Six Steps to Six Figures - the second step

Debra Lewis

The second step

This is what we want you to do.

Increase your job hours from 4 to 8.

And find another 4 hours but this time as a contract bookkeeper.

Increasing your job time?  You can try where you are to get a full day's work, or a second half day.  If the place where you are working won't do it, don't stress, start looking elsewhere.

Finding work as a contract bookkeeper is really a quantum leap.  But remember, the platforms and the sixth floor. Be confident that you can do something for that small business and look for situations where a family member is already doing the work.

Now, we have good news and bad news.  The bad news is that you must sell your hours at a higher rate than a job.  The good new sis that if you can achieve that higher rate, you are well on the way.

We deal with a lot of people, talk professionsl and hourly rates.  Let me tell you there's nothing magical about it.  If you are qualified and experienced you clim the ladder of hourly rates.  Owners of small businesses aren't fools.  YOu have to provide the service that is needed and if you give value, you get the reward.  Of course, if you sell yourself too cheap just to gvet your foot in the door - that could backfire.  I know, because I've done it and it's not worth the hassle!

I will give you a big tip.  When going for that first contract, identify what's to be done and quote on how much you are going to charge and approx whaty time it will take.  Instead of saying "I will work for you for x hours and I want $y/hr", you say $xy.  However you reserve the right to vary this after a few weeks.  If the job is taking much longer than planned or the owner said it would = owner's do fib sometimes!

An owner would respect your tenacity if you put up with taking extra time to get on top of the job.  Don't be greedy - be prepared to take a few hits early on.

Hourly rates - what is value?

Let's look at hourly rates because it's implicit in your quest for six figures that you understand how the world sees you in your quest.

We humans are very strange indeed.  Let me tell you a true story.  I have a colleague who is a successful lawyer charging $350/hr.  He told me that he'd given up his 'boot camp' personal training sessions because "the guy was ripping me off by charging $35hr".  Go figure!

Frankly, when you are at the bottom of the totem pol,e and trying to work your way up you hit barriers all the way.  It's not that the people higher up don't like you, it's just that they don't think you are worthy.

Every professional has its totem poles.  In engineering the draftsman is valued at less than the engineer.  In the hospitals, the nurses are valued at less than the doctors and they are valued at less than the specialists.  In the financial services industry the bookkeepers are valued at less than the accountants and within accounting you have the separation of suburban firms versus city firms.

Again, another solicitor told me, in all sincerity, that there were only two kinds of law firms, those in the suburbs and those in the CBD!

What can we make of this nonsense?  I wish there was a simple answer.  

The bookkeeping profession is undervalued.  It explains, I think, why so many small businesses fail.  And remember every failure affects suppliers and other contractors who don't get paid.  This is a very serious problem.

If you studied the law of supply and demand you would know if demand exceeds supply, then prices should go up.  Houston - we have a problem!  With over 2 million small businesses and around 40,000 qualified bookkeepers and 14,000 BAS Agents something is wrong because each bookkeeper averages only 10 clients!

May be the reason that we have some unhealthy businesses is that 80% of them are not doing their books properly.  And speaking of health, may be the reason more than 50% of us are obese is that we don't value exercise enough.

Perceptions

I read an article once where it said that a tradesman wearing a uniform with the insignia sewn in the shirt would get more for a job than someone wearing casual gear.  What about a financial planner in an Armani versus a suit from Lowes?  Guess who would charge more?

There is something in this.  However, for the bookkeeper the 'uniform' is more about the way you look, the way you connect with the customer, the things that you say, your ability to listen, and generally how you convey your ability.

Accountants have the reputation of being dull and boring.  We like this - because they also have a reputation as being astute and dependable.  People trust accountants - they beat all the other financial service providers in every survey ever done.

Let us give you - not a tip - but some motivational advice:

You are never going to change the perception in the small business world that doing the books is no big deal.  It is not a friendly environment that you face when you are trying to convince someone to pay what you think you are worth.  Over 80% of small business owners think they can do it themselves.

Get organised for the third step!

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