If your business had untapped cash-flow potential, wouldn't you want to know about it?
For everything that businesses do well to bring in the dollars, there's always that looming question: “What could we do to make even more money while bringing our customers the value they deserve?"
It turns out that cash flow could be hiding in unexpected places in your business. I interviewed three business owners who discovered cash flow through unlikely sources. They share how those new sources of revenue have transformed the way they work and the work they do. This way, you can take their wins and look for areas in your business that might be hiding cash flow that's ready and waiting to be tapped.
Tackled by Cash Flow
When Chris Gronowski played professional football, he knew what to expect on the field. His career as a fullback was one kind of business.
Since leaving the pros, however, Gronowski has become a successful entrepreneur, launching such businesses as the popular Ice Shaker and Everything Decorated. The second endeavor brought a surprise source of cash flow out of the woodworks: social media.
Around Valentine's Day one year, the company put out a pocket knife with the kitschy engraving, “I love you more" on the handle. Expecting modest sales, they posted it for purchase on their Etsy store and forgot about it. That was, until orders tackled them from every direction.
“We were shocked. We started selling hundreds of them in one week," says Gronowski. “When we checked where all the traffic was coming from, it all came from Pinterest. Someone had pinned our product from Etsy to Pinterest and it went viral."
The company's now fully embraced the impact of not just Etsy, but the reach and importance of Pinterest as well.
“We have thousands of hits a month from Pinterest, which have a great conversion rate," Gronowski says. “We had to go out and buy more engraving machines to handle the increase in sales."
Discovering Cash Flow Through a Transition
Rohit Barghava's company, Nonobvious Company, has worked with some of the biggest names in business to help transform their marketing relationships and efforts. It was his transition from employee to employer three years ago, however, that revealed his opportunity to tap a hidden source of cash flow.
When Bhargava left his role at a large marketing firm, he figured his days would be spent on the speaker circuit and leading strategy workshops. What he didn't know, however, is that what he'd just left would create a new cash-flow source for his new company.
“I was asked by a friend who knew my background whether I might consider assisting an up-and-coming restaurant brand to find a new advertising agency," Bhargava says. “During my time in the agency world, I had led or participated in dozens of multi-million dollar pitches for business, so I knew the process well, but had never considered taking that expertise and using it to lead a pitch from the other side."
And that's exactly what Bhargava did.
“I took the job for that one client and reinvented the process of the pitch from the perspective of the agency, including everything from how they were briefed on the challenge to how we compensated them for 'spec' creative, which is routinely point of contention for agencies as they are often asked to produce great creative thinking without compensation during a pitch," says Bhargava.
“Several of the participating agencies shared feedback that it was the fairest and most transparent pitch process they had ever been part of. And their souls were not defeated at the end of it, which was sadly not the case in many other pitches."
Bhargava's company is currently in the process of taking the new model they pioneered and rolling it out for more brands to help companies find a better agency partner and to do it all more fairly and transparently.
Transforming Doodles Into Dollars
Neen James is a jet-setting Aussie who speaks and consults all over the world. She is also the author of Folding Time. She helps leaders drive profitability, productivity and accountability, but it was a simple doodle that lead to her unexpected source of cash flow in her consultancy.
“I would often sit in client meetings doodling contextual models to help them simplify their messages to present their ideas more elegantly, or sit at the bar with one of my thought-leader speaker friends and draw on napkins to help them capture their unique intellectual property in a way that would commercialize their brilliance," says James.
But a keynote presentation where she put an audience member in the hot seat turned those doodles into real source of cash flow for James' business.
“When someone saw me demonstrate this strategy...they said, 'I'd pay for a session for the real estate in your brain,'" At the time, I laughed," James confides.
Yet afterwards, she realized the suggestion was anything but silly.
“I realized I could help people via videoconference, draw them a contextual model and create a positioning statement that would help them stand out in less than 90 minutes."
James now provides her contextual modeling to all of her clients as a standard part of her process, deepening her impact and helping her stand out from others who might be vying for the same client's business. Not only has she been able to increase her rates due to offering added value, but her clients report that their own businesses have added thousands upon thousands in revenue as a result of James' contextual modeling work.
Discovering Your Hidden Potential for Improving Cash Flow
How can you use the three real-world examples to boost your business's cash flow?
- Deconstruct your day-to-day. Think about what you do behind the scenes every day and how it could improve the lives of your customers and clients if you took the time to package and present it.
- Check your analytics. If you're a retail business, knowing your referral sources can translate into powerful knowledge for shaping your future marketing efforts for both existing and new products.
- Look at your business from the client side. How could your expertise be applied to another industry or even go to work for your clients to help them make better decisions about the companies they choose to do business with?
These three steps can help you dig deep and think about what you have to offer—physically and intellectually—on a deeper level. From there, you can activate new sources of cash flow with minimal investment and maximum benefit because they stay true to who you are and what your company does at its core.
Read more articles on planning for growth.