Friday, 21 August 2009

What's The Right Price?

How much do you charge for your services?

How comfortable do you feel talking about money with clients or potential clients?

Are you happy with how much money you end up with at the end of each month?

Consider these three questions, and think about how you charge.

If you are not reacting positively to all three of these questions, you may not be charging the right price.

Pricing can be a huge challenge in any service business. Think about it, you are asking people to pay for your value.

Yes you are completing tasks for them, but really your value comes down to what you bring to the table. So how do you prove how valuable you are?

First, you have to start believing it yourself. Here's an exercise for you. I call it the Skills Inventory.

Take a sheet of paper and start to write down all the things you know how to do in business. I found this easiest to start with my first job (yes, it was a long time ago!) and move forward. Think about the systems you have used, the things you have done and write them all down.

Then think about the other things you have learned as well - did you manage people? did you take training courses?

This is meant to be a super comprehensive list of the things you know how to do. It will likely take more than one sitting to get everything down on that paper. Don't leave anything out!

As you compile your skills inventory, you will start to see the training, experience and skills you are bringing to each and every client you work with... it's your VALUE!

Only when you know your value, can you charge properly for it.

So what's the right price to charge your clients? That's entirely up to you.

You select the type of business you want to operate. You choose when you will work. You know how much you need to earn. And you also know what your expenses are.

So you determine what the right price is for YOU.

Many VAs I know ask what the going rate is for stuff. I say it's irrelevant. You need to decide this for yourself and then get comfortable charging it.

Conversations about money are easy when you know what you are worth, and can articulate that to clients and potential clients.

Try it for yourself - and let me know how you feel after you do your Skills Inventory! It's an exercise I love to do (it makes you feel really good!)

And once you are feeling great about how much you are worth, join me for this week's free Back to Basics training call: How To Find Clients (and then join me weekly for these awesome free training sessions!)

Tracey D'Aviero is a veteran VA and Founder of Your VA Mentor. Tracey trains and mentors professional women and men who are brand new to the VA industry or who have been struggling to make their business successful. Her mission is to educate professionals on how to build and grow successful and profitable virtual businesses in the VA industry by implementing systems and smart principles. To get information about Tracey's upcoming programs and free resources,

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Cleaning Business Tips - Keep Costs Down To Improve Bids

A cleaning business is an exciting opportunity without a lot of investment. But do you find yourself consistently losing bids to your competitors? Have you tried to become more competitive only to find that you can't cover the costs of running your business? If so, it is time to lower your operating costs so you can win more bids and still make your desired profit.

Here are some of the biggest operating mistakes you might be making as a new cleaning business owner:

1) You use RTU (ready to use) chemicals.

Ready to use chemicals are very convenient. They come in a case of 12 quarts that you can unpack, attach a spray nozzle, and be ready to clean. The only problem is you'll be paying $3, $4, or even higher per quart just to have someone else add water. The solution? Buy concentrated. Every chemical I have ever needed to order came in concentrated form and the savings are significant. One of my favorite restroom cleaners cost approximately $3.40 a quart RTU. Concentrated price? Less than $0.30. It may cost a little more upfront, but you will get a lot more chemical per quart for much less.

2) You're offering too many services.

Just because your competitors offer every janitorial service imaginable doesn't mean you have to. Start with what you can afford and build your business gradually. Office cleaning alone requires only basic supplies and can be very profitable. Seek out the smaller jobs, and use that money to buy a carpet extractor or a floor buffer to offer additional services later on.

3) You're buying equipment you don't yet need.

It is only natural to want to be prepared to do any job that comes your way, but you may not need specialty equipment for several months after getting your first account. Hold off on buying a van and truck mounted carpet cleaning system until you truly need it. And hold off on buying an expensive burnisher until you're regularly called for stone floor refinishing projects. Start small and simple such as VCT stripping and waxing; you'll be able to provide beautiful, shiny floors for little cost and great profit.

4) You're not measuring during walkthroughs.

