Using Payment Plan to Increase Your Cash Flow: Your 5-Step Guide

Using Payment Plan to Increase Your Cash Flow: Your 5-Step Guide

You’ve done it! You’re generating consistent cash flow month after month — you can predict exactly what’s coming in and exactly what’s going out.

For many business owners though, this is still a dream.

But, with a few tweaks to your current set up you can start to turn that dream into a reality.

Maintaining a consistent cash flow is a critical element of running a successful business — you need to be able to pay your bills and, more importantly, pay yourself! I come across too many business owners who do not have this crucial foundational system in place. As a result they’re on a constant feast or famine cycle … you know, some months they have a massive surge in income, and the following month they hardly have two pennies to rub together.

As well as being an inefficient way to run a business, it’s also very stressful.

You never know if you’re going to have a good month this month, and be able to pay your bills, or barely scrape by.

For these reasons I am huge fan of payment plans, both for making my own purchases in my business and for clients to pay me.

Why? 

Because it helps enormously with cash flow – which is crucial when it comes to the smooth running, and long-term success, of your business.

On the expenses side, I can easily budget for expenses. As a business owner you too want to be able to manage your own cash flow, i.e. the money going out of your business, not just the money coming in.  By taking advantage of payment plans when you sign up for any kind of business development program, you’ll know exactly how much is going out of your business each and every month. You’ll be able to manage your expenses much better — rather than a big lump sum going out in one month, you can spread the payments out over several months.

And on the income side, you can easily anticipate how much is going to come into your business every month, and make plans accordingly. And you’ll also be able to grab opportunities as they present themselves because you know your financial situation.

So know that you understand a little more how payment plans can help you, both as a business owner and service provider, today I’d like to share with you my five steps to increasing cash flow in your own business by utilizling payment plans.

1. Get a merchant account. I consider this a must-have for any business owner wishing to do business online or providing one-on-one services with clients. With a merchant account you can very easily accept all major credit cards without your clients and customers having to go via Paypal (this is a great option for a secondary payment processor). And, most importantly, you can set your client payments up for automatic recurring billing. Doesn’t that sound fabulous?

2. Offer payment plans. Again, this is a must-have for anything you sell costing more than $150. So this would apply to your products, programs, and mostly your one-on-one client services. How you choose to set up your payment plans is entirely up to you, but a good rule of thumb is to add between 10-20% onto the full pay price and divide that number by the required number of payments. For private client payment plans, you may want to approach that slightly differently, depending on the program and investment level.

3. Don’t stretch payment plans out too far. This is especially important for your group programs and one-on-one client programs. You want to ensure that when the end of the program is reached the client has made all of their payments. There is the danger that if you let payments go beyond the end of the program the client will feel that they’re paying for a program they are no longer a part of, and this can result in higher credit card declines.

4. Have clear payment policies in place. Talking of declines and other ‘uncomfortable’ payment issues, make sure you have a clear policy in place for how you’re going to collect on non-payers. How do you contact them, i.e. phone, email, certified letter, and how long do you leave it before making contact with them? Are you willing to go as far as handing things over to a collections agency?

5. Be aware of all the fees involved. Many business owners get stung by unforeseen merchant and shopping cart fees. Check out what fees are involved on your merchant account – there is usually a monthly account fee, a monthly gateway fee, and per transaction fees (which are usually a percentage of the transaction). And if you’re using recurring billing through your shopping cart, check out their recurring transaction fees too. If you’re using Paypal also be aware of their fees; on the surface it may seem a better deal than having your own merchant account, but dig a little deeper, and understand exactly what’s involved.

Increasing your cash flow by offering payments options is definitely a good way forward, both for you as the business owner and your clients. But do be fully aware of any costs and pitfalls involved so that you can plan and budget accordingly.

What questions do you have about setting up payment plans? Post in the comments below; I’d love to help.

(c) 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.

 

Gmail Email Management: Create Filters and Labels for Quick and Easy Email Organization

Gmail Email Management: Create Filters and Labels for Quick and Easy Email Organization

Sometimes it’s the simple tweaks that can make all the difference!

And your “tweaking” your email system by automating and organizing is where you can see the biggest difference in your day-to-day productivity.

