One of the most common problems I come across when working with business owners is professionals not charging what they’re worth. I get it. Money is difficult to talk about, and sometimes it can be hard to have the confidence to truly know your worth; especially when you’re offering a premium service.
I’ve experienced this myself. There have been times when I’ve sat down with a potential client for a free thirty minute consultation and really hit it off with them, only to discover that the budget they have in mind doesn’t cover my fees. In these cases it can be really tough to stick to your guns and ignore the little voice in your head that says ‘well, maybe I could offer a discount…’
After all, the more you discount your fees, the more you devalue your service. Charging less than you’re worth could make potential clients question the quality of your service, and could even make bigger and more high-profile clients overlook you completely.
It’s important to remember that it’s okay to not be the cheapest person in your field! After all, If you’re offering a premium service, the reality is that you’re also going to be charging premium prices.
When you charge what you’re worth, a number of things will happen:
1. You’ll want to be clear on value and benefits
Premium services tend to come at a premium price! When you are truly charging what you’re worth, any initial talks you have with clients will be focused on the value and benefits of what you’re offering. A lot of business owners find communicating this difficult, so if you can do it well you’re already off to a head start!
2. People will try and negotiate you down
There will always be people who will respond to your quote with a counter-offer. Though in certain situations there can be a place for this kind of negotiation, in most cases I think it’s wise to stay firm. If you accept a lower fee than you originally asked for, it can seriously devalue what you’re offering.
3. You’ll only work with people who really want to work with you
The best types of clients are the ones who are 100% engaged in the process of working with you. When you truly charge what you’re worth, it’s likely that everyone who makes the decision to work with you will do so because they really believe in what you’re doing, not just because you’re the most affordable option.
4. Your business will be more profitable
When you run a service-based business, you will have serious time limitations on how many clients you can take on. After all: there are only a limited number of hours in the day and days in the week. If you’re always busy but are still not earning what you feel you should be, it’s probably because you’re not charging what you’re worth.
Increasing your prices to really reflect the value you offer to your clients can be a big step. Let me assure you, however, that all the clients I have supported through this process have never looked back.
Not sure where to start? I’d be happy to sit down with you and explore all the many ways your business offers value. Why not get in touch?
As a business coach, I often have to ask difficult questions. One of those questions is this one: is your business stale?
Trust me when I say I know how hard it is to be honest about questions like these. As business owners we all work incredibly hard on our businesses, and it can be tough to stick our hands up and admit when we’re getting something wrong.
However, that doesn’t mean that we should avoid the difficult questions! After all, one of the biggest problems with business is that our offering can go from wonderful to old hat in what feels like no time at all. There is no staying still in business: we all need to keep moving and innovating in order to maintain our success.
Unfortunately, not all business owners subscribe to this idea. It can be easy to doggedly stick to the same once-winning formula for years and years without looking around to find out whether that’s even what our customers are looking for anymore.
Let me give you an example. I recently met an architect who was great at what he did. He was passionate about his profession and had enjoyed a long career. Problem was: over that long career he’d stuck to what he felt he did best. In this case, what he did best was hand drawn architecture plans. There was certainly a place for these, and some of his customers really valued them, but in sticking to this one style he’d failed to learn newer computer-aided techniques. Rather than accept that he needed to upskill in order to move forward, he’d begun to turn potential customers away when they asked for more modern architecture plans.
Now, you may not be actively turning customers away in your business… but have you considered whether your potential customers are looking for something you’re not offering? It can be incredibly eye-opening to take a look around the marketplace and see what other businesses similar to yours are offering their customers and what seems to be gaining in popularity.
Not sure where to start to make sure your business isn’t getting left behind? The following questions are a great jumping off point to really challenge whether your business needs some new energy.
The good news is that a stale business doesn’t necessarily mean a failing one. There are often really easy ways to breathe new freshness into a business. If this is a problem for you: be assured that the sooner you admit it, the sooner you can start making positive changes.
- Are you keeping up to date with the latest developments in your industry?
- Do you use the communication channels your customers are using?
- Are your competitors offering something you’re not?
- Could you do what you do in a more modern or streamlined way?
- Have you avoided adopting a piece of equipment or software that would make things easier for your customers?
- When was the last time you added a new service or product to your offering?
- Could you re-brand and/or repackage some of your existing services or products to bring them more up to date?
- Have you been asked for a service or product by multiple customers without implementing it?
Do you need help answering difficult questions about your business? That’s what I’m here for! Why not take a look at Taking Care of You, Taking Care of Business, my monthly membership programme for business owners like you?
