The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies - LEADERS IN ONLINE GENEALOGY EDUCATION

Clients

Client Management 

When you first started your genealogy business, you perhaps did a few projects for family members to get some experience and work out the details of your offerings and fees.  At some point, you began actively marketing to obtain new clients.  Depending on how long you have been in business, you probably now have had some experience with actual, paying clients.  

 

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Client Correspondence 

Although researching, writing, editing can be done alone, much of the work a genealogist does involves communicating with clients on an ongoing basis. These communications include but are not limited to: 

  • making appointments 
  • discussing projects 
  • conducting interviews 
  • negotiating a change in the project scope  
  • asking for fee payments 
  • soliciting feedback 

Every interaction with a client can affect the business relationship.  A positive interaction can enhance the relationship and might even help to smooth over a difficulty or repair a problem.  A negative interaction can do all sorts of damage.  

Technology has brought us many new ways of communication.  Email, texting, and social media have become the go-to forms of connecting and exchanging information.  However, there are not without their drawbacks. First of all, not everyone uses all forms of communication equally well. 

In a way, an invoice is also a form of client communication, by which I mean communication between you and the client.  You are communicating with the client about what work has been completed and what fee is owed.  Take advantage of the fact that there can also be room on the invoice for a comment, such as “Thank you for this opportunity to be of service” or “Enjoy your family tree!” 

To succeed in business, part of your ongoing administration should focus on client management and client relations. With our Business Skills: Business Administration”  course you’ll find the tools needed to effectively work with clients.   

Project Proposals

 Client Proposals  

Many genealogy researchers charge for their services on an hourly basis.  This is simple to administer and easy for the client to understand.  However, some clients are uncomfortable with an open-ended expense.  One way to deal with this is to tell the client an upfront estimate of the number of hours expected for a given project.  As an alternative, some genealogists simple quote their clients a flat fee, which is fine as long as the anticipated work fits with the project quoted in the fee schedule.  

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The proposal you present to the client does not have to state all the details of how you will accomplish the work.  Focus on what is important to the client – what they will get as an end product and what it will cost them.  If you do create proposals, review them periodically to see how effective they are.  Be honest with yourself.  

Review your past proposals to see what has worked best and identify what areas may need more work on your part.  One way to find out how accurate your time-based proposals are is to keep a log of the time you spend on each project.    

By taking our, Business Skills: Business Administration” course you will come away with the tools needed to create effective proposals for you, your clients, and your business as a whole.  

Marketing

Marketing Management  

Constantly be on the lookout for great marketing strategies, even if the businesses are not within the realm of genealogy.  Some of the major elements of marketing are: 

  • Promotion/Displays 
  • Public Relations 
  • Pricing 
  • Newsletters/Surveys 
  • Advertising  
  • Networking  
  • Social Media 

Hopefully, your business plan includes a marketing plan.  But that is just a start.  As time goes on, it is important to re-evaluate your marketing strategies as part of your overall strategic planning process.  Depending on what sort of major business strategy you are planning, you may have to revise your marketing efforts.  You may decide as part of your strategic plan for the next five years to focus on a different target market than you had before.  You may decide to narrow down your target market on owners of family business.

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Whenever you initiate a marketing strategy, set up a document that describes the ad, event, promotion-whatever it is- along with what it cost you.  Then add to your document any results that you experience from this effort. 

In the course, Business Skills: Business Administration you will discover ways of managing the process of turning a prospect into a client while evaluating the success of your marketing management.  

Marketing and Sales Management

Sales Management 

Marketing goes hand in hand with sales, as it provides a way to get the word out about your services and products, and a way to attract prospective clients. In a small business, however, the owner is often the only salesperson, marketing director, and grunt, along with everything else!  

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Many small businesses lack a sales strategy. Periodically, you should review your sales strategy. Here is a list of some sales activities: 

  • identify prospects 
  • prioritize leads   
  • make sales calls 
  • close sales   
  • determine the average dollar size per sale 

Sales management means keeping track of these activities and how well you have done. Just like a budget, you should be projecting these figures and comparing them to actual results, ideally on a monthly basis. If you are not meeting your targets, look for reasons. Maybe you are not getting enough face-to-face meetings with prospects and need to learn to follow through on more leads.  

