Have the right mindset when pricing your services

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During my career, I have created two small businesses. Well, two and a half years, really.

In the 1990s, I designed couture wedding wear for private clients. In 2016, I became an image consultant, helping professionals polish their appearance. And in 2021, the image consulting business turned to freelance writing — a pandemic-proof way to improve my clients’ first impressions online and in print.

While the ways of doing business have changed over the years, what hasn’t changed for me and many other service business owners is the conundrum of what to charge clients. What is your time really worth? What is the value of your knowledge and experience? What will the market bear?

I asked the opinion of two other small business owners: Leslie Beale of Profusion Strategies in Knoxville and Janine Latus of We Need to Talk, based in North Carolina. Each described symptoms and solutions of the “minimal mindset” that can frustrate even the most enthusiastic entrepreneurs.

Am I trained enough?

Many independent service providers wonder if they have earned degrees and certifications in their area of ​​practice. The truth is that formal training doesn’t always define a competent professional.

“Especially for those of us who sell services, it can be easy to let mindset get in the way of pricing,” said Beale, who runs a full-service executive coaching and leadership development firm. . “If you don’t feel totally confident, you might think, ‘What I’m doing isn’t that special, nobody’s going to pay the price for it.’ Or, if we feel like we don’t have enough experience, we can say to ourselves, “I can’t charge for this until I get that certification or take that course.”

It doesn’t have to be, which is something I learned when I was a wedding dress designer. Because I had no formal training, I assumed my sewing methods and techniques were inferior – dismissing the fact that I had a peripheral degree in interior design and over 20 years of construction experience. clothing.

But when I got the chance to work on the set of an HGTV television show featuring accomplished seamstresses from across the country, I was mystified — and thrilled — to discover that my own abilities were on par with those of other professionals. The time I had spent immersed in my craft, along with my constant desire to expand my knowledge base and learn from others in the field, had made me far more qualified than I believed.

Am I overloading?

For valuable insight into what you should charge, compare similar companies online, even going so far as to contact them if you think they would be willing to talk to you (and many will). Professional organization websites often offer free pricing information in their “Resources” section. And don’t overlook the power of Facebook groups to meet and seek advice from other professionals in your industry.

Many contractors get their own sticker when it comes to their pricing, unsure of what “feels right”. But according to Latus, a professional writer and speaker for more than two decades, it’s just a matter of performing mindset calculations.

“If I’m fundraising for a nonprofit and I charge X$, I know the client will get at least $2XX in additional donations because of my performance. If I’m doing training for a large company, I can assure them that it would cost them a lot more if their employees didn’t receive the training. In my case, I’m talking about domestic violence. The cost to businesses in any given year runs into the billions in lost productivity, medical bills and the risk of workplace violence. Therefore, spending thousands on me is good business.

Latus added, “A teacher once told me that if no one complained about your prices, you weren’t charging enough.”

Am I worth it?

When you’re just starting out in business, offering your work at a lower rate (or, in rare cases, for free) is a great way to garner reviews, photos, and other solid examples of what you’re capable of. But as your experience grows, make sure these bargain prices don’t become your default modus operandi.

“I think most entrepreneurs, especially those selling a service, get prices wrapped up in the idea of ​​our own value as human beings,” Beale explained. “Add to that the fact that as a business leader you alone set your own prices, and you have the perfect recipe for doubt and indecision.”

Latus added, “Part of it is the desperate need to land gigs, so they charge low. It makes sense while still being proven, but once you have testimonials and videos, you need to raise the price.

What if no one else calls?

No matter how many busy weeks I have as an entrepreneur, there are always late awakenings when I worry that my phone will never ring again. Anxiety about my pricing emerges, as does the temptation to undercharge or take on a project I won’t excel at (or even enjoy). When the small business owner heebie jeebies started reaching out to me, I learned to keep myself busy. I create systems and offers, meet key people and train in my field.

Latus agrees, describing the “opportunity cost” of accepting a low-priced or unattractive job out of fear: “If I give this client a big discount, I will have to say no to another full-price client. because my time is already booked. Even if there’s no way to say no to another customer, that’s time that could have been spent marketing to potential full-price customers.

Rest assured: you are not alone

The pricing of its services is a struggle that affects independent service providers in all sectors. Although we possess exceptional skills, talents and abilities, we are too often myopic when it comes to receiving compensation for what we have to offer. Beale and Latus advise being patient with the process and using a positive lens to help define what’s right for you. And it never hurts to phone a friend.

“Pricing is one of those places where it’s really helpful to have a sounding board — someone who knows you, your business, and what you offer,” Beale said. “It could be a trusted colleague or mentor, a member of an advisory board, a paid consultant or coach. A third-party perspective can often help us overcome mindset blocks to realize how worthy we truly are.

Freelance writer Carrie McConkey helps her clients write memorable copy and content through her Knoxville-based company, Carrie M. Creative. She is a 2013 Leadership Knoxville alumnus and Greater Knoxville Business Journal 40 Under 40 winner. Ms. McConkey can be reached through her website at carriemcconkey.com.

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