It’s time to ditch the email overwhelm and get organized!

We all know that email is a huge source of overwhelm for many solopreneurs, and also one of the biggest time drains. However, email is essential to a solopreneur’s success, so you have to find a way of organizing your emails. If organized properly you’ll quickly and easily be able to:

  • Focus on the top priority emails first
  • Skim your emails and see which ones need your attention
  • Get quick and easy access

Now, I’m a huge Outlook fan and have written about how you can organize your Outlook inbox through setting up Rules and Filters. But recently, due to a LOT of business and personal travel which has taken me away from my office, I’ve had to work off my laptop, which posed the question of …

How do I access my emails?

Gmail was the obvious answer – I simply forward all of my email accounts on to my Gmail account and voila! I have access to all of my emails!


But…

All of a sudden all the wonderful rules and filters I’d created in Outlook didn’t  transfer to Gmail (obviously!), and so I ended up with this huge glob of emails in my Gmail account … and I mean there were hundreds. So, the Queen of Office Organization suddenly found herself overwhelmed by emails!

Enter…

Gmail Filters and Labels.

With a bit of research I found I could easily recreate the rules and filters I’d set up in my Outlook account to also work in my Gmail account – they’re just called Filters and Labels in Gmail. And once I knew how to do this organizing my emails became a cinch!

So, here’s how you can do this in your own Gmail account too:

1: In your Gmail account, click on Options > Mail Settings.

2: Click on the Filters link.

3: Click on Create a New Filter link.

4: At this screen you can now specify your filter criteria. It can be anything:

  • From a specific email address
  • To a specific email address
  • With certain words in the subject line
  • Specify certain words etc.

5: Once you’ve specified your criteria click on Next Step.

6: On your next screen you then say what you want to happen with your email:

  • Skip the Inbox – this is an essential part of the filtering process. If you want to actually Move your email as it arrives so it ends up in an alternate folder (which is another name for a Label) then you want to make sure this box is ticked. If you don’t tick it you’ll end up with two copies of your email – one in your Inbox and the other assigned to your Label.
  • Apply the Label – this is also another essential part of the filtering process. This is where you automatically assign a Label to an email and, if you’ve selected Skip the Inbox, your email will be assigned directly to this Label. From here you can also create a new Label.

There are also other options you can choose here too, but the ones I use the most are Skip the Inbox and Apply the Label.

7: You can also apply your newly created filter to other emails that meet your criteria. Simply check the box that says Also apply filter to X message below.

8: Click on Create Filter and you’re done!

You can create as many Filters and Labels as you want. Some examples of different Filters/Labels you may want to create are for:

  • Individual clients
  • Newsletters/Ezines
  • Networking Groups
  • Social media notifications
  • New subscriber notifications
  • New order notifications

This is just one of the many systems that are simple to create and yet make a HUGE difference in the overall success of your business. Once you’ve taken control of your emails you’ll become much more productive and efficient.

Where are you struggling to manage your inbox? 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.

 

Email Newsletter: 3 Alternatives to an Ezine

Email Newsletter: 3 Alternatives to an Ezine

This article was inspired by a conversation I had recently with a client; in fact this isn’t the first time I’ve had a similar conversation with clients, so I thought I’d share my response to them with you. This client basically said to me,

“Tracey, please tell me I don’t have to send a weekly ezine!”

Note: An ezine is another name for a newsletter or electronic newsletter.

I know that for many business owners the thought of sitting down every week/month to write and prepare their ezine is really quite a daunting prospect. And, of course, you can get a VA (Virtual Assistant) to pull it all together, upload it to your list management service, and send it out. But that still doesn’t alter the fact that you have to WRITE it!  And this is why many business owners don’t follow through with this very effective marketing strategy.

A few years ago, it was all the rage to send out a “pretty” weekly/bi-weekly/monthly electronic newsletter.  And by “pretty” I mean lots of colorful graphics, headers, different sections etc. etc.  But now there are two major factors that come into play that makes this method of communication a little outdated and unnecessary:

  1. People’s inboxes are overflowing.  They don’t want a lengthy, pretty-looking newsletter. What they want to be able to do is scan their emails quickly and pick out any tidbits of relevant information. This means that you, as the publisher, need to make your communications quick and to-the-point.
  2. People are no longer reading their emails on just their desktop PCs/laptops.  They’re now reading them on their tablets, iPads, and the majority of your readers are reading their emails on their smartphones while they’re out and about, which means that the smaller screen is going to make viewing of your nicely laid-out newsletter more difficult to read.  And if your layout isn’t responsive to different types of media, then your newsletter will be almost impossible to read on a smartphone.