The lifeblood of any business is sales and sales management which is why we offer our Business Skills: Business Administration course to help you evaluate your sales strategies.   

Financial Matters and Your Genealogy Business

Your Genealogy Business

Tracking money is not just mindless busywork. It has a purpose. Keeping track of money as it flows in and out of your business is a process that is key to providing you with the necessary information on how your business is doing which leads to better decision making. Managing your financial resources will involve the following aspects of money management:

  • accounting/bookkeeping/budgeting
  • profit/loss
  • cash flow
  • tax reporting
  • break-even analysis
  • credit and collections

For a small sole proprietorship, weekly bookkeeping and periodic budgeting can be a simple process, and many small business owners do very well using just a spreadsheet to keep their financial records.

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Accounting reports are useful for reporting and planning purposes. The basic financial reports useful to an owner of a small genealogy business include:

  • Balance Sheets– This is a very basic look at your business ownership at a particular point in time, usually at the end of each month.
  • Profit/Loss Statement– This covers a specific period of time, such as one month, one quarter, or one year.
  • Budget– This serves as a guide for your activities.

If you have ever had a month – in business or even in your personal life – when you did not know where you would get the money to pay the bills, you have an understanding of what cash flow is. In a service business such as genealogy research, cash does not always flow smoothly. Genealogy research projects can take extended periods of time, sometimes six months or more.

Project Management 

A significant portion of your income may come from projects that you complete for your clients. In order to be adequately paid for your work, it is necessary to keep whatever records are necessary to enable you to invoice your clients. Depending on how you charge your clients, you may need to keep track of your time and/or expenses, or simply charge per project as you deliver them. When you complete the work, something should trigger you to issue an invoice.

Financial administration involves many aspects of managing money as it comes in and goes out of your business. Through the Business Skills: Business Administration course you will gain a better understanding of the financial matters in your business.

Strategic Planning for Your Genealogy Business

Once you set up your small business it is not enough to simply sit back and wait for clients to come to you. In order to keep the business viable and successful, you must focus your attention on its overall operation and growth. This is where a Business Plan can help.

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Setting up and Reviewing Your Business Plan

The first process in developing a business plan is strategic planning. The process of developing and updating your plan has many advantages.

  • It helps to clarify your thinking about your vision and mission.
  • It gives you a plan that is tailored to you, your personality, and your situation.
  • It helps you to take the best advantage of your skills and interest.

Your initial business plan should include the following elements:

  • Title Page
  • Executive Summary
  • Business Description
  • Management
  • Marketing Strategy

Strategic planning is a process that an established business uses to review all areas and to plan for the future, both short term and long term. The initial business plan can be used as a starting point for the review and planning process, particularly in the early years of operation, and some of the same thought processes are involved in both.

Your Mission and Vision Statements

One of the most basic elements of your business is a mission statement. The mission statement is a sentence (or two or three) that sums up the essence of your business-what products or services you aim to provide, who the customers are and what value your business can offer to them, how your business distinguishes itself for the competition, and what values you hope to embody in your business.

A vision statement is usually more far-reaching; it is based on your mission statement and relates to the outcome you envision. Your vision statement sums up the impact you imagine you will have through your business. The statement is intended to inspire anyone who hears or sees it.  Through the course, “Business Skills: Business Administration” you will identify the various elements in creating your business plan, mission and vision statement.

Growing Your Genealogy Business

When, why, and how to grow your genealogy business are important questions to tackle. These questions may always be in the back of your mind, but unless you formally address them periodically, you may never take the necessary actions, or you may find your business growing in a way you do not like or are not prepared for. Some small business owners are content, and rightly so, with the size of their business, which suits them perfectly. Growing your business is not a requirement.

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The bigger your business, the less personally involved you can be in all of its operations. Thus, a bigger business requires different ways of doing things, more structure, and organization.  As you grow your business consider:

  • creating a team  that can  give you valuable advice
  • hiring an assistant
  • committing to a growth strategy

Following good business administration practices as shown throughout the course, Business Skills: Business Administration will help you maintain an awareness of just where you stand and help you reach your goals.

 

 

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