I wouldn't say my expertise lies in exactly how to earn money, but I definitely know enough to be dangerous to myself and others. I surround myself with entrepreneurs, many who are good at earning, so I've gotten a bit of insight observing these folks.
Whether you're in business for yourself or working for the man, the woman or the big faceless corporation, the principles of how to earn money are the same. Understanding these principles and applying them consistently are key. Progress comes from consistency. Let's dive in.
1. Be Valuable
First and foremost, you must deliver value because you are asking for value in return. If you don't provide value, then you shouldn't have a reasonable expectation that you'll get value. That would make you a shyster. Think about it: If you show up to work and you are more of a liability than an asset, you can't possibly be delusional enough to believe you're entitled to being handsomely compensated. In other words, if you cost the company more than what they think they're getting from you, the company will feel like they're getting ripped off.
When and how you deliver value is up to you. There are so many different schools of thought and ways to approach this. As a freelancer or small business owner, it's part of your job to understand what your customer perceives as valuable and deliver it.
Some things to also think about are the perception of value (brand) and communicating your value (marketing). You must be able to communicate your value to potential customers (or employers). If you've done a good job with marketing, the person writing the check will already trust that you or your company will deliver value.
In the online commerce space, you must get people to know, like and trust you in order to make a sale. Part of knowing, liking and trusting someone is getting value from them. You can mirror this in real life too. Are you a resource to people because of your knowledge? Do you connect people with resources that are helpful? How are you helping your community?
Think like a drug dealer. Their customers understands the value in their product. Sometimes they even give a little bit of value away for free.
2. Solve A Problem or Take Away Pain
If you can find a problem to solve for a group of people and communicate your solution effectively you can earn money. Living in a profoundly capitalistic society has it's perks; people are willing to pay to have their problems solved and their pain taken away.
If you don't believe me, just look at some of the products and services that people pay for:
- Doody Calls - A pet poo pick up service.
- Las Vegas Wedding Wagon - A mobile wedding chapel
- Citi Kitty - A product that teaches cats how to use a toilet
If you're employed, I'm almost certain you were brought on to alleviate the pain of too much work for your team or your boss or to solve the problem of scaling and growing the business.
If you are committed to solving a problem, it makes work easier. You're focused on solutions and helping people, rather than just extracting value. You form a mutually beneficial relationship. Work can become more meaningful and communicating your value is easy.
"People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it." - Simon Sinek
3. Don't Be A Dick
Some would argue that it doesn't matter how much of an asshole you are, if you have a great product or service, you can still be successful. My opinion is based on my own unique snowflake experiences in life. I'm a firm believer that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar and I've watched this in action.
I've worked closely with a lot of young Hollywood types when I was working for the investment management firm and the dicks were always the ones looking over their shoulder, waiting for someone to put a knife in their back. They had to work harder because they were working against bad reputations. And it's hard to call in favors if you've burned bridges.
Maybe things are different outside of sunny Los Angeles, where we're always smiling and concerned about being assholes because we never know "who might know someone." But even when you work on a team, nobody wants to work with an asshole who kills the vibe.
4. Understand Your Positioning
The last question you must ask yourself is this: Can the people who I'm selling my product or service to afford to pay the price I'm setting? Or can the employers that I'd like to work for pay the salary that I want?
If the answer is no then you want to consider your positioning in the market. Even if you're solving a great problem, if the people who need the solution can't afford it, in the long run, you'll have difficulty sustaining your business. You need to either serve a different market or figure out how to set up your business model so that it works. Can you subsidize your business by either taking on a different clientele to support a different market? Can you work with sponsors or add a different revenue stream to make it work?
Sometimes you don't realize these adjustments need to be made until your original idea isn't working. Don't sweat it. Just realize you have to adapt to keep the business alive.