Archive for the ‘Earning’ Category

Want Better Clients? Do These Two Things

Want Better Clients? Do These Two ThingsWant better clients? Raise your rates.

The worst clients, the ones who create the majority of the problems, are the loudest whiners and least appreciative, are the ones who pay the lowest rates.

When you raise your fees (or simply charge properly professional fees period, not cheap employee level wages), you will get a whole other (higher) caliber of clientele.

Want better clients? Stop calling yourself a virtual assistant.

Assistant is a term of employment. And people who think you are an assistant are the ones who expect the cheapest rates.

That’s because they do not see you as an independent professional in the expertise of administration. They see you as their little “virtual worker” and expect to pay you like one.

Continuing to call yourself a virtual assistant is like calling yourself a teapot. You have keep explaining that even though you call yourself one, you aren’t one.

How much sense does that make?

Why make your conversations and relationships more difficult than they need in the first place by calling yourself:

a) something that you aren’t (and as a business owner, you aren’t anyone’s assistant), and

b) that sets all the wrong perceptions, connotations and expectations that make it harder for you to get the respect you want and the professional level fees you need?

Here’s what else happens…

When you stop calling yourself an assistant, you also begin to stop thinking like one.

It’s the beginning of a huge mindset shift that occurs and you begin to start thinking more like a business owner, administrative expert and leader in your own business.

That shift in your own self-perception and identity is what also leads you down the path to better clients and higher earning.

Is Money a Dirty Word?

Is Money a Dirty Word?

My sense is this might hit some nerves and be controversial to some, but it’s an interesting topic to me so I’m just going to throw this out there:

People have a lot of ambivalence, guilt and negative associations around money. There are so many hot buttons it touches on including issues of self-worth and confidence, conformity, peer pressure, social class, even religion and spirituality.

We need it, but feel somewhat shameful about that.

We need it, but feel guilty charging well (or even properly).

Some people are ashamed if they have too little.

Others feel guilty if they have too much.

Some think those who have a lot of it are inherently evil or came about it dishonestly.

Then there are those in the world who have so little personal self-esteem and wholeness that they gauge their worth (and the worth of others) based on how much of it they have.

I’m human. I’m not immune to some of these pitfalls. I sometimes feel guilty charging. I sometimes play down instead of helping people rise to the occasion and take responsibility for themselves and their circumstances. That doesn’t help, it only keeps people playing small.

What’s the alternative? We become monks or go live in a yurt and divest ourselves from needing or wanting money or enjoying any material pleasures so no one can say we are bad or evil or selfish?

We see how poverty affects people and communities in the world in all its manifestations:  violence, crime, disease, addiction, unwanted children, suffering, exploitation, limited life options and choices… any number of things.

In this world, we need money to live. We need money to thrive. To have choice. Heck, just to take good care of ourselves, our loved ones and give our kids options and opportunities in life.

With money, we can do more good in the world and help more people because we have more resources, opportunities and abundance available to us.

With more money, we can share more.

With more money, there is more ease and less struggle. This leaves you room for more high-minded thoughts and endeavors that can actually change the lives of others.

It’s difficult (if not impossible) to do those things when you are living a hard-scrabble life just trying to survive and scratch out an existence. There’s nothing left for anyone or anything else.

And you certainly are not helping clients if you are struggling financially because that struggle keeps you distracted, preoccupied, unfocused and (let’s be honest), unhappy in a lot of ways.

Back in the day, I used to be more involved with artistic types of people. You’ve heard the term starving artist, I’m sure. They always had grand ideas, but never the money to execute or sustain. The things they did start would inevitably fail and fizzle in short order because they wanted everything to be free and felt guilty charging. So many of them literally feel they are being sell-outs if they charge or earn a good living from their art, that it’s only art if they suffer and live an impoverished life.

And I’ll tell you what I always told them:

The BEST thing you can do for these people and ideas and the art you love so much is TO CHARGE PROPERLY and make money. You will not be around long enough to have any impact or do any good and keep something going if you don’t bring in the money.

If you want to create something that lasts, that’s going to stick around for a good long while for people to enjoy and benefit from, you’ve got to charge and make money and be profitable. With more money, you can live an even more interesting life, have even more valuable, interesting, mind-expanding experiences and personal growth that you can bring to your art and share with others.

