Whether you’re a one-person consulting operation or a 100-person manufacturing business, you’ve had to work hard to build the knowledge you need to make your business a success. Why not maximize your return on your expertise by leveraging it to create more cash flow?

Most people underutilize their expertise and waste this powerful resource. Here are three quick “rules” to follow to help you get more revenue from what you have worked so hard to cultivate in your business–your expertise.

Rule Number One: Stop Giving Your Expertise Away for Free!

It never ceases to amaze me how many businesses give away their expertise for free. What’s more, they give it away in such a manner that their clients don’t even value it.

For example, a client we work with originally took up to 2 weeks working up a “proposal” for a consulting contract when working with a prospective client. This time included all deep dive they would do with a prospect to identify the root problems and create a detailed scope of work to use with the proposal. How much did they get paid for these 2 weeks of work?

The whole process was flawed. The work they did to identify the problem areas, lay out the scope of work and action plan, and give a clear timeline to solve this problem while valuable, wasn’t perceived that way from their prospect because of the “frame” they put around it (e.g. a “proposal”.)

Instead, we had them turn that “proposal” (value: $0) into a “3-Step Diagnostic Process” wherein they take the client through a distinct and highly valuable process that leaves the client with a high value report and action plan that they can take to implement themselves, hire someone else to implement, or (what’s most likely) hire their company to implement in a later step.

Now if you use this strategy, ideally you would name that process and each step along the way, and have the developed collateral materials to make the process and the experience of working through it, incredibly valuable for your clients.

This later way of setting the relationship up not only gives your client more value (you’ll have to work harder to create the process you use in such a way that your client gets more value) but this process is replicable and more scalable. It also is now possible for you to charge for what you used to do for free.

It likely took you years to hone your diagnostic process down so that you could meet with a new client and ask them the questions you needed to determine which services they needed or which steps they need to take to get a specific outcome. So charge for this value. And in order to do this you’ve got to help your client see and experience the value you are providing for them.

As a side benefit you’ll find that when they pay for your up-front process that more of them will actually buy your other “implementation” solutions! Both of these mean you’ll be earning more money.

Rule Number Two: Get Full Credit for Giving Away Free Stuff!

If you do choose to give away your expertise for free, at least create a real value for it in the minds of your clients so they both appreciate the value more and they are more likely to do more business with you as a result.

This means putting clear labels on things and having clean processes you use with clients. This means that you put prices on things, even if you intend to later give them away for free. (Perhaps event sending them an invoice with the price struck through and marked “complimentary”.)

If you don’t, you’re clients will discount the value of what you are giving them. This hurts them and you.

Rule Number Three: Constantly Look for Who Else Could Benefit from Your Expertise

What have you figured out how to do in your business that really makes a big impact on your business? What other businesses struggle with this same thing?

Now here comes the $64 million question: How could you SELL these other types of businesses your expertise in such a way that you create tremendous value for them and still have your advantage with your own business?

For example, I remember in Inc. Magazine how Major League Baseball, which spent the years perfecting its online business of selling access to baseball, was leveraging their learning by consulting and becoming the outsourced provider for Major League Soccer and figure skating. I just saw recently how they have continued to sell this service (i.e. their core expertise) to many other sports leagues.

Could you do the same thing in your business?

First you’ve got to identify what your business does that is exceptional. (If you don’t spot anything this is a real spark for you to create something!)

Next you’ve got to determine who in the world would pay for your solutions.

Finally, you need to approach these other businesses with how you can help them earn more, save more, grow more.

I hope these three rules for leveraging your expertise to create more cash flow have sparked some ideas for you.

Also, to help you grow your business and get your life back, we just put the finishing touches on a powerful free toolkit which includes 21 in-depth video trainings on how to intelligently scale your company. To access this free toolkit click here. Enjoy.

Originally published at www.inc.com