Women entrepreneurs represent the largest growth of new business startups. We’re doing it for all the right reasons – flexibility, making a difference, doing more personally satisfying work – but for many of us, money isn’t often at the top of the list.
The truth is, most women business owners under earn. Because money isn’t their prime motivator, they tend to overlook and downplay the finances until they’re in a cash crunch or facing a business crisis.
What you’re doing today, this week, this month and this summer has everything to do with what you’ll be earning in business revenue at the end of the year and beyond.
Living in a money fog and marketing sporadically or ineffectively is a dangerous situation for any business, but especially the small or solo enterprise.
If you’re inconsistent in your marketing, experiencing rollercoaster cash flow and not keeping an eye on where you are in your business, you’re setting yourself up for “the perfect storm” – and just like the true story of the Andrea Gail fishing boat, let’s just say it isn’t a happy ending. Bye-bye, George Clooney.
Think of it this way: marketing is what creates your future cash flow. It isn’t what brings in the money today, and it doesn’t care when your bills are due. So if you tend to operate with a “just in time” marketing approach (Sales are down, what kind of promotion can I do in the next two weeks so I can pay my bills; or worse, I just lost a major client, now what?), it means that you’ll continue to experience an ebb and flow. It takes time for your marketing activities to generate good leads and for your potential clients to make the decision to buy.
Just as important and working hand-in-hand with marketing, cash flow is what makes your business possible. If you’re struggling to pay your bills and take a personal salary too, you’re not able to respond quickly to potential opportunities or to invest in the development of your future business.
Though it’s the height of summer and your thoughts might be more taken by lounging at the beach, sitting in the shade with a cool drink and a good book, or planning your family vacation, take some time to dust off that marketing plan for the rest of the year and get on top of your finances.
Your business and your future cash flow will be glad you did.
Top 5 Reasons Women Business Owners Under Earn
- EMPLOYEE MINDSET – Treating your business like the job you left is a recipe for disaster. You’re an entrepreneur now, not an employee. If you’re approaching your client relationships as anything less than mutually beneficial and equal, you’re setting the stage for under earning. If you feel obligated or disproportionately indebted to your clients, it’s a clue that you’re most likely also under pricing (setting your fees to low) or under billing (giving away work or freebies).
- TRADING PASSION FOR PROFIT – You’re in business to make money. Despite your love and passion for it, you still need to be paid! Anything less is volunteerism or donation. Don’t feel guilty or bashful to only accept what you deserve. You would not have worked at a job without pay, and neither should you in your business life. Your rates should allow you a healthy profit and your payment terms and structure should provide you with cash flow.
- TOO FEW CLIENTS – It might seem obvious, but the way to earn more is to sell more. Many fempreneurs fall into the trap of focusing their efforts on a few clients, and when they get enough to get by, they stop marketing. There is a double threat to this approach, because not only is your business vulnerable (clients change priorities or your contact moves on to another job), but when you become too reliant on long-term clients, you may tend to under charge them and fail to raise fees when your costs (and your value) are increasing. When was the last time you raised your rates? And would you hire a new client at the same rate you are offering your oldies?
- POOR BUSINESS PROCESSES – As a fempreneur, you do it all or at least ensure it gets done – make the sales, do the paperwork, get the clients and collect payments. Keeping on top of your accounts and billing is key. Just as important is setting fees and payment terms that work for you. With very few exceptions, most clients will be happy to pay you on your terms (such as advance payments, healthy deposits or invoices due upon receipt) when they appreciate your value and want to work with you. While this might not be true for every client, review your policies to make certain they are working for you instead of against you.
- NOT KNOWING YOUR VALUE – When it comes down to it, one of the biggest reasons for under earning is under valuing what you have to offer. Know how much you’re worth and don’t accept less than you deserve. Marketing yourself to the right client–who is willing to pay you–is the answer. If you’re working for less-than ideal clients at low rates, give yourself a raise. You’ll lose the clients that aren’t a fit, and make room for the ones that appreciate and are willing to pay for what you have to offer.