3 Simple Steps To Manage Your Budget And Cashflow

3 Simple Steps To Manage Your Budget And Cashflow

Along with paper piles, budget and Cashflow is another area that can be a huge source of overwhelm and frustration! 

And I bet the very title of this article made you think twice about reading it 🙂

In your corporate days you would have had a bookkeeping/accounting department that took care of all of this for you – they paid the invoices, they tracked the receivables, they tracked the income, and they told you the bottom line!

Now that you’re running your own business you are also the Chief Financial Officer, and it can be very overwhelming.  However, it needn’t be… let me share with you three simple steps that you can put in place to manage your budget and Cashflow.

But first, let’s start with what is a Cashflow projection?

One important area of your Financial Management System is that of a Cashflow projection.  Put simply, a Cashflow projection shows whether your anticipated income will be able to cover your expected (projected) expenses and this report is very beneficial to you in your business.

It is an annual report and, if set up correctly, will show you how cash will flow through your business throughout the current financial year.  I’ve been using a Cashflow report in my business for many years and find it invaluable.  Just recently the chance to participate in a high-profile teleclass series came up, and because I have my financial systems in place, I knew straightaway that it was something I could take part in!

Step 1 – Create Your Cashflow Report

This is very easy to do using a spreadsheet.  Create a column that lists all of your expenses, i.e. office supplies, legal & professional fees, membership, advertising etc. and a column for each month of the year.  You will need to create formulae that will tell you your total income, total expenses, and subtracts the expenses from the income, and also carries forward any amounts from month-to-month.  This is so you can see how your finances are ‘flowing’ throughout the year.

Step 2 – Input Your Data

Taking your financial data from your bookkeeping system input your actual income and expenses, and list any projected expenses in the appropriate row/column.  Your Cashflow report will now show you at-a-glance any time periods for which you will need to be especially aware of.  For example you may have a lot of expenses in one particular month so you’ll know that the previous month you’ll need to make sure that you have the funds kept back in your bank account to take care of those upcoming expenses.

It will also show you if you can afford to make an investment in your business, whether that’s signing up for a new service or membership club, taking out an advertisement, or buying new equipment.

Your Cashflow projection can also be used as a budget planner.  You can plan out when annual memberships are due and put those in ahead of time.  You can also add in an amount for when your taxes are due.  This will provide you with a really good feel of how cash is flowing through your business, month after month, throughout the year, and you can also tell how much you can take off for owners draw, but still leave enough to cover the anticipated expenses.

Step 3 – Schedule In The Time

Now that you have your Cashflow report in place, it’s important that you update it regularly so that you can stay aware of how cash is flowing through your business, and take any actions necessary so that you have enough to cover all of your anticipated expenses.

I recommend scheduling in at least 30 minutes once a month to update this critical financial management report.

A Final Thought…

Having an annual Cashflow projection will provide you with all of the information you need so that you can keep on top of your business financially and know where you are.

If you have a bookkeeper taking care of all your financial records for you, ask them to prepare your monthly Cashflow report for you.

Where do you need help with your financial management system? Post in the comments below; I’d love to help.

© 2017 Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC

Tracey LawtonAbout the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don’t constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Get your free Systems Checklist TODAY and see if you have all of your bases covered.

 

Spring Clean Your Client Database

Spring Clean Your Client Database

You work hard to build your subscriber database … so why would you want to delete subscribers?

Like your desk becoming overrun with paper piles, or your PC becoming littered with folders and files, so too can your client database (ecommerce system) become disorganized and out-of-control. It’s a good idea to go through it at least three times a year, and see what can be re-organized or deleted.

Three key areas that you will want to look at:

1. Contacts/Subscribers: This is a BIG area that you need to stay on top of.  Did you know that if you continually email to subscribers who NEVER open your emails, you get penalized by your ISP – it’s seen as a form of spam? Also, if you’re running a double opt-in list, such as I do through 1ShoppingCart, I bet if you go through and look at all those subscribers who have NEVER confirmed their email address, you’ll find hundreds, or even thousands of unconfirmed subscribers. If someone doesn’t confirm their subscription to your list right away, chances are they never will!

