An article written by Stephen W. Gilbert listed “10 Pieces of Advice to Succeed in Business.” His tips applied to all businesses. They were simple and concise, so I decided to share his tips, followed by a commentary on how they apply to an accounting and bookkeeping service. Here they are:
Keys to Business Profitability
Work on the business, not just in the business.
As accountants, we can easily get mesmerized by the mechanics of doing the books for a company, and eventually, get into a rut. Take time each day to identify ways your business can run more smoothly and profitably.
Build the business.
Always be on the lookout for new clients. Spend a few minutes every day marketing the business. Try out the marketing tip from this newsletter each week. Even if you’re satisfied with the clients you have, you never know when one might up and leave you. Furthermore, if you have potential clients “banging on your door” you can easily justify raising your fee, or hiring another freelancer to split the fee with — they do the work, you get half the fee.
Cultivate professional relationships.
Join a networking group or chamber of commerce and then get involved. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, see, “Use networking events to get leads for your accounting service!” at the link at the end of this article.
Under-promise and over-deliver.
Your greatest asset is a happy client. They’re quick to recognize the extras they’re given. Look for articles that will help them. Identify and share profit-building ideas with them. Point out trends, both good and bad, that they may not have noticed.
Delight your customers [clients].
Although this one is a lot like the previous one, it does mean taking customer service a bit further. Go out of your way to help them even more. Offer to prepare collection letters to their delinquent customers, search for better terms/pricing for some of their goods, even straighten the client’s company restroom when you notice it’s in need.
Be on time.
Most people don’t think twice about being five to ten minutes late for an appointment. It’s even to the point that most people plan on their doctor, attorney, and accountant, running late. Distinguish yourself as being different by always meeting deadlines, and being on time for appointments. At first, your client may not think twice about your promptness, but in time they will respect you for your word.
Check back with the customer [client] periodically.
If you’re only contacting your client when you need something, they may begin to dread your calls. Instead, somewhat randomly, call your clients and ask them how they’re doing. Ask them if you can help them somehow. The more burdens you remove from their shoulders, the more valuable you will become to them (and the better references they will provide).
Give written bids on every job.
Put in freelancing terms: “Provide a letter of engagement to every new client.” This is not a contract, it’s simply a letter listing the services you agree to provide, and stating your fee. Remember to include the payment terms and your guarantee.
Discuss payment expectations before you begin the job.
This is a given. The engagement letter will help to formalize your fee. Don’t forget to always pick up the set-up fee before you start your work for the new client.
Get a business checking account as soon as possible.
Don’t mix business and personal finances. Until you know what your business makes and spends, independent of your own personal needs, you can never determine even if you are making money or not. Keeping finances separate also makes things easier when tax time comes around.
Wrapping It All Up
Being in business for yourself can be so rewarding when your business is sufficiently profitable and your customers are happy. The tips above are just a few of the critical “must-do” things you can do to bolster the bottom of line of your business and that of your accounting and tax clients.
It is a sad fact that in school, we learned so little about the inner workings of a small business. Yet, small business is where much of the wealth of this country comes from. The majority of those making over $70,000 per year own their own businesses. If you don’t work for yourself, your chances of making a really great living for yourself and your family are pretty small. At the same time, growth in the small business sector continues to outpace that of large companies, and small businesses need someone to do their books.
With Professional Bookkeeper™ training focused squarely on the profitable small-business sector, your opportunities have never been greater! The Professional Bookkeeper™ program will teach you step-by-step how to find clients that are the most profitable for your accounting service. You will learn techniques to get clients to gladly pay $30 to $60 per hour for your work.
Learn More About the Professional Bookkeeping Program
You Can Do This!
So what are you waiting for? Your financial future is in your own hands. When you start your own successful Accounting service, your success is your own. If you can find the courage to take the first step, we will give you the tools, support, and training you need to start your own profitable accounting and bookkeeping service.