Looking for a way out of your 9-5 cubicle job that takes your soul away? Or are you tired of cutting down on your much needed daily Starbucks? Or if you’re like me, you’re sick of not being able to say YES to another round of drinks with friends on the weekends.
Recently, I wrote an article on how to save money in Singapore, arguing that cutting down on Starbucks, saving $6 isn’t the best way to go about achieving your financial goals. I also talked about it’s much better to focus on BIG WINs such as automating your finances, starting an investment account or starting a side business as opposed to being overtly frugal on minor purchases.
The article got mixed reactions. Some loved it, some hated it.
However, I stand by my argument. That’s because there’s a limit to how much you can save and no limit to how much you can earn. There’s a misconception that earning more is akin to starting the next Facebook hence you have only less than 5% chance of succeeding. You need to be the next coming of Mark Zuckerberg to do so. That’s untrue. Earning more can be as simple as negotiating your salary, freelancing on the side or starting a side business.
So how can you earn more money without risking financial security or risking your full time job?
In most financial blogs in Singapore, almost everyone talks about saving more money… instead of EARNING more money. In this article. I’m going to talk about something that MOST financial bloggers do not talk about: how to earn more money.
Saving money by cutting down on minor purchases such as Starbucks is a CRAPPY strategy of hitting your financial goals. It’s also bullshit advice. That’s because it doesn’t account for human psychology. Our willpower is limited: this is why you feel like pigging out on an ice cream after a long day of work.
Stop wasting time and effort on minor decisions
It is easier to create multiple to-do lists, coming up with a hundred to-do lists and ‘ be busy.’ There’s a difference between being busy and being effective. You could create multiple excel spreadsheets debating which salt is cheaper to buy, or you could use that cognitive energy on creating value for others.
It’s easy to be a control freak. I used to come from the savings camp, nitpicking on every single detail, however, it’s much harder to admit to myself: look, my attention span is limited every day and I need to spend it on activities that have more returns, or NOT spend it on things that don’t matter.
This is why Mark Zuckerberg wears the same shirt every single day. This is why Steve Jobs wore the same turtleneck outfit for years. Their cognitive energy is spent on bigger, more important decisions.
This is also actually liberating. It means that in the grand scheme of things, the majority of your minor decisions don’t matter. These days, I order a Starbucks coffee guilt free whenever I’m using the place for work in exchange for value: Wifi, caffeine and comfort.
98% of financial advice don’t account for human psychology
Look, the majority aren’t able to save frugally to reach their financial goals. How many of you swear off grab rides, bubble teas and Starbucks and find yourself cheating after 1-2 weeks?
Thinking I’m bullshiting you? There’s a job central research that suggests that 60% of Singapore workers save less than one-fifth of their income.
Mindset: Saving More Money Versus Earning More Money
The solution is simple. Instead of cutting back and fretting on minor purchases, you can spend that cognitive energy to make more money. It’s more fun that way too. Instead of spending all your time and effort saving pennies, you are now using that to make more dollars.
Here at Dr Wealth, our team takes a multi-dimensional approach to make more money. Cutting back on Starbucks isn’t one of them. Yes, our team is frugal and don’t splurge on unnecessary expenses, as another financial blogger succinctly puts: ‘calling chicken in Geylang’.
Our CEO, COO, Alvin and Alex are running Dr Wealth full time, navigating it into a 7-figure company in 2018. Dr Wealth’s head of digital marketing, Bowen, recently sold off a site for close to a whopping $100,000 SGD.
So the question is, how do you get from scrimping on daily expenses to earning more?
First Way to Earn More Money: Negotiate Your Salary
Firstly, you can negotiate your salary. Let’s say you’re getting paid $3,000 a month and you negotiated a $300 increase monthly salary. That may look like a small increase. However, if you took a yearly return. You’re making $3,600 more every year.
How to Negotiate Your Salary
The thing about negotiating salary is that you need to be PREPARED. You need to justify why your worth that much to your company. The only way to do that is to prepare your research upfront even before you sit in front of your hiring manager.
