How should I prepare for my first client meeting?

I opened a bottle of champagne when I got my first enquiry from my hand delivered mailshot. Then Iwondered how to prepare for my first meeting. Over the years I found a way which worked for me.

You need to have some idea of your pricing. Don’t get caught on the hop or you’ll probably price lower. I used to keep a sheet with various prices to consult or you may invest in software which prices for you. Later we put our starting prices on the webaite to filter for better quality enquiries.

The reason I had a price list with me was:

1. In case I didn’t know

2. I think it was Paul Shrimpling or Steve Pipe who pointed out that people accept prices better from a price list than from your head

Before the meeting do a bit of basic background research. Google, Companies House, their website and social media accounts as well as asking around. No need for a private investigator, just what’s in the piblic domain.

Confirm the meeting 24 hours beforehand. Include directions of how to find you.

Have an agenda for the meeting.

1. Ask about their business

2. Ask about their accounting needs (and why they’re changing accountant)

3. Explain how you can help with exactly what they’ve said. Use their own words if possible. 

4. If you can’t help don’t push it, refer them elsewhere if you can.

5. Quote for the service discussed

6. Ask if they want to proceed or if they’d like you to email the quote and speak again next week

7. Generate email quote or engagement letter etc as soon as you get back to the office. Look at Practice Ignition or Go Proposal as soon as you can afford it. They can be used to generate the “paperwork” in the meeting itself

8. Engagement letter for company plus each director, 64-8 for each, invoice, standing order or direct debit form. All can go out electronically for online signature. Also professional courtesy letter for former accountant.

9. Set up all files/directories once engagement letter is signed

10. Celebrate

How much should I save before taking the leap into running my own business?

I always recommend having 12 months living costs, less is you already have some established income

1. This means that you will only take on good quality clients and not be tempted to discount or take unsuitable work just to get somebody signed up. 

2. You will feel better if you aren’t trying to bootstrap in the business and at home too. 

3. Allow a couple of years to get back to where you were financially but there’s a huge variation deoending on the nature of the business and clients, how much time you put in, how much money you invest in automations etc.