Money is not a dirty word. Money is a tool.

I have so many questions on this topic:

What kind of feelings do you have around money and charging and earning well? Is guilt around money something that’s been a problem for you? What other kinds of feelings and emotions do you have around money?

If you are stuck in poverty-mindset, what kind of clients do you think you are attracting? What do you think holds you back from earning and/or charging better? Do you lack the conversation skills to command the kind of fees you’d like to charge?

What kinds of things do you need money for? How do you see having more money and earning better improving your life, your family’s life and the lives of your clients and others?

How Billing by the Hour Is Killing Your Business (and What You Can Do About It)

Here’s a video I made a few years ago to help people understand how billing by hour (selling hours) is keeping them broke and killing their business.

This can be a difficult concept to understand at first. For many folks, it’s not until they’ve been in business for a bit that they realize the dilemma. It’s usually then that things finally “click” and they get it.

Then, there are people who understand the problem immediately and want to avoid it altogether in their practice.

Whatever camp you’re in, my Value-Based Pricing and Packaging Toolkit will show you how to stop selling hours (and selling yourself short) and learn how to price and package your value and expertise instead.

I’ve been practicing and studying this methodology since the 90s and been teaching it to our industry since 2004. I introduced the concept and adapted the methodology for our industry and I’m really the only person in our industry uniquely qualified to show you how to implement in your practice.

Get Paid to Market Your Biz with Info Products and Multi-Layered Revenue Streams

Do you want retained clients, but aren’t sure how to get them? If a roster of well-paying clients who pay you an advance monthly fee for your administrative support and expertise is what you long for, your entire website and marketing message must be geared toward that goal.

You want to think of your whole website as a sales page with a singular goal: to get those retained clients. From there, it’s a bit of a dating process that happens a lot like this:

  • You catch your prospect’s eye somewhere (through your marketing and networking).
  • They observe you from the across the room (by visiting your website and taking a look around).
  • They like what they see and hear and ask you out (by requesting a consultation or more information).

At this point, it’s important to understand that most people aren’t going to hire you right off the bat any more than anyone is going to be proposing marriage after one date.

Relationships develop and transpire over a course of time and interaction. Different prospective clients will have varying comfort levels initially.

This is the where most people aren’t sure how to proceed. Clients want them to “audition” by trying them out with small projects.

The problem with that, however, is when you fritter away your limited time and energy on nickel and dime projects, you are chasing after pennies instead of hundred dollar bills.

That small project might buy dinner that night, but it does nothing to help you achieve your long-term goal of achieving a well-earning practice. It only distracts you from building your real business and the work and focus needed to establish a retained roster of clients.

Some folks think: “Yes, but if I do a good enough job, maybe the client will eventually hire me on a retained basis.”

That almost never happens.

Your business and income can’t depend on hopes and maybe’s. You’ll never build a roster of well-paying monthly retained clients by chasing after penny-ante “sample” projects and letting the wrong prospect lead you around by the nose. To get a commitment, you must expect one.

On November 29, I’m holding a class to show you how to do just that by offering products and services that support your overall goal and marketing message to get retained clients AND create multiple revenue streams for you at the same time.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Nurture those prospective client relationships and lead them toward the retainer commitment;
  • Eliminate auditioning and the need to chase after penny-ante project work and carrots on a stick so you can stay focused on building your retained client roster;
  • Provide selective demonstrations and “proof” to prospects of your skills and expertise that they seek;
    Create passive income streams;
  • Establish you as an authority and expert in your field;
  • Set a more respectful tone for the relationship where prospects and clients treat you as a trusted advisor, not a cost to be managed or some kind of gopher;
  • Create an easier business to operate that affords you more time and space for your support work to happen;
  • Provide the foundation for a more flexible and freedom-filled lifestyle and business;
  • Get PAID to market your business!

Join us! Click on the link below to get the class details and secure your registration:

Get Paid to Market Your Biz with Info Products and Multi-Layered Revenue Streams >>

You DO Need a Certain Level of Income to Be Happy and Healthy

I was listening to some radio program several weeks ago that referred to a study that supports the idea that you only truly need so much money in life to be happy. Past a certain point, more money doesn’t make you any happier.

So true!

