IN ONE-TO-ONE training sessions, your job, as the trainer, is to help your client (the student) achieve their individual goals. This is very different to classroom or group training, where the purpose is to get students through the prescribed course content in the prescribed time.
Now that it’s well-known that nearly every person learns at a different pace to the person sitting next to them, online training has become popular because it allows an individual to learn at their own pace, rather than trying to keep up with the rest of the class.
Online vs. one-to-one training
Online and one-to-one training are similar in many ways. They both allow students to learn at their own pace, to pick and choose which modules they start and end with, and to practice until they feel confident that they’ve learned the content thoroughly.
But one-to-one training provides students with something online training can’t: guidance from an expert. This is important for some people who don’t feel comfortable learning on their own, or who need the added motivation of having a trainer with them.
The question for trainers is whether they can make it worthwhile printing out workbooks, driving to their client, finding parking, and spending their time training students in-person.
Combining online and one-to-one training
Some students will only require guidance on certain modules or at certain points during their training. For instance, most people need help getting started with MYOB, but only require help during the advanced modules of Excel. That has a lot to do with each individual person’s soft skills, and experience with the software package in question. (Most people are already very familiar with Excel, for example, but have almost no knowledge of MYOB until they start learning.)
The benefits of combining one-to-one training with the structure of an online training course
I’ve been a Bookkeeper for more than 20 years and find more and more business owners are asking for training because today’s bookkeeping tasks aren’t quite as easy as the software companies make out. Learning how to use bookkeeping software one-to-one combined with an online course is a great way to learn because, as a trainer, I cover all the topics my clients need in a logical order which follows the flow of the course and which will also help them in their daily operations, but clients can also learn what they need to specific to their own situation.”
— Tracey O’Neill, Registered BAS Agent and Bookkeeper, QuickBooks Pro Advisor
IF YOU’RE A TRADIE, working as a plumber, builder or carpenter, handyman, gardener or electrician, then you probably already know that some of the best jobs come by referral.
Identify “real world” marketing opportunities
During my recent renovation of an investment property in Newcastle, most of the good tradies would tell me, “Someone you’re working on a job with on Monday will ask you to do a job for them somewhere else on Friday, or a neighbour of a client will ask you to do some work for them.” I soon saw from other tradespeople how “work can come to you just because someone happens to be walking by while you’re on the job” — gardeners get a lot of work this way, for example.
The important thing in this scenario is to act efficiently in finding out what the potential client needs, finding out what else is important, and then selling them on your services. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kristine Seymour, an experienced sales person and business builder, for the Sales Training Course at the Australian Small Business Centre (ASBC). She spoke in detail about how to act when your future income depends on how well you can sell. This Sales Training Course is available on the EzyLearn LMS.
Take advantage of business opportunities
This course is also available to new licencees for the National Bookkeeping Business Opportunity. The key to getting new clients is to be proactive and take advantage of these on-the-spot business opportunities by using some “real world” marketing tactics. These skills can be used even if you are just looking for part-time clients or doing bookkeeping or marketing as a side hustle — more on side hustles in a forthcoming blog.
Some “real-world marketing” examples
Another good example of a real-world marketing tactic is to conduct a letterbox drop in the local area where you’ve just started work. Clearly, this lets residents in the area know you’re working there, what you do, and that you are available.
This alone may lead to thousands of dollars in additional revenue if even just a few people get in touch. But always, it’s vital to keep track of what marketing you do and where leads are coming from. It’s vital to schedule quotes and start dates for work and so forth, and have a handle on Office Productivity Software like Microsoft Office or Google G Suite. These will not only help you organise your workload, but you’ll also appear organised and professional to your clients.
Google My Business, Google Site & Google Maps – ALL FREE
DURING A HOME RENOVATION project for an investment property I was involved with recently, I needed to find lots of different tradespeople in the Newcastle area — and quickly.
I also wanted to look up trade tips that would help me solve a few renovation issues, and it made me realise just how important Google Maps and local searches are.
This is in addition to local classifieds and online services like Gumtree and Airtasker.
Create a free website with Google Sites
A local painter and handyman named Mark helped me with many aspects of the Newcastle renovation project and we talked a lot about the ways he could increase his profile in the Newcastle area to grow his business.
