Making your life and work sustainable over the long term boils down to making sure the inflow exceeds the outflow. Only this will ensure that you don’t crash and burn (or shrivel up) into exhaustion, burn out and frustration.
In Part 1 we explored the crucial fact that your livelihood needs to cover all the hidden costs of doing what you do, from keeping a roof over your head to running the back end of your business. Networking, taking care of your precious self and acquiring the skills and expertise that makes you such a wonder in the first place…. All these things need to be covered over the long haul and we discussed it at length. (Read Part 1 here).
So, once you’ve worked out how much you need to have coming in, how do you go about securing the right price from your employer or clients?
The first step in this process is getting confident that you your work is worth at least what you need to charge for it in order to keep the inflow exceeding the outflow. Another way of describing question is: why does your work matter?.
The word “value” has become synonymous with “cheap” these days…. But Good Value doesn’t have to mean Low Cost. The word value actually means “estimable” – ie worthwhile.
Bottom line: What you do needs to be valuable to someone else in order for it to make money. And the more valuable it is, the more money it’s worth. But if you’re not even aware of the value you’re delivering, you’re far more likely to stay struggling with less money coming in than you need.
Now before you go into a panic about whether or not you’re good enough: relax. The key here is to understand what you do that’s valuable and who it’s important to.
Just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s worthless
Very likely you’ve had to focus a lot in your life on things which don’t come easily. Algebra. Being on Time. Admin. Cross Country Running. Giving Presentations. Being Nice to Your Mother In Law. Over time, you learn to mistake effort for impact. If it doesn’t take effort, it can’t be having an impact. Right? Wrong.
Your greatest strengths are the things you do naturally. They also have the potential to be your most important contribution in this life. And it turns out that, more often than not, these are the things you do for fun! The things which feel like an indulgence. It might be organising things, connecting ideas, taking action or helping everyone feel welcome – a powerful gift which comes naturally to you, second nature…just like breathing.
So more often than not, the response I see in clients when they’re told what their biggest strengths are? “What, that old thing!”. But to the rest of the world, it seems like a superpower. And it is.
Rather than discount the things which come easily to you, lean into them. Build your work around them. Look for people and projects which specifically need that kind of input. You will be doing the same work – but you’ll be maximising how valuable it is to the people benefitting from it… and the amount you can charge for it.
Know your unique strengths and perspective
StrengthsFinder 2.0 is a fantastic tool for understanding what you’re good at. It ranks your strengths from top to bottom, and gives you in depth insight into the 5 things which you do best, the way you like to work, and how you fit into a team. If you don’t already know your top five strengths, it’s well worth buying a copy of the book and using the test code in the back. (I’m not an affiliate, just a fan).
When you understand exactly what it is that you do well, you can begin to understand exactly how you are delivering value.
I just listened to a financial coach talking about why most of her clients go looking for a new accountant: it’s not because they want cheaper. It’s because the last one didn’t take the time to answer questions, or made them feel stupid in the way the answers were delivered. The accountant who takes the time to make their customer feel safe? She is a rare and precious bird, and she probably doesn’t think twice before doing it.
We all have natural strengths like this. It’s important not only to realise that you do have something of value to offer, but also to understand what that is.
What happens because you did the job?
What ever you do, your work does make a difference. You just need to do some detective work to understand how. If you’re like most people, your day to day attention is on getting the job done. And it’s easy to forget why what you are doing actually matters. So ask yourself and your clients: what happens because you did the job.
Take the time to get feedback and testimonials. It will help you if you have to produce traditional marketing, write pitches and proposals or simply for a covering letter to an application. Aside from having some wonderful soundbites, feedback also helps develop a deep insight into how your work is impacting on your clients and colleagues.
- What can they do now that they couldn’t before?
- What was the situation for them before you got involved?
- And how are things now?
- You can use any appropriate measure of success (money, wellbeing, time etc)
- And why were you such an important part of that process?
You will occasionally get a surprising, and insightful answer that will shape the way you do things going forward.
Look for the hidden value:
If you’re struggling to see how what you do makes a difference on the surface, look for the hidden value. These are things like reduced stress, money not wasted, long term capability, prestige (look at me I got this lovely thing!), and a quality experience. Often times, we create value by layering these hidden elements onto the basic service we offer, usually through our natural strengths.
Once you’ve considered these you can usually see how you are offering far more value than you thought. And you will be able to see how, through small tweaks in the way you present and deliver what you do, you can really bring this value centre stage…. And make charging more for what you do seem like a no-brainer.
>> What you can do right now to increase your confidence in the price you need to charge:
- Get your StrengthsFinder 2.0 top 5 profile done.
- Ask past clients to give you feedback (there is a great guide on getting and using feedback here).
- Based on these two resources, write down the three to five most significant ways you deliver value.
- Identify two or three ways to bring these to the fore-front of how you deliver and articulate your work.
- Join me and a bunch of other beautiful, ambitious, highly sensitive folks for a free planning workshop on 2 July. You’ll be laying the foundations for Sustainable Success for the next 6 months and beyond – from the inside out. Register here.
Over to You
Was this helpful? Did I miss anything out? Have you got some great tips on feeling more confident about your price? What have you done that’s worked? Leave me a comment and if you loved this, pass it on to someone you know needs it.
If you’d like to stay tuned, you can register for my newsletter here. I’ll also send you a copy of my free Guide to Sustainable Success, which is basically everything you need to know to make a fulfilling living without killing yourself in the process.