Entrepreneurs know there are “normal costs of doing business” and many times those are passed along to the client, but other times I urge business owners don’t charge these fees — certain fees that might show up as a line item that could lead to a discussion with your client that won’t leave a good taste in either of your mouths.
Keep in mind, clients don’t mind paying fees as part of doing business with you, but there are some fees that will rock the boat and could cause your relationship to capsize.
Business Owners Don’t Charge These Fees
Perceived value. There are times you will invest in a higher quality suit because you know the quality makes the higher price tag worth it, right? But if you buy the suit and find out you need to pay extra for the buttons — the perceived value is dimished. Sure, there are aditional costs that need to be added to the production or delivery of services but you’re better off adding them into the overall price rather than tacking them on as an add-on cost.
Your normal cost of doing business. If you have to pay a parking fee to pick up a delivery from the printer for your client, you don’t want to bill your client for the parking fee. This is your cost of doing business, not their cost.
Don’t inflate your prices to cover your expenses. When you have your records transferred from one doctor to another and yoru doctor is charging you .25 a copy when you know copies can be sent electronically or printed for only .10 a page, you will come to question every cost they have ever charged you.
Fees that have to be explained. If you need to have an explanation or disclaimer with your fees, you need to get rid of them. If a client doesn’t understand the fee, he will question it and then just might start questioning all of your fees.
What kind of fees can you charge?
- Legitimate fees
- Added products or services
- Variable costs as long as your client is aware there could be a range of fees from X to Y.
Are your fees in line with your industry? Do you struggle with add on fees?
What are your small business resolutions for 2018? While I am not an advocate of making wholesale, sweeping changes simply because the calendar has flipped to a new month, there are some steps that entrepreneurs can take to set themselves up for success in the new year. Here are a few that I have undertaken myself and talk with my coaching clients about.
Small Business Resolutions For 2018
- Work with a good accountant. Accounting and tax laws are full of moving parts. If you work with a good accountant, you can focus on your business and let the trained professional focus on your numbers and the financial aspects of your operation.
- Hone your focus. Many entrepreneurs are scattered in that they try to do too many things at once and don’t keep their eye on what is the most important aspect of their business — the core competency that brought them there in the first place. Delegate tasks to others that you don’t have to be fully involved in.
- Organize your workspace. Take time to organize the office, contain the clutter and set up file systems. Go through any stacks of paper on your desk or in your file drawers and ask, “Do I need this?” Toss it if you don’t, file it for future reference if you need it. Ask your accountant how long you need to keep financial records.
- Put yourself on a “digital diet.” By this I mean, unsubscribe from newsletters that no longer serve a function in your business or that clutter your inbox but remain unread. There’s no reason to clutter your inbox (and your thoughts) with unnecessary items.
- Automation is your friend. Look for ways in which to automate your processes. What are you currently doing manually that can more easily be done automatically?
- Get off the launchpad and just LAUNCH. Today is the day that you need to launch items that you’ve been talking about and thinking about but haven’t pulled the trigger. Done is better than perfect. You can tweak after the launch.
What do you resolve to do this year? What do you need help with? Let me know!
In the midst of the holiday rush it is easy to stay focsed and energized, but once the holidays are over and the relatives have gone and you’re back to work it might be hard to stay that way — especially if you live in an area of the country that is blanketed with snow, ice and seemingly endless gray days. I live in Arizona where we are blessed with almost year round sunshine and it is easy to feel the sun on your face and get out and get moving; other areas of the country aren’t so blessed — or sunny.
It is natural to feel a bit deflated after the holiday hustle and bustle is over and that week between Christmas and New Years allowed you to coast. Now, though you’re looking at the new year and limited sunlight. It is easy to get in the doldrums. What can you do?
As an entrepreneur and business coach I understand how you and your employees might be battling post-holiday blues.
Stay Focused And Energized
- Be realistic. Many people look at January 1 as the time they HAVE to set goals, make resolutions and essentially start over.
- Be physically active. Simply getting up from your desk and moving around is better than sitting all day. Standing at your desk is better than sitting. Be healthy. Eat healthy foods and kick processed foods to the curb. Do short bursts of exercise in your office. Take the stairs. Take a parking space that isn’t right by the doro. Eat fruits and vegetables more frequently and consume fewer salty or sugary snacks. When it comes to resolving to be more healthy, think about where you live. If you are “resolving to” walk 10,000 steps a day and you live where it’s sub zero temperatures, unless you commit to going to a gym or buying home workout equipment you are likely setting yourself up for failure. Choose a goal that coincides with the weather. Although if you are committed and want to make the most of the season you’re in, dress warmly, invest in snow shoes and have at it! Set detailed and above all, realistic goals and you will have a fighting chance of sticking with them. Did you know, most people break their resolutions before January is even over?
- Be mindful. Take a deep breath. Focus on relaxing your shoulders – I’ll bet they are up around your ears as you’re reading this. I am an advocate of self-care. There are several times throughout the workday when I walk away from my desk and find a quiet spot to sit and breathe. I focus my energies inward. I get more done when I take breaks because I find that getting away from my desk and focusing on my breath and my health makes me more energized and invigorated to work with my clients.
