What are you going to sell?
- Are you thinking of selling a product (a physical or online product), a service (your time) or both?
- Within those two categories, there might be a range. For instance, your product line might be varied rather than just the one product: different sizes, shapes, materials and – crucially – prices. And the same with services: perhaps you offer different packages or options for your services. Maybe you charge by the hour, as well as half or full day.
For some work, you get to set your day rate however you like. For me, this work includes copywriting and consultancy; where clients come to me and ask my fee. How I work out what to charge – or how I initially set the rate – is by looking at how much I needed to earn to make it worthwhile. This means taking into account the cost of childcare, how much regular work I have on and so where I’ll fit it in.
I spend a few days a week running these courses. I wrote my book in the evenings. So if a client wants me to do a day’s work, I set my fee high, as this means changing the shape of my week to fit it in.
If your work will solely consist of ‘day rates’ (full-time freelancing), look at your monthly costs. Decide how many days you’d like to work. Divide the costs by the amount of days and see how much it comes to, per day. You then need to double it – and a bit more – to account for putting aside tax, savings, money for holidays and other unexpected costs.
There’s a cashflow spreadsheet below that will help you to look at your business costs and overheads to see how much you’d need to charge to cover your costs, and then to make a profit. But also, the more experience you gain; the more you can charge. So keep reviewing your freelance fee regularly.
To work out what to charge for your product or service, you need to do some market research. Look at what’s already out there: what are others charging? For some services, there will be a fairly standard rate. But for others, it will be up to you to decide what you charge. Like for consultancy, you’re charging for your experience so this can hugely vary from one person to another. You decide. Though it’s still good to have a ballpark idea as a start. So look up someone else who does the kind of work you’re planing on doing, at a similar level, and check what she’s charging. But also check out the men in your field, as they’re likely to be charging more. And set your rate accordingly.
If it’s products you’re selling, it’s easier to find out how much people are willing to pay. Look at who’s already selling something similar and doing really well. They’re obviously getting it right. But there are other considerations here, like what it costs to source or manufacture the product. Plus your time, and various other costs that will mount up. So once you’ve done some market research – checked out what others are charging – it’s time for some number crunching.
Accountant Lisa Matthews specialises in self-employed people and start-up businesses. She’s created a cashflow forecast spreadsheet (in Excel) for you. Here, you can pop in cost of goods bought to be resold, packaging costs, delivery/courier fees, materials and equipment. And all your overheads. Once you’ve put in all the outgoings for the first month, you can scroll to the righthand side and see how much you need to earn from your work in order to cover all these costs.
There are three tabs in the excel sheet…
- ‘Forecast’ is for planning
- ‘Actual’ is to complete as you trade
- The ‘profit and loss’ page is all linked so it will automatically fill up as the other two pages are completed.
If you’re working on a day rate, you could divide the total overheads by the days you have to work that month, and you’ll see what you need to earn per day to break even. You’ll then need to increase the amount you’re charging per day so that you start to see a profit. If you’re selling products, you can divide that number by the cost of one product (priced by doing some research and seeing what others are charging for something similar) and that’s how many products you’d need to sell that month to break even. Sell more, and you’ll start to see a profit.
Here are two cashflow forecast Excel sheets for you to play around with, put together by Lisa Matthews – an accountant specialising in freelancers and start-up businesses…
Lisa has completed this one for you, as an example – to show you how it might be used…
If you feel overwhelmed by all of this – perhaps you have some ideas about what you’d like to do but you’re not ready to start pricing it all up – come back to it later. You can download the cashflow forecast and use it whenever you’re ready. You can also come back to this page whenever you need to. And if you’d like more guidance with the financial side of things, you can get help from an accountant like Lisa. Contact her by phone: 07733104245, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, LinkedIn or her Facebook page.
And if you are ready to number crunch and work out what to charge, remember that this will change over time. Your product prices might need re-thinking, as your business grows. Your services will be worth more, as you gain experience. Additionally, you might start out offering products and later start doing consultancy or offering another type of service that involves your time. Conversely, you might want to go freelance now but create your own merchandise or an app in a while. So feel free to come back to this whenever you need to.