Many cleaners smile and nod during a walkthrough and end up guessing how much time is needed to clean a facility. Don't make this mistake. If you want to be competitive you must measure the facility you're bidding on. Not only does it make you look good to the prospect, but it allows you to bid accurately. Accurate bids win profitable accounts.

5) Leasing an office before you need one.

An office lease is the biggest overhead nightmare I can think of for new cleaning businesses. Unless you offer janitorial inventory in a storefront there is absolutely no reason to lease office space. Yes, it makes you look professional. Yes, it makes you feel important. But when it comes down to profit margins and keeping overhead in check, you need to leave it out of your expenses.

When you're trying to win bids, your expenses count. They really do. When you're competing with other companies who are adding the high cost of their RTU products and lease payments into every bid, it becomes much easier to beat them. Start small, and build your business over time. You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Ten Things You Should Do Before Going Freelance

Going out on your own is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. We all have notions (for better or worse), about what it will be like, but what's the reality? I went out on my own almost 10 years ago and here are 10 things I'm glad I did, wish I'd done or learned along the way.

1) Moonlight while you're still at your current job.

The most successful entrepreneurs spent a couple of years working full days at their regular job, and early morning, nights and weekends on their new business. It's not for the faint hearted, but laying the groundwork before your income depends upon it significantly increases your chances of building the business you want to have.

2) Do your research before you make the jump.

A successful and fulfilling business doesn't happen by accident. You need to know what makes you unique, who your ideal client is, and what they struggle with.

3) Craft your compelling pitch.

Now you know all of the above, it's time to craft your compelling pitch. Instead of thinking of a pitch as a 30-second synopsis of everything you do, think of it as a conversation starter. As Seth Godin puts it: "The best elevator pitch doesn't pitch your project. It pitches the meeting about your project. The best elevator pitch is true, stunning, brief and it leaves the listener eager (no, desperate) to hear the rest of it"

4) Have a couple of clients lined up.

Starting out with a few clients helps take the heat off in those first few months. If it's not a conflict with your current position, take prospects out for lunch and pitch your services. Remember to make it all about them and how they will benefit, not about you and your new venture.

5) Work it. Every Day.

Being an entrepreneur means doing everything (at least in the beginning) - including things you hate and things you're not good at. Does the idea of making a cold call send shivers down your spine? Push through the fear and pick up the phone anyway. It won't be as bad as you think. And even if it is, you're no worse off than if you didn't call.

6) Don't take yourself too seriously.

We tend to over-think things, and that's often driven by a fear of what others will think. Remind yourself often of Eleanor Roosevelt's wise words "You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do."

7) Get an accountability partner.

Going it alone can be isolating, so support is crucial. One of the best things I do for my business is participate in an accountability group. We set 90-day goals and meet via Skype every week to share our intentions are for the week, what we need help with, and to offer resources and support to each other. At the end of the week we check in via email and share what we achieved. I swear I do most of the stuff on my list because I told my group I would!

8) Network, network, network.

Now I realize that networking is not something most of us get excited about, but I've come to realize that once you 'get' the rules and find your tribe, it's actually really fun. Modern networking is built around starting conversations, forming authentic relationships and focusing on giving, rather than getting. The great thing about this type of networking is that you can be yourself, release any negative emotions around 'selling' and feel great when you connect with someone who has a genuine need for your services or knows someone else who does. This is not about short-term gain, but slowly building your relationships and your reputation. It takes time, but the pay off is truly worth it.

9) Build your list.

I cannot overstate the importance of building a list of good quality prospects. Your subscribers are people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say and will potentially buy or refer your services to others. So how do you go about building a quality list?

a) Newsletters, blogs and social media are a great way to share content that builds the 'know, like and trust' factor. Not sure what to share? Focus on your client's challenges or aspirations and offer solutions and inspiration.

b) Be consistent. Whether you decide to send out a newsletter weekly, bi-monthly, monthly or quarterly, be clear about how often people can expect to hear from you and deliver when you say you will.

c) Share great content. Remember, this is about your audience, not an opportunity for you to share your random thoughts and observations. If you wouldn't submit it to a publication, don't send it to your list.

