I have set up my own freelance bookkeeping business, after months of advertising, I finally got one curiosity call. So this will be my first time to discuss in person, what I have to offer, and how I can help them. How do I sell them on using my services.
I am not sure what country you are in, but from my experience with book keepers in the UK, be prepared to take responsibility for your work, when my bookkeeper made an error on my VAT returns, her & my accountant went into deaf mode, the inspector was Asian. I was hung out to dry.
First thing you need to do is listen to their needs and their problems. I get 2 or 3 calls a day from potential clients that I just cannot help and refer them to someone that can. Let them finish all their talking and then come to the rescue if you can.
Thank You, I have struggled, not knowing how to promote my business. I read a lot of various forums on how to start this, what was needed, etc. I set up a website and pay a few bucks a month to have it on google and other search engines. But I have never received a call. I also did letter advertising, by sending letters to new businesses introducing my business. But the only call I got was from someone that saw a ad, I posted on a bulletin board at a local market. I am a little nervous, about this meeting. He had initially called me a few weeks ago, and discussed his dillema and type of business, and what help he needed. He said he would discuss this with his son/partner and will set up a meeting. I had thought, since, I had not heard anything more, that, I blew it. He said he will be in my area, later today. Also since he is going to be here, I am assuming, he will want to meet me here, at my home/office. Is this safe? Would it be unprofessional to suggest a local coffee shop?
in Canada it would be very unprofessional to meet somwhere else(like a coffee shop) first time. You have to have some kind of an office and invite your client there and let him know that you have a lot to give, that you can be very useful to him, that as a promotion you can do this and that for him for free (that way you can hook him and he is not going to shop around, may be).
Is this true, even if it is a single woman with an office in her home and the client is a man whom she has never met and has very little knowledge about? I would worry more about possible dangers than about unprofessionalism.
You have to have certain element of trust and certain level of risk. Life is a risky business, you cannot get away alive from it anyway.
If you are so paranoid - don't start a business. Get a welfare and sit at home with a big dog and 3 locks on your door. I know people live like that too.
Interesting point, and I agree about trust. But I also believe that trust sometimes needs to be built over a series of encounters.
For an initial interview, I don't see the coffee-shop meeting as a bad thing. That doesn't mean that it is the only place she will ever meet clients, or that all initial meetings with clients in the future will be in coffee-shops.
I'm sure that our level of concern about safety is related to the media reports of encounters gone wrong. We hear about them every day. Pretty much literally every day. I applaud you in Canada that you evidently have less need to be concerned about personal safety than we evidently do in the US, but when there is a genuine danger, it would be foolish (and perhaps also unprofessional) not to be cautious.
Don't know how you figure it's unprofessional to meet in a coffee shop. My office is in my home so no way do I want anyone in my personal space and if their office is also in their home they might not want to meet there either.
I used to do this also and from my experience they have no understanding of what accounting entails. Make sure you ask them what type of business they have, do they know about financials and journal/ledgers.
Ask them what they are doing now and what system they are using if compuerized. Do they have any employees.
Your biggest problem might be that you have to explain to them what accounting is and ain't.
The old "Who, What, When, Where, Why?" line of questions fits for just about any situation!
Ask the potential client:
WHO are you -- How long have you been in business, is it a family business, what customers/clients do you serve?
Also under WHO is WHO has been handling your bookkeeping previously?
WHAT -- what is your business? This will help you get a sense of how complicated their business is.
WHEN -- Do they need accounting done monthly? Quarterly? 1/2 yearly P&Ls? Are you providing your info to their CPA for tax filing?
WHERE -- Where are their records and files? Also, are there more than one location/office that need to be accounted for?
WHY -- What makes them in the market for new bookkeeping services at this juncture in time?
Don't forget that as in a job interview the interviewee is also interviewing the interviewer, you need to feel comfortable that this client is honorable and ethical and will PAY YOU ON TIME.
Ask for business references from them before you open your own reputation up. And be prepared to offer references for yourself as well. These can be character references if you don't have actual client references.
If you need to ask other people questions about your own business, then you might reconsider being in business for yourself, until you have further knowledge of what to ask.
Well, sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump, like in water - and swim.
all I can said to you is congratulation very Good and bravo lol
Thanks for all your input. Well, I actually did let him know my security issue of meeting at my home office. He totally understood, and he suggested a coffee shop close to me. And even insisted on paying for my coffee. I am happy, I got the job.
If you don't know, maybe you should have thought about it before you set your shingle up. A little late in the game to be wondering what to ask a potential client.
Hi Cheryl. I commend you on starting a home business because I know from experience it isn't easy and although you may be knowledgeable about bookeeping, you've never worked under your own terms and had to go out and market yourself, so asking questions from experts is the right thing to do. It takes a strong person to step out on his/her own and learn the ropes. Anyone can work in an office where they have a computerized system setup and all you need is basic knowledge to get a weekely paycheck, but you are asking others to trust you and give them your business and as you know, not every business is the same, so every need will be a little different.
What I would suggest for futures references is to put together a portfolio showing what you have done and what you can do. Possibly break it up into different areas of business (the most popular ones or the ones you target the most). Your first client is always the most difficult, but once over that hump, you know you have what it takes to succeed and move forward.
Disregard all those negative responses you received on this forum because everyone isn't happy to see others succeed.
Congrats on starting your own business! Many new business owners say that the first sale is always the most difficult. After you start bringing value to that first customer, your confidence will build and you will start to be more comfortable talking with potential clients.
As others have stated, the biggest mistake that a new service business can make is trying to do something outside their scope. As a new business owner it is a great feeling to have a new potential client approach offer you money to fix their problems but if you don't feel 100% confident that you can provide the solution that they need then it is best to be up front with them and refer them to someone who can. If you end up pointing them in the direction of someone else who has the capacity/capability to service them, they will remember that you helped them and your business will remain on their radar for future needs.
Best of Luck!
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