Do you want to make more money?
Yes, I guess that is a rhetorical question. Everybody wants to make more money, but oftentimes we are not willing to do what needs to be done in order to make it.
For example, I'm not willing to work an 80-hour per week job to double my income. I have a husband and a 1 ½ year old son - I want to spend time with them. I want to take vacations and visit my parents on the weekends and host dinner parties for my friends.
I am not willing to swindle little old ladies to make more money, nor am I willing to lie, steal, or be otherwise dishonest. I am not willing to work for a boss that demeans me, nor am I willing to work in an environment that is discriminatory, unfair, or just plain dull.
So, putting all those things to the side, what AM I willing to do to make more money?
I AM willing to develop products and services that business owners want and need. I AM willing to work regular business hours Monday through Friday with some evening/weekend work when needed. I AM willing to face my fears and try new things to market my business like public speaking and approaching big joint venture partners. I AM willing to listen to my clients' feedback. And, I AM willing to ask for what I'm worth.
In a service business, that last one is key. Believe me if you don't ask for it, you won't get it. So how do you figure out what you're worth?
It sounds like a relatively direct question that has a "right" answer, but it is not. Worth is a value judgment that you, your prospects, and your clients make independently.
You might think your services are worth $60/hour, and by choosing to hire you, your clients are saying that they agree that you are worth that amount. But, what if you raised your rate to $120/hour? Would they hire you then?
How about those prospects who choose to go with someone else, even when you are offering your $60/hour rate? They obviously don't think your services are worth $60/hour. So, who is right?
The answer is everybody is right. Each one of us has our own unique set of criteria for determining the value of any offering. We evaluate every offer we are made using that criteria whether we are consciously aware of it or not.
So, in evaluating your worth, let us start with what you are charging now. How did you come up with that figure? Did you pick it out of the sky? Did you find someone locally who was offering a similar service and find out how much they were charging? Did you do extensive research to determine the national, regional, and local average hourly rate for your industry?
No matter how you came up with your currently hourly rate, do not forget that you are the one the only one - with the ability to increase it. No prospect is going to say, "I know you usually only charge $60/hour, but I was thinking of paying you more along the lines of $85/hour. Would that be okay?"
And, no client is going to call you at the end of the year and say, "I was thinking you do such a great job for us. We would like to start paying you $100/hour starting on January 1 just to show you our appreciation." It just ain't gonna happen!
I was reminded of the importance of this message when I talked to Alexandra last Thursday. Alexandra owns a leadership development company providing team-building workshops for mid-sized corporations. Instead of charging an hourly rate, she charges a daily rate of $1,500.
Prior to starting her own company, she worked for another small firm delivering similar programs. Only when this other company sent her out on jobs, they charged the client $4,000/day.
Yep, that is right. Same workshop - $2,500 more.
Now, how could this be? A client that would pay $1,500/day for her services might have been willing to pay $4,000/day if only she had asked?
Now, perhaps, the firm she worked for had built up some brand recognition that Alexandra did not yet have when she went out on her own. But, the bottom line is, there were companies out there willing to pay $4,000/day for her skills. It was just a matter of who was making the offer and how the offer was being presented.
So, the real answer to 'what are you worth?' is a combination of how highly you value your own abilities, how confident you feel in communicating that value, and how well that value meets the needs of a specific market.
If somebody is willing to pay $120/hour for your services, you are worth $120/hour to them. Are there enough 'somebodies' to generate a sufficient income for you? That's what you need to find out.
Take a look around your marketplace. If you market to a local audience, look at your competitors' newspaper ads, press coverage, web sites, etc. If you market to a national or international audience, do your research online. Make some phone calls posing as a prospect, if necessary.
How much are they charging for services similar to the one(s) you offer? How do they present the service's benefits? How do they package the service offering? How do they position their company as a whole? What can you learn from the companies that are charging more for providing the same service you provide at a lower rate?
After you have done your research, take some time to re-evaluate how you are packaging, positioning, and branding your business. Then, determine if you can deliver the value that warrants raising your rates.
If you want to make more, you have to ask for it!
About The Author
Kimberly Stevens is the author of the ebook series, *The Profitable Business Owner: A Step-by-Step System for Starting & Running a Successful Service Business*. Download Sample Chapters & get her free MiniCourse, *The 10 Most Common Mistakes Business Owners Make & How To Avoid Them* at: http://www.askthebizcoach.com/ebooks.htm