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IT consulting for the long haul requires you to set rates at the high end of the scale. It's easier to start your rates high than raising rates and having to grandfather in your old clients in IT consulting.

IT Consulting: Determining Your Rates as a Start-up

IT Consulting: Determining Your Rates as a Start-upIn IT consulting, people charge various rates. Some charge at the zero level, others at the $25, $35, $45 an hour level. Starting an IT Consulting Business: What to Charge?Probably a lot of you want to start charging, and should be, in the $75, $85, $95 an hour level to build up a reputation for your IT consulting business. Dont start out with much less than that.IT consultants working with larger small companies generally charge $100 - $125 an hour and up, depending on how deep their specialty is, whether theyre in a certain vertical industry, or depending on the metro area theyre in. Adjusting Your IT Consulting Business RatesMany new IT consulting businesses underestimate their true expenses and as a result, end up charging way too little for their IT consulting services. The big question they often ask is, "Cant I adjust it later?" The answer in most cases is no. Its very difficult to adjust rates later with your existing customers and clients. The only thing youre usually left resorting to is fixing rates going forward, and then you end up with a whole bunch of people that are grandfathered in at these rates you cant afford.The Problem with Raising RatesWhen you grandfather rates, half or a quarter of your IT consulting business essentially becomes worthless because its not profitable. It can be really hard, if not impossible to get your existing clients to agree to substantial rate increases. The Bottom Line about IT ConsultingAs a start-up IT consulting business, if you charge too little, you may end up having to dump your client list and start over, which could put you out of business really fast. It doesnt have to be that way. Copyright MMI-MMVI, Small Biz Tech Talk. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

Paperless Office for CPA for under $1,000

Paperless Office for CPA for under $1,000

Considering what CPAs are being asked to pay for pre-packaged paperless solutions for their offices, the title of this article is quite radical. Since the title and what is discussed here is based on actual experience of the author, it is alright for it to get some media attention.Most CPA practices these days have a small office network in place to handle the operations of the business. Rather, it is almost impractical for them to be operating without some kind of a computer network in their offices. Most CPAs and accountants also efile their clients tax returns and so they need a reliable internet connection in their office. Unbeknownst to them, CPAs have over 90% of what they need to go paperless, at least on the hardware and the software side.CPAs have almost all the hardware and software needed, in their office, to convert their practice into a paperless practice. Almost means close to 90%. However, they need to build up another asset to be able to go paperless in a very short time. The asset they need has to be built in house and cannot be purchased. They have to first recognize the extreme importance of the need to go paperless and then develop a strong determination to do so within a short time and limited budget.Recognition of the importance of going paperless is the major hurdle facing the accounting industry at this time. Many CPAs are still waiting on the sidelines to watch how this trend evolves. Generally, that is not a very bad strategy. Not all trends become permanent in any industry and so a lot of times it is good to wait a little before getting on the bandwagon. However, paperless movement has been building momentum over a long period of time. In fact, it probably has been in discussions for over a decade. There have been some early adopters who benefited from it. It has not become a general trend yet in accounting industry, other professional services industry and business in general. But there are signs that it is picking up speed.It is during the last few years that the capacity of the technology, that is being used in accounting offices, like other businesses, has increased tremendously at very affordable prices. Until a few years ago, going paperless in an accounting office was a major undertaking as it would require upgrading of hardware and software in a significant way. Now, there is no need to upgrade. If the hardware was purchased during the last 2-3 years, it probably has adequate capacity and speed to handle a paperless office without much upgrading.In that case, a typical small CPA firm just needs to add a couple of scanners at $300 each and a PDF converter software that can be purchased for about a $100 these days. A strong commitment to go paperless and a determination to get it done within a given time frame is short in supply and is not available with any hardware or software vendor.It is a very strange phenomenon. The technology is available and the need is there and yet most small CPA practices are not paperless, and one would hope that they are at least thinking about going paperless sometime soon. Why shouldnt they go paperless if they could do it within a $1,000 of additional hardware and software?

Short on Help? Hire a Professional Virtual Assistant!

Short on Help? Hire a Professional Virtual Assistant!

