Look at your bills.

There is a good reason why I stopped subscribing to "try for 30 days, cancel anytime" offers that require a credit card.  I looked at my credit card statement a bit more carefully than usual, and discovered a bunch of charges I completely forgot about. 

Not too smart for someone who considers himself a "seasoned businessperson." On second thought, forget the self-promoting title, I am as human as they come and as dumb when it comes to taking my eye of the financial ball.

If you have a product that delivers exceptional long-term value, then stand behind it and offer a trial with no strings attached (even though sales gurus will tell you that "free without any type of commitment is never appreciated and therefore should never be offered.") While there is some merit to that argument, I believe that the reason companies require a credit card is simply because it is "easy money"; counting on people like me to forget to cancel. 

Here's the thing: Whomever I am paying knows whether I am using their product; they can tell from my activity and its timeline. If I paid for something that I am not using, wouldn't it be smart business (for all the app developers) to remind me to use it? Isn't that better than just collecting a monthly fee? Wouldn't you rather that I tell my friends how much I enjoy your product? Wishful thinking.

However, there is a much bigger underlying problem for business owners - a tendency to focus on big-ticket expense items rather than going through 'payables' with a fine tooth comb. 

Rule #1: Look at your credit card, PayPal and bank statements, each month and every month - lurking inside the long list of charges are forgotten recurring monthly expenses, that could are quite expensive:

  • Web hosting charges
  • Web developer monthly maintenance charges 
  • SEO (my favorite) charges
  • Facebook Ads (that may be running because you or your agency forgot to stop them)
  • Subscription to tools like "landing pages."
  • Recurring paid-listings in directories
  • Email add-ons
  • Browser extensions
  • Etc. 

In addition to practicing responsible financial oversight of your business, what I am encouraging you to do is to "question" each charge - not the number next to the dollars sign but the results, or your return on investment for the service/product you are paying for.  

  • Your SEO report shows that you rank #1 for certain keywords or phrases. Do these keywords/phrases reflect typical search behavior? In other words, are you ranking for something that none of your prospects will ever actually enter into Google?
  • Your web developer charges a monthly maintenance fee -- have you looked at your Wordpress site lately? Look at the update section and see if the site is actually maintained? Are all plugins updated? Is Wordpress up to date or hasn't been touched in a while? 
  • Your social media agency is billing every month for postings. Have you looked at what the post? Most importantly, are the posts getting engagements (Likes, shares, comments)? Chances are that they are not - most companies view social media as the proverbial "wall" - throw enough crap on it and hope something sticks. It rarely does, that's not what social media is all about. Curating and posting great content requires research and hard work - you won't get that for a monthly recurring fee that serves the agency but not your interests. 
  • That barely noticeable small ad in an industry magazine or online listing that, likely yields no results. Want to know for sure? Look at your Google Analytics - traffic doesn't lie. 

The title of my book (shameless plug) is "Are You Sure About That?" and the opening page has the following quote:  "The important thing is not to stop questioning." -- Albert Einstein. 

Look at your bills. Question your bills. Don't settle for defensive answers. If what you pay for hasn't provided measurable results, stop paying. Then go back and find more hidden payable treasures.