Branding 101

Very often we find ourselves in businesses that are rather similar. Everyone seems to be doing the same thing! Due to this, one has to either reduce prices, offer great discounts or do pro-bono jobs in order to keep clients and gain exposure. But should this be the case? The answer is NO! Being in business for yourself may mean putting yourself out there. It may mean putting in extra effort, money and time but that does not mean you should not enjoy your harvest even if it comes in little folds! So how do you prove to your clients that you are worthy to be paid for and paid at the right price? How do you make your brand so amazing that they never have to treat you as any other? The answer is BECOME A NEED RATHER THAN A WANT! A necessity rather than a desire!

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But how do you do this? 1. Have Integrity What you say you will do, you do it and at the time you say you will do it. Earlier even, if possible! No delays! 2. Always Exceed Client’s Expectations You cannot afford mediocrity. You have to always go above and beyond to top your clients’ dreams! 3. Be Professional Go for meetings on time. Have some sort of system that will track progress. Check the way you speak and act towards clients. Check the way you dress. 4. Give an Extra Something When speaking to clients about the services they require from you, listen! Pay attention and offer an expert advice or solution for free. Give them something they did not even request for but need! 5. That Personal Touch That emotional IQ! That thing that makes your clients connect with you. That thing that makes them know they can count on you. That personal touch is what you need to set you apart! If you follow the above, you will become the very first brand your clients will contact. THE 5 KEY ELEMENTS OF BOOKKEEPING No matter what the size of your business, bookkeeping needs to be given its due importance as a vital part of the enterprise. And if you are a small business owner, the bookkeeping system is the wire-frame your operations run on. If bookkeeping is not implemented well, you are going to suffer for the lack of quality information to make informed financial decisions. There are five pillars good bookkeeping stands on, and you need to keep these in mind when devising your own system. 1. The Process System This bookkeeping element is all about helping the entrepreneur or owner keep a handle on who is specifically responsible for different tasks. So, who is it that is responsible for filing information and who is supposed to get all the relevant documents signed by a given date? The process system also underlines the most appropriate procedures that would get the task done in the most efficient manner. 2. Filing System The filing system helps you organize your files so that they are always readily available for you to find when you need them. It prevents you from wasting valuable time, and helps with your work being execute din a smoother and more professional manner. It allows for more efficient operations, and helps the office staff to refer the right documents and papers when required by a customer. Additionally, by referring to past management records, it can be easier to frame business policy or to plan out a project. A good filing system can also help you in the long run as well by protecting the documents from any potential damage or loss. 3. Chart of Account This element basically highlights what the numbers do. It is a financial tool that lists all the accounts used in an organization’s general ledger. The accounts here refer to the records made for every type of asset, liability and equity, as well as expenses and revenues. The accounting software will then make use of this chart of accounts to aggregate all of this information into the entity’s financial statements, like its income statement and balance sheet. Specific accounts are made easy to locate by sorting the chart by account number. 4. Reporting Package The reporting package allows the entrepreneur or owner to have access to the information that lets then run their business efficiently. This allows them to easily crunch and analyse the numbers and gain deeper insights into their business. 5. Transactional Record System This component essentially refers to the software that records financial transactions. Examples of these include MS Excel and Simple Accounting. These 5 key elements should serve to help you organize and track your accounting system. Of course, as your business grows, you will need to continually purchase upgrades in order to sufficiently meet new demands, but this is the basic foundation that will remain in place. Your system should be easy to understand and run for you and your staff. These five components will help you do just that by enabling you to design an effective and user-friendly system. About the Author: Christine Sesay is the founder and CEO of Africa’s Moneypreneur – a financial literacy blog, one of the founders of the Freetown Business School in Sierra Leone. She is a determined and driven leader, who is passionate about wealth management especially for women. With a Master’s degree in Finance, over 10 years of experience as an accountant professional and capacity to manage a €5 million project within a few years of practice, we can call Christine an expert in the Finance field. When she is not working, you can find Christine baking in her mother’s cake shop or her other favourite past time crafting and making birthday cards.

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HOW TO BRAND YOURSELF AS A FREELANCER “Stop being afraid of your prices. Set them, the ones who complain were never going to spend money with you anyway. So many people have gone broke accommodating customers budget. You just need to convince them to spend on you!” Dana Chanel, founder of Sprinkle of Jesus and Curlbible. One of the hardest things about being a freelancer is the way you are treated. Because you do not have an office space, it is not seen as an “actual” business. People will try to take advantage of you, disrespect your hustle and make you feel like they are doing you a favour working with you. But that is so untrue. That is why you need to brand yourself in such a way, people will have no other choice but to pay you what you are worth and that is a lot of cash. 1. Know your worth You know your talent and skill. You know what you go through before providing that service so do not let them tell you just because you do not have an office means they are taking a risk by working with you. If they did not know your worth, they will not be requesting for your services. 2. Do not compromise People will try to take advantage of you. They will try to demean you. They will make you feel your prices are too high for someone whose services are not even “corporate”. But let me tell you this, DO NOT COMPROMISE. The minute you reduce your prices, they see you as a pushover. Someone they can take advantage of. This way, they will always come to you trying to beat down prices. 3. Know when to walk away There are some jobs that are just not worth your peace of mind. Those jobs are mostly those that pay less too. You should listen to what your instincts is saying and look at character also rather than money. If the job will take more than it will give you, then you should simply walk away. 4. Have a system When a client contacts you for the first time, what is your process? You have to have some sort of system. For example; - send them your profile which outlines your details of your services - read about their company - meet them up - send them a contract (which includes payment plans) - receive a deposit - start work - complete ahead of time You should have some laid down procedures. 5. Have a rate card You should have your rates written down. It should be detailed. You should charge clients according to what you know you are worth. Your prices for the same type of job should not differ. People talk so you have to have honest rates. If you have a soft spot for social entreprises and non-profits, you can have a rate for that but other than that, all your other rates should be the same. Your hustle is your hustle and it is worth every penny you charge. Do not allow anyone to disrespect it and you! Set a standard and follow it!

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