I’m not interested in being a millionaire because I’m not interested in the lifestyle or work it would take to get there. I’m also not interested in the least in the KIND of business I would need to be in to make that kind of money.

And I LIKE having work and purpose in my life and things to strive for. I don’t want it all to come TOO easily, funny as that might sound.

That said, I DO think it’s important to have a six figure business. BUT, it’s important to clarify what kind of six figures we’re talking about.

There is a HUGE difference between a $100-200k biz and a $500k biz, let alone a $1 million biz, in terms of the work involved, what kind of business it is and what it needs to focus on. Very, very different models and machinations involved.

You can live a very happy, rich life (and I mean LIVING) with only a $75k income. That said, it’s important to understand that for you to personally earn $75k, your business generally needs to bring in a revenue of at least $100k.

This is always the kind of “6 Figure Business” I’m talking about in relation to our administrative support businesses.

And this is a VERY modest and completely doable goal that gives you a benchmark of financial ease, solvency, sustainability and profitability that encourages you to strive without making money the focus or driving force and without forcing you to have a completely different kind of business model and life.

There’s nothing to feel guilty about in earning well, no matter what your financial goals are, be they modest or grand.

But make no mistake, there is a minimum amount of money you do need to make in order to stay in business and be able to serve clients well.

You earning poorly, and merely surviving instead of thriving, does no one any good whatsoever.

I originally posted this musing on our Facebook page, but I thought it related wonderfully to what I’m always trying to help you do:  which is to earn more, working less and more strategically.

While $100k a year is an excellent financial goal to strive for, that doesn’t mean it will be easy to achieve working entirely one-on-one with clients.

And a bigger business (in order to achieve that goal) is not necessarily better. Bigger businesses come with more work, more administration, more costs, reduced profit, more people managing and more room for problems, communication issues and errors.

There IS, however, an alternative way to increase your revenues and that’s by leveraging your knowledge and turning it into DIY info products for your potential clients and site visitors.

Not only do these products allow you to demonstrate your expertise without requiring your personal one-on-one time, you’ll essentially get paid to market your business and grow that all important know, like and trust factor.

The crazy thing is almost NO ONE in our industry is doing this for their prospects and clients! You don’t have to be one of them.

On Thursday, November 29, I’m conducting a class where I will show you all the ins and outs of creating info products and multi-layer revenue streams in your business. This is a brand new class that I’ve been “threatening” to do for several months and next month is finally it!

See the registration for more information and to secure your spot >>

I’ll see you there! :)

Dear Danielle: I Have No Confidence in Charging What I Need to Charge

Dear Danielle:

I have found your information on how to be an Administrative Consultant helpful and informative. I have a question for you regarding rates for my support. I have been trying to see what others are charging, just to see if I’m in the same range and not charging too much. I did the calculation from your Income & Pricing Calculator and my baseline is $50/hour. The challenge I’m having is feeling comfortable with my per hour rate. Is there any way to overcome this? —RD

I know everyone does this when they’re new, but the last place you need to be looking when it comes to determining your pricing is your colleagues’ sites.

Hear me loud and clear on this:  It does not matter what anyone else in the industry is charging. (In fact, most are earning poorly because they aren’t charging enough whatsoever).

The only two important ingredients in determining your pricing are:

  1. you and what you have to offer in relation to
  2. your target market and their needs, goals and challenges.

When you deeply know and understand those things, you’ll find it much easier to command your fees without flinching.

Charging poorly can have detrimental, even devastating, effects on a young business.

Your goal in business is to provide value (not cheapness) to your clients and earn very well for yourself so that you can stay in business. You can’t take great care of clients unless you take great care of yourself first and that means charging profitably.

Looking at what (little) others may be charging as your guide will keep you in the poor house, potentially put you out of business, and contribute nothing toward increasing your confidence and savvy as a business owner.

The other thing I would want to tell you is not to charge by the hour.

Billing by the hour is an archaic, UNbeneficial way to bill that cheats both you and the client.

In fact, you actually make less money billing by the hour.

Instead, learn how to price and package your support by value.

It’s a WHOLE lot easier for you, it’s more convenient for clients and makes it vastly easier for them to say yes to working with you (all of which are outlined in the guide).

Lastly, confidence is a journey.

