Three keys to top-line profitability

Written by Briana Cavanaugh

December 6, 2021

The best way to make your business grow and progress toward your vision is to increase the top line — your total revenue.

This post is a sequel to a previous blog post. I wrote about the emotional challenges that make us focus only on the bottom line (gross income minus expenses) rather than the top line (gross income). I showed that looking at your bottom line is a good but limited way to improve profitability.

Below are three specific focus areas you can look at to increase your revenue.

If this starts to feel challenging for you, please take care of yourself. Pause for several slow, deep breaths as necessary. (If, after a few attempts to read this, you’re still overwhelmed, maybe it’s best to put this blog post on your calendar to review when you’re feeling better.)

Think about why your business matters and what a tremendous difference your business will make when you bring about your wildest dreams and ideals. I want to help you bring that vision into reality. Getting you more profitable will help you get there.

Ready to plan for profitability? Let’s go!

Key #1: Your pricing strategy

To increase your top-line profitability, revisit your rates and prices.

Most of the entrepreneurs I’ve worked with are reluctant to raise their prices. Maybe you know that feeling — you’ve found a pricing level that seems workable, and you don’t want to shake things up. Maybe you want to make sure you can still help your lower-income clients.

And many people I’ve talked to undervalue themselves and their work. Perhaps you’ve been told your whole life that you’re less than because of your gender expression, ethnicity, weight, and so on.

But ask yourself: How long has it been since you’ve raised prices? If it’s been a few years, and if there has been inflation since then, your company has in effect taken a pay cut. And raising your prices for some clients and services/products does not necessarily mean that you have to push an existing low-income client out into the cold!

There are many pricing strategies. Here’s a thorough strategy guide that’s directed primarily at product vendors. However, service providers can use most of these strategies as well. Supposing you’re a service provider with passive income streams such as books and e-learning courses, your hybrid business model can undoubtedly benefit from these tips.

For example, do you know what your competitors charge? When scouting out similar businesses, make apples-to-apples comparisons. Two firms that call themselves the same kind of thing might offer very different services or market to very diverse clientele!

Changing your prices can involve digging into your actual sales numbers and running projections. Skilled bookkeepers can be really helpful in this area.

Pricing strategy is closely related to your product/service offering strategy.

Key #2: Your offerings

To increase your top-line profitability, revisit your offerings.

How do your service or product offerings work? Do you know which offerings produce the most profit? Do you have offerings in a range of price points? For clients at different income levels or a different place in the journey?  Do you know if clients tend to escalate from your low-price items to your high-priced ones, or is the client journey different from that? What is the average lifetime value of a relationship with a client?

In some cases, it may be advantageous to emphasize the offerings that get you the highest profit margin, but not always. An offering with a lower profit margin might be worthwhile because it’s part of building that relationship, showing the client that you’re worth their trust so that they keep coming back.

As your clients benefit from your offerings, they will reach increased economic abundance and progress through your lower-priced offerings up to the higher-priced ones.

Can you create a new offering that will bring in passive income or require minimal effort to maintain? Could it be attractive to your existing clients as well as new ones? I recently wrote about income diversification in a previous post, so don’t miss out!

Key #3: Your marketing & sales funnel

To increase your top-line profitability, revisit your sales strategy.

Sales strategy includes everything you already do to bring in clients, such as personal networking, guest blogging, placing ads, or asking for referrals.

Do you have any reports to help you figure out how much money and time you’re spending on various strategies and whether they’re attracting enough revenue to make it worthwhile? What marketing strategies have you NOT tried?

It’s essential to think about your ideal client’s journey in their relationship with you and your business, what you want it to look and feel like from their point of view.

How do your best clients typically hear about your services? Are there other ways great clients like them could find out about your business if you directed some marketing efforts toward them?

What technologies or vendors do you use for marketing? What are all the pieces of your existing sales process?

Are there any weak or missing pieces of your sales process that can be inexpensively and quickly improved? Quick improvements look like low-hanging fruit, even more when they have a low financial impact, so they may be a good place to start. (If you’ve been aware of those weak/missing pieces for a while, you might be avoiding them for a reason.)

Once you get a client, what does the relationship typically look like? Is there anything you can do to increase their loyalty so that they keep purchasing your offerings?

Informally surveying your clients can help you understand what’s really going on, especially if you display openness to feedback (and gratitude for it!) even when it isn’t all rosy.

Bonus Key: Supportive context for your planned profits

To summarize, planning for greater profitability means reviewing whether your offerings and price strategy are serving your client base in ways that work for both them and you, and rewriting your marketing plan to bring in new clients who will be delighted by these offers.

That addresses the how of planning. To create and carry out all of these plans, it helps to think about the context that will support success for you. That includes setting a goal or even an upper boundary for what you expect (how much money should I try to get?), thinking about the nitty-gritty of execution (what system of task management and accountability will I use to carry out these plans?), and seeking clarity about your motives and values (why am I doing all of this?) and connecting those motives to everything else so that you can stay energized and focused. These aren’t all questions you need to answer right now, just be aware that they are legitimately related to your planning process.

An upper boundary can be really useful because it tells you when to rest. If you know you just need an extra $700 per month for the next quarter, maybe all you have to do right now is update your marketing. The different methods for increasing your profits that I’ve mentioned in this 2-part series can be spread out over time — for example, try one method per month or one per quarter.

As for your values and nitty-gritty, this is where you may want additional support from other entrepreneurs. Your supporters may help with planning, accountability, community, and/or mindset work. Masterminds can be a great way to stay focused. If you’re interested in our next Financial Bliss Mastermind program, put your name on the list (no commitment!) to get notified as soon as registration is open:

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Bliss Your Money’s services include bookkeeping, bill-pay process setup, payroll setup, profitability consulting, money mindset coaching, and more! We focus on helping woman- and queer-owned businesses get and stay profitable through metrics and love. Struggling to get on top of your money stuff? Do it with Bliss!

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