So, given these changes in both society and technology, what’s the answer to this?

Create shorter, to-the-point, and as plain as possible, communications for your subscribers that just have a single call-to-action embedded in them. And this means streamlining the information that you send out.

You do have options!

So with that in mind, here are three alternatives to the standard, long-form newsletter:

1. Send a Tip of the Week. I’m sure if you sat down you could easily come up with a whole series of quick tips around your area of expertise. If you came up with 52 you’d have a whole years’ worth of tips in one sitting.

2. Send an Article of the Week. Instead of a quick tip, send out an article instead.  And rather than include the whole article in your email communication, provide an overview with a link to read the full article on your blog (this is what I do — and it works very well!). And, again, if you can come up with 52 different articles you’d have a whole year’s worth.

3.  Host a weekly free teleclass. I’ve seen several business owners do this with huge success. If speaking is more your thing, invite your list to a free weekly teleclass. Share a popular topic and then open it up for Q&A. What a great way for your audience to get to know you better! You email communication then would be a very simple invitation to your weekly teleclass and, as your subscribers have already opted in to your list, no need to make them optin again for your teleclass — simply provide all the call-in information in your email.

As you can see, there are several alternatives to the standard ezine/newsletter approach. And in today’s fast-paced, overwhelmed society, it makes sense to come up with something much more streamlined.  Pick whichever one works best for you. The important thing is that you have a stay-in-touch strategy in place and that you are consistent on your delivery.

What’s your alternative to an ezine? Share in the comments below.  And if you’re struggling with this, ask your question 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.

 

7 Simple Steps to Organizing & Hosting a Successful Teleclass

7 Simple Steps to Organizing & Hosting a Successful Teleclass

This simple strategy can add hundreds of new subscribers to your list … practically overnight!

And it’s a very simple, yet low-cost marketing strategy that you can implement on a regular basis to reach your target market.  Plus you’ll have the advantage of you being able to interact with your audience – they’ll be able to hear your voice and you will become more ‘personable’ to them.

So what is this amazing online marketing strategy?

Hosting your own teleclass!

Just some of the reasons why teleclasses are so popular are:

  • They show off your expertise
  • Easy to set up
  • Fun to host
  • You get to interact with your target market
  • Build your list a.k.a. your online community

But a couple of the downsides, and probably why many solopreneurs don’t take advantage of this simple marketing strategy, is that:

  • You need to spend some time preparing the material and organizing the event.
  • It can seem a bit daunting if you’ve never hosted a Teleclass on your own before.

I’ve been hosting teleclasses for YEARS!!!! I love doing them, for all of the reasons mentioned above. And, of course, over the years I’ve got the system down to a fine art. So what I’d like to do today is share with you my top 7 simple steps for organizing your own teleclass so that it’s fun, brings you a TON of new subscribers, and gets you interacting with your audience.

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Step 1 – Decide on a topic.  Take one of your most popular articles, or if you have written several articles around the same theme use those, and turn the content into a teleclass.

Step 2 – Decide on a format – will it be a teleclass or a webinar?  How long will the event last for?  If this is your first time at hosting an event – keep it simple – 25 minute presentation (which includes your introduction) and 20 minute open Question & Answer session (which also includes your offer and closing statement).  Make it as easy for yourself as possible.

Step 3 – Decide on a date and time.  Pick a date and time that is most convenient for you to host the teleclass.  Just because a lot of teleclasses seem to be hosted in the evening, doesn’t mean this is when you have to host yours!  Mine are usually hosted late morning because this fits my schedule best.  Also consider the different time zones too.

Step 4 – Book the line. Create an account with your teleconference company and schedule the call. Make sure that your teleconference company has conference recording capabilities.

