“If you want your income to grow, you too must grow.”
~ Idowu Koyenikan
In this blog, I want to talk about “income generating activities”, what they are, how you identify them and some specific activities you can do to bring more money into your business this year.
Let’s start with what I mean by income generating activities. These are the things you do in your business that generate new clients or more sales in your business. They are not the products or services themselves (because it’s absolutely possible to have a solid suite of products and services and not be making money) nor is it the creation of them. Instead it’s what you do in your business to generate more sales of the ones you’ve got.
Now before I start to share with you my suggestions, I want you to stop for a moment and consider what has previously worked in your business to bring in money. Because here’s the thing, often when I talk to business owners, they are in what I call the feast and famine stage of their business growth, meaning they make some sales and all is well followed by a painful period of no sales and therefore no income.
Typically they’re looking for a coach precisely because they need more consistent income. When I ask these business owners what has worked to generate income in the past, they almost always have an answer. Their feast phases can almost always be attributed to something the business owner was doing at the time.
Let me give you an example of how a typical conversation might go:
Me: So how did you get the last few clients you had?
Client: Oh I was doing a lot of networking at the time and several people sent leads my way.
Me: Oh so are you doing that sort of networking now?
Client: No I haven’t done it in a while, I sort of fell out of the habit.
Now we can replace networking for a wide range of activities, but the key here is that all of the income we’ve generated thus far in our business can be traced back to some specific action or set of actions on behalf of the business owner. That’s why for me, it’s super important that you analyse your own activities first and look back at how your previous income was generated.
ACTION: Grab a notepad and pen, yes right now, I want you to do this before reading on. On a clean sheet of paper write down the names of your last 5–10 clients. Next to each name write a few words about how they came to be your client and then consider the following questions.
- Do you see any patterns, are there any obvious themes emerging?
- Is there one person or platform sending you the majority of your leads?
- Is there one blog post that people keep finding, that has them then book a call with you?
- Do you even know exactly how people found you and are you keeping a record? This last point is so important if you want to deepen your understanding of your best income generating activities.
Often when trying to build or grow a business, we get so overwhelmed by all of the advice out there and all of the things we think should be doing that we end up wasting a lot of time on busy work, rather than focusing our attention on the activities that will bring us the most return on investment for our time and energy. Read on for some of my thoughts on where I recommend focusing your attention.
Income generation in a nutshell
If you were to ask me to share with you what activities I believe have brought in the most money in my business, I would say in a nutshell, providing value, solving problems and connecting 1:1 with people. I have done this primarily through consistently creating content that serves my ideal client gifting complimentary sessions. Of course, within that there are a whole load of specific activities and strategies one can do. But for those who like to keep it simple, this is the bottom line.
People buy from people they know, like and trust. When we provide value, solve problems and be in connection with the very people we hope to have as clients, we build relationships with people who then better know, like and trust us. This perhaps sounds more contrived than it’s meant to. In more everyday terms — be a good egg and help people out and they’re more likely to want to buy from you. It really is that simple. But how exactly do we do this? Read on for some specific activities I recommend.
1. Be in conversation with people
This is top of the list for a reason. It’s one of the most overlooked activities in business and one of the most effective in terms of generating new business. We’re all familiar with the term networking and the reason this concept is so popular is because when it comes to business being in conversation with people works.
Traditional networking is flawed in my opinion because it asks us to go in search of people to buy our products and services rather than look for people we can help. It has us in pitch mode rather than serve mode and in this day and age where consumers are being clobbered over the head for the sale at every turn, this approach to networking is no longer as effective as it once was.
Instead, I talk about something called authentic outreach, which has us connect with people in a more authentic and genuine way, with an intention to serve rather than sell. If this sounds like an activity you’d prefer to do in place of spending countless hours on social media, read here for some practical examples of what this might look like and/or watch this class.
2. Make personal invitations
Often when we are in sales mode, trying to sell a new product or service or trying to fill a group program, we put all our attention on what I call one-to-many marketing such as posting on social media or emailing our mailing list. Whilst these are important things to do when you’re in launch mode, a commonly overlooked activity is making one-to-one personal invitations to people in your audience who could benefit.
Oftentimes the thought of this makes people feel like they would be being salesy or pushy, but a genuine note to a person you have a relationship with already can go a long way. Something like: Hey I don’t know if you’ve seen it already, but I have a new group program (about xxx) starting in a week and I think you would be a wonderful addition to the group. No pressure at all, I just wanted you to know that there is a spot here for you if you want it. Let me know if you want more info or would like to hop on a quick call to discuss.
When I’ve done this from a place of genuinely wanting that specific person involved rather than desperately trying to get sign ups at all costs, it has worked. People have been pleased and even flattered to receive the personal invitation and oftentimes it’s led to a sale that’s a win-win for everyone involved.
3. Offer complimentary sessions
Anyone who knows anything about my work, knows that this is my all-time favourite strategy for creating clients and one of my favourite activities to do in my business. Why? Because it’s the most effective way I have found to build a strong enough connection between myself and a person interested in my work to have them asking me how we can work together.
I’m not a fan of sales pitches or asking for the sale in a conversation. For me it’s awkward and cringy and also makes it very hard for the other person to say no. That’s why people often come to me complaining that they get a lot of people saying yes on their sales calls only to then find they’ve been ghosted or the person has changed their mind later on.