Your confidence will absolutely affect how you valuate your fees.

What you feel comfortable charging at the start of your business will be much different a couple years down the road. That’s because when most of us start out in business, we tend to be stuck in employee mindset to one degree or another.

Many new business owners aren’t aware that when they were an employee still working a job, their employers actually paid far more than what they saw on their paycheck.

They don’t realize all the other costs involved. They don’t understand that business and employment are two completely different animals, and that in business, it’s a whole other dynamic with entirely different standards, protocols and mechanisms involved in pricing.

And because they aren’t sure of themselves or how clients will respond, and still think of themselves as an employee rather than an expert, they are timid about pricing confidently and boldly.

Eventually, though, they begin to develop certain realizations. Their view of themselves changes. Their professional self-esteem increases. They get an inkling that they aren’t charging enough when they are slaving away ‘round the clock and still not making enough money. They think taking on more clients is the answer—until they see that they end up making even less than before!

Some people are confident right out of the gate while others take a bit longer to get there. The good news is that the longer you’re in business, the more your confidence will increase. As you work with clients, the more you begin to recognize the value of the work you do when you see how it improves their businesses and helps them move forward, overcome challenges and achieve their dreams. Your confidence in charging more professionally will grow from there.

Whatever your confidence level is right now when it comes to pricing, it’s perfectly normal.

At the same time, I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone. Experiment. Take a risk in your pricing and see what happens. Most people find that clients don’t bat an eye and wish they’d stepped up in their business a lot sooner.

Oh, and one more thought: the idea that you need to charge less just because you are new in business is complete and utter rubbish!

You might have a learning curve when it comes to successfully running and managing a business, but that doesn’t make your administrative skills and years of experience any less valuable. And a business simply requires that it be solvent and sustainable.

So while my goal for you is to price boldly and profitably, I realize that sometimes there is a bit of a journey involved in getting there.

That’s okay.

I’m gonna keep educating, coaching, encouraging, urging and reminding you, keep you thinking on your toes, and sometimes even chiding you and giving you a little kick in the pants now and then. ;)

You’ll get there!

What Folks Have to Say About My Value-Based Pricing and Packaging Training

Besides not charging properly, another reason people aren’t earning well in our business is that they are selling hours instead of pricing for solutions. This is called value-based pricing and it’s a methodology I introduced to our industry back in 2004 and have been teaching since then.

I recently conducted this class in June and I wanted to share with you the exciting testimonials I received from some of the attendees:

“Your classes are always fun and informative. I have been on calls before for webinars, and it seemed as if I was the only person on the call. But not with you. You give such awesome information and examples that it is hard not to get excited about how you are going to apply all that you have learned. You make it easy for everyone to ask questions and not feel as if “oh, that was a stupid question.” That is why it is hard to get off your calls. I learn a lot from the other people on the call as well as the information and templates you provide. I now have a clear picture of why I should have packages instead of charging by the hour.” —Tracy Carson, Te L – Us Business Solutions, LLC



Thank you so much, Tracy! I was especially thrilled by Tracy’s feedback because I know she is a very discerning customer and has been disappointed in the past by other teleclasses she’s attended from others, which makes her feedback even more meaningful. I’m so glad I was able to help, Tracy! There is nothing better than that!

“This program is amazing, and I am so glad I was able to participate.  I dreaded spending the time for billing each week because it took up way to much time that I could be spending with my family.  Since participating in the webinar and implementing the pricing plan with two new clients, it has taken all the stress out of billing.  That alone has made this program worth it.  I have advised all my clients that as of the new quarter (August) all billing will be switched over to this program, and even a few are excited about it.  Not having to worry about weekly billing and increments of 15 min they, too, feel it will be less stressful when trying to read their invoices.  I have one client who decided to not wait and we are working on his support plan to get him started right away.  Thank you for sharing you knowledge and simplifying the trials and errors that you have endured to create the impossibly easy billing!  I can’t wait for your next webinar because I will make sure I have signed up for it to attend.” —Teri Williams, Sidekick Assistants



Oh, what wonderful news to wake up to!! This is just so thrilling and I am ecstatic for Teri and her business! What I love even more is that she was fearless, took action right away and just DECIDED to implement things (and didn’t sit around waiting for clients’ permission).

