June 25, 2020
Whenever I meet new people at a networking event, party or even just in everyday life, and I mention I work in finance, inevitably one of two questions will follow: How do I make more in the markets? Can you make me more money?
When someone asks this, he or she thinks they’re asking, in the moment, "where should I invest?" Sure, if I knew their risk tolerance and goals, I could respond from a financial angle, but it isn’t really what they want to know. What they actually seek is some secret to living a better life or having the flexibility to afford more things.
Most of my clientele are entrepreneurs. This means they control their income. Even those on my books that aren’t entrepreneurs have at least one, if not multiple, side projects. Nearly everyone I work with has some variable income. It’s increasing that income which makes them wealthier. It gives them more money to invest. It gives them more money to spend. It gives them that bump in lifestyle that the random person on the street seeks.
Sure, on a high level, as an entrepreneur looks to grow their variable income, they talk about tweaking their business. Maybe they will buy their supplier. Maybe they will pivot to a different industry. Maybe they will seek new investors. But the answer to how they made more money, initially, is so simple that it’s often taken for granted. Remember, big actions are the sum of all the small actions you take. If you want to build your wealth and push your income to the next level, you need to improve yourself at the very simple things that get overlooked. They’re incredibly easy to do, and all the successful entrepreneurs I’ve worked with have mastered these three things. But, in time, these tactics have the highest rate of return on investment, leaving you with the secret to making more money.
I know it sounds too simple. But there’s nothing more self-defeating, nor more aggravating than someone that can’t manage their time. It’s not just about being where you say you will be, when. It’s also about managing your own hours on the job.
Start your day when you plan to. Do not show up late or get caught off task, leading you to bleed hours of your day away. Whether you bill clients hourly or by the task, make sure you complete it in the time you state and commit to. If you don’t, you’re wasting your time, which costs you money and the confidence of your clients, bosses or partners.
Time management is a crucial part of our daily lives and if you can’t get it down then you’re signalling that you’re likely to commit other errors. Not to mention, it’s simply disrespectful if you show up to a meeting or business pitch late. If you struggle in this area, use timers. Work in 25 minute to hour shifts. While that timer is on, don’t focus on anything but your work. Then take a short break before restarting the timer. And don’t forget the calendar, to ensure you show up to meetings when they’re scheduled.
By creating a consistent plan for your day, it will increase the number of hours you work by avoiding unprofitable distractions.
I’m amazed at how often people only do part of their job or leave others with tasks after saying they’ve “completed their work.” Maybe it goes back to time management, where they didn’t properly gauge how long a project would take. But it’s irrelevant. When you offer a service or product, make sure you complete ALL of the work.
If you’re a painter then make sure you painted the area you agreed to, in full. If you’re a web developer, then deliver a fully functioning site that has all the required pages. Leaving your client with unfinished work will kill your business, yet I see it all the time. The contractor feels overwhelmed so they try to pass off unfinished work as complete. They’re tired and miss things. Or, worse, they intentionally leave the work incomplete hoping that someone coming in behind them or their client will finish it without a fuss.
While you know how much effort goes into a project, your finished product should convey simplicity. There’s no trick to this. People will pay you better rates and hire you more often if they simply know you will do the job they’ve asked. You see this in business everyday; people pay more for a service they trust. The way you build that trust in your market is to consistently deliver what you say you will do.
Nothing can destroy a working relationship faster than when someone tacks on added costs well after reaching an agreement. I usually find this comes from a lack of preparation. Sometimes, though, it’s an intentional method to mislead. When it’s a lack of preparation, then someone will add a cost into a quote or payment schedule after the fact, since it’s necessary to complete the job. The second one, far more sinister, happens when someone intentionally leaves important details out of pricing or provides services beyond the agreement in an attempt to inflate the cost and profit.
Basically, anything you do that comes in over budget, which was foreseeable, is your fault and your problem. Developing clear contracts and predictable pricing will build your image as a reliable and honest professional and ensure this doesn’t become an issue. It’ll also make the new customer acquisition process much easier. That, in turn, builds your brand and allows you to charge more. You want to become the professional that might have slightly higher prices, but you never have any surprises for your customers. That’s a great spot.
People will pay more when they know exactly what they’re getting. And although it sounds easy, providing them with timely, upfront pricing, and completed work will give you an edge against your competition and grow that variable income you seek.
By Timm McLean, MBA |
CEO at WLTH