Etiquette tip: never add someone to your list without their permission. If someone gives you their business card, follow up with an email saying how great it was to meet them and that you'd love to stay in touch. Briefly describe what you share in your newsletter and ask if they'd like to be added. Be sure to give them an out so they can graciously say no if they don't want to be included.

10) Be persistent.

No one said it would be easy, but if you're doing something that adds value and meaning to the lives of others, it's worth it. Know when you need to push through the tough times and when you need to take a little break (which could be as simple as going for a walk or treating yourself to ice cream cone). And don't forget to celebrate the small wins along the way.

Good luck!

Successful freelancers and entrepreneurs know that planning is foundation of a thriving business. Justine Clay is a business coach for creative professionals who need help positioning themselves more effectively to their ideal clients. Click here to receive her free video series: 6 Ways To Get More Dream Clients

Sunday, 17 September 2006

Top Five Ways to Market Your Coaching or Therapy Practice

First, let's clarify that these are marketing strategies for getting private pay clients and not about client enrollment.

If this important distinction is new to you:

"Marketing" is communicating what you do for the purpose of generating prospects. 
"Enrollment" is connecting with your prospects for the purpose of getting hired as their private pay coach or therapist.
It must be said that these strategies don't apply if your source of clients is an insurance company, employer, or other third-party payer; you wouldn't need to worry about marketing or enrollment, and you most likely wouldn't be reading this article.

Many newbies to a private pay practice assume that marketing is how you get clients, but I can tell you from personal experience that you can "market 'til the cows come home" and not get any clients! Getting clients is a two-part equation that starts with marketing and requires following up with enrollment strategies. The good news is that the most effective ways to market and enroll clients are easy to learn and free or low-cost.

Effective marketing assumes that you have a good foundation for your practice, including a clear, identifiable specialty (what you do) and target audience (your niche, who you do it for), otherwise, that's where you must start.

So, let's discuss the top five ways to market your coaching or therapy practice. This list is not in rank order.

Top Five Ways to Market Your Coaching or Therapy Practice

1. Website Prospect Generator

Otherwise known as your "opt in offer," this is a valuable piece of content (special report, e-book, audio, video, e-program, etc) targeted to your niche that struts your best stuff and converts website "visitors" into prospects.

2. Presentations

Both in person and virtual (tele-seminars and webinars) targeted for your niche that address their biggest goal and solution to their biggest problem. Most important is your "signature presentation" which is high value and struts your best stuff, that you want to give anywhere, anytime at a moment's notice.

3. Joint Ventures and Fundraisers

Partner with complementary professionals, businesses, and organizations that target your niche to provide group programs (seminars, classes, workshops, etc) to help you reach large numbers of people you couldn't reach otherwise.

Fundraisers include schools, churches, and non-profits; you propose an event for their audience featuring you as guest speaker and they keep the proceeds or donations (e.g. "Suggested donation for this event- $15.00").

4. Private Events

Host a private seminar/semi-social event for your network (ask them to bring a friend) or ask a champion (supporter, referral source) to host one for their network (I call this the "Tupperware Party"). Meeting with small, targeted groups where the "know, like, trust" factor is high is very effective.

5. Build Your Referral System

Certainly, asking for referrals is something we must do (and many private practice professionals are shy about this), but building your referral "system" means that you put together a large network of referral sources, research, cultivate, and build your relationships those referral sources, and always seek to expand your referral sources.

It is a well researched fact that word-of-mouth referral is by far the most effective way that private practice professionals get clients. You don't need to wait by the phone hoping someone will make a referral or call- get out there and build your referral relationships!

Tuesday, 3 May 2005

Need To Call A Locksmith? Read These Tips First!

Most people don't bother thinking about a locksmith until they find themselves needing one. Normal practice is to just insert your key into the door lock and enter. The following information will help you find a reputable locksmith.

