Category Archives: Blog

How I Tripled My Salary in Less Than One Year After Getting Fired

When I graduated with a B.A. in English in 2010, I had big dreams . . . and absolutely nothing on my resume. I wanted to be a writer, but didn’t have a single published clip to call my own. As you can imagine, the next few years weren’t very fun. Since 2010, I’ve:

  • been unemployed three times, for a total of 13 months.

  • failed to hold a “full-time job” longer than a year.

  • quit three jobs, been let go once and gotten myself fired once.

Related: How to Make It as a Freelance Entrepreneur

While most of my friends were gainfully employed, I was living with my parents and desperately chasing after freelance gigs. So when I did finally manage to land a great job, I couldn’t believe my luck. It seemed too good to be true. And it was. I was gently let go six months later because I was an awful employee.

Then I did five things that completely transformed my life. Within two months, I was working 50-plus-hour weeks for my own clients and making six figures — more than twice my previous salary. Today, less than a year later, I’m making more than three times that original salary.

Guess what? I didn’t have to move mountains to make that happen. I just had to learn a few new habits. Here are five of the most important things I adopted right after getting fired:

1. I learned how to do sales.

Most people aren’t business minded, and I was no exception. Instead of sitting down and taking the time to learn how to sell my services — and how to better sell my client’s services — I figured I could get by on my credentials and brilliance alone. Nope.

Business author Daniel Pink argues that, in today’s hyper-connected society, we’re all salespeople. In other words, you’re selling yourself short if you don’t learn how to sell.

2. I spent an hour each day on new business.

After looking through my “sent” folder, I discovered that the emails I’d written that got the highest response rates were also the shortest and most concise. So, I wrote up an email template and customized it for every job application by addressing the poster’s specific pain and my gain.

My system worked like a charm. Now, for every five jobs I apply to, I get one or two responses. And I consistently apply to new jobs every day. I even use that same template for LinkedIn inmail.

Related: 5 Essentials for Freelancers to Work Smarter Instead of Harder

3. I set my own hourly rates.

Let’s say you work at a consultancy, and your salary is $50,000 per year, or about $25 per hour. Assuming a 5 percent “pay raise” each year, your salary would be $63,814 per year after five years, or about $32 per hour. Not bad, but nothing to write home about, either.

Now, imagine that you quit that job and joined “Freelance Nation.” In your first year of business, you decide to charge $50 per hour, just to see if you can get clients at that rate. You do. The next year, you charge $60 per hour. By the end of your fifth year of freelancing, you’re charging $100 per hour and making well over six figures.

If you really believe you can offer premium services, why shouldn’t you charge premium rates?

4. I rejected bad clients.

When you work for a company, there is no such thing as a bad client — unless the sales director says so. But as we all know, bad clients are very real.

For B2B businesses, every bad client is another nail in the coffin. When you only have 10 to 20 clients, you really can’t afford to spend 80 percent of your time watching over a few bad eggs that add up to only 20 percent of your revenue. In other words, make sure you only work with good clients willing to pay your rates.

5. I decided to do something I love — that also pays.

People are always arguing about whether you should do something you love or something that pays the bills. But does this have to be a choice? I hope not.

If you really believe that “no one likes their job,” you’re subscribing to one of the most self-destructive beliefs in the world. Your “job” is what you’ll be doing eight-plus hours a day, five or six days a week, until you retire. So, why choose between passion and profit? Do something you love and something that pays the bills. The two do cross paths.

Still, it’s up to you to find the intersection. There’s no Google Maps for that.

Related: How to Deal With 4 Types of Impossible Clients

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4 Reasons Why a Traditional 40-Page Business Plan Is an Insane Waste of Time

The business plan is commonly, and mistakenly, thought of as the Holy Grail or template for success. It’s more than often the direction you’re pointed if you have an idea and talk to any old-school business person, corporate lifer or institutional banker — at least when it comes to getting your startup idea off the ground.

