I have worked so hard for the last 2 years going to seminars and taking courses to improve my knowledge of bookkeeping and yet I still feel like there is something I am lacking that has not allowed me to increase my sales volume (increased revenue). But my expenses keep piling up. Do you have any idea why I still don’t see a good profit from my bookkeeping business?
Thank you for asking such an important question and for having the courage to share as I am sure you are not alone and others will benefit from your asking. Let’s explore evaluating your return on investment, feeling something is lacking, and seeing results in your company financials.
Evaluating return on investment (ROI)
You are to be commended for investing in yourself over the last two years. Especially given the unpredictability of economic events and the impacts on businesses (big and small). The knowledge and confidence you have gained from making those investments are likely already showing up in your business. Since making those investments, have you gone back and evaluated what you received from each of the courses?
- What was my goal in signing up for this course?
- Knowledge expected to gain from the investment.
- What did I receive from the course?
- Consider giving rankings such as exceeds expectations, meets expectations, etc..
- Was there anything I didn’t like about the course? If so, what was it?
- Knowing this can help in evaluating future courses. For example, DIY resulted in less engagement = live instruction is a must for future investments.
- Was there anything unexpected that I gained from the course?
- For example, great resources and new connections.
- Is there anything I didn’t receive from the course and expected to?
- Do I still need it?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how would I rate the following for return on investment
- Use the goals from the first question here.
- Personal work efficiencies
- Team member training/leadership
- Client services and/or offerings
- Owning and running a business
Quiet the negative internal voice
The above serves two purposes. First, you get to see the benefits of investing in yourself, your business, or your team. Second, it helps to quiet the internal voice that may be judging the investment made and believing there was no benefit. You are likely utilizing many of your hard-earned skills in your business and taking inventory of where you are using them is a great start to monetizing them.
Negative self-talk can creep in while reviewing all the investments you made. If you are getting caught up in false beliefs around your choices it might be time to take stock of your accomplishments. This has become a must in my own business. When the false belief spiral happens, a celebration is in order.
Celebrating Personal Accomplishments: We need more of this in the world.
- Make a list of all your accomplishments.
- Reading a book counts just as much as getting a new client
- For example, my list includes teaching myself to french braid my hair and twirl a baton and getting a master's degree. I even give myself extra points for my son being born in the middle of my last class.
- You can go back 1 month, 1 quarter, one year, or 10. Do your entire life if you choose.
- List everything whether it is work or not.
- When the list is done read each one out loud.
- Add a few more.
- Share it with a friend.
- Celebrate how amazing you are.
- This is SELF-LOVE and APPRECIATION for your commitment to YOU.
- Send it to me and I will celebrate with you.
Celebrating your wins starts to rewire your brain and create new habits. By sharing, you challenge any inner critics that say this is gloating, bragging, or self-absorbed and reinforce that it is safe to acknowledge your accomplishments socially. “When you celebrate, endorphins are released inside your body, and you feel incredible. When you accomplish something and don’t take time to celebrate, you are robbing yourself of an important feeling that reinforces your success.” Take away? Hug yourself, high-five, buy some flowers, or send a congratulations card to future you.
Finding gold in feelings
Having all the skills in the world doesn’t always mean one has the key to increasing revenues. Let’s explore part of your share, “I still feel like there is something I am lacking that has not allowed me to increase my sales volume.” This is gold, my friend. Think of it as the golden ticket to your success. Above, you were invited to list your accomplishments and those are to be celebrated and revisited often but what of the feeling of lack? People resist making a list of their fears under the presumption that it will reinforce some negative beliefs about themselves.
What if the opposite is true?
What if listing your fears provides the key to opening the next door?
As part of goal-setting, I encourage clients to list the false beliefs (fears) that pop up around putting their dreams on paper. False beliefs are the counter voice to all your magic. In your example, what comes up for you when you think of the investments you made or the profits of your business?
Getting to know your fears
- Write your fears down in the same way you did your accomplishments.
- What are you believing to be true?
- Example: I invested all this money and have nothing to show for it.
- What is the worst-case scenario if it were true?
- Example: I am going to lose my business and everyone is going to think I am a failure.
- What else might actually be true?
- Example: I am a great business owner and willing to invest in my business
- Example: I have lots of resources available to me and my business
- What can I do differently to try out “What else might actually be true answers”?
- Example: Make a list of people I know who can support me by answering a few questions about being a business owner.
Tim Ferriss shared a similar exercise in his TedX talk about defining fears as part of setting goals.
Most worst-case scenarios never come true. Does that mean most best-case scenarios do?
Why is knowing your fears gold? Because knowing what can trip you up or stop you from taking action allows you to implement change to navigate potential roadblocks. If you know in advance that you are going to be slow to send out your annual engagement letters with a % increase in fees, what can you do to ensure the engagement letters get sent out? What part of the process is likely to be the speed bump? The preparation of the letters, deciding on the %, or sending the letters out? Rarely is the entire engagement letter process the issue, so identifying what part is and determining how to delegate, who to be coached by, or both is an integral part of the planning process. Another integral part is taking action to support yourself in getting across the finish line. This is where an accountability partner or coach can be beneficial.