Whatever your business type, you can probably be pretty confident that your customers talk about you when you’re not there. This might be through the medium of online reviews, social media, or in person to friends and family.
The content of these discussions can have a big impact on the success of your business. Many of us rely on the power of word of mouth… and if all the words that are coming out of those mouths are negative, it’s likely to mean a big drop in the number of new customers that come your way.
Ask any business owner and they’d probably say they’d love to be able to choose what their customers say about them. Wouldn’t you?
Here’s the thing: you can
Okay, so I’m not suggesting you can actually script what your customers say about you when they discuss your services with their friends. But we do have a lot more of an impact on how those conversations go than we might realise. After all, it’s the quality of our products and service provision that informs where those conversations go.
A huge part of this will come down to how good of an impression you’ve made on your customers. So if you want to increase the chance of them saying great things about you, you need to improve the quality of that impression.
Think like a fly on the wall
I’ve got a little trick for thinking about how to manage customer perceptions. Imagine yourself as a fly on the wall when your most recent customer goes home and talks about their experience with your business. Ask yourself honestly: what do you think they’d tell their other half about the service you’d provided? Would they enthuse about it? Or would they be more likely to express disappointment?
Once you’ve given yourself a bit of a reality check, you might want to take the exercise in a different direction. Imagine yourself as the fly on the wall to the absolute best conversation about your business you could hope for. In this ideal world, what would that customer comment on? Would they be thrilled at the quality of your work? Would they comment on how valued they felt as a customer? Would they go on and on about just how much they’d enjoyed the experience?
What can you do to make it happen?
The benefit of this thought exercise is that it gives you a great indication of where you want to improve. Once you have a better grasp on what you want your customers to experience, you’ll be far better placed to work on actually making that a reality.
The key question here is this: what changes can you make to your customer experience to ensure your customers do say all the positive things you want them to? Do you need to improve the quality of your offering? Could you add extra value? Could you make your customer communications more personal? Could you make the process more fun?
The better you’re able to manage your customer experience, the more control you’ll gain over how those customer conversations go.
I’d love to know what you’d like your customers to say about you. What’s the best compliment you can imagine? Share it with me on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page.
It’s never easy to make a big change in your business. This is for two reasons. The first is logistics-based. Large scale changes typically mean upheaval, clever planning and generous investment. The second reason is much harder to quantify or organise around. Why? Because the second reason it can be really tricky to make big changes is all about emotion.
Change is scary. This is true whatever sphere of your life the changes are taking place in. However, changes in your business are unique in that they are usually inherently tied up with financial liquidity, personal value and perceived worth. In other words: it can be hard to embrace big changes when there’s a risk that making them could impact on the success of your business.
But does that mean we business owners should all shy away from making changes? Of course not! Putting yourself out there and taking the risk may be anxiety-inducing… but it’s also usually the best way to move forwards and embrace new opportunities.
Many of the business owners I meet will admit that they have a business scheme they haven’t quite been brave enough to embrace. Sometimes this is as simple as investing in new office space, other times it’s launching a new product or service, rethinking the way they communicate or even taking on a whole new type of client. Whatever the change, most have something significant in common: the only thing holding them back is lack of courage.
If this sounds familiar, please be reassured that this is very common. It’s also far from a dead end: there are many ways to gently help yourself to find the courage to forge ahead with your big plans.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Throw yourself into planning the logistics
We’re all different and we all find our confidence in very different ways. Sometimes, the fear of making changes can be tied up with the uncertainty of not knowing exactly what those changes would look like or how they’d work. Getting right into the nitty gritty of making those plans can therefore help to make you feel braver when it comes to getting started.
Focus on one small step at a time
Your cautiousness could be due to trying to do too much at once. Big changes take time: especially if you want them to be sustainable. If focusing on the final destination is proving overwhelming, try taking some time to break your end goal into smaller, less scary steps. Simply focus on working on one at a time, and you’ll probably find that you’re half way to your end goal before you even realise.
Recruit some cheerleaders
Sometimes finding the courage to make a change is as easy as telling some supportive, enthusiastic people about your plans. Partners, family members, friends and colleagues can all be really helpful in this respect. They will typically be far less blinded by anxieties and will be able to point out just how capable you really are.
Seek advice from an expert
Your nervousness may stem from the worry that your planned changes aren’t as wise as you think they are. If this is the case, it may be helpful to seek advice from an expert. This could be someone who specialises in a relevant field, a more experienced business owner, or a business coach or consultant. Either way, sitting down to discuss your ideas with someone you respect is likely to help you feel that you’ve done your due diligence and are ready to get started.
Have you recently made a big change in your business? How did you find the courage to jump in? I’d love to hear if you did some of the above, or any other suggestions you might have. You can share them with me on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page.
Do you ever feel like you’re too busy?
It may sound like a very good problem to have, but being too booked up with client work can reduce the time we have available for big picture planning.
Any successful growing business needs time for introspection. It’s important to be able to evaluate what’s going well, what’s not going well and how close you are to meeting any outstanding goals. Business owners who don’t make time for this kind of planning often find that their business drifts forward in a direction they wouldn’t have chosen.
This is perhaps a good time to revisit the concept of working in your business versus working on your business. On an every day basis most business owners spend 90% of their time working in their business. This generally covers all client work, meetings and appointments. This is really important work and generally where the majority of money is made. But that remaining 10%, the time they spend working on their business, is also vital.
Without time to work on your business you would quickly find that you lacked strategy, plans or goals. Your marketing would be likely to suffer, as would your client communications. You may even find that you lose track of the reason you started your business in the first place.
In order to avoid this success trap, it’s wise to ensure you make time to work on your business, even when it’s difficult.
You could do this by:
Scheduling a regular appointment with yourself
If you struggle to find the time to work on ongoing business planning, it might be a good idea to set a regular recurring appointment for yourself in your diary. A couple of hours once a fortnight could really help you to keep on track with your business goals without having too much of an impact on the rest of your workload. Choose a time that’s typically quieter than others (perhaps a Friday afternoon?) and commit to keeping the appointment.
Finding a mentor, coach or accountability partner
Some business owners find it much easier to stick to big picture planning if they involve a third party. What kind of third party you choose to work with will depend on your personal preferences. Some business owners have excellent mentors they can turn to, while others get great results by pairing up with another business owner for a mutually beneficial partnership. If neither of these options are for you, a business coach could support you to stay on track with the work you need to do on your business.
Delegating some of the work you do in your business
Are you worried about how you’re going to find the time? Take a look at how you currently spend your working hours and think about which of the tasks you do really need you to do them. A lot of business owners spend hours every week working on financial, administration or marketing tasks that don’t necessarily need their expertise but take up valuable headspace regardless. Could some of these tasks be delegated to a virtual assistant, bookkeeper or freelancer?
Automating certain tasks
You may find that there are some tasks that you do that could actually be automated. This includes paying recurring invoices, responding to certain types of emails, sending out digital resources, and some kinds of social media posts. Looking at options for automating could free up as much as an hour or two every week.
When was the last time you set time aside to dedicate to working on your business? If you’ve been caught up in the success trap, now is the time to check in with your business plan and ensure things are still moving in the right direction. Not sure where to start? Setting some new goals for moving forwards could be a great jumping off point.
Here’s a thought for you: business doesn’t have to be boring! Whatever the size of your personal entrepreneurial endeavour, there’s always more than enough space to have some fun.
When we think about running a business, many of us think of the formal and administrative sides. There is definitely always going to be a necessity for these as the more practical parts of business are always going to need to be done (and if there’s a way to make filing a tax return or organising paperwork joyful I certainly haven’t found it yet). However, there is a very creative side to running a business that many of us overlook.
Why is playfulness important?
Playfulness is a really useful tool that we tend to underuse. It often gets written off as something we should leave behind in childhood… but those who follow that advice could be seriously missing out.
Children use play as a tool to learn to understand the world and experiment. But play can be useful for understanding and experimentation at any age. In fact, studies have shown that play is essential for brain development and that nothing else really lights up the brain in the same way.
How could it help your business?
Introducing more playfulness into our businesses could be beneficial in a number of ways:
- It could help us to think outside of the box
- It could help us find the confidence to try new things
- It could help us to better connect to our clients
- It could help us to manage stress more effectively
- It could help us to get more enjoyment out of what we do
- It could help us to come up with new marketing techniques
- It could help us to make better use of our sense of humour
- It could help us to work through tedious tasks more efficiently
Where could you start?
The important thing to remember here is that playfulness is a relative concept. Your particular brand of play will depend totally on your personality and preferences.
For example, some business owners love engaging in role play activities during training, while others find them awkward. Some business partners might find it helpful to get out and get active by playing sports together instead of sitting down for a traditional business planning meeting. For others, playfulness may be more synonymous with encouraging their creative side and using a pad of paper and coloured pens to mind map their way to a creative solution.
If you’ve already taken steps to make your business more playful, I’d love to hear how you’ve done it. Why not share your tips with me and other readers on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page?
Worrying is a natural human process. Trying to stop those little niggles and concerns altogether would be impossible… but that doesn’t mean we have to let them take hold.
When our worries get out of hand they can really start to have a negative impact. Symptoms of this could be anything from:
- Losing confidence
- Missing out on opportunities
- Failing to communicate effectively
- Avoiding forward-planning
- Not seeing the big picture
- Being afraid to try new things
All of these things could have a big impact on the success of your business, both in the present and in the future. If you feel that your worries starting to take hold, now is the time to do something about it.
Look forwards, not backwards
Many of us worry about things that have already happened. If you find yourself getting caught up in anxieties about things you said, did or thought in the past, you’re far from alone. The thing about these sort of worries, though, is that there really is nothing you can do about the situation they relate to. Instead, you need to make a conscious decision to let go of the past and focus on the present.
Find a way to ‘download’
Sometimes small niggly worries become overwhelming simply because we can’t switch them off. Some people find it it helpful to experiment with different ways of ‘downloading’ this information. This could be by writing it down into a dedicated notebook or digital document, telling someone about it, turning each worry into a diarised action-point or even speaking each one into a dictaphone or voice recording app. You may find that making a note of your worries in some way helps to stop them going round and round in your head.
Some worries are irrational. Others, however, can stem from incomplete projects, neglected tasks, areas of ignorance or protective steps we haven’t yet acted on. If your worries fall into the second camp, why not take each worry as a prompt to take action? Each time a worry crops up, aim to do something productive to combat the source of it. Depending on the time of day and what you’re doing at that exact moment, this could involve actually sitting down to complete a task or two, or it could mean making some helpful notes to use when you next get the chance.
Find a professional sounding board
It can be easier for your worries to get out of control if you work as a solopreneur. This is because you’re likely to have less people around you to talk through issues and concerns with. In these situations, it can be really helpful to find a trusted advisor to use as a sounding board. Regular support from an experienced professional such as a coach could allow you to talk through any worries in a non-judgemental space.
Looking for more tips for dealing with out-of-control worrying? You might find this post on the benefits of behaviour techniques useful.
For the next couple of minutes, I’d like you to humour me. I want to take you on a little journey into a world where the word can’t has never existed.
Personally, I think the word can’t is responsible for holding huge numbers of business owners back. Most of us use it daily without really thinking about why we’re doing so.
I can’t charge that much
I can’t take on a member of staff
I can’t afford to go to a conference
I can’t take on that responsibility
I can’t teach a course
I can’t bid for such a big project
I can’t offer consultancy services
I can’t put myself forward for an award
Get the idea? Business owners like you and I use those four little letters daily to limit ourselves and prevent us trying new things.
What if you challenge it?
The reason one small word has such a big hold on us is that we rarely challenge it. When our inner critique rises up and tells us we can’t do something, most of us will simply agree with it. But what if we questioned it?
If you take on the questioning challenge, you’ll likely find there isn’t very much substance at all behind can’t.
Go on, try it now. Think of something you’ve recently told yourself you can’t do in your business, such as pitching to a new bigger client, offering a new service or even writing a book. Now try and come up with one genuine unsurmountable reason why you can’t.
It’s quite hard, isn’t it?
After all, most of the reasons we come up with are fairly easily surmountable.
- If the reason is financial… how many more sales would you have to make before it became a possibility?
- If the reason is time-based… what jobs could you outsource to someone else to make time?
- If the reason is based on lack of skills… what training could you invest in to fill the knowledge gap?
In my experience, the real underlying reason behind almost all can’ts is fear. Being a business owner often means we have to put ourselves out there to move forward. Doing this can be really scary, especially if you sometimes have issues with confidence.
But the alternative, listening every time our inner critique says can’t, will stop us from experiencing new things and putting ourselves forward for new opportunities.
A world without can’t
So what about if we lived in a world where no one had ever used the word can’t? Close your eyes for a moment and have a think about where your business might’ve taken you if your inner critique had never spoken up.
Would your business be bigger? More specialist? Would you be trading from a slightly different angle or focusing more on values that are important to you? Would you be working with different types of client on different types of project?
Obviously we can’t click our fingers and make can’t disappear altogether, but we can make a resolution to challenge it. Next time you find yourself countering a new idea with the word can’t: make sure there’s a genuinely good reason why not.
Did you find this exercise helpful? If so, I’d love to hear where your business might’ve taken you if you’d never said can’t. Share your thoughts on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page or send me a quick email.
Every business owner deals with suppliers. Sometimes these suppliers are obvious: cafe owners need food deliveries, gallery owners need artists, shop owners need products to sell. If your business is primarily service based, you might need to think a bit more carefully to work out who your suppliers are.