Given this, two areas that you need to focus on during your clean up are:

i. Segmenting your database between those who open your emails and those who don’t.  And for those contacts who haven’t opened an email in the last 90 days, take them out of your main email list and move them into a re-engagement campaign.  And if they don’t take action after that, delete them.

ii. Deleting bad email address, i.e. those that hard bounce or have technical issues, and those subscribers who have never confirmed their optin request (if you’re running a double opt-in system).

Here’s the thing, with many of these ecommerce systems you’re charged for the number of contacts in your database – whether they are confirmed or not! So if you’re getting close to your quota, and your contact database is filled with people who you can never email, you’re not making the space for new people to come into your community. Same too goes for people who never open your emails.

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2. Autoresponders/Email Lists: as you go through your business throughout the year, you’ll probably create different lists of subscribers for different activities, e.g. product purchases, free teleclass registration, online program registration, internal lists, lists that are segmented etc. etc. and you can quickly end up with hundreds of different lists of subscribers (autoresponders in 1ShoppingCart / tags in Infusionsoft).

Your system will quickly become cluttered with all of these different lists, and it will make finding specific lists harder. Having to sift through a ton of different lists to find the one that you want (because you can’t remember what you called it) wastes time.

Clear up your autoresponder lists by going through each of these lists and deleting the one(s) that you no longer need. Don’t worry … when you delete an autoresponder (or tag if you’re using Infusionsoft) you are not deleting your contacts; you’re simply deleting the list.

3. Products: As with autoresponders/email lists, you can very quickly build up a library of different products that you’ve offered over the years. Again, go through your list of products and delete all the one(s) that you no longer sell or need.

Again, deleting your products doesn’t mean you’re deleting contacts; you’re simply deleting the product. Your contacts are still there, plus their purchasing history is still intact too. So you can still see which product(s) they bought, and when.

Having a system in place where you are constantly monitoring the health of your client database is a good system to have.  It means that you’re consistently emailing to a high-quality list of people who open and read your emails.

Note: I did this exercise recently, and deleted over 3,000 subscribers … and it felt good!

Where do you need help in cleaning up your client database? Post in the comments below and let me know; I’d love to help.

(c) 2016 Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC

Tracey LawtonAbout the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don’t constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Get your free List Building System Checklist TODAY and start to grow your list so you can ensure a constant flow of clients.

 

5 Reasons to Automate and Streamline Your Business

“You need to investment in a system for where you want to go, not where you are now.”

Any client that has worked with me over the past 15 years knows that I say that a lot.

And that’s because I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a conversation with a business owner who has wanted me to help them set up their systems, whether that’s:

  • Creating an automated system to deliver their free report.
  • Having a system in place so that attendees can register for their teleclasses.
  • Creating a system so that customers can purchase products and/or programs via their website.

All of these business owners have ONE thing in common – they want the system to make it all work, but they’re not prepared to INVEST in the right system.

I usually tell them that if they want to do all of the above (and more) they need an all-in-one ecommerce system, such as 1ShoppingCart** or Infusionsoft**, which can do all of the above, plus so much more!

The response I usually get to this advice is, “I can’t afford it”, or “I don’t want to make that kind of investment”.  But what they are really saying is, “I’m not serious about my business so I don’t want to pay for that kind of system.”

Here’s the thing… when you don’t have the right system in place…

  • You make it difficult for clients to do business with you
  • You make it difficult for you to run your business efficiently and effectively
  • Bottom line — you lose revenues

So today I want to share with you my top five reasons why having an all-in-one ecommerce system is CRUCIAL to your business success:

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1.  Your Client Database Is All Together In One Place.  If you’ve ever tried to fudge together two different systems to make everything work (the voice of experience is talking to you here!), then you know exactly the kind of hassle you’re setting yourself up for. You have some clients in one database, other clients in the other database, and even clients in both databases.  This makes sending out broadcasts, emails, and other materials messy.  Some clients may get them once, some twice, and some not at all!

