Once upon a time there was a business called Budget Bookkeepers, it was unforgettable* for all the wrong reasons.
Joe started BB as she liked to call it because she knew business owners didn’t want to pay for anything they didn’t have to pay for, and that they just wanted no frills bookkeeping. Everyone was always complaining about paying for bookkeeping, so she was going to help them out by giving it to them at basement bargain prices.
Bookkeeping is the sort of thing all business need, so joe decided she’d work with anyone who had a business. She didn’t want to limit herself to a smaller niche market, after all, she needed to be really busy so she could make enough money to make the business work.
Joe had a few friends in business who were always unhappy with the fees they had to pay for various business services, so she went to them first and offered to do their books for 15% less than they were currently paying. Surprisingly only a handful of the 35 people she approached said yes to her offer, she wondered if she should have offered 20% off to start with, but she wouldn’t really be able to make any money doing that, so she got on with servicing the clients she had.
To keep costs down, Joe worked from home, and she went to see her clients from time to time if it was absolutely necessary, but mostly worked by phone and email. She didn’t really have a set process to sign up new clients because after all every business is different and she wanted to help any business at any stage of the process, so she adapted herself to them.
When someone would enquire about becoming a customer she never asked anything about their business, she always told them about her low prices and guaranteed to beat anyone else’s quote.
Joe spent a fair bit of time dealing with customer enquiries, it seemed like a customer always wanted or needed something or had a question! She felt like she never had time for anything else. Everyone had told her that being in business was difficult and you had to work long hours, so she wasn’t surprised.
When you signed up with Joe she sent you a bunch of emails with contracts and things you had to fill out, lots of forms you had to complete and there were some instructions about what you had to provide her. Often though, Joe found new clients got confused and forgot to give her some of the information she needed, so getting them started took longer than she hoped and a few of them even had the gall to complain! Joe was a bit annoyed about that because it was their fault for not providing the information.
BB wasn’t doing very well, getting new clients was tough and the ones she did have seemed to drop off after only two months most of the time. Joe did a lot of networking and attended every little event that she could find. She was frustrated though because there were other book keepers at every event and she often couldn’t get to hand over her business card in time for another book keeper to have done so. She told herself it was no surprise, bookkeeping was a competitive business, she’d just have to keep pushing and keep her prices low.
Joe decided she needed to print some flyers and try doing a letterbox drop and walk in to local businesses to give them a copy of her flyer. She designed them herself and got them printed black and white to save cost because all her clients cared about was saving money, they didn’t want any fancy flyers.
After being in business for 12 months Joe decided to go back and get a job. She’d barely been able to make enough money to pay her bills and was exhausted from constantly dealing with the work that needed to be done for clients as well as never ending client questions and complains plus all the lead generation activity she needed to do.
She just didn’t know what she could have done differently, or how anyone could make a living doing bookkeeping.
*Yes this is just a story, no it’s not a real business, but I bet it sounds familiar. I hope this doesn’t remind you of your own business, but if it does, let’s talk, I can help.