A few years ago at the beginning of my business journey I was told during a one-on-one session with a marketing consultant that networking events are not for making friends. My follow-up emails with the people I met were all wrong. I needed to get to the point about the services I offered and cut the pleasantries.
I do a lot of networking with other women and most of my clients are also women. Do we attend networking events to make friends? Heck yes. We’re often working from home on our own, we have challenges that other women and mums can relate to and sometimes these are our only opportunities to connect. Yes, we are there to find clients. Yes, we are also there to find people that we can form alliances with. But when a fellow business owner tells me how she felt about her teenager going out driving on her own for the first time I remember that conversation and I remember that woman and her business, because we genuinely connected over that conversation.
Networking is a time for listening – not just pitching. If you listen you’ll find out what people’s frustrations are, where they could do with some help. I don’t want a business card thrust in my hand and to be “sold” to without getting to know that person first. A wall goes straight up and doing business with them is the last thing on my mind.
There’s definitely room for me to be more aggressive in my networking. I’m getting better at selling my business when I do my “stand up and tell us about your business” pitch. But I also know that when someone picks up the phone and calls me after meeting me at a networking event, then there was a degree of trust there and they felt I was the type of person that would do the right thing by them (and their business finances).
In hindsight, a lot of the advice the marketing consultant gave me was good, solid advice. I went ahead with some of his recommendations later (after I got over the initial shock of his bluntness). I also agree that at the end of the day you’re investing time and money in networking events in order to grow your business. I’ll continue to make sure potential clients are aware of what I do and how I can help them, but I’ll also be having a laugh and getting to know the people I’m out spending my night with.
Do you love technology or have you been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century longing for the good old days? I think I’m a bit of both. I enjoy cutting my teeth on new technology for my business but I still love teaching Journals and Ledgers to students the old-fashioned way using pencil and paper. I prefer the comforting tap tap tapping of a big clunky calculator to whipping out my smartphone (my hubby & kids will attest to this).
If you’re a Xero user, you may have heard of Xero apps (or Xero add-ons). They’re cloud-based applications that work with Xero to perform one or more extra functions. There’s an app for pretty much every task and every type of business.
Some apps are ‘horizontal’ apps that are made for use across a range of industries. Others are ‘vertical’ apps that are made for one main type of industry.
They come in varying shapes and sizes and some are more complex than others. For example, Receipt Bank is straight-forward to use and once integrated with Xero correctly you can be up and running pretty quickly. It has a couple of main functions, which it does well. Mindbody is an example of a more complex app with many functions, and will therefore take more time and energy to integrate with Xero and to learn to use correctly.
Most of the apps allow you a free trial period at first, so you can try before you buy. Once you’ve decided to go ahead with the product you’re often required to pay by monthly subscription that automatically gets charged to your credit card.
It’s a good idea to make sure you’re comfortable using Xero first before you go add-on shopping. But if you live for learning new technologies, then hey – don’t let me stop you jumping right in! You might also start the other way around, using an App first and then integrating it with Xero down the track. I’ve seen this work successfully as well. If you use a cloud-based accounting software other than Xero such as MYOB, Quickbooks or Reckon, many of the apps will integrate with these too.
Why are people using Xero apps?
To provide a better experience for their customers
I think I’ve read almost every small business finance book in the Tea Tree Gully library here in Adelaide – some of them twice.
I’ve found 3 great tips that I’ll be incorporating into my business. They are not only an easy way to help increase cashflow but will also help tweak your mindset if you find your confidence flagging.
This is from Accounting for the Numberphobic by Dawn Fotopulos.
“Invoices become a running record of the value the business delivered for every client – a testimony of what’s been accomplished. Listing the benefits the client received is the key to differentiating your product or service from others. It will remind the client of what makes the business you manage different and more professional than that of your peers”.
She goes on to write “Invoices help to build the reputation of the business”.
Have you ever considered the effect your invoice has on your client when they receive it? Is it possible they look at your invoice and think “How did he get to that price? What exactly did they do in that 8 hours they have charged me for?”
If you’ve poured your heart and soul into providing a great product or service for a client – don’t risk your invoice getting put on the backburner whilst your client pays everyone else before you. Remind your client of the value you have provided so that paying you is that much easier and they have a great reason to use your business again in the future.
