overcharging for an inferior product. That’s a bad idea. Not only is it unethical, but it only takes two or three clients getting burned before the word gets out and your business falters. No, you have to actually be the quality for which you charge. But if you are the Mercedes Benz of your industry, you are entitled to charge a premium. And your market will expect it and pay it.
It’s an interesting build-on-build dynamic: The more you put your price up, the more you will be seen as a quality offering. The higher the quality of your offering, the more you can put your price up. So if you’ve hit a ceiling of income-to-capacity, and want to earn more, consider whether you are simply trying to carry more bricks. There are smarter approaches.
Here are five practical suggestions for how to choose better positioning over more hours carrying bricks:
1. Fire your low-paying, high-input clients
They are a drain on your time, they are not worth the financial reward, and perhaps most importantly, their high visibility in your own consciousness will keep you believing that you operate at that level. After all, if you see them often, they are your norm.
2. Dump the bricks and carry gold
What do you offer that is high-input and low yield? Are you scrambling to sustain the small profit margin part of your business? Perhaps it’s time to dump it and focus on the high-yield stuff. You don’t have to be all things to all people. Rather be the thing that generates high income.
3. Offer more
You already having buying customers who like what you do and buy what you offer. Can you offer them more? More product and/or more expensive product options? Perhaps it’s time to let the buyers who already support you know that the premium package is available; that they can have more services if they desire. If they are already buying from you, increase your total return by offering more.
4. Increase your fees
Raise your fees. Raise your quality concurrently. Try to position your fees in the middle-to-upper cost range of your industry. Never position yourself in the lower cost range. If you do, you become a commodity, which means that you are interchangeable. That’s not clever positioning.
5. When thinking money, use the right energy for the right activity
Finding ways to save money and cut costs should only utilize your incidental energy. It should not get pride of place in your economic focus. Put the main thrust of your creative energy into generating money. Generation is Goal One. Conservation is important, but incidental. Be less concerned about guarding the bottom line than you are about increasing the top-line.
6. Put the word out
Whenever I speak on the topic of ‘Expert Positioning,’ I always point out that no amount of in-depth knowledge will cause your market to see you as the leading name. Knowledge alone only makes you a specialist. But add publicity to the mix and suddenly you are perceived as an expert, and that allows you to position yourself at the high-end of the market. I advocate finding forums to achieve this. Appear on radio talk-shows with interesting messages pertaining to what you do. Appear on TV. Get into newspapers and magazines. Speak in public as often as possible. Positioning relies on public perception, and that is a perception that you have to cultivate by design. Simply put, if you want to be on top, go out and be seen.
Positioning is a powerful tool for growing your wealth without carrying more bricks. As you grow in both public stature and income, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a whole new set of challenges; the Armani kind.