What brings you joy? How a strategic plan helps you love what you do and build a successful business by charging what you are worth

What brings you joy? How a strategic plan helps you love what you do and build a successful business by charging what you are worth

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There is never a wrong time to get a strategic plan in place; this could be before you start trading, after you’ve been trading for a few years, or whenever! It’s always impactful on your business – and the enjoyment you get from day to day.

The starting point of a strategic plan is your mission statement. I believe this is much easier to produce when you have considered your why and your values. If you don’t know at a core level why you’re doing what you’re doing, how can you pass this onto your staff?

I asked a mentee the other day, ‘Does your work bring you joy?’ She seemed genuinely baffled and answered by saying “It’s well paid”. This happens frequently with accountants; they are happy to change jobs to improve their salary but not because they prefer the work.

Having said that, it’s a common theme across all types of business as people fall into a rut in their career and don’t step back to consider whether there is something out there they would prefer to be doing!

So, let me ask you – What brings you joy? the answer might not be easy for you to arrive at immediately, but I’d recommend taking some time to go outside, if you can (if not, just move to somewhere else rather than your usual work space), and reflect on the following:

  1. What are you naturally good at?
  2. Recall times of joy
    What were you doing?
  3. Visualise success
    What are you doing? Who are you with? Be as specific as possible.
  4. Consider your legacy
    How do you want to be remembered?
  5. Ask yourself big questions
    What would you do it money was no object?
  6. Reflect on pivotal life moments
    Take time out and think about these moments
    Why did you make the choices you made?

Consider what your values are; what’s important to you and what gives you energy?

For me, I know that if I’m helping someone – whether trouble shooting with a client, giving them mentoring or actively listening – I come away energised and satisfied.

What does this for you?

Take some time now to think about what you enjoy doing. Are there any common themes? They will help you define your values; in other words, what is important to you.

These could be:

  • 🟢 Achievement
  • 🟦 Integrity
  • 🟢 Respect
  • 🟦 Stability
  • 🟢 Honesty
  • 🟦 Loyalty
  • 🟢 Kindness
  • 🟦 Creativity

…….and many more.

By basing your decisions on your values, see how your energy improves.

Are you charging your worth?

Possible Goals as an accountant

Now you know what brings you joy and have defined your values, your next step is to set your goals. Start with your work as an accountant (However, this process will help you, no matter which business you are in). What is your aim? Perhaps you would like to:

  • work in industry
  • work in practice
  • set up your own accounting practice
  • work in audit
  • work internationally
  • work for a charity
  • retrain and specialise in tax
  • work for HMRC
  • become a financial tutor

There’s so much choice out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as to what to do next to achieve your goals. Once you have an accountancy qualification there are a lot of avenues open to you. That’s why it’s important to give yourself time to think about what you want to do and do your research. What are the pros and cons of each for you? Note them down to help your thought process. Then you can prepare to achieve those goals.

Plan for your future

Start thinking about what your ideal life would look and feel like.

  • Take time out, preferably away from your usual work space.
  • Set aside some time dedicated to thinking about your future.
    • What is important to you?
    • How do you want to live your life?
    • What do you enjoy doing in your work life?
    • Does your work life balance feel at a correct level?
    • What is your timescale?

Jot down your answers.

Which of the options available to you would best suit the answers you’ve given?

Do some research online and consider each option. A coach/mentor could help you decide. Think about:

    • Whether you already have the skills required or whether you need to achieve further qualifications or undertake some training.
    • The financial implications and how you will deal with them.
    • The benefits of each option.
    • What could stand in your way?
    • Who you need to talk to for some additional information?
    • Is it worth talking to your Manager/Partner to see if there are any opportunities of which you’re unaware?
Plan for your future

Your plan of action

  • Let your mind wander and think about what you would enjoy doing the most if there were no financial constraints.
  • Have a look at the free resources on my website – including my future planning mind map.
  • Think about the aspects of your job as an accountant that you enjoy the most. Then think about how you could use these in a different role within your existing firm or maybe somewhere completely new.
  • Start to make notes and decide on the pros and cons of all your options.
  • Write down what your priorities are within a job – maybe this is the financial reward or being close to home or having flexible working.
  • Research which jobs are out there. Which jobs are advertised? What are you hearing from your existing networks? Is there anything on social media – especially LinkedIn? (Make sure that your profiles are up to date – more and more companies are using LinkedIn and other social media platforms to headhunt their ideal candidates.)
  • Once you have a list of options and have done some research, I would suggest you work with a coach/mentor to talk through the options. They will help you consider the pros and cons as well as assist in coming up with a plan of action to achieve your goals. Brainstorming is so effective!

