When you first start up it is often hard to know where to pitch your prices
There are three main ways of setting your prices and a number of variations on each
The traditional model is 1/salary, 1/3 overhead contribution and 1/3 profit. This should be a minimum if you want a sustainable and saleable business. If you are self-employed with no staff then you should still charge a comparable amounts as you are doing the work as well as running the business. You should also allow for your non-chargeable admin and marketing time. If you want to grow in future you will need to cover employee wages plus a profit margin for yourself without changing your prices too much.
Fixed pricing is more normal these days although, for bookkeeping, you may want to offer three months on an hourly rate before fixing. This means that you have more time to cover any teething problems or initial backlog plus you get to work out your likely ongoing hours.
Once clients are on fixed rate you can use repeating monthly invoices and they can pay you on standing order so you will save admin and credit control time as well as improving cashflow. Most clients also prefer regular outgoings.
The price can be fixed using on a cost plus model based on estimated hours or on value pricing.
This is often confused with fixed pricing but it is based on the value to the client irrespective of the cost.
I once wrote a single letter to HMRC which took no particular research and saved a client £2,400 in tax. The admin that I had to complete, in line with ICAEW guidelines, in order to take on the client actually took longer than writing the letter.
So what do you think I should have charged?
- £100 as the notional cost of my time to write the letter
- £300 as the cost of my time to speak to the client, carry out all the necessary new client admin including money laundering checks for HMRC and then the time to write the actual letter (this was a one-off piece of work)
- £800 as the client would still be better off by £1,600 if the appeal was successful
- Not a fixed fee but 50% of any tax saving
There’s a whole chapter on pricing in my book and even that is just the tip of the iceberg.
When we were kids the Summer holidays were something to look forward to but, as a working parent, they can be a mixed blessing.
We all make different choices on how much time we want/need to spend with our kids vs how much time we want/need to spend working. That can be anything from finding full time childcare so that important work is uninterrupted to arranging your work to spend the whole 6+ weeks with your kids.
If you are employed then you have the right to request flexible working. If you provide a foolproof plan for how you and your business owner can cover the necessary work then it is more likely to be accepted. If you run your own business then the responsibility lies with you anyway.
As well as professional childcare and holiday clubs the options include:
- working from home so that you can supervise your kids yourself. While this is great for some of the time it doesn’t provide quality time with your family or you may find small children too distracting.
- working evenings/weekends while the other parent, or somebody else, is available for childcare. This allows you to spend quality time with your kids but it can be harder to communicate with a team working conventional hours and it may be important to you for the whole family to spend time together.
- postponing non-urgent work or doing extra before the holidays. This can free up time during the holidays but there is additional pressure on you before and after your time off
- take on less work over the holiday period. There may be a natural lull in your business when fewer clients are around working themselves. This is easiest to do if you work for yourself. The downside is that this may also reduce your income so you will need to ensure that you have sufficient savings to cover the break.
- arranging reciprocal playdates for your kids with other parents trying to juggle the holidays. This gives your kids a change of scene and may keep them away from screens. If you have more than one child this can require pretty complex coordination.
- Holiday clubs can be useful for ad hoc childcare but they are often much shorter than a normal working day. Some clubs just supervise your kids whilst they are watching DVDs or playing on computer games so you’re paying for somebody else to let a screen babysit your darlings. Sports clubs can be good for older children but not everyone enjoys these.
- Electronic babysitters can be okay so don’t beat yourself up if you use them sometimes. Just try and mix in a bit of quality time with humans and some fresh air and exercise.
In practice you may choose a mixture of these and other methods.
You may well feel that you’re not working or parenting well enough over this period but just keeping the plates spinning is enough for now.
Please drop me a line with any other suggestions
You’ve probably seen a few in your time. The drunk falling out of the pub, absolutely intent on getting to his destination if only he could remember where he was going and how to get there.
Ask him his name and he can hopefully recall this but ask anything else about him (or her) and you may struggle for a coherent response. An incredible amount of energy put into going nowhere.
Too many businesses also seem to be reeling about with no idea of where they’re heading (stop reading now if you’re feeling in control) or how they’re going to get there. In this case it isn’t alcohol but just everyday busyness, firefighting and minor crises.
Take a moment and consider:
- What do you, the business owner, want out of life? (your life goals)
- What do you need from your business in order to achieve this? (your business goals)
- What does this look like financially? (your budget)
- How are you going to achieve this? (your action plan)
- What will this cost? (revise budget)
- Are there any financial or time constraints on the actions you can afford to take? (revise action plan)
- Does this still give you what you want? (check life/business goals and adjust budget/actions)
- Start driving
- Check that you are on the right track (management accounts and non-financial KPIs)
- Adjust course accordingly to take account of diversions (coaching satnav) or blockages (specific business advice or consultancy)
- Repeat until you reach your planned destination
If you need a hand then we can help with strategic planning days, budget days and/or regular coaching sessions or ad hoc advice to keep you on track.
Business is tougher when you go it alone.
Friends will be pleased to know that ‘The Numbers Business: how to build a successful cloud accountancy practice’ is now completed.
I’m particularly excited because Gary Turner, head honcho of Xero UK, has written a very kind and flattering foreward.
The final draft has been approved by my publisher, Sue Richardson Associates, and is now with them to produce covers, copy-edit, typeset and print ready for publication on 10 September.
If you would like to be notified of when the book is available to order then please let me know via the contact form.
- My next book will be on building a more generic business intended to help non-accountants to set up their own business.
- I will be writing an online course for Directors including one along the lines of finance for non-financial managers. Please use the contact form if you wish to be notified when this is available
I love ideas
When my son was small I’d praise him because he was full of ideas. And some of them were good ones. At the time of writing I’ve recently helped to judge a dragons’ den afternoon at a local primary school. Kids are so uninhibited in their thinking which is always great fun. (OK, perhaps not always fun as a parent digging your child out of scrapes but we usually laugh afterwards.)
As such I keep all my half decent ideas in a folder of post it notes, magazine articles, an ideas list and more detailed notes on my phone.
Even this article started off being typed on my phone as the thoughts just came to me between meetings.
For some time now I’ve been planning to write a book using the materials from my business articles, blogs, Money Matters talks and training workshops such as our Strategic Planning Day and Budget Day as well as our Directors’ Webinars. This was almost a pipe dream as it was so far behind growing a successful business myself (that’s taken a few years!) and then my June 20117 ironman attempt required 6 months of intensive training.
After my iron distance triathlon I knew that I’d need a new project to keep my interest so I spent my recovery week eating, sleeping and looking for something that excited me.
The following week I found myself putting together the outline of a business book. A mixture of business theories, my own practical experiences and stories of clients and friends. I also received my first payment for an article and a further two commissions which means that I am now a professional writer.
The framework of my first two books (one for accountants and the other for general business owners) came together quickly because I’ve been saving ideas and material for a long time. In the process I also found enough ideas for two further books although they will require more research and content. The first book ‘The Numbers Business: building a successful cloud accountancy practice’ is due for publication 10 September 2018
This is quite an exciting time but it also emphasises that you should never throw away a good idea. Even our quarterly Money Matters events came out of a file of ideas pulled together with the help of Evolution PR (thanks, Kerry) and a few guest speakers (thanks you lovely lot)
So get yourself a notebook, paper or electronic, to capture all the ideas that you have. Even if you’re not likely to use them for years.