I created him a simple website for free using Google G Suite’s Sites application, and also set up Mark’s Google My Business Account, so he would show up in local search listings and on Google Maps — all of which is free with a Google G Suite account. (A G Suite account costs as little as $5 per month, per user.)
By the way, I suggested that he shouldn’t take a photograph for his website after he’d just gotten a buzz cut, but he did it anyway! 😉
Google is a cheap and easy way to get online
Using the productivity tools contained in Google G Suite Course is a great way for businesses to get organised with great SPAM filtering email, calendars and scheduling, tasks and to do lists and much more, and using Google Sites enabled Mark to get online cheaply and easily. And because you’re using a Google product (Google Sites) to create your website, it’s a simple way to make sure you’ll be discovered in Google Maps and local Search results.
Although WordPress offers greater functionality, and is a more robust content management system, it also requires more technical skills to ensure your website is able to be discovered in Google Search and Maps results. It’s also a little trickier to integrate with Google G Suite and other productivity apps. (We offer training courses in WordPress for this reason.)
If you need help setting up your Google G Suite account, and would like to learn how to set up a Google Sites website to increase your online presence for your business, we cover Google G Suite in our Digital and Social Media Online Training Course. Visit our website for more information or to enrol.
Take, for example, a tradesperson I met recently. This tradesman is a painter and he’d been in business for a while before he realised his prices were set too low, and despite all the business he was getting as a result, it was actually costing him money. (We cover more detailed, real-life case studies like this in our micro courses.)
Small jobs are important because they keep the home fires burning, so to speak. But you need a good balance of small jobs and bigger projects, with the small jobs being completed around or in the middle of the larger ones.
If you’re only getting lots of small, one-off jobs that you spend more time to travelling to than it takes to complete the work, this is a good indication that your prices are too low. For jobs like these, either charge for travel time or a call-out fee.
For small jobs … charge for travel time or a call-out fee.
You’re too busy to plan ahead
If you find that, in order to make ends meat, you need to keep yourself so busy that you don’t have time to plan your working week, then your prices are too low. You should be able to plan out your weeks so customers know when to expect you, and so you can be as productive and efficient as possible — if you have two jobs in the same area, for instance, planning ahead will allow you to go to those jobs on the same day.
Use a tool like Google Calendar from G Suite to organise your days, and keep in touch with customers along the way so they know to expect you.
You can’t afford to pay for help
Setting your prices lower than your competitors may be one way to win jobs, but the downside is that you’re constrained to completing the work entirely yourself. The tradesman, a painter, whom I was speaking with, told me about a time he couldn’t afford to find another painter to help prepare walls or pitch in with the painting because his prices were too low.
If you’re not able to pass jobs onto other businesses in your industry — subcontracting — and still clip the ticket, or you’re not able to afford to use a portion of the money you’d earn to hire someone to complete part of the job, you’re charging too little.
You’re too busy to invoice promptly
Just as it’s important to plan your work weeks in advance, it’s equally important that you invoice customers for the work you’ve completed in a timely manner. If you find that you often don’t have the time to invoice customers until a week or a month has passed, there’s a deficiency in your business processes. Use accounting software like Xero so you can invoice on the go.
We cover setting prices the market — and your business — will bear in our EzyStartup Course. Visit our website for more information and to enrol.
Check out our Spring Specials!
We have a host of online training course specials for the spring season — take a look!
Cloud accounting software’s greatest innovation was not putting the software in the cloud; it was introducing bank feeds. You’ll learn how to set up bank feeds in the latest version of Xero in our Xero Bank Reconciliations and Journal Entries course. For now however, we’re going to explain why you should — whether you’re a business owner doing your own bookkeeping or whether you’re a bookkeeper employed to do it for your clients — be using bank feeds.
Bank feeds in brief
A bank feed is an automatically created list of the transactions (spent and received) in your bank account that is imported into your Xero accounting software. For this to occur, you have to give Xero permission to access your account. Some people feel funny about this, but bank feeds have been around for so long now that, just like online shopping, there’s really nothing to worry about. I won’t go into how the technology works, but I will say that no one looks at your account data; you’re just allowing the free flow of information between your bank and Xero.