2.  Easily Upgrade To Paid Programs And Products. When you’re ready to start introducing paid programs and products into your business it’s easy to do.  You already have the infrastructure in place, so it’s just a case of adding in the shopping cart elements, and you’re ready to start accepting payments.

3. Tracking Your Business Is Easy.  One area that business owners ignore is their numbers.  They very rarely look at their broadcast rates, open rates, sources of new subscribers, or any other important data that will tell them how their business is doing, which will help them plan effectively for future revenues.  When you’re using an all-in-one ecommerce system, all the critical business planning data is right there at your fingertips, so you always know how your business is performing. And you can make adjustments accordingly.

4. Create Your Own Personal Sales Army.  Once your business has grown to a certain level, you’ll be ready to add an Affiliate Program to it. An affiliate program is basically your own personal sales army of affiliates who recommend your products and programs to their networks.  This is a great way to automate sales and widen your networking reach, without you having to do any additional work … your affiliates do the work for you.  And when you are using an all-in-one ecommerce system, adding this piece to your business is really simple.  The affiliate program is part of the all-in-one ecommerce system, so it’s right there waiting for you to use it.

5. Automate and Streamline.  My favorite part about all of this is when you’re running your entire business through just the ONE system, you can very easily automate and streamline a large part of your business activities, from upselling to products and programs, to marketing.  What could be more hassle-free than that!

Having an all-in-one ecommerce system in place is at the heart of running a thriving and profitable online business.  If you are serious about building your online business, don’t even consider any other option.  Make the decision now to invest in the right system that will grow as your business grows.

** These are not the only two all-in-one ecommerce systems available, but they are the two that I am very familiar with, which is why I referenced them.

Where are you struggling to automate and streamline your business? Leave me your answer in the comments below; I’d love to help.

© 2016 Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC

Tracey LawtonAbout the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don’t constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Get your free Systems Checklist TODAY and see if you have all of your bases covered.

 

How to Set (And Stick To) Your Business Boundaries

It happens to all of us at some point or other …

A client will ask us to do something different for them that is outside of our normal business practice.  And, as we’re in the profession of serving and supporting our clients, we will accommodate.

The thing is, when you do make exceptions for one client, you’re not being fair to all of your other clients. So it’s really important that you have in place clear policies and processes, and that you have effectively communicated those policies to your clients. That way everyone is treated the same, and everyone knows where they stand.

The way this shows up in your business is that it can be anything from asking for a discount on a program, to running a program at a different time of day, to calling you on the weekend … or a dozen different ways that would take too long to mention here.  But you get the idea!

And how you handle these situations makes all the difference in the smooth running of your business.

Pushing of boundaries shows up in one of two areas:

  1. Time
  2. Money

Having come across just about every type of issue over the past 15 years, I have quickly created policies and processes that I adhere to when running my business.  So let me share some of those issues with you, and provide you with a few solutions.

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Pushing Time Boundaries: Just recently I was speaking with a client who scheduled our call because she said she had time management issues.  She couldn’t seem to manage her day effectively in order to get things done.  Her work day was very haphazard, projects were slipping through the cracks, and she felt she was working in constant reactive mode.  Sound familiar?

When we dug a little deeper and I asked her specifically what was going on—it turned out she didn’t have time management issues at all; she simply didn’t have any clear policies/guidelines in place for communicating with clients and getting projects completed. She had a time boundaries issue.

So, what was happening was that clients were calling and/or emailing her at all times of the day (including evenings), which meant she kept getting constant interruptions in her work flow.  She, in turn, responded instantly to the client, so the expectation from the client was that she was available whenever they needed her.  Just a few simple changes to setting boundaries around her business day made all the difference.

A couple of solutions to your time boundaries problem:

i.  Provide clear guidelines to your clients on how you want to schedule and handle client calls.   What’s your procedure for scheduling calls? How much notice do you require? How often can clients schedule calls?

ii. Specify exactly how project requests are to be made to you, and anticipated turnaround time.