Show Me the Money
"Robina, the above is great, but if it worked, why am I not seeing the $$ now?"
Given that I don’t know your business, its financial picture, and whether or not you have seen a return on the investment, below are a few questions I would ask.
- Have you increased rates in the last two years?
- If so, has it been in line with cost of living adjustments and/or additional value being provided to the client?
- Is there work you are doing that can be delegated to staff so you can provide higher-value services to your clients (and get paid for them)?
- Are your company financials up to date so you can compare revenue and expenses to last year and identify variances?
- How much are you working in comparison to how much you are making?
Chances are the training you invested in resulted in improvements for your business, team, and clients. What tends to happen is that people invest in “improving their knowledge” without taking into consideration the added value to their clients. You are likely very knowledgeable, delivering excellent service, and building a dynamic team. All before you ever invested in those programs. The fact you have clients who are paying you shows they value your services regardless of the additional training. Perhaps the programs were for your confidence as well as knowledge.
Confidence is an inside job
Confidence is an inside job. Is it possible that the thought you are lacking something because your revenues aren’t increasing is an internal dynamic not linked to your knowledge? If you go back to the beginning and outline all you received from those courses are you able to translate it into the value you deliver?
- Given your new skills and knowledge have you evaluated your client’s packages to determine if you are providing beyond the scope of the original agreement?
- If so, have you determined the additional value being delivered and presented to the client for a fee increase?
If your answer to the above is yes, I am offering more services and/or no I have not approached my clients about the increased service, then it is a great place to start. My recommendation is to identify what the new offering would be and how much. If it feels like an easy jump, then you likely need to nudge it up a little higher.
“But Robina, my clients can’t afford it.”
You don’t know that. I don’t know that. Nobody does but the client, and even then, it could be that they can afford it but opt not to. I have had clients tell me they can’t afford increased fees but purchase cars and homes and go on lavish vacations. By asking your clients to invest in their business, you give them the opportunity to choose versus choosing for them. Having a conversation with your client provides a platform to outline the value your services offer and empowers them to make choices for their personal or business financial health. Having a strong financial team (or tax team) is vital to the health and success of a business, and it is up to us as accounting professionals to educate through communication. If the client says no, you can ask questions, clarify (not defend) the value you provide, evaluate alternatives, or don’t deliver the service.
Note: I believe there is a base to services you can offer to ensure you are in integrity with your values, limit liability, and provide quality service. If the client’s threshold is below your minimum requirements then they aren’t the client for you.
- Is the belief that they can’t afford it or that they will say no?
- If they say no, do you feel the need to defend the value you bring or lower your price?
If either of the above is true, it is a great opportunity to do the exercise above around fear. Something new may be revealed to you.
Finally, are you evaluating your expenses for areas you may be investing in with little to no return? Things to look for:
- Subscriptions that can be canceled,
- Supporting a friend’s program because they are a friend.
- Send them flowers on their birthday instead.
- Enrolling in courses hoping for the magic key to unlocking wealth.
- Purchases made but haven’t been used.
- Can you use them instead of investing in something new?
If you find answering any of these questions a challenge or are unsure what next steps to take it may be that your next best investment is a coach. All types of coaches focus on a variety of topics: business, strategy, organization, and money. Ask your friends if they have any recommendations and what they get from working with their coach. Don’t be afraid to interview more than one and know it is okay to walk away from any pressured sales pitches. Go inward and feel if the choice is expansive or restrictive. Working with a coach should feel exciting.
In conclusion, pause to evaluate what you received from your investments, list your accomplishments and celebrate, interview your fears, and explore what else might be true, and identify the work you are doing and not getting paid for, if any.
My recommendation is not to do these all at once but to take them a little each day or week. The clients you have are the best way to grow your business, and taking a step back may help you to identify additional services you could be offering.
If you went back and looked at your business a few years ago, you would likely be surprised to know how far you have come. Through a pandemic. That is like walking to school, uphill both ways, in the snow.
Believe in yourself and all your amazing skills, knowledge, and unique to you gifts. The time is here to collect your earnings. You are so worth it.
Feel free to reach out to me personally with any questions on the above.
Robina is a Soul, Self, Wealth Doula, Certified Money Coach, and retired CPA. She works with successful leaders to guide them as they transform into Soul-cess-full leaders, Each of these journeys is unique and the alignment of goals and reality allows for authentic relationships across all spectrums of one’s life, including money. If you want to know more about Robina, you can visit her at www.robinabennion.com.
Do you have questions about business, navigating a career, how to create work/life alignment, money types, and mindset, goal setting, mid-life career changes, or curious about mindfulness? Soul, Self, Wealth, Relationships, and Spirituality too? Yes. Business is more than employees, technology, and deadlines. If it is important to you and you want to find a way to incorporate it into your business/career or are curious about what that looks like. Submit your question to Ask Robina HERE!
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