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.
Just about everyone who is self-employed has made a very conscious decision to move away from standard employment. Though there are exceptions, it’s much harder to ‘accidentally’ find yourself in a position of self-employment than it is to fall into a more mainstream career path!
This simple fact is something I often find myself reminding clients of. Running a business can be draining and at some point most of us will lose sight of exactly why we chose to do it. At these times I believe it’s really helpful to remind yourself of your ‘reason why.’
Before I became self-employed, I was working in a people development career I loved… but the standard model of employment no longer felt right for me. After a lot of soul searching, I realised that gaining total control over my time would give me the flexibility I really wanted. Ultimately, this was the reason why I moved from a more standard career to self-employment.
The business owners I know and have worked with all have very different reasons why. These have included:
In the beginning, we all had a big ‘reason why’ like this. Unfortunately, the everyday minutiae of self-employment can get on top of even the best of us – and many of us go for months and months without remembering what that reason was.
- Wanting to be more creative in their daily life
- Wanting more financial freedom
- Wanting to build a better work/life balance
- Wanting to take their skills in a different direction
- Wanting to work around health problems
- Wanting to be less fixed to a geographical location
- Wanting more control over the work they take on
- Wanting to work flexibly around family
- Wanting to be less constrained by industry policy and conventions
- Wanting to have a more varied career
- Wanting to work from home
- Wanting to explore a big idea
- Wanting less restrictions on their career
- Wanting to fit their work around a major ambition
Recently I’ve worked with two different clients who have admitted they’re no longer enjoying their business. In both cases we discovered, after a lot of discussion, that they had all but forgotten about the reason they were attracted to self-employment in the first place. Reconnecting with their original reason why, and working to incorporate it back into the businesses they’re running today, really helped both business owners to reconnect with their business and the joy of self-employment.
Are you experiencing something similar?
My recommendation is to get away from your desk for half an hour and really think about your mindset when you came into self-employment. What attracted you to this type of career? What were your aspirations? What was it that made you take the final leap?
Once you’ve remembered your own reason why, take an honest look at your working habits and consider whether the way you are currently running your business is honouring it.
If it isn’t, it may be time for you to make some changes! Does this sound daunting? It doesn’t have to be. Take a look at my tips for finding the courage to make a big business change.
I don’t think you’ll be at all surprised to hear that I’m no superhero. I’m a business owner, just like many of my coaching clients, and I experience a lot of the same stresses and concerns. I’ve also had my fair share of bad mental habits, though I know how important is is to proactively address each one as soon as I become aware of it.
In the past, one of my most common bad mental habits was a tendency to wallow in failure. When something goes wrong it’s so easy to get caught up in reliving it. Near obsession can set in with the question of how you could have avoided it, what you could’ve done differently, or how your decisions put you at fault.
Sound familiar? I bet it does. Almost all of us have been known to throw ourselves a pity party from time to time!
But here’s the thing: the time you spend caught up in that pity party is completely wasted. It’s not productive, it’s certainly not enjoyable and it stops you from moving forward.
Many years ago, a wise business mentor reminded me of a very simple fact: what’s done is done. Once you’ve made a mistake, there’s nothing you can do to totally undo it.
Instead, the only sensible response to failure is to reach a place of acceptance as soon as possible. The sooner you can look your mistake in the eye, shake it off and move on, the better.
This is such a straightforward piece of advice, but it had a big impact on me. It helped me realise how pointless my ‘wallowing’ time had been, and how important it was to forgive myself (and the circumstances) and move on.
Once I started aiming for acceptance as soon as possible, I realised how much of a time saver this was. No longer was I wasting days of important time looking backwards and feeling bad: reaching acceptance allowed me to step straight into a more resourceful and solution-finding mode.
This had two key benefits:
One. I was then in a much better position to address any fall out from my original mistake and make amends if necessary.
Two. My mental space was clear to process what I’d learnt and start work on the next project.
I’m very grateful to that wise business mentor for passing on this simple piece of advice. It’s made a huge difference to my productivity over the years, and I now pass it on to countless other business owners who need to hear the same thing.
Have you ever been given a nugget of advice that should’ve been obvious, but wasn’t? I’d love to hear it if so. Share your little gems in the comments below, or pop on over to the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page.
Human beings have an impressive ability to make ourselves feel really bad about things. Whether it’s obligations missed, opportunities lost or goals not-quite-hit, many of us spend huge chunks of time stewing on things when it would be healthier to just let go.
Being a business owner has fantastic benefits… but like all responsibilities it can also have a huge capacity for guilt-making.
Before we go any further, let me ask you to think about how your business makes you feel. Some people might say it fills them with a rush of excitement and independence, others might say their business makes them feel stressed and lacking. Most of us, I suspect, fall somewhere in the middle: we have days when our business makes us want to sing happily from the rooftops and days where we’d be quite contented to crawl under our duvets and hide.
The problem comes, of course, when you’re experiencing far more of the duvet days than the rooftop days. In situations like these, I’d want to ask just why you’re allowing your business to make you feel so bad. After all: you’re the one in charge!
Need to reassert that control? You could start by asking yourself the following three questions.
Question one: why is it making you feel so bad?