She knew it would help her and she knew it would definitely benefit her clients and help them see that they could both be more focused on the client’s goals and dreams and achieving objectives instead of counting hours. I so LOVE THIS!

Now here’s the bad news… The class I held in June was the last live class I planned on doing on this topic. I have many more new and exciting projects I want to focus on, as well as a big adventure I’m planning to start late 2013 or early 2014.

The good news is that you, too, can get the entire training RIGHT NOW with my comprehensive Value-Based Pricing & Packaging Toolkit.

Click on the link and you will be taken to the product information that will let you know all that is included in the guide, some sample images and a video explaining why pricing by the hour and selling hours is killing your business.

I am proud as punch of this program, and as evidenced by all the testimonials of customers and attendees, it has really and truly transformed the income and businesses of those who have purchased the toolkit!

Why Aren’t You Making More Money?

One of the things our annual survey has shown us year after year is that most people in our industry are not charging enough.

When an Administrative Consultant doesn’t charge enough, it’s difficult, impossible even, to create a profitable, successful practice—the kind that allows you to quit your day job (or in the case of single moms, create the kind of real livelihood that will support their families). When you aren’t earning well, you begin to question your worth. Feelings of resentment arise.

To make more money, many people think the only option is to take on more clients. But that’s not exactly the answer, especially if you’re already managing at capacity. Overwhelm and burnout soon ensue.

Some think the only way to make more money is to turn into a virtual staffing agency or admin mill (where the work is farmed out to cheap, exploited workers, which is not in the best interests of clients). But, again, that’s not the only answer. You have to drum up even more business, be on even more of a hamster wheel, and become more of a people manager in order to create any kind of profit in that kind of business.

You lose significant control over the quality and delivery of service. Your overhead doubles, even triples. Your marketing and networking requirements are multiplied. Your administration increases and becomes more complicated. And the people doing the work don’t work for free, no matter how cheaply you get them to work for you (and honestly, does exploiting others and having them devalue themselves for your benefit really feel good to you?).

So your profit margins become even smaller. And because you are now dependent on an even higher volume of clients and work to make up for these multiplied costs in such a business, you can actually end up earning exponentially even less money than before!

Many Administrative Consultants know they aren’t charging enough, but fear holds them back. They’re afraid if they increase their rates, they’ll lose their current clients.

Sometimes it’s a lack of confidence because they are new in business, not sure of themselves and still carrying over employee mindset (or being told by idiotic “training” organizations that just because they’re new in business they shouldn’t be charging as well as anyone else. WRONG! Not only should they be ashamed of themselves for telling people that, but with advice like that it’s clear they have no business teaching anyone about business.)

I won’t lie to you. It is very true that if you raise your rates, you may lose some current clients. It’s always hard to make change with those who have gotten used to being spoiled and having you devalue yourself. But some loss is a actually a sign of growth, of growing into your strength and standing for your place in the world. You will never grow if you don’t ever upset the status quo in your business and aren’t willing to accept risks.

It’s important to understand that there are always going to be clients that you outgrow throughout the life of your business. And when you do, you make room for the more ideal in your business—those new clients who come into your life having more appreciation for what you do for them and happily pay well for it.

You being poor does not contribute to helping make the world a better place. Nor does helping make the world a better place require you to be financially unsuccessful. In fact, you being financially successful in your business affords you more opportunities and ability to put people first and do good in the world as well as for your clients. ;)

Clients aren’t the only ones who have a right to their dreams—you do, too! But you won’t ever reach those dreams if you don’t step outside your comfort zones and take some educated/informed risks. It may never feel completely comfortable raising your rates. You can be bold or you can take baby steps—either way, it’s all forward growth. So just do it!

The first step in setting these intentions is getting clear about what it really costs to run your business and what you need to earn for your life, so be sure to download the free ACA Income and Pricing Calculator.

Now ask me for some tips and strategies. :)

(Originally posted on my old blog on September 14, 2009.)

It’s Not About the Hours

Here’s a question posted on a public forum that came to my attention via Google Alerts:

I have a client who just opened a new business. He wants to utilize our support options, but isn’t sure how many hours per month he would need us. He is asking about buying a bank of hours that could be rolled over to the next month if unused. Also, we bill in 15 minute increments and he is concerned that a lot of time would be eaten up with us replying to emails. Has anyone dealt with a situation similar to this?

