Like most small business owners, you and I probably decided to go into business for ourselves because we has a skill we loved and figured we could make money offering our services. But when the honeymoon ended, we realized it wasn’t that simple.
According to at least one survey, having a written business plan doubles your chance of success, yet most don’t have one. One key piece of that equation is: how much revenue must I generate in order to make a living and a profit?
For round figure’s sake, let’s say you need to earn $50,000 a year to make a living and support your family, and that your average project is $2,000. That means you must land 25 projects over the next 12 months. And to prevent “feast or famine,” ideally you want to spread that out at about two jobs a month.
To land those two jobs a month, you must do four things consistently:
- Generate conversations with enough people in your target client base
- Separate the prospects from the suspects
- Set appointments and make sales presentations
- Close sales
Let’s work that list backwards.
Sports columnist Tony Kornheiser once said he wanted to come back in the next life as a weatherman so that “I can be dead wrong 80 percent of the time and not get fired.”
The average sales person closes a deal about 20 percent of the time. So just like a weatherman, you can get it wrong 80 percent of the time and still make a good living.
Set Appointments and Make Sales Presentations
But that 20 percent success rate is a double-edged sword. Being at least as good as the average sales person means you’ll only sell one in every five decision-makers you meet with. In order to land those two projects, you must set appointments with and make sales presentations to 10 decision-makers a month.
Separate Prospects from Suspects
You’re going to have to speak with a lot more than 10 people to find 10 viable prospects. If you walked into a roomful of 100 business owners or corporate decision-makers, they will fall into one of three categories:
- Those who will never do business with you
- Those who may do business with you in the future
- Those who will do business with you right now
Unfortunately, when we first start out, we’re naïve enough to believe that many will fall into category Number Three … when in fact, the exact opposite is true.
Generate Conversations with Enough People
Simply put, if you aren’t talking to enough people in your target audience, you won’t be able to fill up your sales funnel. Having a funnel full of potential prospects ensures that at least two clients a month make it to the bottom and money flows into your bank account. Too few means eating Top Ramen six nights a week.
I won’t sugar-coat it. You need to get in front of a lot of people in order to generate the type of conversations that drive in sales. So don’t rely on a single marketing method, because marketing is like a team—the more players, the better. But it’s not merely quantity. Three highly-effective team members are better than 100 mediocre ones.
A lot of us design websites on the side to earn extra income. I did the same for a time. But if you intend to earn a full-time income providing web design and marketing services, you’re playing a completely different game. You need to start thinking like a business person, not just a web designer or developer.
That means marketing and selling must be your primary function. Instead of waking up each morning and thinking, “I get to design websites today,” you must ask yourself, “What must I do today to find another client and grow my business?”
Remember, nothing happens until you land a client.
Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.