Spring is hiding a little, because we've had one of those April sticky snowfalls today. That kind of snow typically encourages me to stay inside and do some cleaning up...not housecleaning, but cleaning up some things around the business and career arena (because let's face it, spring cleaning in the house is going to wait until the snow is all gone for good!).
My thinking around money this time of year is that the first quarter of the calendar year is over, and it's time to organize things that are floating around. Make an appointment with yourself and get all the first quarter bookkeeping up to date. You don't have to do it all at once, but you need to get it done. Set aside an hour each day for three or four days in a row: day one you can gather your paperwork and electronic files, day two you can organize them into personal and business stacks, then decide what needs dealing with, what needs recording, or shredding. On day three, you're going to action what needs to be done, entering numbers in the right places, or preparing them for your bookkeeper.
An essential task to complete is to follow up on any outstanding invoices and bills. If people are paying you late, call them now and get yourself paid. If there are problems at getting your clients to pay you, deal with those things right now, too. Don't put it off hoping they will pay 'soon' because if they are already late, it's costing you money. Many of us don't like doing collections, but it's part of what keeps the wheels going, so just get it done.
I had a chat with a client about bill paying recently, about how both of us tend to pay the bills as soon as they arrive as opposed to waiting and paying them at the end of 30, 60, or 90 days. It drives our accountants a bit crazy because if we waited until the latest date possible, that money would stay within our business. However, I know my suppliers, most of whom are also in the small business category, appreciate that I am prompt. That's better for my business reputation and integrity than procrastinating over payments will be.
The sales funnel
If you've let your sales funnel slow down because the kids were off for spring break or you simply haven't seen it pick up this year at all, it's time to get to work. It's not normal to have a feast or famine cycle happening in your business; it's a sign that your sales funnel doesn't have enough coming into it. Create a business that has a steady stream going into your funnel and you'll see steady income coming out.
When I first started consulting, I thought that was the way it would always be, and I even had a name for it: I'd go beat the bushes, see what work fell out, then do the work, and go back to beating the bushes some more. It wasn't until I read Jill Konrath's book Selling to Big Companies, Michael Port's Book Yourself Solid, and read and learned everything I could from colleagues who were making it that I understood it didn't have to work that way. It took a little longer before I actually got it all together and I developed the systems that I needed to make it work.
I know a lot of small business owners who don't like to make sales calls, or are waiting for their referrals to pick up. They've bought into the idea that their business is unique and this cycle of feast and famine is normal. I'm here to tell you there is nothing normal about having an empty pipeline and not enough business to keep you in business. If you aren't selling in your business you won't have a business for long. You've got to learn to sell, do it well, and to be consistent about your activities in order to see the business flourish.
If you're ready to learn about having a steady income flow, let me know.