If you need to paint your house, cover all locks before painting doors. If you mistakenly seal the hole off, your key no longer will fit and you will have to get a locksmith. It might take a while to cover each lock, but it will save time and expense because you won't end up having to have the locks changed later.

Always be leery of locksmiths who want to charge more once they arrive at the scene. Some will try and get more money than they deserve. If someone tries to tell you the services will cost significantly more than the quote you were given on the phone, cancel the job and call someone else.

You may think you'll never need a locksmith, but you should be prepared just in case. Do your homework before you are in a pinch, and you can have someone you can rely on if you ever have an emergency. Then, save the number in your mobile phone.

Avoid extra expenses by calling the locksmith in his business hours. A locksmith will charge more for evening and night-time service. The fee can be double or more the standard fee after hours.

Get some references and professional credentials from a locksmith before letting him into your residence. Kick it up a notch and make sure to call the references. You will want the best possible job done for your home.

When you are able to, Google any locksmith you wish to hire. The Internet contains many trustworthy reviews. Don't rely on reviews or testimonials found on the locksmith's website. You also need to refer to yelp when you're going to hire a locksmith.

Check out a locksmith's credentials before letting him enter your home. Verify both their address and phone number. Thanks to the World Wide Web, it's actually pretty simple to make sure you hire someone you can trust.

While you may want to get a great deal on services from a locksmith, the last thing to get is a service from someone not charging a competitive rate. Too low of a price may indicate that they are unskilled. Get a number of quotes, eliminate the lowest and the highest quote, then hire one from the middle of the list.

Find a good locksmith before you actually need one. Your choices won't be as good if you wait. You may also end up giving someone who has questions qualifications access to your valuable possessions.

Ask the locksmith how long they've been doing business. The longer it has been, the more reliable they are. Make sure that you do not trust a locksmith right off the bat.

The Internet can be very helpful if you need a locksmith. There are many places where people share their experiences both good and bad with different services. Whether it was a good one or a not so good one, you can find all kinds of reviews. It may not be all you need to make a decision, but it can be a major factor.

You can always Google the locksmith that is sent to help. Don't be reluctant to do it; you must protect yourself. Should you find some information that is troubling, call and request a new locksmith from the company.

Locksmiths aren't generally a topic of one's daily conversation; however, they provide a valuable service. You have been given some information about locksmiths that can help you. Having issues with keys and locks is something that can cause great trouble, so be sure you consider the tips pretense.

Tuesday, 6 April 2004

Booklet Tips - Consider New Markets

Do you feel like you've spent all your enthusiasm on the audience you've been serving with your bite size brilliance? Maybe you think you've said everything you've got to say or that it's all been said before by you or by your colleagues or by people you don't even know. Now what?

Your enthusiasm matters more than a lot of other prompts in what you are doing. It's crucial to have a driving force of some kind woven into what you share and how you share it. No matter how big a market you've identified and how easy it is to access them, if they are not people you really truly want to serve, the rest is moot.

When you are excited, it doesn't matter who else is saying what. Your perspective, your experience, your zeal and passion set you apart from the crowd. Plus the crowd you have been reaching is one tiny speck on the face of the planet, even if you have followers that reach into the hundreds of thousands of people.

So what's the magic here? It can be a small tweak, a tiny turn, a minor modification that makes all the difference in the world - in a world that is huge, that no one person can possibly access on their own in one lifetime.

Imagine this - you have information that is easily suited for elementary school teachers. Many manufacturers, retailers, educational institutions, and even religious organizations and other endless points of access can and do reach those educators. However, you are not an elementary teacher by profession, and have no first-hand experience of being one to anyone other than your four-legged children. While your content is great and the audience is huge, you are lukewarm about reaching out to that market of elementary teachers.

Everything that you wrote for the self-care of elementary school educators is completely valid and applicable for other professional people outside the educational field - of either gender, single or coupled, of any age, parent or not, teacher or not. And you have spent most of your adult life being a professional person, so you do have personal experience that lets you understand that from the inside out.

