Episode 219: The 7 Most Frequently Asked Questions I Get: ANSWERED
As a mentor, I answer a lot of the same questions from my clients and community. And spoiler alert, most of them are about money. In this episode, I’m sharing the seven most frequently asked questions I get.
It’s summer, so it’s time for a little fun, and I thought I’d do something I’ve never done, which is answer FAQs I get asked by service business owners. These are the ones I get asked day in, day out, so I thought it would be helpful to share my answers to these seven questions.
What’s the fastest/easiest way to find clients?
This is a pretty general question, but I seem to answer it often. The answer? It depends on the type of business you run, who your client is and more. I could provide a very complex answer here, but across all industries, B2B, B2C and B2E there’s one tactic to find clients that’s the fastest possible way.
Referrals. No matter who your client is or what industry you’re in, referrals are the fastest and easiest way to find new clients. If you’re not actively asking for referrals, you’re missing out on opportunities to find potential clients.
And if you’re waiting passively for people to refer you, it’s time to start asking for referrals. If you need clients right now, go talk to your past clients. Connect with them and ask if they’d be willing to refer you. And then, make a point of letting current clients know (either while you’re working with them OR you’re wrapping up) that you’d appreciate referrals.
Finally, be sure to let people know who makes for a great referral, and keep the process simple.
How do I deal with ________________ client situation?
This is a question I answer a lot for members of the mastermind as they come to me with specific scenarios which range from needing to fire a client, to having to own a screw up, to putting out fires, to reinforcing boundaries.
There’s no one answer that will cover every scenario, but there are a few things that the responses I help them craft have in common. (This is where having a copywriter for a mentor can be extra helpful!)
It all comes down to approach:
- Keep it factual and avoid responding in the heat of the moment.
- Less is more. Cut what you want to say by about two-thirds.
- Don’t apologize (unless you’ve screwed up, then own it).
- Stay classy and take the high road.
- Write your response in a Google Doc, then cut and paste into email.
And finally, whatever the situation is, it’s critical that you take the time to understand your role in it. When things go sideways with a client, it’s an opportunity for you to learn from it and guard against the same thing happening in the future.
How do I know when it’s time to hire? And how much should I plan on paying?
This question is really the mother of all “it depends” answers. There’s no one perfect time you should hire, and no one magic rate you should pay.
In terms of when, one thing I consistently recommend is that you hire once you’re paying yourself. Too many times, people rush to hire and then pay someone else. You get paid first, and then you can hire. Your business exists to pay you first. Period.
The only exception to that rule would be if you’re strapped for time, and simply need extra hands to get things done. But again, proceed with caution. If you’re not paying yourself enough and still need help, that’s a surefire sign you’re undercharging for your services.
The precise time to hire will really depend on what kind of help you need. If you need help with billable work, you’ll likely hire that person sooner as you know that their costs are covered. Alternatively, if you need admin help, you may hire them to free you up to do higher value tasks.
Either option works, the key is that you’re not hiring someone for things that don’t really need to be done. If you’ve got a contractor where you’re making up things for them to do, you don’t really need them.
And if you’re waiting for some magical sign that you’re ready, well, you’ll probably keep on waiting. Hiring, especially at the start, is stressful, and you don’t want to wait until it’s too late to get the help you need.
Finally, do NOT, I repeat, do NOT hire someone because it’s what you’re “supposed” to do to grow. There’s not a damn thing wrong with staying small and solo if that’s what you want.
As for how much to pay, again that will vary by the role, but I will say, as business owners, I encourage you to ensure you’re paying above a living wage. For years there’s been a message in the online business world about hiring “cheap” talent as a way to increase profit, and frankly, that’s exploitative.
if you’re not sure what a living wage is, it’s typically defined as a wage where a household is making enough to meet their basic needs. It shouldn’t be confused with minimum wage. For example, where I live, minimum wage is $14.00 an hour, but a living wage is $18.42. When looking for a hiring locally (currently on ice), I was targeting to pay in the $25/hour range as that extrapolates into an annual salary of $52,000 a year, which is on par with the skills and experience I expect for that role.
I’d argue if you can’t pay a living wage, you need to look at your pricing and adjust accordingly. Yes, you want your pricing for your team to be profitable and have a profit layer built in, but you also want to create an environment that’s not about exploiting people or squeezing your profits out of your team.
How much should I charge for _________________?
How long is a piece of string? Pricing is so subjective that I always hesitate when it comes to this question. Unless I know the ins and outs of someone’s business or target client, it’s a hard question to answer.
What I can share with you are the factors that I consider when a client I know well asks me this question:
- What industry are they in? What do people expect to pay?
- What should their average hourly rate be? How long will it take to deliver?
- What is the perceived value of the service?
- What hard costs are involved in delivering the service?
- What story does this price tell?
- What needs to be considered to ensure this is profitable?
As you can see, it’s a combination of hard data and gut feeling. I usually can pin down my pricing recommendations fairly quickly based on that.
In my own business, I constantly am asking myself this question. And fun fact: If I’m not sure, I ask a friend with a similar type of agency for a gutcheck. Find someone you can trust to act as a sounding board to think through pricing so you don’t get in your own way, or leave money on the table.
What should I do about my bookkeeping?
Easiest answer ever. Hire help, yesterday. This was the very first thing I got help with in my business, and it’s something I would never attempt to do on my own.
If you’re asking this question, that means you don’t have an accounting degree and are likely struggling. Save yourself. Hire help. The time and stress you’ll save are worth every single penny.
Best of all, bookkeeping for your business shouldn’t be super expensive. I typically would expect to pay in the $200-$300 a month range based on what I see my clients paying. If they’re more than that, they may be offering more services than you really need.
Trust me. Hire help. You’ll not regret it, and having clear, up-to-date numbers to work with are a lifesaver. You can make decisions from a place of facts, not stories you’re making up in your head.
How much should I be paying myself?
I love this question, and the answer is usually more than you are right now. Bosses, we need to talk about this. Most of you aren’t paying yourself enough.
Why? Because you’re paying yourself LAST. And you should be first on the list. Your business exists to get you paid, and if you don’t pay yourself, no one else will.
And when you chronically are under paying yourself, it leads to a host of problems. You may undervalue your services and price too low. You may lack confidence. You may be constantly stressed as you’re not bringing home enough.
If you’re paying EVERYONE else but yourself, it’s time to dig into the numbers. First, stop buying all the courses and coaches and chasing things. Look at your team costs if you have them and get super clear on why you’re paying them and not yourself. Do you have a bunch of tools you don’t even need?
And if you’re not sure if you’re paying yourself enough, here’s a test for you. Would you accept this job and everything that goes with it at the salary you pay yourself? If you’re not sure or shaking your head, it’s time to figure out how to pay yourself more.
If you’re not on salary, or taking regular draws, it’s time to put yourself on a schedule. Having a consistent schedule helps with your budgeting, keeps you on track and signals to yourself that you’re freakin’ worth it.
And before we go any further, there’s no shame in wanting to pay yourself more. So, if you can, give yourself a raise. TODAY.
If you can’t, commit to figuring out how. Maybe you need to cut expenses. Maybe you need to raise your prices so you can make more money. Or maybe it’s both. Doesn’t matter. Do it now.
Should I spend my money on _____________?
See the question above. Maggie says no.
In all seriousness, yes, there are some investments worth making, but the ROI needs to be clear. Remember my episode on all of my investments and how ROI was a 50/50 shot? Learn from me on this one.
But think carefully about what you spend your money on. Avoid the impulse “cart close” purchases driven by FOMO.
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