Review your pricing

One of the areas of a strategic plan is pricing and as I know accountants struggle with this (as well as many other people who run their own business), I thought I’d concentrate on this area.

The problem with pricing

If you are going to serve your clients well you need to have time for them. To free up time you need to set your prices at a high enough level. Frequently, accountants are run ragged as they are working long hours and not pricing high enough.

Remember clients are buying:

  • peace of mind
  • tax savings
  • solutions to their financial problems

You are helping them to resolve any issues and deserve to charge them a reasonable price for your time and expertise.

Solutions for your Pricing Policy

So how do you know what to charge for your services? How can you be sure that your client will think you are value for money? How do you ensure that you are paid for the work you do?

Here are some steps you can take to ensure you have set your charges at the right level and that both you and your client are getting the best deal.

  1. Give the client a fixed fee which is payable monthly.

Therefore, you’ll both know where you are with your cashflow. By pricing consistently and openly you’ll both have certainty. In order to move from billing at the end of a piece of work to billing in advance, plan ahead.

Finish off their last piece of work, say to 30/6/24, and invoice for that. Then invoice them for the year 30/6/25 and ask them to start paying monthly from 1/7/24.

I know that a lot more accountants are doing this now but there are still some who wait until the work is finished to invoice.

  1. Offer different packages

Make sure each package clearly outlines what is covered (and what is NOT covered). If you are asked to do something not included in the package, then charge for it. In future, the client may upgrade to a package which includes the extra work.

  1. Differentiate yourself as an accountant

You are not interested in being the cheapest accountant on the block. It never works as a client who is shopping on price will never value you and the service you offer!

In order for them to value you, the service you offer needs to focus on them and what they want. Once you know this you can review their strengths and weaknesses and help them to improve their business.

  1. Concentrate on the outcome for the client

 

When you quote for a piece of work concentrate on the outcome your client is going to receive. They don’t care how you do it, only that it is done! This will demonstrate that you are value for money as they will see the benefit.

  1. Be clear from the outset what your client wants.

If not, then you can end up doing more than was planned and the client won’t be charged. This is called scope creep.

How to avoid scope creep:

  • Prepare in advance and ask detailed questions when you first engage the client.
  • Have regular check-ins with the client; their business may have changed and they may need extra support as time progresses.
  • Keep your billing system up to date to ensure the job remains profitable.
  • Build up some slack into your plan just in case things change.

  1. Check that your client process is efficient.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • How am I going to do it now? What issues/steps can I remove from the current process?
  • How can I involve my team in the process?
  • Educate the client

Your client needs to know what information you need, how to get it to you and how frequently.

Remember, it’s important to price in a way you feel comfortable. For some accountants, this will be by finding out what work the client needs them to do and then calculating the price or offering them a specific package. It may be that a pricing software package can do the work for you. The good thing about using a package is that the client can see the information that you have entered and is more likely to accept the final price. Also, there is an element of finding the process easier because you can say, ‘It’s not my fault the price is higher, it’s the package!’

Further resources:

Mark Wickersham                Effective pricing for accountants and Founder of Effective
                                                Pricing Software.

James Ashford                     Selling to Serve and Founder of Go Proposal

The role of an accountant is changing and you need to make sure that your prices reflect the amount of time and expertise your client is getting from you. Does what you charge reflect the outcome for the client? The only way to know is to build in regular reviews of your pricing to your business planning. Know your worth!

  1. Competition

Be aware of what your competitors are charging but don’t be pushed into lowering your fees and discounting just because they are.

Solution

Once you know what brings you job and satisfaction in your work, you are more likely to be effective and efficient and be good at your job. This, in turn, will make it easier for you to make sure that you have your pricing strategy right and you will feel more comfortable in asking for a price that mirrors what your time and expertise is worth.

Starting from today!

Anna Goodwin @2024 All Rights Reserved.

https://www.annagoodwinaccountancy.co.uk