Direct bank feeds save time (and indirectly, money)
There was a time when you or your bookkeeper had to wait until your bank statement arrived before any transactions could be reconciled in your accounting software, usually at the end of the month. For businesses with a lot of transactions, either in the form of receivables or payables or both, reconciling a month’s worth is a finicky job that’s prone to errors.
With bank feeds, transactions will show up in your accounting software as soon as the payment leaves your account or credit card. If you (or your bookkeeper) get in the habit of reconciling your account on a daily, twice weekly or weekly basis, it makes it easier to accurately code each transaction because you’re only dealing with a few at a time. This results in fewer errors and fewer hours spent fixing them, and that saves money (read: time = money).
DETERMINING YOUR PRICES, and whether you’re selling yourself too cheap, is a critical element in the success of your business, and in your own success as well.
Our EzyStartUp Course covers setting prices in some detail as there are many factors you need to consider and include in your prices to ensure you’re not just competitive — but that you’re also drawing a living wage.
There’s a theory that low prices attract more clients and that, in doing so, you’ll be able to earn more than if you had higher prices and only a few customers. This model does work, but it’s usually only in relation to big supermarkets or chain department stores. Take, for example, Woolies and Coles each trying to outdo each other with the cheapest bread and milk — and more recently, Bunnings and Masters who’ve gone head-to-head over the price of hardware items like paint.
But smaller retailers have rarely been able to compete with big ones, and it’s largely the reason why there are fewer independently owned retail shops now than there were 30 or 40 years ago. And gradually this mentality has started to seep into other areas of business, including the area of professional services.
Reasons why setting your prices cheap doesn’t work
Even though cheap prices will generally bring you more clients, there’s good reasons why having a lot of clients paying you very little is bad for business. Here’s a couple:
1. Lots of clients paying very little means you’ll work like crazy
If you’re going to outdo your competitors with low rates, then you’ll need to employ staff or find other contractors willing to subcontract the work from you for even lower prices, otherwise you’ll find yourself working like a crazy person in order to make ends meet.
I know there’s that old saying which goes something like, “If you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” but I also know that living in a capitalist society means having to pay for stuff, and unfortunately, very few banks accept bags of love as a mortgage repayment.
It doesn’t matter how much you love what you do, you need to ensure you’re remunerated fairly for it. You may choose to set your prices lower to get those first few clients but you need to adjust them later as you become more established.
You may choose to set your prices lower to get those first few clients but you need to adjust them later as you become more established.
2. Cheap Seems “Cheap”
Everyone loves a bargain, but there’s a difference between something that is well priced and something that is plain cheap. If your prices are drastically cheaper than your nearest competitor – and that includes other small businesses and sole traders – and you can’t justify why (“I don’t have the same overheads because I work from home”), then people are going to wonder why.
Cheap rates reek of one of three things:
you’re not very good at your job
or your work is substandard, either because of one of the aforementioned reasons or because you simply don’t have the time/care/both.
None of those things are appealing to businesses looking to hire a contractor, and more often than not, most businesses will go with the slightly more expensive option.
There are many things to consider when setting your prices, which is why we include it as a subject in our EzyStartUp Course. However, as a general rule of thumb, researching other businesses in your industry will help you to understand how much you can expect to earn, and should serve as a good starting off point for your business.
Check out our Spring Specials!
We have a host of online training course specials for the spring season — take a look!
MYOB Account Right Plus Has Inventory Management, But…
The premium MYOB product with the PLUS on the end of its name has always come with Inventory and Payroll. These have been the major services that justify the premium price that users have been willing to pay. Now Xero comes with it as standard! Is it another nail in MYOB’s coffin?
We’ve added a new team member, Sue from Yarra Junction in Victoria, and she has over 20 years experience performing bookkeeping and administration work for various clients as well as running her own business. Sue is writing a training guide that demonstrates how inventory (which was just announced this year at Xero) works. We’re using the same structure and information we use in our popular MYOB training course so you can see directly how the software programs are different from each other – apart from Xero being completely in the cloud so you can access it from any device anywhere.
The great thing about Sue…
Sue highlights yet again one of the great features about running an online business and working remotely in the cloud. Any business can work with staff or remote contractors from anywhere (in the world!). Sue is located over one hour’s drive from Melbourne and I’m sure the commute would be hell – it would cost her time and money in transport – yet because we operate on online environment our team are all over Australia! No more travel time, no more traffic, no more sitting in a carpark on the city roads in peak hour. Just a good internet connection and some competent computer skills and we’re off.
