In these increasingly uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to approach your personal and professional finances with an eye toward appreciation. The real measure of character is what you do with what you already have. Regardless of how much people earn, there always seems to be a hunger for more. But it is what you do with what you earn, not the amount you earn, that determines whether you will be debt-ridden or financially independent.
Create an Orderly System for Getting Paid. In order to make it easier for me to create a cash-flow plan, I began billing clients on a monthly basis, with payments due on the first of the month. Clients pay for 1, 3 or 6 months of training and/or coaching, and I send out bills by mail each month. By altering my billing practices to match those of other service providers, I made it simpler to collect payment without having to ask for it or chase it down.
Sell Services to Keep Money Coming in. Sell exactly what your clients and prospects need. Do they need weekly sessions or just monthly appointments? Do they have time for 60-minute sessions, or would 30- or 45-minute sessions work best for both of you? Practice regular marketing whether you need it or not. There have been times when I’ve been so busy and had such a waiting list that marketing has seemed like a complete waste of time. But I have been in business 20 years and have learned that the slow times come right along with economic recessions. Your business must stay fresh in people’s minds, so devise a monthly marketing plan and stick with it. Nothing beats personally marketing yourself at local events. I also use direct mail to my own personal mailing list.
Balance Your Fluctuating Income. It would be nice if my income was exactly the same each month, but it is not. The key to making your cash-flow plan work with a fluctuating income is to base your budget on your average monthly income from the previous year, or on your worst month. If your average month brought in $4,000, then create your monthly budget based on that. What do you do when you are depositing more in other months? You set that money aside as extra in the same account or move it to a savings or money market account to keep you from spending it. Then use that extra to pull from in months when you are depositing less than your budgeted average.
Kay L. Cross, MEd, ACC, CSCS, president of Cross Coaching & Wellness in Fort Worth, Texas, is celebrating her 20th year of business. She is a certified business and personal coach, an IDEA Master Personal Fitness Trainer and a motivational speaker. She can be reached at www.kaycross.com.