Pushing Money Boundaries: This presents itself in all kinds of way, from potential clients trying to get a discount on your fees, to asking for an extension to a special pricing plan you have in place, to having a credit card payment declined … and anything in-between.  Again, you need to be really clear on what your policies are, and stick to them.

A couple of solutions to your money boundaries problem:

i. Create a Sales Policy page that you put up on your website.  And for every product/program you sell via your website, add a link to your Sales Page Policy.  Your Sales Policy is simply a statement which lets your clients and customers know what they can expect from you and how you handle your sales processes.  How your sales policy is structured is entirely up to you; it’s your business and you’re the business owner, but once you’ve decided what those policies are you need to be strong in your implementation.  Having a central page that clearly lays out your sales policies will make the implementation of them far easier (for you) and smoother, and will ensure that you’re being fair to ALL of your clients.

ii. A very graceful and professional way of handling requests for discounted fees, is to have a lower-priced service/package that you can offer instead.  Or, another option is take away a component of the package so that it better fits your client’s budget.

Deciding in advance what your specific boundaries are, and having clear guidelines and processes for handling requests will make your business run much more smoothly.  And clients LOVE boundaries too!

Where are you struggling in your boundaries—whether time, money or both? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to help.

(c) 2016 Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC

Tracey LawtonAbout the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don’t constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Get your free Systems Checklist TODAY and see if you have all of your bases covered.

 

Biz Owners: Are You Losing Potential Clients By Not Doing This?

Many business owners are losing clients without even realizing it.

And yet with a few simple tweaks in their Contact Management System, they could easily turn that around, and find that they have all the clients they need!

If you find yourself missing out on potential clients, contacts are falling through the cracks, or you’re not following up in a timely manner then your problem is simply a lack of an efficient Contact Management System!

So let me ask you:

1. Do you have a record of each of your clients/colleagues contact data, i.e. name, address, email, website, phone number etc.?

2. Are you following up efficiently and effectively when a potential client enquires about your services/programs?

3. Do you have a specific process in place for handling new client enquiries?

If you’ve answered NO to one or more of these questions, then your problem is your Contact Management System.

The good news…

This can easily be rectified!  With a proper Contact Management System in place you will be able to:

  • Keep a note of clients, potential clients, and colleagues contact information.
  • Easily and effectively follow-up with a prospect.
  • Locate critical client contact information quickly and easily.
  • Build your business.

Sometimes the simplest contact management can be all you need so that you’re not letting potential clients slip through the cracks and you’re following up in a timely manner.  When deciding on the most suitable contact management system for your business, let me share 5 simple options with you:

  1. Outlook – not just for emails but if fully utilized it will become your ‘command central’. You can keep a note of contact’s details, track follow-up activities, manage your tasks, and more!
  1. Online contact management system – great for if you want to access your information from any PC, or you want to share your database with another team member such as a VA. One of the more popular CRM tools is Salesforce but you might want to also check out AddressTwo too (this is a simple CRM system and is great for small business owners).
  1. A Spreadsheet – this is a very simple tool for when you are first starting out, but it will soon become cumbersome and unwieldy.
  1. I live in my Gmail account, and I use a nifty tool called Boomerang for Gmail – it allows me to bring messages back into my inbox so that I can easily follow up with a prospect or client, send emails later, and track my emails.
  1. Infusionsoft:  If you’re currently using Infusionsoft, it comes with a built-in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System … so you’re all set!

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Which one of these options to use depends on your level of expertise and which one will work best for YOU and YOUR BUSINESS.

Don’t let your business suffer due to an inefficient Contact Management System.  Follow my tips above to choose a system that is right for YOUR business.

Need help with deciding on your contact management system? Simply post your questions below, and I’ll answer them for you here right on the blog.

(c) 2016 Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC

Tracey LawtonAbout the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don’t constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Get your free Systems Checklist TODAY and see if you have all of your bases covered.

 

3 Easy Tips for Keeping Your Client Information Organized

Once you start working with more than a handful of clients it becomes more difficult to keep track of where they are in your programs.