Step 5 – Prepare your marketing materials.  Create your sales page, autoresponder sequence, and promotional emails.  Make sure on your sales page you let the participants know that by signing up they’ll also receive a copy of your newsletter.

In your autoresponder sequence be sure to include all the call-in details (and on any subsequent broadcasts you send out).

Step 6 – Announce it. Announce your Teleclass to your subscribers and post to the various Teleclass announcement sites and your networking groups.  Create a list of places where you want to post to and use this as a checklist to ensure you get everywhere covered.

Step 7 – Record your Teleclass (this is essential).  Not only will it encourage sign-ups – even if they can’t make the live event they’ll get the recording – but it also gives you the opportunity of repurposing your material.  You can turn your recording into your ‘free taste’ on your website, a bonus product, or add a workbook to it and sell it as a for-fee product.

And on the day of the event:

  • Ensure you send out a reminder on the day of your call.
  • Dial in to your teleclass at least five minutes before it’s due to start.  People do dial in early, and you want to be there to greet your participants as they turn up.
  • Have your class notes all written out and in front of you, along with teleclass timings.

And most importantly, remember: you are the expert.  You know something that your participants don’t, and they have come along to learn from you.  That thought alone will stop the nerves… I promise!

That’s it!  In just seven simple steps you can be on your way to hosting your very first teleclass.

What’s your biggest question about hosting your own teleclass?  Let me know in the comments below … and I’ll answer you!

© 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 List Building System Checklist TODAY and start to grow your list so you can ensure a constant flow of clients.

 

5 Winning Strategies For Getting Highly Targeted Traffic To Your Website

5 Winning Strategies For Getting Highly Targeted Traffic To Your Website

Website traffic is not a problem. Getting it to visit YOUR website is!

There are an abundance of your ideal clients out there all searching for the solutions that your services offer.  But the problem is they don’t know about you … yet!

As a solopreneur, one ingredient you need for a successful online business is traffic… and lots of it!  But there are so many websites out there, all competing for the same traffic, that it can be difficult to attract visitors to YOUR website!

Today, I’d like to share with you my top five strategies for attracting highly targeted visitors:

1. Create a Free Taste

Your free taste is something that you give to someone in exchange for them giving you their name and email address, and signing up to your list.  Your free taste is also your chance to show off your expertise, and give your new subscriber a sampling of what it is you offer.

It must be something of value to your subscriber, without giving away the whole shop!

Then you simply promote your free taste on your website, in your email signature, in your Resource Bio, and any other place you can think of!  Place a call to action and people will read it, and click through to your website to get what it is you’re offering.

2.  Get Others To Promote Your website For You

If you have products and programs for sale then you can easily get other people to promote them for you by offering an affiliate program.   People will sign up to your affiliate program and promote your products and programs through their website, newsletter, and/or blog.  In exchange you offer them a percentage commission for each sale that your affiliate makes – and make it a generous commission so that they have a real incentive to promote you.

If you’re currently using a shopping cart service, check out everything they have to offer – they may have an affiliate program included as part of their service.  Mine does!

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3.  Participate in a Joint Venture (JV)

This is an excellent way to drive highly targeted traffic back to your website, and very easy for you to organize.  Gather together some of you colleagues who offer complementary products and services to you and agree to promote each other’s products and services to your list.

I participated in a joint venture earlier this year where the organizer created a dedicated web page for this promotion.  Everyone’s promotional ‘blurb’ was listed on the website, and each ‘joint venturee’ sent an announcement out to their list during a specified period directing their subscribers to this webpage.  I got a TON of new subscribers as a result!

4.  Content Marketing

Several years ago, think around 2008-09, one of the most successful and cost effective online marketing strategies that you could do is to submit your articles to various online article submission websites. But now, with the onslaught of social media and video, this strategy has now expanded and you have to think in terms of a complete content marketing strategy.

Content marketing involves taking your written article and making it available on:

  • Your blog
  • Article directories
  • Social media
  • Recording as an audio file (podcast)
  • Recording as a video

Whilst this may sound like a lot of work, it really isn’t once you get a system going for it, and this is a great way to:

  • promote your services;
  • elevate you to ‘expert’ status within your chosen niche; and
  • grow your subscriber list.