Is your business short on help? Good help, that is? Did the best administrative assistant you ever had leave because her husband was relocated to Timbuktu? Now what? Youve been through countless resumes and none of the candidates seem to measure up. Maybe you need extra help once in a while, just to keep your regular assistants head above water. Are you a small business owner who cant afford, or dont have enough work, for a full-time secretary?Why not hire a virtual assistant or VA? Gaining in popularity among large and "small business" es alike, VAs can help bail you out of a rough spot on a temporary basis or even work long-term just like a regular employee.In todays soft economy and world of corporate scandals, failures, and layoffs, many a good employee has been ousted from his or her job. The ambitious ones are out there daily trying to find a new position. Trouble for them is the help wanted section of most newspapers has become extremely thin. Most people cant go very long without some sort of income. So, the most ambitious and resourceful are making their way back into the working world any way they can. For many, this means starting a business of their own.What does a person do when what they know is secretarial? What do they do when they need to feed their family and pay the mortgage? Many create their own business and several are opting to become "virtual assistant" s.What does a virtual assistant do?In short, a VA can do just about anything a regular employee can do. You just wont see his or her face every day. Many virtual assistants are Jacks or Jills of all trades, some are more specialized, but heres a list of some of the things a virtual can do:Bookkeeping Human resources Concierge services Collections Sales Marketing Travel arrangements Research Word processing Appointment setting Meeting arrangements Event planning Letter preparation Transcription Reports Proof reading Manuals Newsletters Flyers Mailings Data entry Data processing Document scanning E-mail processing Answering phone calls Procedure documentation Customer support Virtual assistants are typically a very intelligent bunch as well. Many are college educated and even more have countless years of excellent business experience to draw upon. This comes in very handy when youre looking for ideas.How does a virtual assistant work?Virtual assistants come in all shapes and sizes, just as any business does. Typically, however, VAs work from home-based offices. Theyre the savviest of the savvy when it comes to operating on a low budget and using technology to their advantage. Most are equipped with the latest software (and lots of it), multiple phone lines, Internet, e-mail, fax machine, cellular phone, copy machines, scanners, and a great attitude. Many even come with a cat or dog! He or she will use all of the latest technology to communicate with the client and get the work done as quickly as possible. And, possibly best of all, they only clock in when theyre on your project, not while theyre sitting at your desk, using your electricity, playing solitaire!Whats all this going to cost?All well and good, right? But arent virtual assistants more expensive than regular employees? Absolutely not! Actually, a virtual assistant is far more cost effective than a regular employee. You may pay more per hour than a regular employee, but leave out the FICA, state unemployment taxes, Social Security, health insurance, vacation time, sick time, 401(k), profit sharing, Christmas bonus, holiday pay, and other benefits you need to offer a regular employee, and a virtual assistants wage comes out far lower than that of a regular employee.A virtual assistant can save money in other areas as well. How much does it cost you to maintain office footage, a computer, a phone line or two, a refrigerator, a microwave, a desk, electricity, heat, air conditioning, and parking for your regular employees? With a virtual, you dont need any of those things either - he or she supplies his or her own.The fee for a virtual work usually depends upon the area of the country where he or she is located and their area(s) of expertise. Virtual assistants charge between $15 and $75 per hour. But, you only pay for the time he or she actually spends working on your tasks. Some will ask that you pay for a minimum guaranteed usage each week or month. Many will also agree to work for varying hourly rates depending on the task. For example, if theyre to perform basic word processing, the fee might be $18 per hour, but if theyre expected to research the legalities of transforming your LLC into a Corporation, they may charge $45 per hour. Yet, others may agree to a flat fee based upon individual project requirements. Either way, you come out ahead.Why should I trust someone Ive never met?VAs are as concerned with your business success as they are with their own. In fact, their success depends on your success. So, a "virtual work" can become one of the best assistants and business partners youve ever had. Just like you, they are business owners and very interested in helping their clients.Virtual versus temp or temp agencyVirtual assistants tend to work harder than the average person issued to you by a temporary agency. Keep in mind that the temp agency is charging you as much as 20% more than the worker is actually getting paid. This practice often leads to the use of unskilled or unacceptable laborers. Hiring a virtual work allows you to choose who works with you. Youll also need to provide all of the temps supplies like paper, toner, pens, computer, electricity, etc, whereas, the VA comes with his or her own supplies.How many times have you hired a temp who you spent time training, only to have her stick around for three weeks, then you had to train yet another temp? A virtual work, as we mentioned, is in this to succeed and help you succeed. Youll have to train him or her too, but only once!Oh, yes, and you still need to pay the temp while she sits there and waits for another assignment from you. Not with a virtual work. While shes waiting for the next assignment from you, you can bet shell be working on something for another client.Choosing a virtual workNow that youve decided to hire a virtual work, how do you go about choosing one? There are several things you need to know before you start looking:What exactly do I need help with? What expertise does the VA need? How much do I have to spend? How quickly do I need this project done? How long will I need virtual assistance? How often will I need my VA to work? What hours should he or she be available? What days of the week? Is there any specific software he or she needs to have? Is what I need accomplished so specific that Ill need to incorporate some training time? How will I pay him or her? Visa, MasterCard, Check, Paypal? How do I want to communicate with my VA? Phone, e-mail, snail mail, or a combination? Does my VA really need to be located in a particular time zone, country, part of the country, city? Any other particular qualities youd like your virtual work to have? Just as you would screen someone who would apply to work in your office, youll still need to spend a little time screening your virtual work. Youll need to tell him or her what you need and want, and what is and isnt acceptable. Youll also need to negotiate pricing and terms with the virtual.The best thing you can do to ensure you receive the help you need, is behave as though youre choosing a new car. Push the buttons, turn on the stereo, kick the tires, and ask, ask, ask. Listen to what the potential VA has to offer you as well. He or she may even be able to do several other tasks, which you hadnt counted on, or even offer some very sound business advice.Who benefits by using a work at home?Large corporations Small businesses Home based businesses Busy executives or managers Entrepreneurs Students Even individuals who just need a little extra help What happens if I dont like the VA Ive hired, or s/he doesnt work out?Unless youve signed a contract guaranteeing a particular amount of time or pay, the answer is rather simple: you just dont offer any more assignments.If you do happen to have a bad experience with one "work at home" , however, dont let is sour you from finding another. Treat it as though you simply had a bad date. Bad dates do happen and some people just arent compatible. Get back out there and look for another VA that better suits your needs or personality.A win-win for everyoneThe use of work at homes truly is a win-win for everyone involved. For the employee-challenged business, VAs dramatically increase your labor pool. And, for the cash-strapped entrepreneur, work at homes save money - lots of money. Whats more, its better for the environment to hire a work at home. Just think of all the vehicle emissions youll be saving by having one or two workers telecommute. As for the VA, they typically enjoy a better quality of life, as they are also able to be home and raise their children in between working on your projects.

