Every January, I help coordinate a Financial Peace University class at my church. The class shows people how to create a budget, get out of debt, setup proper insurance, plan for retirement and make other important financial decisions. All of the teaching in the class is about how to better spend money you already have, but sometimes the problem is that you’re simply not making enough money to get by.
If you have a couple of kids and only make $12.00 an hour at a retail or service job, it’s going to be very difficult to get ahead by only changing what you do with your current income. Sometimes you just need to make more money. If you can’t achieve your current financial goals with the income that you have now, you’ll need to find a way to make more money. Granted, saying that you need to make more money and actually finding a way to make more money are two entirely different things.
The best way to make more money is to do more of what you’re already doing.
A while back, I was doing a coaching call with a guy that helps people setup email marketing campaigns. He was making about $5,000 a month at the time and wanted to double his income. He was considering offering additional services, going into a different business and trying a lot of other things that he wasn’t an expert at. All of the ideas that he had involved starting over with something new to create an additional income stream. While it can be alluring and fun to try to start something new from scratch, usually the easiest way to make more money is to do more of what you’re already doing. My advice to him was to keep doing what he was doing, but find a way to service twice as many customers as he’s currently serving. He would need to ramp up his marketing efforts and bring on an additional person to help do the work, but following those steps is much clearer route to creating additional income than trying to start something brand new from scratch.
It’s much easier to grow what’s already working than to try to create something new from scratch. In other words, going from one customer to five customers is much easier than going from zero customers to one customer. If you’ve already proven out an idea, simply repeating the process with another customer is a lot easier than trying to prove out an entirely new idea.
How to Do More of What You’re Already Doing
If you’re an entrepreneur, the path to doing more of what you’re already doing is much clearer. You find the systems and the people you need in order to ramp up your production capacity and work on developing new marketing channels to get additional customers. It would be nice if there was a magical formula to double your sales and your operational capacity, but there just isn’t. You just need to try new ways to market your business until you find something that works and scale up your operational capacity accordingly.
If you have a day job and are working for someone else, the path to do more of what you’re already doing is less clear. It’s still very doable though. Your employer has hired you because you provide some specific value to the company that’s worth more than the money they’re paying you. Identify what special skills and talents that you bring to the table that create value for your company. If you have a specific professional skill like graphic design, programming, accounting, law, sales or marketing, it’s very easy to identify how you create value for your company. If it’s not entirely clear what your unique ability is, try to identify what problems you solve for your employer or what need lead them to hire you in the first place.
Once you’ve identified what unique, skills and abilities that you have that bring value to your employer, you just need to find ways to do more of that. You can try to focus on the things that create the most value for your existing company and try to negotiate a raise based on the increased value you’re bringing to your company. Alternatively, you can find more customers that might value from your unique skill set. Your day job is your first customer, but there’s no reason that you can’t also provide that same value to another company on nights and weekends.
A Short Story…
I know one person that’s a website developer that makes just as much money on nights and weekends doing side jobs as she does from her day job. She has simply taken the value she provides to the company she works for and applies it in other settings on nights and weekends. Since she’s only getting paid for billable work on her side projects, she has to be much more efficient and can charge a higher hourly rate than what she makes at her day job. Where she might make $25-$30 an hour during the day, she can make $100.00 an hour or more at night for other companies that might only need to hire her on a very part-time basis. She didn’t go out and try to learn an entirely new business, she just found ways to do more of what she’s already doing.
How can you do more?
I understand that the advice above doesn’t perfectly fit with every person in every situation. Some job situations, like being a med student or being in the military, don’t lend themselves well to outside work. In this case, you either need to tough it out or find a way to forge your own path. Always keep looking for new opportunities to seize and asking yourself “How can I do more?”