At that event, I was privileged to meet Steven D. Strauss, the USAToday small business columnist who is also known as Mr. Allbiz. (the event was sponsored by Brother printers...and we really liked the one they displayed, but - to Brother's credit, the printer was secondary to the conversation).
This post is about Steve's book, The Small Business Bible. And what a bible it is! As his press notes, this book is a "gold-mine" of information, with content on (but not limited to):
- Writing a winning biz plan
- Buying a "great" franchise
- Hassle-free hiring
- Creating a memorable brand
I'm not even half-way through this book and it's been tremendously helpful to me, especially now...as we all struggle with this #@$%"#@$% upheaval in the economy.
For today, I thought the advice Strauss offers on page 102 might be useful to all the small business owners out there who are struggling, much like I am, to charge fair and reasonable prices, while not falling into charging by the hour. We left the whole "hourly rate" thing behind when we incorporated Windsor Media Enterprises, and I've never looked back.
That doesn't mean it's easy to figure out what "price" to put to a project, while still being fair to ourselves and to the new client. This is what Strauss says and I totally agree (see what you think, then share, please; you'll be helping many other small business owners):
"How to Get Customer to Pay More for Your Services...
- Offer a flat fee. Customers like knowing exactly what the cost will be, and often they will pay more for that peace of mind.
- Offer a free consultation. A free half-hour session builds rapport, and rapport means work. If you get the gig, you can always build that half hour back into your fee (or not).
- Start small. Offer to do a smaller project first to build confidence. Once the customer likes you and your work, you can charge more.
- Guarantee your work. Guarantees build confidence, and confidence means higher fees."
I agree with all of these and would add... Make sure your web presence is current and showcases you with testimonials. Clients and prospects are tuned more and more into the web - if you shine like polished silver online, your customers will know they are getting the best price, for the best service, and you will be worth a king's ransom.
BTW, I recommend this book for all small businesses. Not just start-ups. Get a copy and read page 103...where Strauss explains "The Loss Leader." Very valuable.