Wednesday Income & Cash Flow Forum

By Kevin M

We?re going to start a weekly open forum here, dedicated to increasing income, cash flow and customer base. Salaried employees, homemakers, small business owners, commissioned sales people, entrepreneurs, retirees?this is FOR you, and we?d like to hear FROM you. We?re in a recession and it?s no secret that income and cash flow are major areas of concern. Salaries have been frozen or reduced, bonus programs canceled, customers are buying less or not buying at all, or disappearing completely. How do we deal with that?

The purpose of this forum will be to provide ideas which may be of help to increase income, cash flow and customer base for anyone who needs to increase business or supplement a paycheck. What works in one household or business may not work in another, but then again it might. Or it might be adapted to different situations.

I?ll open up with some ideas. Not all of these are for everyone, but read each and see what might work for you.

Rent out part of your house. This might sound drastic to some, but if you?re facing foreclosure or you?re buried in debt, it?s well worth considering. One of my neighbors rented out a couple of rooms in her finished basement to a tenant, and it?s helping to pay her mortgage. Even if you don?t have a finished basement, you might still be able to rent out a spare bedroom or modified family room to a boarder.

If you?re a retiree, with extra space, or especially if you live alone, this might be a worthy option to increase income. Side note: if you currently must pay handymen to perform various jobs around the house, you might be able to work out an arrangement where the tenant performs the same jobs in exchange for reduced rent.

You may have to modify your home and lifestyle to accommodate the arrangement, such as creating a separate entrance and taking special steps to protect your valuables, important papers and computer files, but all of that is doable.

If you decide to go this route, be sure to check regulations in your community, including your homeowners association, if you have one. A short session with an attorney might not be a bad investment either.

Expand your ?sales force?. Let?s face it, advertising is expensive, and employees are even more costly. So what to do? Add unofficial sales reps to your team. Every one of us know dozens of people, and if we really dig deep, we probably know hundreds. And those people each know dozens, if not hundreds more. Offer as many as you can a commission or generous referral fee on any business they send your way. I?m not necessarily talking about a $25 gift certificate here, but a chunk of the deal, if it?s a large one. (Though the gift cert isn?t a bad idea if what you sell are large numbers of small cost items.)

But don?t just make the offer to your contacts then assume they?ll go out and do what you asked, stay on top of them with regular friendly reminders. Email is a great way to do this. Make up an email notice or even a newsletter and remind everyone on your list of contacts that a) you?re still here, b) your in the X business, c) you need customers/clients/sales, d) your complete contact information, and e) remind them of your comp agreement for business they send your way, and that it?s easy money, earned just for giving your name to someone in need. This actually is marketing at it?s finest.

This will cost you nothing but time, and has the added benefit of functioning as a cyber business card that can easily be forwarded on to potential customers. Be sure to include one or more links to your website in your emails.

There are some businesses where paying referral fees is strictly prohibited, such as mortgage loan originations, but if your business isn?t restricted, take this as far as you can.

Expand the geographic reach of your business. I have a friend in the recycling business who?s lost some customer base in the local area, but has continued to grow his business by expanding his geographic reach into other states. Since his business comes mainly from the web, he?s been able to open that up in other states, using local contractors to perform the work. Could you expand your market or sales territory into neighboring cities or states as a way of increasing sales?

Sell on Ebay. I know this sounds almost clich?, but it?s worth a try. My wife and I began selling on Ebay as a way of getting some cash for our kids toys as they outgrew them. We found that if the items are in good condition we were able to sell them for typically better than 50% of the retail price. That?s the power of the bidding system that is Ebay. You can generally sell items for more on Ebay than you can by having a garage sale.

Start by selling unused items you have in your house, and if you get comfortable with the process, you can restock your ?inventory? by going to garage sales or thrift stores. Find gently used items that you can buy for only a few dollars, but might be able to sell for $20 or $30.

A good book on the subject is Marsha Collier?s Starting an eBay Business For Dummies. Ebay doesn?t work out for everyone, but if you have some time, a pile of stuff, and a willingness to look for bargains, it just could be your niche. As a beginner, it?ll cost you nothing but some time if you start out by selling your own stuff.

If you?re a salaried worker, retiree or a homemaker, what are you doing to find new sources of income? If you?re a business owner, or in some capacity responsible for bringing business in the door, what is it you?re doing to attract customers and cash flow in this economy? What ideas have you heard about or know others to be doing? What?s working, what?s not?

2 Responses to Wednesday Income & Cash Flow Forum

  1. Hey Kevin!

    Nice aritcle! Like you, I have decided to start a blog for a niche near and dear to my heart!

    The blog is about Camping and I am hoping that eventually, more and more people will start to come to my site either by word of mouth, search engines, or other means.

    The problem is that the blog seen seems to be over run lately and I don?t know if I have the ?stick with it ness? to keep it going in hopes of a increased revenue down the road.

    The good part is that I love writing for my blog so even if it doesn?t pan out as a viable source of income, at least I am enjoying what I am doing (for now).

    In the meantime, perhaps I will resort to delivering pizzas!

    comment by Northern Camping
    Wednesday, July 08, 2009 @ 2:43:01 PM

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