To Increase Cash Flow, Treat Your Life Like a Start-Up: Tips from a Mom Entrepreneur
By Erin Lozano
Entrepreneurs are not successful because they are smart or original or savvy. Those traits help them, certainly. But it is a dogged persistence, and very specific action steps they execute daily, that make new business owners succeed. I thought I knew a lot about cash flow when I was a personal finance coach. And then I started an online business during a recession. Here’s what I know now.
1. Treat your life like a start-up.
The economy is upended, and it’s hard to get a job. But the bills are still there. It’s time to raise some capital and raise it now. Isn’t that what going to work is, really? Raising capital? Treat your job hunt—or client search—like a new venture. It’s time to infuse some business mojo into your personal and family pocketbooks.
2. Get comfortable talking about money.
When you talk to everyone you know about the business you are running (you), it normalizes your attitude. There is less stress, less desperation. It’s a matter of course that you need funding to run your business. Tell everyone you encounter, from those in line at the coffee shop to the mailman. If you need revenue, branch out and get over your shame about it. Get comfortable saying that you need a job. Talk positively about your skill set, and follow up with, “If you know anyone looking for someone like me, let me know.”
3. Expand your network.
My town is small, so we saturated our investor circle early on. But we still needed capital. That’s when it’s time to expand the network: Reach one layer outside of your circle. Dig through Facebook and connect with long ago friends, and friends of friends, for example. Engage people at networking events and parties to put the word out. Share what you are up to. Show them you are passionate about what it is you do, and it will be infectious.
4. Tell people how to see you.
Money raising is all about the truth and self promotion mixed together. Take the truth of your situation and convey it in a way so that anyone would be interested in it. Explain what you love to do (your profession), what they can expect from you (your commitment), and who your ideal clients are. Here’s my pitch: Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved numbers. I’m looking to re-enage on a professional level with clients, specifically couples. Do you know anyone looking to redefine their relationship around money? Take your true metrics, and use a dash of self promotion to help people sign up.
5. Get specific and get on it.
Make a list of measurable, concise action items, and complete them. I had a client who was quite savvy. He knew how to communicate well, and was a powerful generator when he was employed. But he couldn’t seem to drum up business once he was working freelance. When I looked at his action list, the items were vague: Get three new clients. Ask around to see if anyone is hiring high-level multimedia designers. I had to tell him that these were not calls to action. They were desires, not directives. We went to work writing a new action list that made him 100% confident that his actions executed would lead to his desired results: Brainstorm for specific clients I could ask for work. Call X and pitch Y. Contact Company Q and ask for their Z projects. Then he put a timeline on it: He needed money in 30 days. This level of action gave him measurable traction in his capital campaign.
6. Enroll a coach.
Enroll a coach. Find someone who holds you truly accountable to those action items and check in at the end of each week with that person. I enrolled my business partner. He enrolled me. Collaborating creates a level of sophistication to the money raising process that will get results.
7. Cut your expenses.
You’re in it to win it, so make sure you can hold on. Get your expenses to a sustainable level; cut them by half, a third, whatever it takes to reduce the pressure while you are raising capital. New companies minimize when they are raising money, to have enough staying power to weather the storm.
8. Rejection is par for the course.
Sometimes it takes 100 meetings to get a direct hit. In this economy, you have to be prepared to send 100 emails, and talk to 100 contacts about what you’re looking for. Way more than ever before to get that job. If you don’t get the call, just take it as information. They are not a fit, for your portfolio, or for them. It is no reflection on your product (you), because you have been a hit enough times to validate your model. You were employable at one time, you can be employable again. Try not to take rejection as a major downer.
9. Stay in contact.
A “no” right now is not a “no” forever. With any company at which you hoped to see yourself in the future, or client that you thought would be a perfect match, stay in contact. Every three months, send an email. Tell them what you’re up to, all those exciting developments. Stay engaged. Re-connect. If you keep adding to that ongoing relationship, mutual benefit could come from the connection even if it started with a rejection.
10. Get outside of yourself.
If you’re feeling discouraged, get outside of yourself. Try tackling something on your to-do list, or ask your coach to give you an assignment. There is a generic vagueness people tend to operate under that is depressing. But if you can do specific and fundamental things, it gets you active. Do something different: Contact companies in town that are in your industry. Find out if they are employing people. Do you have any connections in town? Make five specific calls to your favorite business people and ask if they can make specific introductions for you. This kind of direct appeal requires they have an engaged response. Knock the doors down with persistence, one action item at a time.
Erin Lozano is COO of GreenSherpa.com, a unique Cash Flow Management tool makes your financial future as important as your financial history. Automated to all of your online banking and credit accounts, Green Sherpa handles expenses and plans up to twelve months ahead to give you 100% visibility on your goals.
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