We're all emotional beings, says Bob Wheeler, Author and Owner of The Money Nerve. In this episode, he shares how the emotional aspects of money, and communication, can get you noticed.
Bob also shares why and how you should know your worth as an entrepreneur and business owner to yourself and to your clients, and how this could help you boost your self-confidence around money, pricing, and negotiation. He also shares how Money Nerve can help entrepreneurs like yourself to be 'confident and sexy', and how they get themselves and himself noticed.
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Hello, and welcome to this episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur. Today, we're going to talk about money and emotions, and how your emotional attitude towards money can infect and affect your business, and how you get noticed. And for that, we're going all the way to LA to talk to Bob Wheeler, who has over a thousand clients for his business. He's going to share some wisdom with us. Bob, welcome to the show.Bob Wheeler:
Thanks so much for having me excited to be here.Jim James:
Well, I'm really excited because we've never talked on this show about the "Emotional aspect of money and how it impacts an entrepreneur gets noticed." And it has a slightly complicated topic, but as we talked before we started recording, "Money and emotions, and communications at the heart of a successful business." So tell us, you've written books about the subject, how does the emotional attitude towards money affect an entrepreneur?Bob Wheeler:
Well, we're all emotional beings. And so we're going to connect emotionally. You may have something that I want, or I have something you want. But at the end of the day, how are we going to resonate with each other? And so, for me, whether I'm feeling confident, which to a lot of people feel sexy or like, "I want more of that." Or "Oh, let me help you." and "Oh, wow. They're not so confident. Maybe this isn't the path I want to go down." And so, just even starting with how we see ourselves and how we value ourselves is going to have an impact on the business.Jim James:
So, let's just talk about that, Bob. So you said, you know, "Being confident is sexy." But most entrepreneurs, myself included, you know, we're not mathematicians, we're not accountants, you know, like you are. What can an entrepreneur do to increase their self confidence around money and around pricing and negotiation? Take us through some of those dimensions, if you can.Bob Wheeler:
Absolutely. So it's really important, from my perspective, to get clear about what I'm worth. What am I going to bill? It might be that I do a spreadsheet and I put in this much time, and I use these kinds of equipment, and I have all these things that I need to factor in - my rent, my overhead, and come down to, "What am I worth?" Now, sometimes people will discount their worth, or "Oh, you know, I've got to put in two hours to bill for an hour." Get really clear about what those values are for yourself. And when you know what you're worth, you can clearly confidently express that, communicate that to your client.Jim James:
So you say, what are you worth? There's that old story, isn't there? That's, you know, "What am I worth to myself?" But then there's also, " What am I worth to the client? What problem am I solving?" How do you help entrepreneurs, if you like, to reframe the conversation? Not so it's just a cost-up model, but that you are being seen by the client as solving a bigger problem and therefore, you know, able to charge more for that.Bob Wheeler:
I think it's important to know what your competitors charge. I want to know what everybody else is out there charging, what they're offering in terms of service. So I can look and evaluate my experience, evaluate my education, or anything that might contribute to my value. I want to know what's out there. If other people are charging twice as much as me, "What are they doing different? Am I bringing more value and just not educating the client as to what I'm bringing them?"Jim James:
So you talk about, you know, competitor analysis, and we are talking as well about what clients want. Can you give us some practical examples of how a company should communicate pricing? In retail, of course, is, you know, the price on the internet or whatever. But if you're running a service business, what sort of tips can you give us from a communications perspective for entrepreneurs about how to present pricing? Should it come at the beginning, and the quote process? Later, should we be on a website? Give us some ideas there can you, Bob?Bob Wheeler:
I think it's always important to clearly communicate what they should expect to be charged up front so that if they've got cold feet, if that feels too much money for them, you can stop the process before you've invested your time and energy. I used to do free consults, and people would come in, they'd do an hour and they would ask all kinds of stuff that I should have been charging for. And then later on, I'd say, "Hey, we're time to do your taxes." They're like, "Oh, I went with somebody else, but thank you for all the free advice." So, that was a place where I was spending a lot of time and not valuing the fact that I'm giving these people some good information. And so I was able to change that model and say, "Look, you want to meet with me, it's going to cost you. But if you stay on as a client, I'll apply that towards the retainer, towards the ultimate fee."Jim James:
That's a really, really good idea. And what about the sort of presentation as well, of let's think about quotes first, or anybody with sort of pre-consultation fees? You talked about embedding that fee into the overall project. But any guidance, Bob, that you see what works for making the customer feel, "Oh, this is the company I really want to work with."Bob Wheeler:
So I make it really clear and I think it's important to communicate to clients, "Here's what you can expect. Here's the timeline." I'll even tell clients, "Look, during tax time, I get a little busy. And if you feel, you know, neglected, please call the staff. They will come in and take me to task. It's nothing personal, I just get caught up." And so I try to lay everything out so that I'm managing their expectations, so that they can say, "Okay, I could live with that." This doesn't work. I try not to over promise, because I find I'm going to disappoint. And so I think it's really important to say, "This is what you can expect. This is the fee. If there's more work to be done, I will let you know ahead of time that there's going to be an adjustment to the invoice and you'll need to 'okay' that before I move forward." So I try to keep people in the process the whole time. I let people know, "If you're confused about the bill or it feels too high at the end, let's have a conversation and we can go through it." I try to be very transparent and I really welcome the client being able to come back to me, with me not attacking them or shaming them for questioning how I fill them. I think it's so important to be in communication.Jim James:
Yeah, so really at the heart of it, that communication side, fantastic. And then, you've also written a book about, you know, emotions and money. Do you want us just maybe talk with us about how an entrepreneur can become more sexy through becoming more confident? We talked about some of the tactical things. From an emotional point of view, how can you help an entrepreneur to feel more bullish about what they've got to offer?Bob Wheeler:
Well, I like making lists - I like writing stuff down, because it makes my brain activate when I'm, "Oh, here's what I'm bringing." I think it's important whether it's... I'm not confident in talking to clients, then I want to learn how to talk better. I joined Toastmasters so I could speak because I could barely say my name without like having a meltdown. When it came to public speaking and meeting people in a business setting, I was very awkward. So I did Toastmasters. I learned how to talk. Whatever those things might be that will make you a little bit stronger, go to the places that you feel fearful around your business and get used to it and say, "Oh, I'm like..." when a client rejects my offer, I'm not taken out. "Oh, okay. Cool. We're not a fit." I'm not worried about it. I will sometimes meet with clients to decide if we're a good fit for each other, because I don't want to waste my time and I don't want them to waste their time. So I'm constantly trying to figure out how can I make them know that I'm all about servicing their needs. But at the same time, not giving away my services, not undervaluing myself, and not apologizing that I'm here to get paid to do work, to help you be the, you know, best version of yourself.Jim James:
Bob, let's just also just think a little bit about pricing, can we? Because most of us struggle with, you know, we talk about what you're worth and then compared to pricing. Can you just give us some guidelines, and if you like, a way to stop under pricing? Because most of us struggle with that.Bob Wheeler:
So one of the things that I do with a lot of my clients is, right now, if you're billing 150 bucks, or if you're billing 200 bucks, multiply that by one and a quarter. I figure most of us are discounting ourselves 25%, maybe more. And a lot of clients are uncomfortable with that. And so maybe even if they do 1.15. If they mark it up 15%, they're still starting to make some movement towards, "Yes, this is what I'm worth." What's interesting is probably 95% of the time I've encouraged them to change their billing by doing the 1.25%. Nobody says the word. Everybody's like, "Oh, that's cool." I even had a client of mine said to me, one time, "You're not billing me enough. I feel guilty. Because I know what the going rate is when I was first starting." And he's like, "Please bill me more. I mean, don't break the bank, but you're not billing me enough."Jim James:
That's really interesting how we psychologically undervalue quite often, because we're so embedded and invested in that, you know, at the beginning. Bob, what's your view on how early you should be giving a customer like a price sheet, for example, or a price guide? You know, some people leave the pricing to the end of the conversation, some people feel it should be at the beginning. Any guidance you're experience on that.Bob Wheeler:
For me, when I'm talking with clients, do it in the middle. I want to connect with them first. I want to let them know, "I'm interested in connecting with you, human-to-human, and here's what I can provide." But pretty much right after that, I want to remind them that there's a fee involved and this is what it's going to cost you. I don't want to leave that to another conversation. I don't want to leave it to the end. Because I want to make sure that they have time to process, integrate that information that I've just given them, so that if it's going to be a go, great, we're on the same page. If there's some hesitation, we can talk it out, and then we can decide where we're going to go. But if I save that to the end, to me, that feels like a surprise ending. And it doesn't quite feel so good. I feel like I just got weighed. I was just a bait switch. I want to know early on what I'm getting into so that I can either say, "Whoa, whoa. That's way beyond my price point." Or, "Yeah, this is totally in line with what I was expecting."Jim James:
Okay, yeah, that's really good because there's some sort of, one school of thought says, "Name price first to frame the conversation." Others leave it to the end when they've already kind of invested all the time. And you're kind of a midpoint, which is a really nice way of doing that. I like that. Now, you yourself have also done some quite interesting things around shifting payment terms and, and how that can position your company differently, in your case, as a CPA, but not necessarily just as a service firm, to use the timing of payments as part of your proposition. Could you just tell us about that, Bob? Because it's a really interesting point we were talking about before we got the mic to record.Bob Wheeler:
Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things that I learned early on, especially in a tax practice, a lot of tax prepares CPAs are cash poor at the beginning of the year because they're not going to get paid until April, May, June for a bulk of their money. And so I was struggling with that as well. And I was at the seminar, and this guy said, "Oh, I bill everybody up front," which was a little bit unsettling for me. But I thought, "This is something. I like this idea." And so I sat down and I actually wrote an email to all of my clients, and I said, "Look, I can either be a banker, or a tax strategist. I can either focus on helping you save dollars and give you the best bang for the buck, or I can run around trying to collect money worrying about I can't pay my staff." And so what I suggested everybody was, "I'm going to ask for half of the money up front. I'm going to ask for a retainer. And hey, by the way, you'll get to deduct that on last year's taxes. If you pay early, you get a benefit. But if you do this, I will be focused on you, instead of focused on how am I going to pay the bills." I did not have a single person push back. People love the idea. And what started to happen was by November, December of the year before I'd started tax season, I'd have a hundred, hundred fifty thousand dollars in the bank. So I'm already solid in my financing. The other thing that I would say is, in any business, if a customer says, "Let me give you a deposit or let me put some money towards that." Don't say "No." Absolutely. Let the cash flow towards you. There's nothing wrong with saying "Yeah, absolutely." So I know so many people, "No, no, no, no. Let me do the work and then take the money."Jim James:
Now. Okay, Bob. So, yeah. Okay. So there's a derivation for you. What would you say is a good strategy around discounts for prepayment and so on? Because you have some guidance for people about that, because you've mentioned about getting money up front, but what's the incentive for the customer, other than you saying, "I'll be committed to you." They would normally say, "Well, you should be committed to me regardless." Right? So any guidance about pricing to make it more favorable for the customer to pay early?Bob Wheeler:
Absolutely, so when I tell people that they do the deposit up-front, we give them a 10% discount on the back end. And we also tell people, "If you get us the information two weeks before the deadline, there's going to be a $500 rush fee." And we start letting people know a month ahead of time, "Reminder, if you don't get stuff to us in two weeks, you're going to get hit with a rush fee. We're going to add on a lot of extra money if you don't get your stuff in." So we try to communicate the whole time. "Pay us early, we'll give you a discount. Pay it late, or get us stuff late, you're going to pay a premium." Because we will add on a late charge or a rush fee for people because we don't want to be, I don't want your drama to become my drama, right? So just because you're having a crisis doesn't mean I have to have my whole office in a crisis. And so we let people know if you wait and you don't deliver on your end, you're going to get charged for that because it has to be a win-win for everybody.Jim James:
Bob, I'm interested in obviously that as a strategy, but from a communications perspective, when you say "I let my clients know", can you just give us a little bit more detail, when do you let them know? Is that in like the advance at the very beginning in the quote stage? Is it in an invoice? Is it an in informal email? Just give us some guidance there of how you implement that because that could go very wrong as well, couldn't it?Bob Wheeler:
For sure. So when people come on board initially as a client, I let them know, "We're going to send out an engagement letter. It will include the pricing, and you'll get that in November, and we'll ask you to pay a retainer. If you don't pay the retainer, you won't get the discount. And you may not get a face-to-face appointment with me before April, when you may have to go on extension." Right? So there are benefits to making sure you get that retainer in, you've saved your spot, you're guaranteed that we've made space for you. And so I do that up front. Then during the tax season, we'll send out an email, "Hey, you've got six weeks left. We haven't heard from you. You've given us a retainer. We need to see the information. What's going on?" We communicate a lot with the clients because we want to make sure, "Hey, did something happen? We were communicating, then all of a sudden, no more documentation.", "Oh, you need to go on extension? We'll go on extension." But we're in a constant communication with the client because people get emotional around money, right? And so they shut down when it comes to doing their taxes. Or they might think they're going to owe money, so now they don't want to talk to me anymore until the last day. And so we're trying to stay engaged to let people know, "Hey, we're with you the whole way. We get that this can be emotional, and we need to get it done. It's a requirement. You need to file your taxes. So we're communicating through out.Jim James:
That's perfect. From a practical point of view, can you just share which tool do you use for your email marketing?Bob Wheeler:
We use... Is it Chimp?Jim James:
MailChimp. We use MailChimp,Bob Wheeler:
I know it's an animal. That we can track everybody. And then we also, in the accounting world, the tax world, there's a program called "Office Tools" that also lets us track, and list, and modify. We have, like, performant letters that we can send out.Jim James:
Okay. Nice. So really systematised. Now, Bob, final question, you know, I love to ask entrepreneurs, like yourself, how you get yourself noticed? You've gone built this practice, you've said you're managing three businesses combined out of LA. How have you got yourself noticed as an entrepreneur or got your own businesses noticed as an entrepreneur?Bob Wheeler:
I think the way that I get myself noticed is I engage authentically with my clients. People know that I'm going to bat for them. People feel that, people will tell me, "Look, I know I get the sense that you're actually going to bat for me." I'm here to help people. And so I let people know, I like people. I want to help you, right? If you work with me, I'll work with you. But it's a two-way street - I need you to be the team player so I can give you the best service. But I'm truly engaged. I follow up. I check in with my clients after tax season's over; I send an email, I make a phone call. I know whose kid just graduated. Like I'm fully invested in the relationship. I'm not looking at it like a transaction. And I think my clients and potential clients can resonate with the fact that I'm actually there to be in a relationship.Jim James:
Bob, that's wonderful. Look, and thanks for sharing some great advice. We only have 20 minutes, as you know, to cover such a huge topic. You've got a book, "Mastering the Emotions of Money." And if people want to find out more about you and how to get a hold of you, where would they do that?Bob Wheeler:
Best places, themoneynerve.com. That's "nerve" not "nerd." I'm both. Again, I'm people's nerve, but I'm a nerd, themoneynerve.com, and there's lots of resources information. You can contact me through that.Jim James:
Bob Wheeler joining me from LA to talk about money. And the reason I want to share it on a podcast around getting notice is because often, as entrepreneurs, we do all the great brand building. We do all the great product building, and the service building, and development. And then we kind of crumble when it comes to the pricing, and where we put the pricing, and how we position, and ultimately how we negotiate. So Bob, thank you for telling us, you know, being confident is sexy and we could do that by preparation and through communication. Thank you so much.Bob Wheeler:
Absolutely. Thank you so much.Jim James:
And you've been listening to me, Jim James, on this episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur. And as always, I put all the links in the show notes. And if you'd like this, please do share it with a fellow entrepreneur. And if you've got a chance rate the show on the player, really all helps. Until we meet again. I do wish you the best and do keep on communicating.