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Business Finance Workshop Topics

While in reality no harder than any other part of being an entrepreneur, the money side of starting a business can seem scary and overwhelming at first (especially to those of us non-accountants) — make sure you’re not overlooking an important bookkeeping to-do, with this assemblage of “get-your-fiduciary-house-in-order-before-you-end-up-in-bankruptcy-court” seminars. The content is based on my book, “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career” — however, these workshops are appropriate for all consultants and freelancers (from organizing to coaching, from accounting to graphic art, from personal training to interior design, from corporate training to project management — and everything in-between). If you’re an independent contractor who sees clients (and plans on maybe getting paid for your services) — this educational series is for you!

Each can be scheduled for any size professional group as a live private teleseminar/webinar or an in-person event — I’m prepared to give you anywhere from 90 minutes of my life to several days in a row, whatever it takes to make sure you understand the concepts you need to succeed. I’m also happy to shorten, lengthen, cut-and-paste, moosh together multiple topics, or otherwise customize the content to suit your attendees’ schedule, interests, and budget. And if you’re one lone entrepreneur flying solo in the world, you can certainly purchase a pre-recorded download of the program to listen to in the comfort of your own home/office. (Just as soon as I get a chance to tape it fer ya!)

Clip Art -- Speaking EaselThe Financial Side Of Entrepreneurship:
Money-Related Start-Up Issues

The IRS will never be more interested in your business than during the start-up phase. There are things you can do right from the beginning to make your governmental dealings relatively pain-free — and things you can do very, very wrong that will screw you in a tax-consequences-kind-of-way for years to come. This workshop explains the fiscal issues you need to consider as your company gets off the ground:

  • understanding some basic terminology
  • is it a business or a hobby?
  • bookkeeping begins before you even see the first client
  • knowing which up-front costs can be written off your taxes
  • liabilities that have to be deferred
  • total expenditures and their effect on your deductions

Clip-Art-Speaking-Microphone-3Funding Your Business:
How Much Do You Need And From Whence Will It Come?

Once you’ve calculated the price tag attached to your overhead costs, it’s time to grubstake it all. How exactly will you be paying for the American dream? Figuring out your funding takes a substantial commitment of time and effort, so don’t wait! This workshop reviews your financing options, look at the pros and cons of each, and guide you through the steps for obtaining outside cash for your venture:

  • getting your fiscal ducks in a row first
  • begging for bank loans
  • seeking small business administration guarantees
  • going after government grants
  • attracting outside investors
  • finding your financing the bootstrap way

Clip Art -- Speaking EaselMaking That Time Of The Month Less Painful:
A Bookkeeping And Bill-Paying Primer

Compared to big corporations, accounting responsibilities for small service businesses are relatively minimal — until you get involved in selling products or managing a large staff. This workshop looks at setting up a bookkeeping system that tracks your income/expenses, makes submitting your tax return easier, and lets you run a few projections to see where you might make some improvements:

  • you gotta keep ‘em separated
  • understanding cash versus accrual accounting
  • setting up your chart of accounts
  • electronic bookkeeping (the business-person’s best friend)
  • practicing what you preach each month
  • running the right financial reports

Clip-Art-Speaking-Microphone-3Running A Business Without Accumulating Debt:
Keys To Controlling Cash Flow

You’re guaranteed to experience ups and downs in your businesses — but if you don’t take advantage of the “feast” times (while planning ahead for the “famine” times), you might find yourself in a bit of a crunch. Cash flow is all about timing — this workshop teaches some simple techniques for matching receipts with expenditures, putting you in a better position to weather the inevitable slow periods:

  • a quick discussion about business budgeting
  • evaluating the necessity of a business expense
  • timing “inflows” versus “outflows” (and finding ways to fill in the fiscal gap)
  • making use of “the float” offered by credit card companies
  • structuring your bill-paying system around cash flow issues
  • to pre-pay or not (that is the question)

Clip Art -- Speaking EaselHow Much Should You Charge?
The Pros And Cons Of Different Pricing Models

Only you can decide how much your time/talents are worth, what the market will bear, and what dollar amount you’re comfortable quoting to clients. Your fee schedule may not look anything like your colleagues’ — it just needs to pay the bills and be commensurate with your abilities. This workshop examines the pros and cons of different pricing schemes, as they apply to your business goals:

  • the right and wrong of sharing prices
  • knowing what your time is worth
  • chasing beer-budget buyers when you offer champagne-level services
  • vaccinating potential clients against “sticker shock”
  • a look at 9 different potential pricing strategies
  • a discussion about value-driven pricing

Clip-Art-Speaking-Microphone-3The Danger Of Nickel-And-Diming Clients:
Moving Toward Product/Service Packages

What’s included with your “regular” services? And what’s considered “extra?” The best answers (in order) are “most everything” and “next‐to‐nothing!” When you first start out, you may have a slew of additional fees beyond your hourly rates — but roll those costs into your “base,” and see what a difference that makes. This workshop looks at different ways of packaging your services for higher sales and profit:

  • the psychological effect of itemized “add-ons”
  • 7 common “extras” and your fee options for each
  • time-based pricing versus project-based pricing
  • packaging pitfalls to avoid
  • offering concierge-level services
  • equity-based and contingency pricing (a.k.a. “proving your worth”)

Clip Art -- Speaking EaselShow Me The Money:
Payment Methods/Terms That Make Business Life Easier

There’s more to getting remuneration for your services than simply handing your client a bill — you also need to be extremely clear about when each tab is due and how it may be paid. The general rule of thumb in business is “the easier you make it for customers to hand you their money, the more likely they are to buy.” This workshop discusses the pros and cons of different payment policies and methods:

  • lump sums versus multiple payments
  • setting (and enforcing) a due date
  • when you have no choice but to invoice
  • late charges and cancellation fees
  • the pros and cons of different payment methods
  • accepting electronic payments

Clip-Art-Speaking-Microphone-3The Bottom Line:
Estimating The Time/Cost Involved In A Client Project

Even veteran consultants have a hard time accurately eyeballing projects — and fledgling freelancers give notoriously specious estimates, for no other reason than inexperience. This workshop examines the whole “per job” thing — holding off until you get a sense of what it takes to complete a job, avoiding “scope creep,” and 3 common quoting methods from which to choose when offering an estimate:

  • the danger of “ball-park” estimates
  • understanding (and preventing) scope creep
  • giving “order-of-magnitude” estimates
  • creating a detailed fact-driven customized proposal/estimate
  • what to do when you miss the mark
  • not every job requires an estimate

Clip Art -- Speaking EaselI’m Worth More Than That:
Knowing When It’s Time To Hike Your Rates

When it comes to making a living as a service provider, you can either work more hours for less money (a “beginner” fee structure that becomes unsustainable as the cost of business increases) — or fewer hours for more money. This workshop talks about what to do when you find your “amateur” rates out‐of‐whack with the high value you’re providing clients — and you need a little fiduciary realignment:

  • why “penetration pricing” is unsustainable
  • using the law of supply/demand (and the law of attraction) to bring in new blood
  • testing the waters with a price increase
  • letting go of marginal clients while rewarding the good ones
  • price corrections when you’ve gone too far
  • making sure you pay yourself, as well as your business

Clip-Art-Speaking-Microphone-3The Dark Side Of Special Promotions:
How To Work A Deal The Right Way

Although discounts provide first‐time clients with an incentive to try your services, you run the risk of setting a dangerous precedent when you drop your rates for every prospect who bats an eye in your direction. Once folks get used to that lower dollar amount, they often have a hard time shifting back to your higher normal prices. This workshop looks at the right time/place/reason for a sale — as well as alternative ways of adding value to your services without reducing your prices:

  • why discounting your prices is often counterproductive
  • having a sale for all the wrong reasons
  • rewarding clients for spending more money with you
  • creative promotions that go beyond dollar discounts
  • 10 tips for creating a truly effective sale offer
  • the dilemma of daily deals

Clip Art -- Speaking EaselPreventive Billing Tactics:
Making Sure You Get Your Money Every Time

Once folks are in the habit of paying late, getting them back on track is almost impossible — so let’s nip this practice right in the bud. The easiest way to prevent fiduciary problems is to ask for your money in advance — this workshop explores proactive options like retainers, payment due when services are rendered, up-front deposits, installments, and prompt‐payment discounts for those net-30 clients:

  • payment policies that help you avoid trouble
  • asking for a deposit the right way
  • setting up installment payments for your clients
  • creating a retainer program
  • running a background check before extending credit
  • offering prompt-payment discounts

Clip-Art-Speaking-Microphone-3The Dreaded Rubber Check:
What To Do When A Client Stiffs You

Stay in business long enough, and you will receive a temporarily-overdrawn-can-you-wait-to-deposit-it or oops-I-didn’t-reconcile-my-statement or omg-I-forgot-I-closed-that-account check from a customer. This workshop suggests some business boundaries that can prevent issues from arising, a few common-sense precautions for reducing risk, and ways to recoup that loss if you do receive a worthless payment:

  • business policies that keep that check from bouncing
  • deciding when a debt is worth pursuing
  • demand letters done right
  • dealing with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and collection agencies
  • going to small claims court (or not?)
  • recouping bad debts and business losses

Clip Art -- Speaking EaselThe Tax Man Cometh:
Dealing With The IRS As A Solopreneur

It’s time for an intimate look at how the complicated and convoluted state of regulatory affairs in Washington affects your company’s bill with the federal government every April 15th! This workshop outlines those aspects of our incredibly confusing small business tax code related to legal requirements and potential deductions — ‘cuz pleading ignorance won’t help when the IRS shows up at your door:

  • self-employment and income tax payments
  • the benefit of hiring family members
  • different types of expenses and small business deductions
  • a business records-retention refresher
  • why it’s good to file an extension
  • the possibility of an audit

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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