In order to move on from an issue like this, you need to get to the root of it. Often the first answer you come up with here won’t be the right one: you’ll need to dig a bit deeper to find the true reason. For example, you may think that your guilt comes from not delivering enough value to your clients, but when you look further into this you could discover that the real issue is related to your own perfectionism or self-esteem and is nothing to do with client satisfaction.
Question two: what can you do about it?
Once you’ve pinpointed what the issue is, being able to do something about it will be much much easier! Perhaps the answer lies in new processes, some additional professional support, cultivating a better work/life balance, or even working towards taking on a whole new kind of client. Whatever the answer is, break the solution down into manageable steps and make a plan. You’ll likely find that just starting to work towards a solution will help you start to feel better, even if progress is slow.
Question three: how do you want to feel?
Getting rid of negative feelings means that you’ll have space for better ones! I find that it can be helpful to actively think about what kind of positive feelings you’d like to experience. Would you like your business to make you feel important? Valued? Intelligent? Worthy? Organised? Independent? Creative? In control? Your answers to this question could be really helpful in setting goals for your business future.
If you’re allowing your business to make you feel bad more regularly than you’re comfortable with, please know that there is something you can do about it. Just remember: you’re the boss of it, not the other way round!
It’s also worth keeping in mind that you don’t need to struggle in silence. It’s good to talk! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me via Twitter, Facebook or email. You could even take advantage of my free initial consultation in order to try and address some of these problems in person.
Do you think of your business as an entity in its own right? If not… why not?
Many business owners find it difficult to separate themselves from their business, especially when they’re running a micro-business. But even in these cases it’s important to be able to accept that you and your business are not one and the same. Rather: you’re two separate beings that both deserve mutual respect.
I’ve shared a number of posts here on the blog that deal with ensuring you’re treating yourself with respect (if you could do with a gentle reminder, take a look at Why it’s Okay to Get Things Wrong, What’s Sapping Your Business Owner Joy? or Are You Being Eaten Up by Your Business?) …but what about making sure you’re treating your business with respect?
After all, our businesses are important things. They give us our livelihoods, our purpose, our professional satisfaction. Of course they deserve our respect!
Despite this, many of us are guilty of the opposite. Go on, hands up if you regularly:
- Skip strategy planning sessions to catch up with client work
- Take on projects that aren’t a great fit for your business values
- Put off investing in training or infrastructure to help your business move forward
- Let personal and family issues overwhelm your business space
- Get caught up in busy work instead of focusing on big business goals
- Work day to day and forget about planning for the future
I’m going to make a rough estimate here and suggest that most of us have our hands up here: me included! It’s so easy to focus all our energy on the short term issues in our business such as completing the next client project, emptying our inbox or dealing with social channels. Though these things are all important, they don’t invest in the future of our business.
Just about everything in life is a careful balancing act. Successfully managing a business is no exception. The key is to ensure you’re offering your business the respect it deserves by ensuring you’re setting time aside to focus on its growth.
This doesn’t have to be a huge time investment – after all, the day to day activities you do in your business are vitally important too – but it does have to be enough to show yourself, your customers, your colleagues, your family and friends that you truly value your business and therefore they should too.
Interested in finding out more about how you could show your respect for your business? Developing a relationship with a business coach could be a great way to invest in its future. If you think this might be a good step forward for you, take a look at my online questionnaire: Are You Ready for Coaching?
We talk a lot about mindfulness when it comes to relaxing. Meditation apps such as Headspace and Stop, Breathe, Think have become hugely popular in the last couple of years. Perhaps as a society we’re finally becoming more aware of just how important it is to take care of our emotional selves.
In this post I want to talk a bit about appreciation and your business. When you’re a busy business owner it can be easy to get caught up in rushing from one task to the next without giving much thought to what we’re doing.
In fact, most of us will probably admit that one of the main emotions we experience when it comes to our business is frustration. Frustration that we have so much to do and not enough hours in the day. Frustration that our efforts haven’t paid of in the way we wanted them to. Frustration that administration tasks keep cropping up right when we are trying to do our most important work.
I can certainly see a lot of truth in this. This is a shame as I’m actually extremely grateful to my business for allowing me so many freedoms! Why wouldn’t I be? When you own a business you have the freedom to shape your own schedules, take control of your future, choose which kind of work to take on, create your own workspace and set your own tone for each day.
Considering all these fantastic benefits… I wonder what would happen if we were able to apply the same principles of mindfulness from our downtime into our business.
Being mindful of how we spend our days as business owners could really help us to appreciate the lifestyle our businesses give us.
What might this look like?
While we’re dealing with admin we could also be appreciating the workspace we’ve chosen to be in.
While we’re getting stuck into the big task of the day we could be also appreciating that we’re doing so on our own schedule, not anyone else’s.
While we’re traveling from one meeting to the next we could also be appreciating the fact that we get to make all the decisions that affect our work.
While we’re investing time in marketing and communications we could also be appreciating that we’re able to finance our lives by doing the work we have chosen.
See what I did there? Even a little tweak to our thinking patterns can make a big difference to our outlook.
How could you bring a little mindfulness into your workload today? I’d love to hear your ideas. Share them with me on the Green Shoots Coaching Facebook page.
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?
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.