It’s simply a default response or knee-jerk reaction: “Sure, send me your business plan, and I’ll take a look.” The reality is, if you’re taking advice from these people early on, you’re barking up the wrong tree, because that formal plan you’re going to spend an inordinate amount of time putting together is going to do more harm than good.

Related: 5 Ways to Hack a Business Plan

Here are four reasons you’re wasting your time.

1. The formal structure doesn’t apply to the real world.

The traditional business plan is typically made of around eight sections: an executive summary, company summary, products and services, market analysis summary, strategy and implantation summary, management summary, financial plan and an appendix — all of which have somewhere between three and 10 subsections. This creates a document that runs upwards of 40 pages and takes weeks, or even months, to create.

Guess what? People as whole are now accustomed to getting short bursts of information, because our attention spans have been shortened over time, so this epic novel of a plan is going to do a great job of occupying space on your intended reader’s hard drive or collecting dust on their desk — but it’s not likely to get read.

2. It’s going to change on day one.

Here’s another problem: The second you go to implement this magical plan that you spent countless hours (or weeks or months) preparing, nearly every single detail is going to fly out the window — literally, all of them. The reason for this is because there is no way to get a true understanding of how your potential customers or the overall markets are going to respond to you, your product or your company, until you go and begin to execute and gather feedback. From there, you’ll need to pay attention to the response and quickly adjust to it to improve.

Related: 5 Common Business Plan Mistakes That Torpedo Startups

3. Those conservative projections you came up with are insane.

I’ll admit that there is an aspect of the business plan that is valuable: the financials. This is one of the very few areas that require some in-depth understanding prior to launching into a new venture so that you don’t get months, or years, down the road to find that the business you’ve been working to build isn’t financially viable.

With that said, the financial projections that you’re going to create beyond six months out is a complete fantasy. You’re going to call them conservative, but in reality, they’re going to be a pipe dream of the riches you intend to accumulate. They’re nice to have and ogle at, but they mean almost nothing until you accomplish them.

This is important, because new entrepreneurs have a tendency to value their companies based far too heavily on projections — which is a true sign of a rookie. Here’s another rookie move that often makes its way into projections: “Our market is worth over a billion dollars annually, so this is what we’ll generate by capturing just 1 percent of the market.”

Tell an investor that you only need X percent of a huge market to make a zillion dollars and watch them run for the hills.

4. If you’re using it to raise money early on, you’re talking to the wrong people.

When you start a new business and are interested in raising some funds to help build it, there are a number of places you can go, such as family or friends, angel investors, crowdfunding or a traditional bank. The difficulty is that only one of these potential investors will even read your epic novel of a business plan, and it’s the least likely to actually give you a loan — the bank. Even if you have exceptional credit, the likelihood of receiving a startup loan or line of credit from a bank without personally guaranteeing it — which you should never ever do — is pretty much zero.

Having your ideas and how you intend to execute them in writing is certainly important, as it helps to hash out the potential pain points and pull the business concepts together. But going through the structured ritual of creating a traditional business plan, which takes an insane amount of time, is a process that has little relevance to today’s fast moving startups. So, instead, create a 10-page pitch deck, which is a more concise and visual version of your plan, and you’ll be better prepared to raise some funding and accomplish your early goals.

Related: 3 Ways Untested Business Plans Are Worse Than a Waste of Time

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The Entrepreneurial Chicken-or-Egg Dilemma

It’s hard to sell a product before it exists. It’s also hard to perfect an offering without steady cash flow. So where exactly is an entrepreneur to begin? We’ve polled leading entrepreneurs on the art of the first sale, and here’s what we learned on how, when, and where to focus efforts.

Sell earlier than you think you should.

Eric Ries sums it up in his lean startup strategy by recommending entrepreneurs to get in front of prospects on day one. Hit up prospects at every opportunity, and gauge their reaction to your concept long before a prototype exists. Assemble a wait list, build excitement, and don’t waste time creating until you know that it will sell. Research also indicates that it’s easier to get people to commit to an idea when they are involved in its creation, so pull your most desirable prospects into the concept development phase and establish relationships that will be needed to sustain your business later on.

