You have a successful service orientated business but you are not making any money! It can be easy to ‘miss’ opportunities or bill incorrectly, or worse still be nervous about billing for your expertise and IP (intellectual property). Being confident about who you are, your offering and your rates is a sure fire way to ensure you are not throwing money away. You may be giving a lot of your time away for free on things like coffee meetings, phone calls or meetings with no chance of further business. Be smart about this, and don’t be afraid to say no to some of these meetings. If they are a true prospect, be sure to manage your time and the sharing of your IP in the initial meeting stages and then work towards a point where you start to charge for your time/service/advice. Be transparent about this, it will also help you work out where the real business opportunities lie. Don’t be scared to talk money and terms upfront.
Look at your clients. Just because you have an impressive portfolio, doesn’t mean that you are making money.
Are you charging on your terms or theirs? Are you stuck in a contract that favours one party (generally them)? It might well be time to look at who you are doing business with and identify the ones that are taking up time and not paying for it. Here are some steps to consider that will help you on your way to billing: a) What you are worth, and b) What are you charging for the work you are currently doing These are my top tips for consideration:
- Do you know your actual hourly cost to the business and the corresponding rate you need to charge to make money (take 2.5 times as a guide)?
- Do you have a budget?
- Are you including profit, in your calculations?
- Do you have a tracking system for time, leads and general business that can make you more effective?
- Are you charging for program set up and planning and not just implementation?
- Are you charging out of pocket expenses?
- Are you looking at ways that less expensive support staff can assist you in the delivery of the service (without compromising your offering)?
- Do you give your team achievable targets?
- Are you transparent with your team on what you need to achieve to be a profitable business?
- Do you have terms of business and are these sent to new clients?
- Are you reviewing rates with clients annually so that you can increase as required?
If possible, take a look around at your current competitors and see what they are charging, and for what (and at what stage of the business cycle). Talking money with clients and staff can be difficult, especially for women for some reason. It can also be liberating to share with the team and set staff and team goals. When it comes to your clients, you can bet that your successful competitors have got this sort of stuff all sorted. Sometimes it takes outside help to get you on your way, however, good help is out there if you need it and there is no shame in asking for it. After all, this is the ultimate profitability of your business that we are talking about.