All of a sudden, by replacing one word in the title and maybe three sentences that referenced students within the booklet, the information you wrote, the products and services you developed take on a whole new life. Everything for elementary teachers now becomes focused on reaching and supporting professional people and the companies and groups who also want to reach them.

You may be going to the same large-quantity prospects as you identified before, entering through a different division of their business or with a modified message. Instead of approaching a "big box" office supply store to offer something unique to attract teachers to see the new classroom supplies for the coming year, the conversation could be on attracting busy professionals to test new productivity tools that help them accomplish more with less time and enjoy a greater sense of accomplishment, offering your product as a gift for coming into the store at certain times or making a purchase of certain (or any) products.

ACTION - Notice who you are drawn to based on your life experiences and overall interests. It is likely that your bite size brilliance is already connected to those people in some way. Even if you are in the general industry or profession that appeals to you, you could increase your enthusiasm and your results with a small shift to a specialty within that field.

© 2015

Paulette Ensign, Tips Products International Founder, never dreamed of selling a million+ copies of her 16-page tips booklet 110 Ideas for Organizing Your Business Life, much less in four languages and various formats without a penny on advertising. She's made a handsome living and cross-country move from New York to San Diego recycling those same 3500 words since 1991. With over forty years' experience worldwide with small businesses, corporations, and professional associations in numerous industries, she lives a mile from the beach, keeping her young at heart.

Wednesday, 23 April 2003

What to Consider When Scaling Your Business Model

What You Should Keep in Mind When Deciding to Grow Your Business

Regardless of your background in business or what you are offering consumers, beginning a new business is a very risky venture. Statistics show that almost 90 percent of all start-ups fail, and of those 90 percent, roughly three out of four companies failed because they decided to scale up too quickly or too soon. While this may seem like a bleak outlook, the good news is that premature business scaling is completely preventable. Here are some things to keep in mind when scaling your business model.

Consider the State of Your Industry Over the Next Few Years

The state of your industry has a lot more to do with your business's success than you may believe. Before scaling your business model, consider what the state of the industry may be over the next three, five, or even ten years. Will the industry be able to support the growth of your business? Will you be able to see some profit before the product or service you are offering becomes obsolete? These, among others, are important questions you need to ask yourself before beginning your business growth.

Make Sure Every Aspect of Your Business is Scalable

Many small business owners believe that scaling their business is as simple as acquiring more customers and more sales while still using their same business operations. It is important to keep in mind that true scaling usually involves several overhauls of both your business's internal and external operations. Do you have recruitment processes in place to hire more employees to support the demand? Will the technology your business currently uses support a higher workload of increased transactions, accounts, and customers? Scaling your business is more than just selling more of what you are offering.

Think About Your Businesses Culture

When you scale your business, you will often have to hire more employees in order to support the larger operation. Many small business owners are used to working in small groups, usually less than ten employees, and often do not understand how the business culture and dynamic will change with a larger group of employees working together toward a common goal. When your business begins to grow, focusing on your company's culture will become very important.

Some questions you may want to consider include: "What is your company's culture now?" "What kind of culture do you want your business to have?" "How will you focus on, manage, and grow the company culture you desire?" By documenting best practices and guidelines from others, it will be possible to grow and nurture a culture that will work for your business as well as helping to formalize your strategic ideals, company mission, and other aspects of your growing business.

Keep Short Term and Long Term Goals in Balance

An important part of beginning and sustaining growth is making sure your goals are in balance. Investing in new technology, and/or a new business infrastructure is a short term goal that can help to lead to longer term growth. But, working toward a long term goal will likely put the shorter term goals on hold. It is important to keep the long term impacts to your business and the short term achievements toward traction is vital for business growth and can often be more of an art than a science.

Stacy O'Quinn is a work from home professional also serving as a small business mentor to dozens or entrepreneurs.