If you’re not sure by now, you’ll be happy to know that my focus has always been to help people learn how to use software. Why? So they can get the job they’re after or start their own business. If you like, you can watch a short video (sorry for not shaving for it!) where I talk about my Work at Home Seminar (or WAHSeminar) which is a program we’re constantly working on to help people operate a business or telework from their own home.
If you haven’t already read about it, read the blog I wrote about teleworking centres that are springing up all over regional areas of Australia. Make sure you ‘like’ this blog and share it with your friends on Facebook because the more we all encourage teleworking and the use of technology the more we’ll be able to take back dozens of lost hours each week in travel time (and cost).
All existing Xero course students receive this training
Like all EzyLearn courses, we offer all our training courses for one low price and include every training resource we create. This Xero training course content is the same – every student who has enrolled into the Xero course within the last 12 months will be able to access these new training resources when they’re published.
If you are a business looking to move across to Xero, feel free to write your questions or comments. If you are trying to find a way of working from home, please make contact. We’d love for you to share with us what you are going through. We can very probably help – and others can learn from it.
A mortgage for your home is a huge debt, particularly for those living in the swelling capital cities with soaring house prices. The pro and cons of buying your own house and living in it are:
You don’t pay capital gains tax on a property you live in, but
You can’t claim the interest component of your loan
The big problem with this is the interest charge – you can’t claim the cost of it yet it’s a massive component of each and every payment you make on your mortgage. You’d need your house price to go up at least at the interest rate you are paying to make it a good investment – and right now you’d be doing fine (perhaps except in Perth now).
Bigger payments reduce the interest paid
Our Microsoft Excel Training Course now includes an Excel spreadsheet file that will help you see just how much money you’d save if you paid even a small amount off extra each month!
You can use the mortgage comparison file to compare two mortgages, make extra payments or even shorten the term of the loan to see how much you’d need to pay each month if you want to pay your mortgage off quicker.
I don’t want to turn this into a financial education blog, but there are several reasons to open this spreadsheet and start seeing the resulting figures to workout the best way to allocate the money you earn. Interest rates are at record lows, house prices ‘may’ be peaking, some people say that Australian banks are so highly leveraged to the residential property market that they’ll need to hold more capital reserves.
Either way you look at it, why not use your Microsoft Excel skills and play with some calculations to see how much better off you could be if you are financially prudent now. You can also use this Microsoft Excel file to do a stress test and see how much your mortgage would be if interest rates do go up as many people expect they will.
Free Microsoft Word Course (or Xero Accounting) when you enrol in Excel Certificate Course
Note that if you enrol into Microsoft Excel Courses and choose the certificate option you’ll receive a BONUS course in either Microsoft Word (to create a professional resume) or Xero Accounting! Read our BONUS course offer announcement.
They’re competing with Xero and we wrote about the fierce competition looming against MYOB in 2010 when Craig Winkler (the man who build MYOB into the success it become now being a significant shareholder in Xero).
What made bookkeeping exciting to so many more people?
Bookkeeping became exciting, in large part, because of the flexibility it offered busy people wanting more control over their working lives, and busy parents trying to juggle priorities.
We could create a content marketing strategy about how cloud accounting makes bookkeeping faster and easier for small business, while also making it possible for parents to work closer to home (or at the family home), performing bookkeeping tasks and avoiding traffic, congestion and time you never get back commuting.
I should also confess that, at the time, I didn’t realise how important AND time consuming content marketing would be. Every blog post takes at least an hour!
You may ask how what appears to be a relatively simple blog post can take that long? In reality, a well researched blog post, including topic research, finding images, finding the right page(s) to link to can take several hours and that’s what we’re going to share in our soon-to-be-launched Content Marketing Course & Services.
Why does it take so long to write a blog post?
If it were the case of just writing some sentences, it wouldn’t take that long at all. But what’s the point of that?
I’m not going to insult people, particularly people who have proven that they take the time to read my blogs on a regular basis, with poor quality, rushed content.
Furthermore, everything I write relates to something else we do and it involves:
Referencing our own landing pages for the services we provide, and
Linking to relevant blogs that I’ve written.