Remember … your content marketing strategy has one purpose, and that is to drive traffic back to your website.  The search engines love it when you have lots of different links coming back to your website, so content marketing is also great for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)!  With each piece of content you submit, you need to include some kind of call to action (and if you’re using Twitter, you don’t have many characters to play around with) that contains information about you, your business, and an active hyperlink back to your website.  For example, my calls to action always direct readers back to a blog post which, in turn, directs them to sign up for my free taste.

5.  Host a Free Teleclass

Hosting a free teleclass is a great way for you to get out in front of your target audience. They actually get to listen to you presenting your information, and have the opportunity to ask you questions on the call – all of which can’t be achieved just by writing articles!

And it also gives you to chance to interact with your target market, and find out valuable information about their struggles and pains. It all goes towards building the like, know, and trust factor that is so important when building a solo service business.

All of these strategies work well on their own, and I’ve had a huge amount of success with each one of them!  You can choose to implement just one strategy, or use a combination.  Whichever you choose, they all achieve the same goal… to drive highly targeted traffic to your website!

Where are you struggling to get more visitors to your website? Let me know 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 List Building System Checklist TODAY and start to grow your list so you can ensure a constant flow of clients.

 

3 Simple Sign-up Strategies to Grow Your Email List!

3 Simple Sign-up Strategies to Grow Your Email List!

If you’re not fully maximizing your website you’ll be missing out on new subscribers.

There are many ways to capture a visitor to your website, and turn them into a new subscriber, but if you’re not fully using all of the strategies available to do so, then you’re going to be missing out on filling your pipeline with potential clients and customers.

In this article I’m going to be sharing three very simple ways you can fully maximize your website so that you capture more visitors who come to your website.

Driving traffic to your website is only one side of the coin; once you’ve got visitors there you then need to get them onto your list!

Having a sign-up box on your website detailing your ‘free taste’ in exchange for your visitor’s name and email address is one way that you can do this, but deciding WHERE to place your all-important sign-up box for maximum impact is also just as important.

Depending on whether your page is a sales page, an information page, or some other type of web page will determine the strategy you use for enticing your web site visitors to sign up to your list.

I’d like to share three different, but very effective, sign-up page strategies with you.

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1.  At The Top Of Every Web Page

Your sign-up box should appear at the top of every single webpage on your website – the top right-hand corner has been researched to be the most effective place to put this. Or another place is at the top of the right sidebar, if you’re using a WordPress blog.

Why do you need to this?

Because you never know where someone will enter your website from.  As your site grows and more pages/posts get added, it will be getting picked up by the search engines for different terms or key phrases – and they might be phrases that aren’t on your home page, but on one of your other pages instead.

Someone could enter your website and leave via the same page (in other words they don’t stop to look around), and if you haven’t got a sign-up box on that page, you’ve got no chance of getting their name and email address – and they won’t know you offer a ‘free taste’.

2. Using Exit Grabber/Popup Software

Another sign-up strategy that I’ve been using for many years Exit Grabber software.  This is a clever piece of software that knows when a visitor is about to leave my website and only pops up just before they leave.

The popup box reminds a visitor not to leave without first grabbing their free gift, whether that’s a report, checklist, tip sheet, or some of kind of gift that you’re offering in exchange for a visitor giving you their name and email address.

Again, if you’re using a WordPress site there are many different exit grabber/popup plugins that you can use — both free and paid.

3. Adding A PS To A Sales Page

Internet marketers have done their research and the conclusion is that a lot of visitors to your sales page are going to scroll straight down to the bottom of your sales page first to read your PS’s!

So, if the first two strategies aren’t suitable for a particular page on your website or one of your sales pages, be sure to include a PS that tells your visitor what your ‘free taste’ is. And rather than include the sign-up box in the PS, provide a hyperlink that takes them to your sign-up page.

All three sign-up page strategies offer something slightly different, depending on your particular web page, and are very effective for ensuring that your website visitors don’t just leave your website without first signing up for your free offer.

So once you’ve got traffic coming to your website ensure that you’re capturing your visitor’s information by implementing at least one of the three different strategies I’ve shared with you today.

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© 2017 Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC

Where are you struggling with your list building? Post in the comments below; I love to help!

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.