5 Ways to Stop Underearning in Your Small Business
Small business owners don't need to be underpaid to be “underearning”. It's possible to be paid well yet still bring in less money than you want or need for your small business. In fact, it's estimated that one in three small business owners are underearning…and most are women!
1. Establish an accurate pricing model for your small business. Don't just throw a dart at the pricing dartboard to determine your prices, use common best practices for pricing. One pricing model is discussed in THE FORMULA TO OVERCOME UNDERPRICING YOURSELF & YOUR BUSINESS. If this isn't a good fit for your small business, make Google your friend to identify other pricing models to get you started or contact your CPA for help.
2. Develop a procedure for dealing with “scope creep”. “Scope creep” is a common term used to describe work that exceeds a predetermined range deliverables for which a price has been agreed upon and approved. A small business policy on how you handle “scope creep”, including how and when the policy will be communicated, ensures you are paid properly for your expertise and time.
3. Decide your “free or discount” policy. It's easy to develop close relationships with clients when you run a small business. Sometimes these friendships cause small business entrepreneurs to give away their services. Small business owners are generous people. If you want to provide complimentary or discounted service, decide what % your small business can afford. Then stick to it! You might be surprised how your earning potential increases when you reduce the gaping hole of “free, client courtesy, discount” services.
4. Document your billing/accounts receivable policy. Cash flow is critical for small businesses. Although “conventional wisdom” dictates a standard accounts receivable time frame of 30 – 60 days from time of invoice to payment due date, for many small businesses this is the difference between struggle and survive. Throw “conventional wisdom” to the wind and consider a 15 days accounts receivable policy to keep your cash flowing.
Remember to include your policy for late payment fees and/or interest. You're not your clients banker and/or credit card. Don't let cash flow for your small business suffer because your clients mismanage their cash flow.
5. Communicate billable time early and often. It's nice to “throw in” an additional small service for a client, however, this sets up unrealistic expectations for the client. The client develops a false sense of the deliverables and financial arrangement agreed upon. It soon becomes a vicious spin that's challenging to pull out of.
Communicate your billing policy early and often for services not included in the original agreed upon scope of work. It's as simple as, “We're happy to do that for you. I anticipate that it will take X amount of time for X cost. Is that okay with you?”
Are you ready to put the brakes on “underearning”? Let me know if I can help you develop the kind of policies that keep your business flush with cash.
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