Getting found: Optimising your blog posts for Google
I haven’t even mentioned the time and effort in optimising each and EVERY blog post for the keywords that are important to us. That involves:
Relevant landing pages
Keywords in headings
Outsourcing blog writing to the Philippines, India or the Ukraine?
Tempting isn’t it? The thought that you can get someone to write a great blog post for your business for $2-3 per hour!
I mean in one day you could get all your writing done and then just schedule the blog posts to be published in something like your WordPress Blog over the next month or two. But it’s not that easy it is?
We are in an age where just stringing some words and sentences together isn’t going to get any one to pay much attention, particularly if there is a hint of broken English or disconnect with the topic. And anyway, if you’re going to write content you need to be an expert don’t you? Who wants to read some words that have just been sprayed onto a page because they have relevant keywords?
Content Marketing Strategy — who is the reader?
Like many tasks involved in small business, the most important part of the work is creating the Content Marketing Strategy; the plan for:
Topics that will interest your readers and potential customers
The keywords to be used in those articles (blogs)
The landing pages that will convert potential customers into customers
Some of these components have nothing to do with the intended reader, but if your content marketing is going to be effective you’ll have to have a clear description of your reader in your head — I like to give them a name, imagine how many children they have, where they live, why they’re using my products/services, who their friends are, how they are going to talk about our company etc.
A wise old business owner I use to speak with regularly kept asking me the question, “Who is your customer, Steve?” This relates to everything. It relates to content marketing, but it also relates to when our courses are available, how we combine several features into one offer, how we try to do more for that market, like find other ways for them to benefit by using our service, hence National Bookkeeping!
For most people it’s because they’re looking for bookkeeping work or want to start a bookkeeping business. Finding out as much as possible about why our students do our courses enables us to develop products (and write content about) what they need.
Join our Bookkeeping Directory TODAY
We partner with a bookkeeping directory which is aimed at helping people (our students primarily) find bookkeeping work or start a bookkeeping business. It’s also a great way for small businesses to find bookkeepers who are close to them.
We’ve published numerous posts about referral marketing, which is an invaluable and cost effective way of marketing your business. In particular, we talked about LinkedIn. This is something that I, Steve Slisar, CEO of EzyLearn, am a big believer in — and so is small business marketing guru, Michael Griffiths. (You can learn more about using LinkedIn for referral marketing by attending one of Michael’s Sydney workshops.)
Peerbrief – One Grand up for Grabs
Recently I came across another great tool independent contractors can use to find work, and it’s based on referral marketing. It’s a new crowdsourcing recruitment and candidate referral website called Peerbrief, which was founded by Rob Fanshawe, a recruitment expert with 15 years industry experience, and who previously founded and directed 33 Talent in Sydney.
Peerbrief offers two services. The first is free for referrers – that is independent contractors, consultants, remote workers, and so on – to join and you’ll receive job alerts matched to your professional experience from potential employers. If, however, you know someone who is better matched to that job, you can refer the job to them – if they’re hired, the employer pays you $1,000 for your trouble.
The other service offered by Peerbrief is a subscription-based software service, which allows companies to set up closed referrals so their employees can refer candidates for jobs.
Referring the People in Your Sphere of Influence
If you’ve ever worked in a large company before, then you’re probably aware of the incentives they give employees for referring friends or colleagues for positions going vacant. Peerbrief works off same principal, and rewards people for referring their contacts for work.
At the moment, Peerbrief is working with three industries – tech, media, and marketing and advertising – so if you have previous experience in any of these industries, I recommend you (and your colleagues) join today and get referring!
All of that being said, I would caution not to put your eggs all in one basket. As these types of services gain more popularity, the work tends to become harder to come by as employers have a greater pick of potential hires. This is why I still recommend LinkedIn and face-to-face networking events as a way to grow and develop your business.
As always, I think it’s best if you have a number of marketing strategies on the go at once, as often, it takes a while for them to gain traction. If you have many plates spinning at once, so to speak, you’re less likely to find yourself in the midst a dry spell. If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively market your business, there are two marketing modules in our Small Business Management Course. Visit our website to enrol or learn more today.
In a recent post we talked about how you can use referral marketing and LinkedIn to market your business to grow your customer base. But once you get those new customers, the most important thing is making certain you keep them. Great customer service is the key to ensuring you always have a happy customer. Providing consistently good customer service and being courteous to people in the way you communicate with them, be they suppliers or contractors, as well as customers, is also highly beneficial to your business in other ways.
