Is there a grant for that?  A question we are asked all the time. And with good reason. Seems those little pennies from heaven are constantly falling from the sky into the palms of people with a sound concept and a good heart… right? Unfortunately not. There is a LOT more to grant writing than meets the eye and strangely successful applications aren’t always determined by what’s on the paper.

You can learn more about that here.

The good news is that there are still many ways to make money that DON’T involve funding applications.  Whether you own a business, work for a private entity or a not for profit there are lessons you can take from the following points. Read on to learn more:

  1. Know your customers: A good business plan starts and ends with the customer in mind. And yet, so many businesses are established because someone likes to do/make/work with/hang around x thing but forgot to ask the customer. The thing that differentiates a good product from a great product is that great products are designed with the customer at every step from design to inclusions, pricing to availability. Here are 74 examples to prove the point (noting that we stand with ‘office assistant clippy’).  Remember, customers never buy your product or service. The selfish buggers buy what it can do for them. Be in tune with that and do your best to cater to it.
  2. Sell something: Too many businesses (particularly not for profits) rely solely on grant revenue to exist. If this IS your model consider having a range of viable services on offer for a broad range of funding providers (still not the best recommended model) – if not, refer to the abovementioned point and take time to establish exactly what it is that you’re going to sell.  Remember, a business model based on promises is always one that will give you heart palpitations. The more certainty you have in the demand for the things you sell – the better you’ll sleep at night.
  3. Work out different ways to sell your goods/services: Want to sell a ‘widget’ of some kind? Consider what other products/services this could enable you to provide? Maybe ‘how to’ make your own widget, a site tour so people can see you make the widget, a retreat so you can make widgets together all weekend or even a book to share the love of widget making far and wide. Remember, just because you sell the one widget does not mean that there are not other ways to get it, and the benefits it generates to market. Remember just because you want to sell widgets doesn’t mean that your customers do not want wadgets. Be aware of your market potential and always be on the look out for different ways to sell your services.
  4. Generate passive income: Is there something in your business that you can create and sell, that can continue to sell as you sleep?  THINK – training manual, how to guide, a book, an online course, merchandise, toolkits… Remember, when you are great at something and people are following that there is a certain cohort that will want to copy you and do it themselves. Work on the concept that no idea is a new idea – and even if they hone your skill to perfection you still have your own unique way of delivering. Your primary revenue may be gained through delivering your skills, but there is always secondary revenue in sharing your know-how. Remember, multiple income streams mean your business has more chance of surviving and thriving. There is nothing sweeter than generating revenue for something you’ve already created.
  5. Check your pricing strategies: There are three key pricing strategies (1) cost plus pricing (where you base your price on how much it costs you to create your thing and add a profit margin of your choosing (2) status pricing (where you price according to how you want people to perceive your product – is an Aldi better than a Skoda? Price would say YES !) (3) market pricing – charge the same as your closest competitors.  Small businesses often struggle with pricing and can tend to under-charge in an attempt to bring in some quick cash – be warned, this strategy can work well in a competitive market, however it will also undervalue your service over time.  If you are offering a quality product charge accordingly. Your customers WILL come. Remember, your product/service is designed FOR your customers. Design your pricing to attract the people you want to work with.
  6. Check your payment gateways: Have you ever tried to purchase something and the online link was broken, or you had to drop cash off to the person? Argh! We feel your pain. In our earlier days of online course delivery, as we were figuring out the online software we had countless customers jump out of the cart and sign up to our website.  The website took them nowhere – we didn’t know they were sitting there and they forgot they wanted to be grant writing masters. Everyone lost out (bummer for everyone right). There is no quicker way to lose a potential customer than to have an inefficient payment gateway. Check and double check your gateway meets the expectations of your customers (and do us a favour and tell us if there’s something wrong here too – deal?!) Remember, if customers have difficulties paying you over time they probably won’t.
  7. Check in on your money mindset: Too often small business owners feel unable to charge their worth. If you are feeling a bit uncomfortable with the notion of charging try this article ?… And if you’re more musically inclined try this one (apologies in advance for the raw language). Remember, you’ve worked long and hard to build your skill set. You deserve a fair price for your work.
  8. Check your systems: Have you ever handed someone a hand scrawled invoice on a bit of paper? Do people book into your course by phoning you and you write their name on a post it note and then the dog picks it up and buries it in your backyard? Do you check your emails every other Friday and avoid phone calls when Mercury is rising. Stop doing that. Remember, the stronger your systems, the stronger your business habits the more predictable you are. The more predictable you are the more your customers trust you, the more your customers trust you the more successful your business will be.
  9. Partner with a not for profit: Do you want to work with a particular client group? Is this group serviced by an existing not for profit? This is partnership central. Find a not for profit you trust and slowly and steadily generate a partnership that can last. If you still want to explore the funding route consider an ‘auspicing’ arrangement. This essentially means the not for profit will manage your funding and deal with the funding body and you are left to deliver your service. Remember, just because you are in business doesn’t mean you are a charity. If you want to serve a specific target there is so much more involved than just handing over a wad of cash. Partnering with the experts in this area is potentially enriching for all parties.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts.