If you own a business, you may sometimes struggle over pricing. How to set it, where to set it, and what you can do to raise or lower it, while still making sure it keeps you up and running.
Or perhaps you’re very early in your self-employment journey and you’re still just setting prices in a sort of self-made testing mode, seeing what exactly you can “get away with“. Don’t worry… it’s not that you’re trying to literally get away with anything, you’re just trying to see if you can ACTUALLY make what it is you think you need to live and grow. We’ve all been there. And the fact is even when you’ve owned a business for decades, you periodically have to go back there and re-assess what you’ve put into place.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought in recent months, because it finally hit me — like in an earth shattering, never could go back from this revelation kind of way — that there are basically two ways I can run my business:
1 // Charge low or competitive prices and be: Stressed out, panicked, stretched too thin, over-worked and under-inspired, having set prices lower, I have a lot of work but I have no time or energy left for quality customer service or new creative ideas, because I’m too spent just trying to keep up and keep the income coming in so I can pay my bills. My quality of connection to my clients goes down the toilet, I can no longer take the time to give them the full attention and genuine care they deserve. I’m slow to get back to them, because I literally can’t keep up. I don’t listen as well cause I’m dead tired. I have no energy for creative inspiration and new and fresh ideas and design. As a result of this, the quality of my work suffers too, and the quality of the end product, and the quality of the effectiveness of my product for my clients and their own goals and objectives. I am no longer running the business and life I love, I am just running a survival machine. It’s a factory assembly-line up in here, and I just need to churn it out quick. (<—- Oh, HELL no!)
2 // Charge what I actually need in order to own and run a business, and sustain and nurture the high level of customer care and attention that my clients deserve, and that I love to give. I am calm, centered, available, and inspired. Having set prices higher, I have finally afforded myself the time and energy I need to truly be there for my clients, to listen, and give the full attention and genuine care they are craving. My quality of connection to my clients goes way up, I’m available to them because I’ve built in financial support for me to do so, and do it well. I have energy, time, and space for creative inspiration and ideas, that not only support the growth and success of my clients businesses, but also support the growth and success of my own. I am running the business and life that I love. Not making EVERY connection, but making QUALITY connections, forming long term partnerships and working relationships that grow. That quality connection feeds and fuels the effectiveness of the end-product and delivers my clients the success they signed on for. (<—- Oh, HELL YES!)
See, I’ve never run my business like that first option, although I’ve considered it MANY times when times got slow. But ultimately, even when I was faced with failure by sticking to doing it the second way, I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t slash my prices in order to only “make a living”, because I was absolutely determined (maybe even to a fault) to MAKE A LIFE.
Many would call this foolishness, and blind optimism, and maybe it is, but I decided early on that I was not going to sacrifice the quality of my service, my work, and my connection for a quick buck. I decided I could do it another way, so I did.
I made it my priority. This might sound simple, but it’s quite profound, because what I did there—all that time—without even fully recognizing what I was doing, was prioritizing quality of life above all else. Even above “security”.
“Whoa Sunni, that’s just plain stupid—and irresponsible!“, you may be thinking. Which I can totally relate to, cause I thought so too, many times! And yet STILL this drive to do it my way won out, every time. Now did I compromise sometimes and hustle to pay my bills? OF COURSE I DID. And every time I did, I was reminded why it’s SO important that I stick to my original objective.
Every. Single. Time. it bit me in the ass. 😀
After 16+ years at this, I have learned a thing or two about what people say. People will tell you all kinds of things about what you CAN and CANNOT do, they will tell you all kinds of things about what you ARE or ARE NOT worth. But believe me when I say… they just don’t know. They are speaking from their own experience, and that is literally all they can speak to.
Since the world exists outside their own personal experience, and outside data points on a page, you can play with this yourself and find out for YOURSELF what you can and cannot do, and what you are or are not worth. You decide. Not them.
You decide based on what is important to you, and based on what kind of business you really want to run, and be remembered for.
I can’t speak for you, but I can speak for me, and I can tell you that when I stick to my main objective and priority — the quality of connection and service for the kind of business I truly want to run — I find my people, and my people find me. Those for whom that quality of care is important, and for whom that price is absolutely more than worth it for that level of care, find you, and are grateful for you (and send you thank you cards, and the sweetest emails you ever did read!)
The times of fear and uncertainty and doubt were worth it if only so I could see what kind of business I am NOT willing to run. I got a taste of this recently when I sampled a bevy of hired help for myself and saw how absolutely rare it is to find someone who genuinely cares about you and responds with more than 3 words and terse, cold responses.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing, they may well be running their business around the values that are most important to THEM, a totally different set of values more around efficiency, and that’s awesome! But for me, I really value connection — even if it’s from my introvert-afar — I love to connect in writing, and I love the feeling I get when I can help someone with a problem, and when I can deliver something that makes their heart leap.
That’s my “why”, it’s the heart of my business, so I build a pricing structure that allows me to actually DO THAT. (I know, whodda thunk right?!) 😀 And it’s been working out pretty beautifully (with some thrilling twists, turns and drops along the way) for almost two decades.
So cut the noise, get real quiet, and ask yourself what you want to create (*ahem* using my free Back To Simple guidebook, Clickety-click right here to download) and then find out WHAT YOU NEED to be able to do that.
When you come at it this way, it totally works, because you are no longer just trying to be committed to pricing and money (we can all be pretty wishy washy about that subject, as it comes with a lot of baggage, frankly!), instead you are committed to your VISION, to who you want to be, what you want to create in the world with your business, and the money is just the thing you need to do that, and do it well.
Not only are you worth it, THEY are worth it (your people/your clients),
and when you finally REALLY see this..
It’s a game changer.