Priding Ourselves on Customer Satisfaction
And speaking of happy customers, we’ve decided to blow our own trumpet a little and share with you that we have a 97% customer satisfaction rating! We use the a powerful customer support system called ZenDesk, which manages the thousands of EzyLearn students who complete our MYOB training courses, Small Business Management, Excel and other courses.
The Same as Face to Face
When we moved our training courses online, we decided early on that we wanted our online business to provide our students and customers with the same customer service experience that they would receive from a physical training centre. So we also provide our students with phone and email support, in addition to the Zendesk ticketing support system.
We think our customer service is part of what has made EzyLearn the successful business it is today, and we’re glad you think so too! Customer service is such an important aspect of any business, which is why we cover customer service in our Small Business Management Course.
If you think about some of the most successful small businesses, it’s usually their good service that has their customers returning time and again. This is important to remember considering small businesses usually don’t have the buying power that a big business does which means their prices are usually a littler higher. But if the service is good, customers will forgo what little savings they can get elsewhere.
So if you’re in the process of starting a new business, it’s important that you make customer service a major focus, and then continue to work at it and find new ways to improve the service you give your customers, because it really does pay off — trust us!
I mentioned in my last post that I will be presenting a Work at Home Seminar at the Reinvent Your Career Expo in
Sydney on 30 and 31 August 2014. We call it the WAH Seminar and I really hope to see some of EzyLearn’s students there. We’ll have a stand there for our soon to be announced Start Up Academy!
Work at Home with the Start Up Academy
The Startup Academy is the culmination of 14 years in the training industry. Over those years I’ve watched EzyLearn transition from a training centre in Dee Why to having three centres across Sydney and then finally close all centres in 2006 and move all of our training content online. In 2008 online training really kicked off for us. We offered MYOB and Microsoft Excel Online training courses and we began our journey into hiring remote workers to work from home for various parts of our business. We’ve used a number of different services to find the right people for our organisation including oDesk, Gumtree, Virtually Yours, 121 Temps, Freelancer, Elance and even this very blog. Everything we’ve learnt a lot along the way I’ll be sharing with the audience at the seminar.
Good Online Reputation Means You Can Work at Home
Social Media and the Internet have given more people a stronger voice than at any time in human history and as a result we are all faced with our “online profile” and “online reputation” – this is particularly relevant for people who work from home. One of the best examples that I can think of where people want to have a good reputation is eBay. I’ve met many eBay sellers and they are all VERY keen to do a great job and get a great rating and it’s always a pleasure to deal with them. The same thing is now happening with the way we work and provide services.
I’ll be talking about a range of things to help remote workers start their own business working from home as independent contractors, including how to find work. Here’s a little more on what to expect from me:
Does it really happen?
Does it affect me?
How do I fit in?
Make yourself stand out
Measure the work you do
The Australian Government wants it
– workforce participation
– digital disruption
– work is about what you do
– working anywhere
– unmet demand – mature, parents and disabled
Your public profile
Do something you enjoy
Create an engine
Once again, I hope to see you at the seminar. If you would like more information on the Reinvent Your Career Expo, you can visit their website for more details and if you are interested in having me do the same presentation at your industry group meeting, chamber of commerce or other meeting please let us know.
In our Small Business Management Course, you learn all about starting and managing a small business. One thing we don’t teach, however, is customer service. That’s because we think it’s a bit of a no-brainer. In fact, it’s often said that the golden rule of customer service is that the customer is always right, even when they’re wrong.
But what happens with your suppliers, when you’re technically the customer — does this give you free reign to be as demanding as you like? Or does it pay to be nice?
Kill ‘em with Kindness
There are a couple of reasons why this approach works best in business. First of all, it’s a lot harder to be mean to a really nice person — seriously, try it! Even when you’re asking a lot of someone, they’ll find it harder to decline your request if you’re nice about it.
That’s not to say that if you make an outrageous demand it won’t be swiftly turned down; nor does it mean you should take advantage of your suppliers’ better nature, either. But being nice certainly gets you further that being rude and demanding, particularly when you’re looking for a favour.
What Value Do They Bring?
