Learning my value was a part of my journey through the natural transition of my bookkeeping practice – likely something that many of you are familiar with.
I started with a traditional concept – using QuickBooks Desktop and taking every client that accepted my hourly rate. Which at that point, was $25.00 per hour. I subbed my work out to local bookkeepers at $15.00 per hour, most of which billed the work out at $40.00 per hour. Now that all worked to help me pay the bills while I was growing my business, but it did nothing for my confidence and to value my services.
Many of you who know my story are aware that Ron Baker was my primary catalyst for change. Intuit had contracted Ron to record an excellent four-part webinar series on how to value, price, and package your services. I have to admit that I watched this series multiple times and learned something new from it each time. Then came the opportunity for me to mentor under Ron in the Black Swan program – this was a life-changer. Ron continued working with me to evolve past where the webinar series left off, and I haven’t stopped since.
There were a few key points that I learned, and that has helped to evolve me into the accounting professional I am today. Did you notice that? I referred to myself in the earlier paragraph as a bookkeeper versus how I just referred to myself as an accounting professional. This is as a result of my shift. I now view myself as a professional, as we all should.
You Don’t Have to Work With Everyone!
A powerful statement that was hard for me to learn at first. Your ideal client is NOT a unicorn 🦄 – they are out there! You don’t have to work with everyone. There are ways that you can determine who you want to work with and who you don’t. Once you start being selective as to who you want to work with, you will begin to attract like-minded individuals. There are some easy indicators to find out who to avoid:
1. Take your time in the quoting process. It’s okay to take your time in this process. Think of it like dating. You wouldn’t commit to marrying someone on the first date. As a matter of fact, if you had someone insisting that you agree to marry them on the first date, wouldn’t that be a huge red flag? You don’t have to commit to working with someone right away, either. Anyone who is too impatient to go through my courting process will not be a good fit for me, and we turn them away. Maybe it is an indication that they are just too impatient in general. I don’t want to work with someone who is going to want everything done immediately. It could be an indication that they are in trouble for government deadlines. If this is the case – if they did it before when they knew the deadlines – what will stop them from procrastinating again? And who will get to suffer from it? YOU. Remember that saying, “Procrastination on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”.
2. Ask more questions. Get to know the person and their business better. Not only will you be able to gain the information you are looking for, but the right fit will appreciate the time you are taking to truly understand them and their business.
Know the Value You Provide
This is a hard one for most of us. Just because it may take us 30 minutes to do the task, you have to take into account how many years of education and practical experience you had to go through to be able to handle that task in 30 minutes. Other professionals in other professions charge appropriately based on their education and experience. Just take a look at lawyers and doctors. Even the trades such as mechanics, plumbers, or electricians have learned this. So why is it so difficult for us accountants to learn this? Take a moment to make a list of the time that you have put into learning your skills and knowledge, and the time to learn the new apps you may use. By listing this out, it is a great start to building your confidence in your value. Keep this list somewhere handy to look back at it regularly. For those of you out there that are not classroom educated, don’t let this defeat you. You still put a lot of hours into learning your skills. You’d be surprised at the time it takes when you are figuring it out on your own. I was not classroom-educated. I was all hands-on and mentored under a local accounting professional while I was learning. I went on and got certified through our Canadian association, the Institute of Professional Bookkeepers of Canada, so that I have credentials to confirm what I know.
Provide Services that will be Attractive to Your Ideal Clients
Offer the services that you want to provide. Don’t negotiate on this. If you start giving in and bending the rules, where does it stop? You run into the trouble of changing your services to match that of the client, and they are no longer fitting into your mold. You are compromising your service. Remember- YOU are the professional. Maybe you only want to provide CFO-type services, or perhaps like me, you would prefer to deal with small startups, so you might offer a special package tailored to their needs.
Take Advantage of Apps and Technology
Data integrity and security is a massive concern for my ideal client and cloud accounting apps can help ease this concern. These days working in the cloud has its advantages, yet it comes with some disadvantages. Security is quite a concern these days. To protect your practice against today’s cyberthreats, add tools such as:
– LastPass for the security of passwords
– Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to ensure no one can hack into the internet to see what you are doing in real-time.
– There are also apps like Rewind that you can use to backup your clients’ QuickBooks Online data and quickly restore if needed.
Protect Your Value with Data Security
Many of my clients ask about the security of their data, as this is a real concern these days. What if the servers go down or are hacked and wiped clean of data? What about if you install an app that doesn’t integrate as nicely as you had hoped? You can use Rewind to protect the data and can ‘rewind’ back in time to before you integrated the app. There are many situations in which I have had to delete and re-do transactions – with Rewind, this is a thing of the past. I can now simply pick a point in time, restore the data from the date and time I selected, and start fresh.
Rewind also is not just for QuickBooks Online, and it does more than just backups – you can copy QuickBooks Online files too. It also integrates with ecommerce apps like Shopify and BigCommerce, so this provides extra protection for your clients.
Just imagine the value and peace of mind this brings to your firm and how you can use this extra layer of security as a selling point. In our firm, we now add Rewind to all new clients and can confirm that our ideal clients are impressed with the security that Rewind offers and appreciate this additional feature.
To recap, you protect your value with ongoing education, cherry-picking who you deal with, and offering services and packages topped up with apps that will attract your ideal client. By doing so, you’ll be more valuable to your clients, which you should be charging appropriately. Remember, your ideal client will see the value in your services, and will expect equally appropriately valued fees.