How to Increase Revenue in Your Start-up

October was certainly challenging and felt a bit like a blur. Holidays, illness, family matters, and workload have all contributed to that. It was not an easy month by any stretch – a large chunk of it was spent firefighting… In these unforeseen circumstances, we had to be reactive (most things couldn’t have been planned).

With the winter period just around the corner and the inevitable revenue dip; I’ve spent a lot of time this week thinking about improving NOSY’s financial situation. I’m sure many businesses are experiencing something similar – so I’d like to share our ‘plan of attack’ which we came up with for October 2021 to April 2022.

This plan has been labeled as ‘Mission (insert £££ here)’, for the purpose of this diary entry – I’ll refer to it as ‘Mission 99p’. Feel free to think about figures more relevant to your business!

Background story

We haven’t exactly got stashes of bills stuffed into our mattresses and the past 18 months have been challenging. Most businesses burned through savings during the pandemic and only survived due to the support provided by the government. Whilst we were lucky to still be able to work from home; 50% of our revenue disappeared overnight, back in March 2020. Our clients were primarily in industries that had to completely shut their doors.

NOSY has been recovering from that since; we’ve managed to expand the team and stay afloat… but any cash flow cushion has disappeared. We’re in the process of building that up at the moment.

We’ve also been hit hard by HMRC payments. COVID government schemes allowed payments to be deferred… but of course, they have to be paid back one day! We started doing this at the beginning of 2021, which has affected cash flow too. 

So, what is Mission 99p?

The overall goal is to invoice 99p per month, for 3 consecutive months, without increasing our costs. The end outcome is stabilisation of the businesses and laying stronger foundations for the next growth stage.

I knew that the only way this would be possible is to get the whole team involved. I couldn’t carry the weight on my shoulders alone. To get the team’s buy-in, we’ve decided to host a full-day workshop in September. This focused on the following:

  • Explanation of Mission 99p and why we need to achieve it
  • Discussion on what’s currently stopping us from achieving the Mission
  • Various workshops on establishing the ‘rules’ of Mission 99p that we will carry out

A 2-page guidance document was then presented to the team and we started the Mission earlier in October 2021.

What did the roadmap look like?

With possible COVID interruption and Christmas coming up, I knew that Mission 99p will not be achieved overnight. To give you some perspective, the roadmap we set was as follows:

  • September income: 50p
  • October income: 80p
  • November income: 80p
  • December income: 60p (Christmas interruption)
  • January income: 75p
  • February income: 99p
  • March income: 99p
  • April income: 99p (Mission 99p achieved!)

We then began, very actively, updating the whole team on the progress against the roadmap. October’s target was slightly missed (so we added a bit extra to November and December).

And the rules?

In a service business (Marketing Agency), sales are not enough – delivery also matters. If you don’t deliver on your promises you don’t get paid!

So, we set some simple Sales and Delivery rules as follows…

Sales Rules:

  1. Sales pipeline is reviewed every morning in a short meeting
  2. As a team, we contact 10 prospects per day 
  3. As a team, we send 3 proposals per day

Delivery Rules

When starting a project, the team must understand the following:

  1. Money: “I understand how much this project is worth to the business”
  2. Deadlines: “I know when I need to deliver this by & will speak up quickly if there are issues.”
  3. Clarity: “I understand the brief, client expectations & have all assets needed”
  4. Capacity: “I have the skill & capacity to deliver this project”

What happened during the first month?

We are now a month into Mission 99p and after a wobbly two weeks (unexpected office closure due to COVID), we missed the monthly target by a few pence. This meant that the missed difference has been added to Nov / Dec. Let’s say the target was missed by 16p.

  • November income: 80p changed to 88p (+8p)
  • December income: 60p changed to 68p (+8p)

Another thing that’s interesting is the capacity of departments. Our video team is now busy until January 2022 – which means we have to shift our sales focus onto other services (websites, branding, campaigns etc.)

Finally, we also looked at our target audience. Sending 3 proposals per day to random businesses will not be as effective as targeting specific industries in which we’re the strongest. In NOSY’s case; these are tech, education, and healthcare.

As part of this exercise, the team began preparing various resources to target those sectors. One example is the below testimonial video from Matt White (Mountbatten Hospice).

This week’s lesson 

The most important lesson I learned this week is around the importance of prioritising. I felt myself slipping into doing tasks that were ‘quick and easy’ (just to cross them off the list) – but I neglected some of the more important tasks.

Without prioritising specific tasks, achieving Mission 99p (or any other project) is very difficult. In an internal newsletter that we send weekly, I mentioned the following to the team:

There are many methods on how you can prioritise, but ultimately, these questions are the most important:

  • What are all the tasks I need to do?
  • What’s the deadline for each?
  • What are the consequences if I don’t do this task?
  • Based on this, which tasks are the biggest priority?

Halloween party 🎃

Since I’m publishing this diary entry on the 30th of October, it’s topical to mention the NOSY Office Halloween Party we had!

We organised a family get-together for our staff. A lot of sugar was consumed, pumpkins were carved, dancing was carried out and a lot of smiling took place.

I always try to think to myself “If I worked at a marketing agency, how would I want to be treated?” This drives a lot of company culture-related decisions.

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