Phone Games of the 21st Century

Phone Games of the 21st Century

I recently had reason to call my phone company in order to inquire about some charges that were showing up on my bill. I first reached an automated message that told me to press one for English, which I did, followed by a menu with several options. Of the available options, none involved speaking to an actual human being. This was the type of phone system where you could either press the number of the option you wanted or speak it into the receiver. After hearing all the available options and knowing that not a single solitary one of them would address my issue, I decided to take a gamble. I clearly said "customer service" into the phone and was then told that what I had said did not match any of the available options. I tried it again just in case it was a hidden option and I hadn't spoken clearly the first time. Sure enough, the automated voice told me I would be transferred to a representative. I heard about 4 seconds of music and then a click. I waited about five minutes before realizing I had been hung up on. I went through this whole process a few more times before finally reaching an actual human being. The thing that irritates me the most is that many companies who should be offering personalized customer service try their absolute best to avoid having to speak with their customers. I can't understand whether it's a lack of employees to field the calls or that they just assume that I am too lazy to use the automated menu if, say...I only want to find out how much my bill is. I'm sure there is more than a few people out there who would want to talk to a human being even though they can get the information they need without doing so, but what about people like me who legitimately needed some real help? What really takes the cake is that this is a phone company, and one who can't or doesn't want to update their phone system to handle customer's calls. I wish there were an organization dedicated to rating these businesses' customer service policies so that they might get some idea of just how poor they are doing in relation to their competition. If there were, I would switch and give my business to the company who offered the best customer service, even if it cost more to do so.

