One of the questions which crops up almost every day with my clients is “how do I charge what I’m really worth?” Sometimes a variant is about charging what you need in order to make a living and be able to afford to give up the day job.
This question is about self-esteem, and I can share with clients my experiences going back over decades as I’ve observed small businesses start out, under-charge and then eventually get to grips with charging appropriately – or die!
How does this happen? What changes?
Well, it depends where you are starting from. If you have always been underpaid and/or a bit skint, certain prices by the hour, say, may seem expensive to you but cheap to others, some of whom will be your paying clients and customers. This is where you must identify a target market who can easily afford you and who prioritises what you are selling. Thus someone in pain will pay whatever you charge if you make it go away. They will also love you forever, keep coming back and tell all their friends.
Someone who has been through these self-employed pricing challenges themselves and understands the value of luxurious 1-2-1 time with you and how precious it is will pay you fairly for your time and be happy to do that. Someone who knows how to be a good client. Do you know how to be a good and generous client? Go first, it’s always good to be a vibrational match for what you want to attract into your own life and business.
Where the self-esteem issue comes in is when we confuse our self-worth with the price of our product or service. This does change over time and what causes it to change is the world giving you feedback that they love what you are doing. As the evidence begins to build up that you do or sell something good which people want and enjoy and benefit from, you will feel better about yourself and start to make the distinction that what you sell is not who you are.
I have told the story before about a chef I worked with during the 1990s. Now he’s on the telly and he has lots of Michelin stars and he’s written books and he’s a celebrity and the feedback from the world enables him to charge what he’s really worth. When he started out he was charging £28 for a meal which today might easily cost you upwards of £195. What changed? His view of the world and himself, based on the feedback he received from happy diners and critics. Positive strokes.
What else changes? The feeling you get when you work far too long for far too little reward. If you work for yourself then this will cause you to crank up your pricing eventually. Start low by all means but just know that makes it harder when you want to hike your prices.
A point to remember about pricing ourselves is that whilst some love a bargain, many love more expensive and luxury items. In the world in which we live highly priced can be highly prized. We like expensive. So check out your own spending habits even if – especially if – you are the proverbial church mouse. What do you choose to spend your money on? Is it scientific or random? Do you always find the money for at least one little luxury you wouldn’t be without? So will your clients. And that could be you and your service or product.
And finally, it is about value, not price. And the value can be demonstrated by you but ultimately will be decided upon by the client/customer. If you sell yourself too cheaply you can end up resentful of your clients, unable to make a decent living and perceived – erroneously, perhaps – as less valuable than someone else who does know how to charge what they are worth.
You can charge whatever you want. I’ve charged more than I am right now. The price I charge dictates the client I want to work with and my focus in 2013 is on those who might think they cannot afford a business adviser, coach and mentor. I want to prove them wrong. In other years, I’ve upped my prices to work with those who know its an investment and value themselves enough to make that investment. I’ve charged three times what I charge now and I’ve charged ten times what I charge now. It’s my choice and my price can dictate my type of client.
You decide what you want. Jessie J will tell you it’s not about the price tag. And if it’s not about the price tag, what is it about for you? A little bit of excavation work will reveal all. Its your stuff about money and your hallucinations about your customer’s preparedness to pay for the solutions you provide.
Start by setting the prices you want to charge; you can always discount if you wish, offer a BOGOF perhaps, experiment with different ways to get people to enjoy shopping with you, making it easy and fun. Discounts might include summer sales, birthday gifts, Christmas deals and so on. Many people I love give away their books on Kindle for a few days at a time. There’s method in their madness. We love them for it, give testimonials and strengthen our loyal connections to them and pass the word to our friends. But they can’t give it away 365.
Recently I asked people to buy a product of mine for a donation. Suffice to say they always pay more than you think they will. Try it.
Go on, I dare you… put up your prices, charge what you are really worth and prove yourself wrong! What better way to be wrong could there be?