Shut up and listen.

It’s hard to open up to criticism, particularly in the early stages of a startup when passion is at its peak. Hearts and souls are poured into product development and refinement, but every market has its pain points and this is some of the most valuable information an entrepreneur can extract from a prospect. The better you understand the problem, the more likely you are to nail the solution.

Know (and own) your value.

It’s tempting to sell at any price as entrepreneurs scramble in the early days to establish a following, but resist the urge and hold true to your sustainable price. Be bold in your ask, and comfortable in the dollar value you’ve aligned with your product. If you don’t believe in it, neither will your prospects. It’s also common for prospects to work you down on price when they know your company is young and eager for business, so be prepared to justify your pricing and validate your offering.

Related: Mary Barra Has Time to Respond. So Should You.

Sell to the biggest players first.

Founders often tackle the low-hanging fruit first, failing to recognize that one big name can bring in hundreds, if not thousands, of sales to follow. Focus efforts on strategic buyers, who are likely also the people who will enable your business to sustain operations over the long haul. Set a goal of one big, smart win, and use that as the bait to attract the others.

Establish credibility.

Being a first buyer is scary, because there is no proven track record to reference. In the absence of a product to show, ease the fear of buyers’ remorse by selling your team. They are the people who are ultimately accountable to customers, and if you can highlight their accomplishments alongside a winning concept, you just might build confidence in the hearts of skeptics. If your team is green, bring in advisors or board members with stellar reputations to vouch for your business.

They’re wrong. Size doesn’t matter.

Entrepreneurs often go to great lengths to mask the fact that they’re working alone or alongside small teams. Being small can be an asset, so highlight to your prospects that, as the CEO, you are far more committed to customer satisfaction than a sales rep at a larger competitor, and also better able to customize an offering based on the unique needs of your audience.

Regardless of team size, it’s ultimately the job of the founder to drive initial sales. As the concept creator and visionary leader, the founder is the ideal candidate to sell a vision while the product is being developed, and to prove to both the market and the internal team that the concept is a viable solution that supports long-term growth.

Related: How to Optimize Your Site for Every Stage of the Buying Cycle

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Classifieds Marketing

Online Classifieds are a valuable local small business resource.

We post to online classified sites like Kijiji, Backpage and Craigslist. We regularly draw in deal hunters, local business supporters, event enthusiasts, and local professional like realtors and trades people. Our classifieds marketing experience will keep your ads flowing.

“We manage many ads. We keep them fresh and rotating to maintain maximum brand awareness.”

See our Classifieds Marketing Strategy

Pre Start-up Planning

If you’re thinking about starting a business, then a little start-up planning is required. Business owners need a good head start in the beginning to stay on the right path.  Here are some tips to get that start-up going.

What’s in a name?Start Up Stages

What’s better? “Facebook”? or “The Facebook”? Does it matter? While a catchy name and appealing logo can define a brand, it’s always been key to have a functioning business plan or idea clear in your mind. Generic looking logos and simple text are often the best choice if you don’t have an absolute clear idea of what you want your vision to look like. If you know your brand will be one thing, or category, then making something specific to tell your audience what you do before they check you out is a great way to grab that curious client quickly.

What does your company do?

This should be concise and clear. A one sentence line should be enough to explain the gist of what you do. If you need a paragraph to explain your business then you may have to work harder on grabbing someones attention. Simplify your ideas, and make them short and sweet. Further explanations are best saved for first contact or meetings. Once you’re up and running then begin explaining more with web content and social communication.

Start Up Costs
What will it cost to start up?

How will your start-up make you money?

No really! Off the cuff math to approximate your profit is a road to tight budgets later. Figure out how many customers you need. Figure out how much inventory you will have to carry, if any. What are your monthly costs? Do you have a pre-start-up budget? Does your start-up need to make money right away? Does your start-up have to pay your living expenses? Is your business scalable? You may need more than off the cuff calculations.

Is it even worth the effort?