This is particularly important for small businesses that often rely on other small businesses or sole traders to provide important services to them. If you treat your suppliers well, they’ll be more inclined to work for you — and do good work too.
Very often it’s the little things that count most. Paying invoices on time, for the cash-strapped sole trader, is usually greatly appreciated; even just sending them an email, thanking them for their hard work can make all the difference, especially if you employ a lot of remote workers.
Develop A Relationship
In fact, if you do happen to work with a number of remote workers, it’s sometimes pretty easy to forget that there’s a person at the other end of your emails. Rather than simply sending through your requests and nothing else, engage with that person instead.
Again, people are much more willing to work with people they know and like, so putting a little effort into your emails can certainly go a long way to forging a good working relationship with your graphic designer, even if they do live in Peru.
What Goes Around, Comes Around
If for no other reason than self-preservation, being nice and putting good vibes out into the universe can at least guarantee that you won’t have to sleep with one eye open for fear of reprisals from that supplier you gave a severe dressing down once (you have seen ‘Kill Bill’, right?).
So yes, we do think that you should be nice in business. It may be a dog-eat-dog world out there, but it need not be a business-eat-business one. Just remember that there is a real person behind every faceless email address — so be nice! Learn more about the many facets of running a small business by checking out our Small Business Management Course.
The internet has changed the way we do many things. It’s changed the way we bank, communicate and work, but if there’s one thing it’s almost entirely revolutionised it’s the way we shop — particularly the way we shop for professional services.
Divulging Your Prices
With the internet at our fingertips — on our computers, smartphones and tablets — we can quickly search any business, any time we like. It’s the first thing most of us do before we pick up the phone to call that business, so it makes sense to provide as much information on your website to encourage people to actually make that call.
Yet, many businesses do not. The most common thing missing from a company’s website: the price. This isn’t uncommon in professional services sector. But it doesn’t mean it’s right, either.
There is not a single business that doesn’t have a basic price structure set out for each service they offer, whether they’re an accountant or a plumber — and, frankly, any business that doesn’t is not a very successful one.
Subject to Change Pricing
Even if your prices are subject to change based on the additional services your clients require, put that basic price on your website and mention the fees for each additional service.
You’ll not only establish a point of difference between you and your competitors, but it also demonstrates transparency. Your potential customers know that they’re not going to get a different price depending on the time of day or day of the week they call you.
At the end of the day, unless you’re hiding something, there is no reason why you shouldn’t put your prices on your website. We cover pricing in depth in our Small Business Management Course.
Maybe this sounds familiar: one of your clients has been calling you about a job you said you would do. You’ve been dodging their calls, because you haven’t had time to do it. Eventually they email, so you send one back. It begins: “Sorry, I’ve been really busy lately…” or “Sorry, I haven’t had a chance to…” “Sorry…” “Sorry…” “Sorry…”
Does Sorry = Inefficiency?
In one of the modules of our Small Business Management Course, we take you through business planning, where you learn about how to set processes and procedures to make your business operate efficiently. So if it feels like all of your emails begin with “sorry”, it could be because you’re not as efficient as you’d like to think you are.
If you’re new in business sometimes it’s a simple case of trying to seem more accommodating than is feasibly possible. If your clients regularly request work from you by a certain date that conflicts with your other work, suggest an alternate date rather than agreeing to something you can’t deliver.
Under Promise, Over Deliver
Good clients appreciate the honesty, and if they value the work you do, they’ll be happy to wait. It’s often not a question of efficiency. Those people who aren’t happy to wait, and would rather something that is rushed or who constantly give you short notice, possibly aren’t the kinds of clients you want anyway. Being honest establishes trust and clear communication with your clients, and paves the way towards a better, more efficient business relationship.
By having enough time to complete your work properly, you’re less likely to make errors, forget things or experience other setbacks in getting the job completed, which also reduces the number of “sorry” emails and phone calls you’re making.
But if you’re still finding yourself apologising, it could be a sign of a much bigger problem. Perhaps the processes and systems you have in place are failing you, and they need to be revised. It could be a case that you’ve outgrown the processes you have in place, and they’re slowing you down.
At the end of the day, your customers are counting on you and if they can’t rely on you to complete something when you say you will, they’ll go elsewhere. So stop apologising and get it right the first time!