This post goes into the why and how of comp sessions in much more detail than I can share here, but let me just say that whenever I’ve found myself short of clients in my business, I’ve simply opened up my calendar to offer complimentary sessions and within a few weeks I’ve had more money coming in.
4. Ask for referrals
This isn’t exactly what it sounds like. I’m not a fan of writing to people in your network and asking them to send you leads.
Instead what I teach is an approach to generating referrals based on generosity. Rather than reach out to former clients and others in your network with an ask, I suggest sending a note to these people, offering them the opportunity to gift a complimentary session to someone else in their network.
Ideally, it will be someone who knows a little about your work (that’s why former clients or former comp session recipients are a good idea) and in the note you’ll say something about the type of person you’d like to gift sessions to. To read an example of one such message I sent several years ago head here.
5. Increase your visibility
I’ve worked with many business owners who are highly skilled at what they do, get high praise from the few clients they’ve had but who can’t seem to get enough clients to make the business viable. Why? Because people don’t know they exist, they’re not visible to enough people to generate enough sales. An obvious activity to get more eyes on your business is creating consistent content.
We’re not talking any old content. I’m talking about high value, expertise demonstrating, problem-solving content. Content that has your audience better understand how your work can help them to achieve the transformation they so deeply desire. I teach a 3-stage process on this in my Kinder Content Marketing training which is CREATE — REPURPOSE — PROMOTE. You can read more about it in a post I wrote here.
6. Streamline your business model
Rather than something you do to get more sales, this is something to remove, which may be preventing sales. Something I see a lot of is convoluted and confusing business models. This is where a business has a LOT of products and services, with not enough distinction between them so that people are left wondering which one of these should I even buy?? Or sometimes there are just a few offers but the amount of purchasing options for those offers are highly confusing.
I’m a firm believer that a confused mind says no and that less is more. So why not make it easier for people to buy by getting rid of any confusion in your offers and eliminating those products and services (or purchasing options) that nobody ever buys?
7. Launch a new product or service (or repurpose an existing one)
I include this one with caution. Mainly because I see a lot of business owners suffering under the illusion that in order to make more money, they must be constantly launching something new. Nothing could be further from the truth. I launch my mastermind only once a year and for the rest of the year I use my content and outreach to keep my 1:1 practice full.
However, for some businesses, launching a new product and service might be exactly what is required to get that income flowing in, but don’t go gung ho on this one, make sure to talk to your audience first — I highly recommend setting up hour long market research calls with people in your network, where you ask research questions for 30 minutes and then use the second 30 minutes to be of service by coaching, teaching or healing. These audience research calls are great on many levels as they hit numbers 1, 3, 5 and 8 on this list and are nearly always a good idea, whether you are launching something new or not.
You can also use audience research to get feedback on existing offers to make improvements and changes that may very well bring in more sales.
8. Regularly let your audience know what you have on offer
Most of the people I work with are not doing this nearly enough. Even I don’t do it nearly enough and that’s because it’s hard to be in “sales mode”. No one enjoys asking for the sale and so I like to offer my clients a reframe.
Instead of feeling like the sleazy car salesman, instead, I invite you to embody the courteous waiter. Think about the last time you went to a nice restaurant. How did you feel when at the end of the meal the waiter asked if you’d like to see the dessert menu? Did you feel annoyed and like he was intruding on your meal and trying to upsell you? No of course not, the chances are that you felt pleased you didn’t have to spend 5 minutes trying to catch his eye and welcomed the opportunity to look at the menu even if you don’t think you could possibly eat one more thing (maybe that’s just me!)
Instead of feeling salesy, consider getting into a habit of gently letting your audience know what’s on offer, if your audience is engaged and interested you can bet that simply reminding people what you have to support them will generate more sales. I see this with my Back to Basics offer which I rarely share about, but whenever I do someone new signs up!
9. Put your prices up
This is another I share with caution. Too many business coaches use big price hikes as a way to get their clients more money. I’m not one of them, premium prices is not something I necessarily advocate. To read more about my approach to pricing you can read an article I wrote on the topic here.
That said it’s not uncommon for me to work with business owners who are undercharging out of fear or who haven’t raised their prices in years despite great feedback from their existing clients. Incremental price rises are normal and expected and can give a nice boost to your bottom line and most of the time people won’t notice or mind.
10. Invest in advertising
Although this links closely to point number 5, I wanted to spell this one out because many people who follow my content strategy are for some reason comfortable with creating content and even repurposing it and then drop the strategy at the promote part — advertising. And I think I know why, many of the people I’ve worked with have dabbled with FB or Instagram ads with little to show for it and to learn how to execute an advertising strategy effectively can feel overwhelming, but I invite you to reconsider.
When we put countless hours into creating valuable content that barely anyone sees it can be soul-destroying not to mention a real waste of time. Spending a small amount of money to ensure your best content is seen by your existing audience as well as people who would likely be interested in your offerings can definitely be an effective income generator. The best strategy I know for FB advertising in particular, comes from George Kao. I also teach a pared down version of his strategy in my content marketing training.
And there you have it, 10 activities or actions you can take to generate more income for your business this year. I hope you’ve found this list useful, if you have be a love and let me know, it’s always great to hear from my audience that what I’m creating is helpful.
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