Shift Your Growth into the Fast Lane by Engaging Your Customers

Do you feel like you have the pedal to the metal, spending all you can on advertising but still cant get the growth of your business into the fast lane? The fact is, if your customers arent engaged, it may not matter how much you spend on advertising. Just like a car in neutral isnt going anywhere (no matter how much gas you give it) until the transmission is engaged, your business isnt going anywhere until your customers are engaged.What does engage mean? Here are three definitions you might find in a dictionary:1.To attract someones attention2.To establish a meaningful contact3.To move into position so as to come into operationCombine the three of them and it provides a pretty good working definition for engaging your customers:Attract your customers attention with the intent to establish a meaningful relationship and move them into position to help your business grow.Without worrying too much right now about how to engage your customers (well get to that) let me propose multiple levels of possible customer engagement as represented by this pyramid model.At the base of the pyramid is your total available market. That is, all of the potential customers in the world. They have potential, but at least at this point no level of engagement with you or your company.The next level derives its name from a term we have all used when asked by a sales man if we need help, No, just looking. The fact that we are looking means we are more engaged than the masses, but weve yet to make any great commitment.Just beyond Just Looking is Just Buying. For most companies this is the height of their ambition. Get a sale, book the profit and move on to the next customer.Above just buying is buying again. This is a level that in general assumes that the customer was pleased enough with their first purchase to be willing to come back and purchase again. I say in general, because it is possible that they have no other options and therefore they have no choice. For you as the business owner, this is a very good level. Serving a repeat customer costs less because you dont have to pay to acquire them and they are less expensive to serve in most cases because they are already familiar with you and your operation. The more customers you can get to Buying Again , the more profitable you will be.But there are customer engagement levels even higher than Buying Again. The first is Giving Feedback. This refers to customers that are willing to invest more of themselves in your company than just their money. They do this by making the effort to tell you how you can improve your offerings. In effect, they go beyond the typical definition of customers and become co-producers, helping to ensure that your offering is exactly what the market wants and needs. Two great things happen in the process: 1) As your offering improves so will your sales and, 2) As the customer invests their ideas in your company they will become even more loyal and move to the next level.At the top of the pyramid is Telling Others. At this level your customers are so pleased with your offerings they cant be stopped from telling others. They become co-promoters, a very powerful sales force willing to tell perfect strangers and best friends how wonderful your company is. As consumers in general become ever more jaded and less trusting of traditional advertising, the growth of your company will be largely dependent on how many of your customers become promoters.Having described the model, let me hasten to add that I know it is oversimplified. Not all customers will move through each level. Some will become promoters without ever providing feedback. Some will provide feedback and then go away and never return. Despite its simplicity, I believe the model can be helpful in understanding the concept that customers can become much more valuable to a business than just the value of the purchases that they make. Consider the following:This chart attempts to show in relative terms how much a business benefits financially from a customer at each level of possible engagement. At the far left, Just Looking, expenses associated with a customer typically exceed income from that customer. For example, you spend money on advertising and attract the attention of a customer willing to take a look. At that point you have paid out (for advertising) more money than you have brought in ($0 purchased by the customer).For those customers that take the step and buy your offering, chances are you will cross over into positive returns. If the customer returns to buy again and again your profit from that customer will increase. Note that the slope of the line becomes steeper in the buying again phase. That is due to the fact that it is less expensive to sell to returning customers than it is acquire new customers. In fact for most businesses it costs five to ten times more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell more to current customers. The obvious difference is the acquisition cost associated with attracting new customers. The less obvious reason is that a regular customer already knows how your product or service works and doesnt require as much hand holding throughout the process.As the curve continues into the higher levels of engagement, Giving Feedback and Telling others, its slope becomes even steeper indicating that significantly higher returns are possible. Two reasons for this: 1) The additional costs required to move customers into these levels is relatively small and 2) The potential returns have a built in multiplier effectthat is, one customers actions can influence many other customers.For example, feedback from one customer that helps you improve your offering not only benefits that one customer and brings them back again but benefits all your customers and increases the likelihood that they will return more often. Even more obvious, a customer who begins telling others about your business brings not only her purchases but the purchases of several new customers to your business.In conclusion, engaged customers will help you improve your offering, theyll actively promote your product, they will improve your bottom line, and, to a large extent, they will determine how fast your business will grow. As you consider the growth of your business, look not only at how many Just Looking customers you can bring in and move to Just Buying, but also consider how you can get your Just Buying customers fully engaged in your business.

Bookkeeping Accounting Software Essential Requirement of the Organization

In the area of Bookkeeping Accounting there are many critical financial activity which has require to compulsory in the small Organization to manage it. So For that Bookkeeping Accounting Software is essential in this time to get fast work. These types of work are very time consuming because of double data entry type of work. A useful benefit to those organizations and their financial staff is the quantity to which financial data maintain in the data base can be queried for financial control purpose.Bookkeeping services India has own bookkeeping accounting software professional their expertise and experience handling most of the bookkeeping business accounting and financial software solutions: * QuickBooks * Peachtree * Sage Line 50 * Quicken * MYOB * IRIS * LaCerte * Pro TaxFinancial Statements:An accountant requires not only guarantee that the financial information is exact but also get any part of the accounting reports to reply bookkeeping accounting queries on the accounts. It is also offer a legal basis for the queries and report the financial statements at daily intervals.But Financial Power is also required from middle level organization accounting software as the bookkeeper is often the head manager who has most important person understanding of every task. Templates are also required for reading and a perfect acquire of create a set of financial theory for tax purpose is that each inserted record is by other proof.Accounting Software for small or middle level Business Profit:Choose your Accounting Software for "bookkeeping business" but it is thing to do very carefully. Because of prefer your software will meet your most important work and your work running smoothly and improve your profit? There are numbers of bookkeeping accounting software available in the market but you have to find effectiveness, accurate and reliable from it and make your business fast. So be sure when your new business account software will purchase.Any Bookkeeping Business requires the most important thing is Accounting Services. All process of Business has recorded carefully in day by day. For that Accounting Software is useful software for any Business to keep all your financial records and help to complete your bookkeeping accounting requirements. And generate daily, monthly and yearly reports for give you accurate future planning of your business.If you are small Bookkeeping Business or large Business, you dont want to hire personnel for software and want to low cost account software. For that it is best that use a web based software so you dont worry about changing computers, storing the data and lost of data. And important thing is you can access it at any time.

Summary

IT consulting for the long haul requires you to set rates at the high end of the scale. It's easier to start your rates high than raising rates and having to grandfather in your old clients in IT consulting.