There are many things you can try before jumping into that final and normally expensive business. For new businesses it’s important to maintain some flexibility. Be creative and listen to your customers or clients. For many of the CEOs, and wealthy business owners, their freedom of schedule and success is a privilege second to none. There are a lot and gratitude in providing a sought after product or service.

First time start-up marketing.

First time business owners will often justify an experiment in marketing, only to pull the plug when results aren’t immediate. The quickest ways to get results is to do a bit of research and some smart postings to classifieds boards. Not all businesses can afford a jazzy website or professionally made branding.

DIY trial advertising is more work and time, but much cheaper in the end. Products and services that people can buy quickly, and without a lot of explanation, are the most popular type of small business. Buy/sell businesses have been around  forever, and with the right idea you can launch quickly from poor to prince.

What marketing specifically should I try first?

Try out this group of online buy/sell sites. Kijiji, OLX, and Craigslist are a good start. Try Kijiji as the main site to make your ad. When writing a Kijiji ad be sure to include a picture that is relevant to your idea. Free photos are available everywhere and so are cameras. Computers and phones come with editing software built in. Get familiar with simple photo editing on your computer and smartphone; a couple hours of self training goes a long way.
Next is don’t edit Kijiji in just one browser. Firefox has tools that Internet Explorer doesn’t have. Try it out, you’ll be surprised. Use colour, highlight links in blue, offer to allow people to join your Facebook page or website. Paying Kijiji a couple dollars to keep an ad on the top is a good idea and money often well spent.

Where to go for help.

Start your Start-up
Start your Start-up with ClixSaver.com

Clix Saver specializes in marketing and content management for small businesses and start-ups.

For many years, Clix Saver has been providing internet related services all over the board. We have zoomed in on the best bang for your buck approach, or ROI (return on investment). See the rest of our website to learn more. We provide all the services for your start-up mentioned above.

Fill out our quick contact form, so we can contact you right away, or call: 403-860-2753

Copywriting & Content Management

We take the cover and the book seriously! Our team prides themselves on their creativity but they don’t limit that to design only. Coming up with intriguing, interesting and invigorating content can be challenging. Our copywriters indulge in clever wordplay and strive to ensure that the content and copy compete with the cover. Our creative copywriting & content management packages are second to none.

Whether it’s a tweet, status update, Google AdWords campaign or a brand mission statement we can help you get your message out there and be heard, or seen, or read or… you get the idea!

Our wordsmiths can help you manage your copywriting & content.

Search Engine Marketing

“We have followed the criteria set out by Google and other search engines to set-up and run a successful advertising campaign to provide a constant flow of new customers at a good return on your advertising budget.”

We take the complexity out of search engine marketing. We get it! We provide a service that you breath easy with. When working with the Clix team we can design and then fully streamline your search engine marketing. We don’t just advertise, we optimize! We create interesting and actionable ads for use by Google and other search engines. We use marketing and social media to drive traffic directly to your page. Clix can jump start any new website in a flash!

Our Search Engine Page

Website Design and Development

Having a website is the foundation of your online presence. At Clix our talented team provides website design and development from scratch, template or update your existing Website. With a tailor made approach everything you need to build a successful and popular brand is at your fingertips.

Don’t stop there though, we provide mobile solutions including conversions of existing sites. We build content into a rich mobile experience. Don’t be left in the dark and don’t let your clients miss a beat on their tablets and smart phones.

See our Design Page.

We Help with Social Media Marketing

Want a free sample? We’ll introduce 1000 people to your Facebook Business Page. That’s right! We want to encourage you to contact us, so we can talk about marketing. We’ll invite 1000 real people from our own friend lists to like your page. This often results in 20-100 real likes, Free!!

Fill out the form at the bottom of the page to contact us and talk marketing.Down_Arrow

Do you have a Facebook business page? We will get it set up and rolling!

The benefits of social media marketing are fantastic. Not only does a healthy social footprint result in increased business traffic web and exposure, but it also leads to more a personal connection with your customers.

View our Social Media Marketing Page