As a small business owner you’re probably unlikely to regularly use the services of all of these professionals, but I’d be surprised if you didn’t use any of them. These people are your suppliers in just the same way as a butcher or grocer are suppliers of a restaurant. After all, you rely on them to keep moving forward in your business.
- Your internet provider
- Your landline and mobile providers
- Your web hosts
- Your web design company
- Your marketing consultant
- Your print company
- Your accountant or bookkeeper
- Your virtual assistant
- Your business coach
- Your team of industry freelancers
- Your social media consultant
- Your copywriter
- Your graphic designer
I meet with small business owners every week and there are certain problems that come up again and again. One of the most common ones is problems with suppliers. Unfortunately, I think the reason many of us small business owners bump into issues with our suppliers is because we have become complacent with them.
This can work two ways.
One: if you’re complacent with your suppliers you may not notice when they’re doing a poor job
Just because you’ve been working with someone for a while doesn’t mean you have to continue working with them: especially if they’re not doing the job you need them to do. If you find yourself constantly complaining about your bookkeeper, or your virtual assistant, or your web host, perhaps it’s time to make a change.
This may mean sitting them down and setting new expectations for their work, or it may mean deciding to work with someone completely new. There’s no benefit in the familiar if it’s no longer working for you! Investing the time to source a new supplier could bring you a great deal more value in the long run.
Two: if you’re complacent with your suppliers you may not notice when they’re doing a great job
Being complacent could lead to the opposite problem: that you stop noticing what the people around you are doing, even when it’s really helping you out. This can be a problem as failing to appreciate your suppliers may damage your relationship with them. Taking the time to notice what your suppliers are doing and thank them for their hard work is a simple but effective way to maintain effective working practices.
Of course, there’s another issue with being complacent about how well your suppliers are working. If they’re doing a really good job that’s not quite on your radar, you may be missing out on additional work they could do for you. They may be able to get double the results for you if you were to free up a few more resources for them to work with: but you’ll only know this if you take the time to evaluate their progress.
So when was the last time you re-evaluated the people your business works with? Sitting down to look at the facts, figures and results could be a big eye-opener.
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When you’re a business owner it’s very easy to get overwhelmed with all the things you have to do. There are so many plates that need to be kept spinning and if you’re in sole charge of keeping them all up in the air, it can often feel like it’s just too much.
These spinning plates can be things like:
- Fulfilling orders
- Meeting with clients
- Hitting deadlines
- Responding to emails
- Keeping track of finances
- Maintaining marketing campaigns
- Communicating via social media
- Updating your website
- Tracking progress
- Setting goals
- Doing big picture planning
- Reaching targets
When you look at a list like this, it’s no wonder that running a business single-handedly can often feel like it’s just too much to handle! Trying to do all these things at once is nigh on impossible.
Luckily, there is a way around this. It’s a simple technique that doesn’t involve hiring staff, delegating to others or ignoring tasks all together.
Want to know what it is?
Just do one small thing at a time.
Often the reason we feel overwhelmed is because we’re trying to do too many things at once. Technology is a wonderful resource for business owners, but it also makes it incredibly tempting to always be trying to do three or four things simultaneously. It’s not surprising we often feel as if we’re in overdrive.
If you can get out of the multi-tasking habit and resolve to just focus on one small thing at a time, you’ll likely find that your productivity improves massively and that your stress levels drop.
So how can you do this? Here are two things to try.
One: make it a habit to focus solely on one thing at a time
When you are checking your emails, sit down at your computer and check your emails. Once you’ve finished, close your inbox and move onto the next thing. Try to only have the tabs or programmes open on your computer that are absolutely necessary for the task. If it takes a few moments for the internet page to load, use that time to think about the task at hand… not to check something else on your smartphone!
It may only be when you start really trying to focus on one thing at a time that you realise how much you’ve been doing the opposite. Building a new habit can take time, so do be patient with yourself.
Two: break your to do list up into smaller chunks
When you add a new task to your to do list, how do you do it? Do you add tasks by whole project or by individual steps? If it’s the former, that may be part of the reason why you feel overwhelmed. When you add a whole project to your list, it an be difficult for your subconscious mind to work out how it’s going to address it. Depending on your profession, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to complete that whole project in one sitting. A web designer doesn’t design a website in one afternoon, just as a shop owner doesn’t manage a new product launch all in one go.
Your to do list is likely to feel a great deal more manageable if you add tasks in manageable chunks. Remember: you’re just doing one small thing at a time.
The great thing about working this way is that those small things will add up very quickly to equal big things and big progress.
Have you got any other simple tips for avoiding overwhelm in business? I’d love to hear them. Why not share them with me on Twitter? I’m @GreenShootCoach.