In small businesses, it’s important to maintain a good rapport with your clients. But it’s just as important to grow your business and expand your client base. This means going through the daunting process of onboarding new clients. The good new is… onboarding doesn’t have to be scary.
Some of the concerns I see a lot are:
💠 “I don’t know what information to ask for when I sign a new client”
💠 “What steps do I take with a new client?”
💠 “What if I don’t get everything I need?”
Here’s the thing, yes…all of these are important. But these concerns can be narrowed down into two important goals.
✔ setting expectations
✔ asking good questions
Why? Because those things build trust (which is mighty important in our profession) and at the same time set boundaries.
One lesson I learned the hard way, was not setting expectations with new clients right away. In fact, the expectations should show up in 3 places:
⃣1 Discovery call conversation
⃣2 Written in your engagement letter
⃣3 Conversation during onboarding
Not only does it set you up for success, it also means less chance for resentment and difficult conversations down the line. And the best part is…you build trust right away. Your clients will see you as a professional and are less likely to treat you like an employee.
After all, why are we going into business for ourselves just to be treated as an employee of not ONE boss, but many?
💠 How often you’ll be working on their stuff
💠 How long onboarding will take (don’t be afraid to stretch this out)
💠 How frequently you’ll be sending them updates
💠 Which days you have office hours (specify certain days for appts vs working on their stuff)
Do you have some non-negotiables that you bring up with potential clients? Comment below and share your insight!
Spoiler alert: The answer is that you probably won’t, and that’s okay.
Don’t spend so much time trying to prove yourself, you’re there to make things easier for your client.
And don’t be afraid to ask more questions if you don’t understand something.
You might feel like this makes you look “stupid” but in reality, we rarely get all the pieces to the puzzle, and don’t know we might need something until after we’ve dug in a little.
You’re battling with trying to figure out a large deposit in the bank statement. You finally decide to just ask the client,
“What was this $10k deposit from?”
Then they reply, “oh I put some more money into the business.”
However, when you onboarded them, you never received (or asked for) their formation documents. So you’re not sure how this “contribution” should actually be handled.
Should it be a loan, paid in capital, or owner’s contribution? The answer depends on those formation docs, my friend. And 9 times out of 10, if the client setup their own books, they probably have not accounted for their opening balances correctly. And most of the time, a business owner doesn’t understand how their business structure affects how things are accounted for.
Have you ever run into something like this and spun your wheels to try to figure out how to handle something? Comment below!
Just in case this post inspired you to face the onboarding process head-on, I’ve just released a mini-course (and it’s less than 2 hours long) which will show you how to set up Dubsado for your bookkeeping/accounting onboarding. Click here to learn more.