Prepare your salary research
The first mistake of salary negotiation is NOT knowing exactly how much you want to get paid. To get a good estimation, you can do you your research upfront through salary guides:
For Eg. Singapore Salary Guides
Identify the issues the company is facing and find how YOU can solve them
Three months ago, Dr Wealth sent out 30,000 emails looking for a full-time content marketer. The majority of resumes and emails that came in was crap. None of their resumes, emails and responses hit a home run. Some of them even left a Facebook message, expecting the US to reply to them.
Imagine walking into your hiring manager with a researched with a 2-page document filled with step by step proposals, fixes on how you can help the company fix their current problems. First, you’ll not only be able to add value upfront, showing that YOU are a solution to their burning problems. Secondly, you’ll differentiate yourself from 99% of candidates that show up and somewhat demand a job.
Common Excuse: ‘Oh I’m not in the company and I don’t know the problems they are facing’.
That’s just an excuse. It’s 2018. You are able to research information through reading their annual reports or taking a look at their website. You can also ask about problems faced by the company by reaching out to current employees.
Here’s an example:
How many job applicants go into a company and demand their worth, instead of adding value first to their hiring manager? This way, you’ll stand out as a top performer when you add value first.
Prepare a fallback position
There’s a classical psychological technique called the ‘door in the face’ technique. It’s basically requesting for more from another party and if it falls through, he or she is more willing to meet in the middle.
In salary terms, if you’re negotiating for a 20% increase, it might not go through. However, your company might agree to a 10% increase. You do this by asking for a salary higher than what you would settle for. In your fallback position, you’ll meet in the middle with the hiring manager.
Practice Your Negotiation
There are many others that’ll get SOOO technical on keeping a budget, picking stocks and technical skillsets… but REFUSE to practice any form of negotiation. They have invisible scripts thinking that just by getting good at your job will get them their desired salary.
The key is this: Practice. practice and more practice.
Let me ask you, how many of you take the time to research, analyze and practice even before walking up to your hiring manager?
Second Way to Earn More Money: Freelance on the Side
Okay, assuming your boss is unable to give you a raise no matter how you much negotiate (or beg). You may want to think of a way out in the long run and start by freelancing on the side.
Imagine what an extra $1,000 a month on the side is able to do for your finances.
Through the years, I know of multiple freelancers that provide videography services, fitness training classes, tuition services and yoga classes on the side making up to a full month’s income. There is probably a skillset you have that you charge for through your current network of friends and family.
Some services include:
- Web Design Services
- Copywriting Services
- Search Engine Optimization Services
- Videography Services
- Wedding Photography/ Videography Services
- Freelance Fitness Trainers
Common Excuse Number 1: ‘OH MARCUS. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE MONEY ON THE SIDE.’
Common Excuse Number 2: ‘YOU NEED CONNECTIONS TO GET CLIENTS… BLAH BLAH BLAH.’
In my experience, a lot of the time, they are excuses. When I started by freelancing in University, the majority of my friends are 1) University students and 2) going to start work in the corporate world. Not a SINGLE one of them was interested in making money on the side. They didn’t care a least bit about entrepreneurship.
One thing I get a lot is: ‘Oh Marcus! You’re relying on family connections!’ Here’s something you don’t know: I didn’t come from a wealthy family background. In fact, I faced bankruptcy once.
To do this, firstly, I started investing in skillsets, one by one. Through the years, I invested more than $10,000 in skillsets. Secondly, I made the effort to reach out to potential clients in my own network.
I started off teaching Muay Thai on the side at $60/hour.
I then negotiated freelance copywriting projects up to $1,800.
I then negotiated SEO freelance contracts up to $9,000.
If you noticed the value chain, it’s a progression. Here’s a cool story of my different pay through the years: I started off with a $6.50 per hour pay as a recruiter in an HR company. I also once waited tables at burger king for $10 hour.
So how do you start making money freelancing and earning more money on the side?
Step 1: Do it for free or cheap with a conditional offer
If you have a skill set that you’re looking to charge for but got no existing client, you can do it for free or cheap initally. You can reach out to your existing of network, friends, family of business owners and provide that that skill set for free.
I starting my life coaching business teaching social skills to my friends for free in exchange for testimonials. Gradually, I started charging for my services as I collated more testimonials.
Step 2: Use testimonials, referrals and start charging current clients
So now that you’ve given your currents clients a 1-month free trial and assuming you do a fantastic job, you can now start charging for your services.