Are you making resolutions this year? Are they realistic? Have you set measurable resolutions? For example, rather than saying you want to “lose weight” or “exercise more” you should quantify that with “lose 10 pounds by April” or “walk 5,000 steps per day” you can’t celebrate what you don’t measure! Let us know what your resolutions are if you need help staying accountable to them and to yourself.
Is it time to rest on your laurels if you’ve met your business goals. It is also not the time of year to throw up your hands, give up and think that you can just try to “do better” next year. There are some things that entrpreneurs can do to give their business an end of the year revenue boost. Some of them may not be able to be put into practice before year’s end, but others can.
End Of The Year Revenue Boost
- Do you have unused office space? Consider renting out a room in your office. If you have extra office space or a conference room that is only used occasionally, consider a co-working option and rent the room by the hour or day to another entrepreneur who doesn’t need a full time office space but wants a place to meet clients on occasion.
- What expenses can you cut? Look at the subscriptions and programs that you pay for and make note of any that are duplicates. Is there one service that can perform the task another is? Stop paying for one and combine what you need to get done with one subscription. Also, are you paying for phone lines or email addresses or other “invisible” costs about which you are unaware until the bill comes.
- This is the time of year to focus on the upsell. “If you buy three months I’ll give you the fourth for free” or “if you invest in this product we can bundle it with these other products and you will save.” What makes sense as an upsell for your business. Offer an end of the year upsell campaign to kick off the new year with revenue streams.
- Is it time to up your prices before the new year? If you have clients who have been with you, offer them the services at their same rate IF they re-up with you before the end of the year. If they don’t opt to do that, then let them know how much they can save if they make the commitment now.
- Ask current clients for referrals. If they offer you a referral who signs on with you, give the referring client a bonus — one free month of the service they are currently receiving, for example.
- If you’re using ads, make certain you have a strategy for the ad spend. Don’t just run an ad “because everyone else is.” If you don’t have a strategy behind the spend, you are throwing your money away.
What have you done in the past to amp up your earnings at the end of the year?
Is there a magic bullet to making sales? Are there some secrets that the top sellers are in the know about that you aren’t? I don’t think there is a magic formula, but I do have 5 sales strategies that work — as long as you work them. Because times have changed, the way in which we make sales and interact with potential customers has had to morph and evolve as well.
5 Sales Strategies That Work
- Treat your customers as you’d like to be treated. Sounds simple, but with today’s high tech world, we sometimes forget the high touch methods of making sales still work best. Make a connection and be the person that is the go-to for your potential customer.
- Remember, it is about how your product can take away their pain points. It is not about how great your product or service is, even though it is great, i am sure. When you’re working with a new customer make sure you really listen to them and that you show how you can ease their pain with your product.
- Know your customer’s comfort level. If they are a start up they won’t likely be spending $50,000 on a coaching program or on a product that might break the bank. Know your customer. Know what they have to spend and offer them a product or service that fits their needs. You don’t need to oversell your products or services to them. if they like what you do, they will eventually ask for more.
- Keep it simple. Rather than putting together a high tech slide show or powerpoint presentation, sit down over a cup of coffee and have a conversation. Get to know them, speak their language. Speaking of language, don’t speak in acronyms — it doesn’t impress.
- Follow up and follow through. If you promised to deliver something, make sure you do. Don’t drop the ball right after your initial meeting. Your initial meeting and your initial follow through is what will set the tone for the rest of your relationship.
Are you focusing on the client and his or her needs when you’re making a presentation? If you’re not, or if you’re not sure, talk wtih a trusted colleague and ask them to listen to your presentation. Adjust accordingly.
Knowing how to run a computer program and keep your anti-virus software up to date are skills that are necessary for an entrepreneur to have — or to hire someone to take on for him. There are low-tech skills entrepreneurs need to master that are as vitally important master — sometimes even more so than the hard-tech skills.
Low-tech Skills Entrepreneurs Need To Master
- How to entertain your clients. If you want to “close a deal” you may need to master the art of small talk and networking. Whether you entertain clients at an intimate dinner, a large holiday party or even over coffee for a first meeting.
- Plan face-to-face meetings. Technology is great and it helps you connect with clients across the country, but many entrperenuers rely on tech to communicate with clients who are just across town. Nothing beats a face-to-face meeting with a client to cement the relationship or with a new client to build rapport.
- Know what to do at a trade show or conference. Don’t be a wallflower and expect others will approach you to talk. You need to screw up your courage and make the first move. If you’re making the commitment to attend you need to get a return on your investment.
- Pick up the phone. Gasp! We know it’s a concept that has fallen out of favor in this era of text messages and emails, but a good, old fashioned phone call is a great way to connect quickly and to also hammer out a concept that would take far too long to do via email.
- A handwritten thank you note. This is truly a practice that has gone out of style. If you have a meeting with a potential client, send them a handwritten thank you note to not only recap your conversation, but to thank them for having taken the time to meet with you. Getting a physical piece of mail is rare in today’s electronic era and this might make you stand out from the competition.
What low-tech skills do you need to master or do you need to brush up on?