So these are my 3 tips for improving cashflow & boosting business confidence:
Include a detailed description on your Invoice of the service or product you’ve provided and remind them of the value you’ve added for them. Be confident in your invoicing!
If some of the work was complimentary and isn’t being on-charged to the client – include that on the invoice so the client is aware.
If 2 or 3 people have performed the work for the client – include their names to give more meaning to the work.
I’ll definitely be incorporating this into my own Xero invoicing for Festival Bookkeeping – it will only take an extra 5 minutes. Such simple concepts and easily implemented. Love it.
Looking for more small business tips? Here are some others that readers have liked:
I’ve been thinking about how we sometimes put things in the too-hard-basket, where they stay for much too long. Cluttering up our lives not only in the physical sense (ie a desk covered in paperwork), but emotionally too. Sometimes you just have to take charge, dig in and deal with it. A weight will be lifted off your shoulders and by de-cluttering physically and mentally you leave space open for good things to come into your life.
I grew up in small mining towns, attended high school in Whyalla, South Australia, and got my first job as a legal secretary for a law firm there. This was also my first foray into studying at TAFE, where I was introduced to the mysteries of double entry bookkeeping. (Little did I know this would make an appearance further down the track and become a big part of my life).
Fast forward 22 years and I’m now married with 2 children and living in Adelaide. I’ve studied and gained an Advanced Diploma in Accounting and gained the experience and extra studies required to become a Registered BAS Agent. In between I’ve worked in accounting and administration for large corporations, for several small businesses, government organisations and a non-profit. On the side I’ve sold Body Shop products in people’s homes where I first learned to become comfortable standing up and speaking in front of groups of people. Without knowing it at the time, this equipped me with the confidence and skills needed to teach accounting to students at TAFE in the following years.
So this has all culminated in where I am today – having a small business based in the North Eastern suburbs of Adelaide that enables me to help other local business owners with their finances and also teaching students at TAFE. Two things I love doing.
And that is basically the Festival Bookkeeping story. I hope that by reading this you have been able to gain an insight into both my personal and business background and why I love to do what I do.
Oh, and the short version of the story:
Country girl turned City Girl. Accounting Nerd. Small business owner helping other small business owners.
I love a good time-saving tip! I’ve found these 3 great ideas that anyone can easily implement in their business or at work, from Debbie Eglin over at the Flying Solo website.
Tip 1 especially fits in with my favourite subject at the moment – going paperless. I hope going paperless is something you are working towards in your business or workplace. It really is the way forward and makes a lot of sense.
Tip 3 is another great tip because we often find ourselves typing the same words over and over, which is a time-waster.
You don’t have to be a tree-hugger to be interested in going paperless – it will also save you in the hip pocket. So it’s really a win-win situation. A win for you and a win for the environment (which of course benefits you too!)
I previously shared some tips on 4 Easy Ways to Go Paperless. The 4 tips are some really simple ways to make that step towards going paperless without having to spend lots of money or make huge changes to the way you work or run your business. Readers shared some of their tips on going paperless too, which you might want to check out in the Comments section at the bottom of the post.
I wanted to write a couple of posts about how exactly you can benefit from moving towards a paperless office, particularly from a bookkeeping point of view. So instead of the “how” I wanted to explore the “why” of going paperless.
So read on for the first of many great reasons that I prefer to go paperless and how you, too, can benefit.
# 1 Online banking is better than writing out cheques.
Banks often charge a fee to send out cheque books
Banks sometimes charge a fee for each cheque presented I discovered this the hard way – being charged .95c every time one of my cheques gets deposited!
Mailing cheques is time consuming and you have to pay for stamps.
People can lose cheques, resulting in double the amount of work.
Cheques for small amounts are often not banked, and sit there in your accounting records as being unpresented month after month until you finally get hold of the person and sort it out, or it goes stale.
Just like having 2 cheque signatories, you can set up your online banking so that 2 people have to authorise each payment – resulting in better security of your money. And whilst on the subject of online banking, bank statements can be downloaded from your bank’s website and saved in a suitably named folder which can be backed-up, reducing the need to have paper copies sent out to you.