Step by step negotiation scripts:
‘Hey Client X, I’ll be able to do this particular service for you completely free, no obligations for the first month.’
‘Hey Client X, ever since you start the X service, you gained this X benefit. Would you agree with me on this?’
This is where you prepare a statistical report on how much you’ve helped company A make X amount of money or client A lose X kilograms of weight. They have to agree based on statistics.
‘Since find that X service is valuable your company, would you be interested in a paid service from the 2ndmonth forward? This way I’ll be able to [insert X benefit] to your company through X premium service.’
Third Way to Earn More Money: Start a Side Business
Imagine how you’ll feel if you made an extra $2,000 a month from your side business by doing something you’re passionate about.
Taking the leap of faith into full time business is scary and difficult. You need to worry about rent, marketing costs and inventory costs. This is why I recommended starting a side business. In my University days, I started a side business helping out guys with social skills with women. I started charging for my services and gradually increased my price point up to $2000 per a weekend for my services.
I did all of that whilst studying full time.
Think about it, there’s something you’re probably good at and enjoy doing people will pay for. It can be as simple as Muay Thai classes, golf classes or yoga classes. I personally know of a multi 6-figure business owner that help CEOS, executives and companies make better presentations through beautiful PowerPoint slides.
How to Get Your First 3 Paying Clients
There’s a lot of crappy advice on getting paid clients. One of them is: you got to network! You got to buy nice business cards! Here’s a true story: I have NEVER gotten a single paid client from attending networking sessions or giving out business cards.
It’s not that I don’t network, I do. It’s just that the majority of people you meeting in networking sessions aren’t necessary your target audience.
Go where the fish are
Let’s say you’re a yoga instructor looking to get your first 3 paying clients. You’re rarely going to get a yoga enthusiast that is actively looking for paid yoga lessons in business networking events. The majority of people attending networking events are mostly: venture capitalists, freelancers, first-time business owners, insurance agents or students.
These people aren’t your target audience. They aren’t hungry buying potential clients. You need to go where the fish are. So even before you start signing up for events and printing fancy business cards, you’ll need to do your customer research. You’ll be in a much better position if you figure out where and how your target audience looks like.
There’s no need to get your customer profile right from the start, it also changes over time with your strengths and weaknesses and what the market thinks of you.
Customer Profile: Yoga Enthusiast
- Age: 20-25
- Gender: Female
- Relationships Status: N/A
- Employment Status: Studying/ Employed
- Hopes/ Dreams: Slim body through yoga classes
- Fears: Yoga classes that don’t have enough ‘burn’
- Places they hang out: Yoga seminars, retreats
The next step is to reach out to them. You can attend yoga seminars, forums or retreats. You can reach out to Universities, schools, conduct free yoga workshops and then provide an option to sign up 1:1 at the end of the workshop. The key idea: the people that attend these events are already potential buyers. You’ll have a much easier time converting them to paying clients as compared to randomly attending networking events.
How to reach out to people that need your services:
The number KEY idea to start a side business is to always ask yourself: what’s in it for them?
Here are 6 guides line to follow when you’re reaching out a cold client whether be it in person or through email:
- You should compliment the other person
- Show them you understand their problems by doing your customer research upfront
- Establish your credibility by citing testimonials you collated
- Suggest how your service can benefit them
- Get to the point quickly
- Create a call to action, getting them to reply or call you if they are interested
I’ll like to emphasize. You need to constantly ask yourself: what’s in it for them?
The majority of financial blogs in Singapore publishes content about saving money and investing in the stock market. Nothing wrong with that. However, almost none of them talk about financial skillsets such as freelancing, negotiation, persuasion or entrepreneurship.
Lastly, I stand by my argument that fretting on minor purchases such as Starbucks, grab rides and bubble tea is a poor way to reach your financial goals.
That’s because leading a wealthy life is not only about saving or accumulating a huge investment portfolio. It’s also being able to not worry about ordering that second beer when you’re spending a night out with friends, treat your girlfriend/boyfriend to a nice meal or even take that once in a lifetime trip to that dream destination.
These goals are mostly accomplished not by saving more, but by earning more. That’s because there’s only a cap to how much you can save and no limit to how much you can earn.