I recently spent 5 weeks on the road for Intuit®, helping get fellow ProAdvisors certified in QuickBooks® Online. That’s my jam: I love to help fellow accounting professionals get better at what they do.
While I was on the road, I got to talk to people all over the country and hear their triumphs and their struggles. Most of the time (and by “most of the time,” I mean always), those struggles are the problems I’ve faced at various times in my practice.
So, let’s get to three of the most common problems.
#1: Not Enough Time
The #1 problem I hear is people don’t have enough time. While I can’t add more hours to the day for you, I have learned a few tricks to get back some of the time I so desperately need. Maybe, they’ll help you:
- Processes: Use the same process for each and every client you have.
- Automate: Use apps that will improve your productivity – and help your clients, too.
- Outsource: I have my web designers work out all the marketing details. I also have a virtual assistant to help get things done.
- Prioritize: Get really clear on your priorities, and try hard to eliminate things that aren’t important to you.
These simple steps won’t solve everything, but they’ll give you a foundation upon which to work.
Sigh. Maybe, I should have made this #1.
Now, I’m not your fairy godmother, so I can’t magically put money in your bank account. But, I’ve been there with the money problem. Here are a few ideas that helped me. Maybe, they’ll help you:
- Get more clients. Duh, you say. But, it is possible and it doesn’t have to be hard.
- Get paid what you’re worth. So many ProAdvisors are charging too little for the work they provide, and offering discounts for “more work” in the future. Stop that. No, really, stop that.
- Get paid up front. Invoice at the beginning of an engagement. Don’t start work until the money is in the bank. And, can your clients pay you by credit card right from the invoice? Mine can.
- Get paid by deadbeat clients. The Intuit app center even has a few things to help. CollBox collections is one and another is Fundbox, which will advance you for outstanding invoices (but again, don’t start work until you’ve got the money!).
The money problem is a bit more complex than the time problem. But, I’m here to tell you that there are ways to get more clients and get paid faster.
#3. Crappy Clients
I hear about crappy clients ALL THE TIME. I mean, the client that calls at all hours of the night, the client that demands you invoice them in a certain way and the client that wants you to do a ton of services but doesn’t want to pay you.
Well, let me tell you, I have no tolerance for crappy clients. The solution is pretty easy: FIRE THEM!
That sounds pretty extreme, I know. But, I’ve done it a lot (when I need to) and I always find a better client to replace them.
The issue really isn’t crappy clients; it’s getting clients you want. Here’s what has worked for me:
- Have a niche that works for you.
- Have an ideal client profile.
- “Date” your clients before you agree to work with them. In other words, start with a small project or engagement. We start with our QuickReview ™ process, where we review their QuickBooks file to get an understanding of their business and see how they do things. We then give them a proposal for a cleanup, where we fix any problems they have in their files. By the end of these two “dates,” we know whether they’ll be a good fit for Kildal Services – and they know if they want to work with us.
- Develop strict boundaries and enforce them. Processes, the way you want to be communicated with and how you want to be paid. Clients can only take advantage of you if you let them.
- “Grade” your clients every six months. A few years ago, we decided exactly what type of client we want to work with. Then, I developed a client-scoring matrix based on that client profile. We use it every six months and end client relationships that aren’t working for us, such as the disrespectful and rude client that calls at all hours.
Find Your Solutions
I’m not egotistical enough to think I have the answers to all of your practice problems. Maybe these aren’t your problems, or maybe these solutions don’t work for you (try them first, though). Maybe you need a coach, a business consultant or to go back to the corporate life (no way, dude).
Whatever the case may be, work through your problems to find solutions! Life’s too short to be miserable. Let me know if I can help!