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Ask Robina - March 18, 2023

Robina Bennion
Posted by Robina Bennion on Apr 18, 2023 2:44:28 PM

Hi Robina!

I own my own bookkeeping business and trying to my client list. I keep getting referred to people who don’t want to pay my asking rate and negotiate lower prices. Since I want to grow my business I try to accommodate the requests and feel bad people are struggling financially. However, I am doing more work for less money, frustrated, and kicking myself for taking less money. How do I find clients willing to pay what I am worth? 

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Hello Friend,

Congratulations on having your own business.  As a business owner myself I know how much work goes into “keeping the lights on” as they say.  Since your business is new I am going to assume you are handling all the administrative matters as well as doing the work for your clients.  Given all that you do, I want to encourage you to hug yourself and acknowledge your hard work.  Great job my friend. 
Many new businesses offer specials to get people in the door and it is okay that you did as well. The important key is finding the balance between full-price services and introductory offers.  Think of your favorite store when it has a sale. There is the deal that gets you in the door but rarely do they sell the newest item at a clearance rate.  

Are there any services you are delivering that are outside the scope of the original agreement? 

If so, it is a good time to open discussions with your client about an add-on fee.  This way you can honor the “introductory rate” and receive the full rate for the additional services.  This is an important conversation to have with your client so they (1) understand the cost of accounting-related services for their business and (2) identify services you are providing that they don’t want to pay for so you can release the task back to them.  

If the thought of having your client take on the task makes your job more difficult you now know it is a non-negotiable for future clients and your base price will reflect the additional work.

How long has it been since you had a rate increase?

If you have been in business longer than a year and/or you have been working with your clients for over a year without an increase the time is here.  An annual review of your engagements may not mean all clients will receive an increase but a majority of them should. It sounds like your rates may be below market so a modest adjustment is to support and needed to keep you in business.  

People often resist increasing rates or talk themselves down before even presenting to the client.  If this is you, have courage and push yourself outside your comfort zone. Resist the urge to make a nominal change because it feels safe and less likely to be rejected.  If 20% is too high and 5% is too low is there a spot in the middle you would feel comfortable with?  There have been a few times I worried about the client’s response to an annual increase and they approved it without issue.

Worried about what to say?  Be honest.  I am sure your clients are very important to you, as you are to them, and they understand the value of investing in their business for excellent service.

Do you have a business plan that allows for giving back?

By your admission, it is clear the introductory fee is ready for retirement but it may be that you want to support a small business, not-for-profit, or give back in some other way.  Your generosity is to be celebrated.  As you take on new clients it might be worthwhile to chart the number of clients you can serve at a specific price point. For example, 50% small, 30% medium, and 10% large.  This leaves an additional 10% for giving back.  

Please note this is the revenue mix and not the working hours in your week as you still have to budget for administrative tasks.  Planning your revenue goals at the start of each year will put up guardrails to ensure you don’t take on too many small (low-fee) clients.  

Curious how much you even need to bring in to pay the bills and have a paycheck? Master Your Books has a great revenue calculator to support you in determining your number.

Are you giving yourself grace and forgiveness?

When it comes to the clients you have and the choices you made regarding fees I am giving you permission to gift yourself some compassion and forgiveness.  Regardless of the reason you said yes to the fees it has helped you build your business to what it is today. 

As you work on the engagement find a mantra that supports you in doing the work with joy. For example, “I love doing bookkeeping.” Or “I am excited to work on this client’s books.”.  This will help you move through the work easier and faster than if you approach it with frustration that you aren’t making as much as you could.  

What are you doing to plan for the future?  

Okay, my friend. You know the clients you don’t want to work with and how much you want to get paid.  If you haven’t already it is time to write out your ideal client. 

Imagine the next three potential clients are going to say yes to you. If you could wave a magic wand and get everything you wanted. 
  • What do you want them to be like?
  • How do you want to feel when you meet with them?
  • Who do you get to be when you serve them?  

Go all in and add the smallest detail if it helps.  

For example, a medium size business (less than # employees), a strong revenue stream, social impact is important to them, they see their bookkeeper as a trusted and vital partner to the success of their business, and every year I send them a plant on our anniversary of working together and they invite me to their company holiday party.  I am excited when I know I am going to meet with my client because we have easy conversations, they ask great questions about the future of their business, and we collaborate on new technology to support their growth. My client doesn’t email me after hours expecting an immediate response and their invoices are paid timely as I have them on autopay.   

It is a good practice to let new clients know there is a three-month get-to-know-you period and it may be necessary to adjust fees at the check-in point if it is determined the engagement requires more or less of your services.  This opens the door for an honest conversation with the client and ensures you are all in agreement on the scope of services.  It isn’t about getting every dollar you can and more about being a vital partner in the success of the company.  

You are the CEO of your business.

While owning your own business comes with some perks money conversations aren’t always one of them.  Money and pricing are one of the top things I am asked about by business owners.  While everyone has an opinion on what you should do the final decision rests with you and what feels aligned with the values of your company.  You are the CEO and trust you will make the right decision.


  • Evaluate your current services and compare them to the engagement letter to determine if an adjustment is in order.
  • Revisit billing rates on an annual basis.
  • Establish a plan for giving back and adhere to it.
  • Practice gratitude and forgiveness (of self).
  • Identify your next best clients. 

The accounting records of any company are vital to its success and your services are an investment worth making.  Please reach out if you have more questions on this topic (one of my favorites) or if you need some support updating your offerings.

With Gratitude,


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 

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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