If you are a coach or other service professional and your core programs are working one-on-one with clients during sessions – whether that’s in-person, telephone, or group sessions – you need to have a system for tracking where your clients are in your program.

It’s important that you know exactly where your clients are in your programs so that you can:

  • See where the gaps are.
  • Plan for when clients are finishing in your program.
  • Know when you have availability coming up so that you can plan to take on new clients.

If you are a new business owner you may only be working with just a few clients and can easily keep track.  But as your business grows and you start to take on more clients, unless you have a system in place you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed and not knowing where each client is in your program.

So today I’m going to share with you my top three tips for keeping everything together, so that you can easily access your client information and know exactly where your clients are in your programs.

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1.  Create a Client Contact Sheet

For some of you, you prefer (or need) to have a physical client file that you can refer to. One of the simplest ways of creating this file is by using a manila* file folder in which you simply drop your paperwork into.  This file will contain things like the agreement form from your client, assessment forms, or details of any projects that you’ll be working on.

Creating a Client Contact Sheet which contains your client’s name, address, email, phone, fax and any other contact information that you want to keep a record of is a useful template to have.  You simply print it out and fill it in each time you take on  new client.

Once you’ve printed out the Client Contact sheet, staple it to the inside left cover of your client folder.  This way whenever you need to access your client’s information you just flip open the file and the information is right there.

Depending on the type of client and project I’m working on I find this method very handy – more so than storing the data electronically (which I also do).  It’s so much easier to grab the file, flip it open and find the information I need straightaway than it is to open the software, locate the client record and find the information – that’s assuming the PC is turned on and I don’t have to wait for it to boot up!

*If, like me, you find manila file folders a little boring, check out See Jane Work for some fabulous and colorful office organization products.

2.  Create Digital Client Folders

As the majority of your communication is probably done via email with documents going back and forth, you’ll also want to create an individual client folder on your PC.  It may not be necessary to print out everything your clients send you, but you do need to store the information so that’s it easy for you to find.

A couple of places where you’ll want to create individual clients folders are:

>> In your email program. For each of my clients I have created their own email folder so that any emails that are sent to/from my client goes into their individual email folder.  This allows me to keep track of our communications easily, rather than having to sift through hundreds of emails that come into my Inbox each day.

Tip: In Outlook you can also set up rules so that email is automatically filtered into the appropriate client email folder – saving heaps of time!

>> In your main client folder. I’m a big believer in creating main/sub folders for managing my filing system – both for paper-based and PC files. (If you’re been a member of my Your Systems For Success program you know that I tell you step-by-step how to do this.)  So if I have a main Clients folder then within the main folder I will create individual client folders.  I then use this folder for storing all the documents that I send and receive from my clients.  Again having everything in one place makes for quick and easy access.

Tip: In Windows you can change the icon of individual folders so if you’re more of a visual person you can have different icons for different clients.

3.  Use Client Tracking Spreadsheets

Once you have your physical and digital individual client files created, you’ll want to think about utilizing a client tracking spreadsheet.  If you are a coach or other service professional chances are your core programs are working one-on-one with clients during sessions (phone or in-person) so it makes sense for you have a system for tracking where your clients are in their programs.

In the beginning stages of your business it may be easy for you to keep tabs on just a few clients, but as your business grows and you’re working with more and more clients, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed if you don’t have some kind of tracking system in place.

If your clients book a certain number of sessions with you, creating a simple spreadsheet that has your client’s names in the left-hand column, and a column along the top for each session will allow you to easily see how many sessions they have already booked and how many sessions they have left. You can also create more advanced client tracking spreadsheets too that automatically fill in data on a summary sheet, and has individual client tabs.

Whatever you decide to do, you need some kind of client tracking in place. Spreadsheets are my favorite tool for doing this as, if done correctly, they’ll provide you with that “big picture” view of your business.

Where are you struggling to keep track of your client information? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to help.

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(c) 2016 Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC

Tracey LawtonAbout the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don’t constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Get your free Systems Checklist TODAY and see if you have all of your bases covered.