Why Your Business Needs to Repeat. To Repeat.
Let me ask you a question … What’s the best thing about having a job?
Not the worst thing (this is an article, not a 12-part miniseries). The best thing.
For me, the answer is easy: Steady income.
Week after week, month after month, as long as you don’t quit, get laid off, or accidentally drive over the CFO’s foot in the parking lot, the checks keep coming. Sure, there are many negatives, but for the 15+ years I had a job, I never gave a second thought to money.
When you run your own business, on the other hand, it’s the mirror opposite:
Your days can be exactly as you like — no boss, no commute, no cubicle, no fight to the top of the ever-narrowing pyramid. Your income, however, is extremely unpredictable.
It’s up, it’s down. It’s hot, it’s cold. It’s feast, it’s famine. One day you’re panicking about the mortgage, the next day you’re out pricing life-size, marble penguin statues (or maybe that’s just me?).
Wouldn’t it be great, though, if you could have all the benefits that come with working for yourself — AND the steady income of a job? If there’s a Venn Diagram on Earth within which I would like to live (why am I talking like Yoda?), that’s the one.
But is it really possible to create this perfect, magical scenario? The answer is … somewhat.
The key is in recognizing that all dollars are not created equal.
Let’s say, for example, that you are presented with two client options: One pays you $15,000, once, up front. The other pays you $1,000 a month, out into the future. Which would you rather have?
There’s a lot of “it depends” in the answer, of course, but in general, I’ll take the repeat client every time.
The upside potential is way higher. I’ve got two clients whose email newsletters I’ve been publishing for more than 15 years and several others for more than five. That’s a lot of repeat money over a lot of years.
Life is more predictable. When you do work on a repeat basis, you have work booked for the coming month before the month even begins. This smooths out the revenue and smooths out the workflow (both of which, it’s worth noting, smooth out the wrinkles in your face).
You flatten the learning curve. Those 15-year clients of mine? It’s like a well-oiled machine. No miscommunications, no loose ends, no rework. They are easy to service.
The new clients, on the other hand, are where all the gear-grinding takes place. You have yet to uncover — much less eliminate — the process issues that inevitably occur. No matter how wonderful these clients are, you are still learning how to work with each other. That takes time and often leads to confusion and aggravation.
More cross-selling. People who know, trust, and interact with you regularly are happy to buy more things from you. They don’t put it out to bid and they don’t haggle over price. As long as you have things of value to offer, you’re the first (if not the only) choice when new opportunities arise.
Less time chasing; more time doing. The more repeat clients you have, the fewer new ones you need. Hunters spend most of their time stalking their prey; farmers just step out the back door and get to work.
Like I said, many reasons.
And while you may believe that a repeat element to what you do doesn’t exist, I’m pretty sure it does. Probably not your entire business, but parts of it. For example:
Maybe you could … offer monthly, ongoing coaching to people who want to learn what you do, rather than just have you do it for them.
Maybe you could … offer a flat-fee option where you update and maintain somebody’s website or blog, or spend one day onsite at the client a month, or just be available for phone call consults at any time.
Maybe you could … offer a segment of your clients “front of the line” service, in return for a fixed monthly fee on top of whatever you already charge.
Maybe you could … offer email newsletter services to a range of clients, some of whom will stick around for five, 10, or 15 years.
The point is, ongoing, “subscription” relationships are good for you and they’re good for your clients. And while you may never get to the point where you’re living entirely inside that Venn Diagram, every step you take in that direction will make your life a whole lot easier.
How to make it work for you
Now, the question you may be asking is, “Great, how do I get started?”
My answer is always the same: You need to specialize within a particular industry: attorneys, pet stores, chiropractors … it doesn’t really matter which one you pick so long as you pick something. That’s how you develop a reputation (attorneys talk to other attorneys), that’s how you learn the lingo (every prospect will ask whether you’ve ever worked in their field before); that’s how you find them (chiropractors have conventions, meetings, publications they read).
If, on the other hand, you offer your e-newsletter services to anyone and everyone, you’ll have a lot more trouble getting traction. Pick a narrow market so you can get up and running. Later on, if you like, you can expand into additional industries.
No matter what industry you start with — and there are 26 million potential clients — e-newsletters are a fun repeat writing project.
Are you looking for an opportunity to get repeat business from your clients? Let us know in the comments below and maybe we can help you find options.
Creating Email Newsletters for Professional Service Firms
Imagine enjoying the writer’s life — the freedom, the pay, the satisfaction of helping businesses — while writing short, fun content. Discover a little-known-but-extremely-profitable writing niche.
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