This is just one of the many issues you encounter when you price your services based on selling hours. You don’t know how long things will take going in and clients worry about their hours being frittered away and what their bill will be afterwards.

Do you see how the focus is all on the time?

Achieving results for clients should be the focus of your work, not watching the clock, having your hands tied behind your back and having to stop in the middle of things because time has run out.

Guess what? When you learn how to utilize value-based billing in your business, hours don’t matter!

No one needs to know upfront how many hours will be needed or used… because the focus is on accomplishing the work and achieving the goals and objectives it is in support of, not the hours.

With value-based pricing, it doesn’t matter how many emails are sent back and forth with clients or how much time is spent reading them… because they aren’t paying for time and you aren’t selling hours.

EVERYTHING from your conversations with clients, to your work, to your administration is soooo much simpler and more streamlined when you utilize the value-based pricing methodology.

And clients are more attracted to this way of billing and working together. When you utilize value-based pricing, it’s much easier for them to say “yes” to working with you!

This is what I’m teaching this month in my Value-Based Pricing & Packaging class on June 27 & 28: How to Price & Package Your Retained Support Based on Value and Expertise—NOT Selling Hours!

I’m going to show you with step-by-step instruction how to price and create value-based packages custom-built for each client’s unique needs that make working together a breeze (not to mention help you earn better)!

The Early Bird discount is over, but you can still get in on some savings. Register by June 9 and pay the special rate of $147 (a savings of $50).

Click here to register and get more details >>

I’d love to see you there!

Dear Danielle: How Do I Prequalify Potential Clients Financially

Dear Danielle:

I am just starting out in my own business. I have crunched the numbers and know what I need to charge. I have researched my target market and need to know where in the industry to focus my attention. In other words, who can afford to pay for my services? I’ve seen you use the example for the pre-qualifying process that clients must make a minimum of $75,000. How do you arrive at this number? Is there a formula for this; like a percentage of income for administrative services? I know what my bottom line is. How do I figure out where their bottom line is so I can sift through my research and refine my target. —KT

There’s no formula; $75,000 is just a benchmark that I chose. It’s based on nothing but my experience and the “sense” I’ve developed after being in business for 15 years now.

For example, a solopreneur making only $50,000 a year really is only surviving. While I might love to help them, I simply can’t take on any retained client where money is a problem. That is, I don’t want to work with anyone who is really only making enough to pay themselves, much less anyone else. If paying me comes at great difficulty, that inevitably leads to problems and I don’t like feeling like “the other shoe is going to drop” at a moment’s notice. Know what I mean? So, for me, $75,000 is a bare-bones minimum,  a more comfortable income benchmark to be able to afford my support without much difficulty as it’s closer to the $100,000 a year level. It’s just a rough gauge.

You can choose whatever number you want, as well.

When it comes to prequalifying clients financially, there are lots of ways you can go about that. Maybe you come right out and ask them what their income level is in an online form on your website. Maybe you simply state that the clients you work with need to make a minimum of $X annually. You can choose whatever number you want, although the numbers may be relative to the market you’re focusing on. Maybe that’s $75,000. Maybe it’s $100,000. Maybe it’s $200,000. Some people prefer working strictly with 7 figure entrepreneurs.

There’s no right or wrong here. Just pick a number; you can change it later if you want or need to. The goal, obviously, is to focus on your ideal retainer clients who make enough of a comfortable income to where paying you for your administrative support and expertise poses no difficulty.

(Keep in mind, we’re always talking about retainer clients here on my blog, not project work unless specifically indicated as that’s a completely different animal.)

We cover prequalifying clients at length in my client consultation guide, Breaking the Ice: Your Complete, Step-by-Step System to Confidently Lead the Consultation Conversation and Convert All Your Prospects to Retained Clients (GDE-03). This guide will be of enormous benefit to you so I highly encourage you to check it out.

Don’t feel like you have to do everything exactly the same as me or anyone else, or that you have to do everything “perfectly” (like, what is “perfect” anyway, right?). Once you get started, you’ll start getting a feel for what works for you in your business and even that will change over time as you go along. You will have lots of adjustments and course corrections you make throughout the life of your business.