Julia Davies is a life and business coach based in Worthing, Sussex. In a broken society that rewards toxic productivity and hustle, Julia is a quiet rebel. She believes instead in putting happiness at the heart of our life and business. She supports women who dare to forge their own path in life and business.
Here, she answers your questions on life and business when you are self-employed, from the perspective of a quiet rebel. Today’s question is from a small business owner who is struggling with raising her prices:
I think my biggest problem about being self employed is justifying my prices to myself. I’m in a much better place than I was when I started – I’ve felt the repercussions of not charging enough and have raised my prices to try and combat this. But I’m still filled with such anxiety when I’m working out a price and I seem to talk myself into reducing it. At the root of this is a fear of being rejected by the client or being forced into a slightly uncomfortable conversation where I might need to be a little bit tough.
Thanks so much for writing in! Firstly, please know that you’re not alone in this. When you are a kind, heart-led person, pricing is one of the most difficult battles in our business. It’s natural to want to set prices that mean you don’t get rejected by the client – but you have already felt the effects of setting low prices, and it doesn’t feel good. Discussing prices can feel like conflict, but how does that conflict compare to the inner conflict you feel when you under-charge? Let’s dig a bit deeper…
WHY do you want to put your prices up?
It seems like a silly question, but why do you want to put your prices up? I know it’s not JUST because you want to earn more money. Is it because, deep down, you KNOW you are worth more than you are currently charging? Is it because you are exhausted by the hours you need to work to earn the money you need to make? Is it because you can’t do your best work when you know you’re not getting paid fairly for it? Dig into what’s behind your desire to increase your prices, and that will be a foundation to help you feel more confident about the price rise.
What will that money mean to you? Society says that we should earn as much as we can and that money is the answer to all our problems. I disagree. Money to me is only meaningful when I am clear what its purpose is. I don’t care about having lots of money just for the sake of it, I care about creating security and comfort by paying my mortgage, and I care about the adventures I am looking forward to when I save up enough money for a campervan. What will that money mean to you?
If you find it hard to focus on the benefits to you of putting your prices up, try focusing on how your prices rise will benefit others. For example, if you earn more you can support other people’s businesses more, you could treat your loved ones, or you could take more time off from your business and volunteer your time elsewhere. How will earning more benefit those around you?
Fear isn’t a signal to stop
It’s totally natural to feel scared about putting your prices up – but fear isn’t a warning to stop what you’re doing. When you do something new, fear is a signal from your brain to check in with what you’re doing and make sure it’s safe for you to go ahead with. If there’s no escaped polar bears around and you’re not about to gamble your house on a business venture that a random guy on Instagram told you about via DM, that’s a good start. Once you’ve confirmed that you’re safe, you can say “thanks brain for trying to protect me, I’ll take it from here” – and then continue with what you were doing… putting your prices up!
What’s the worst that could happen if you put your prices up and your potential client says they can’t afford that? Option 1: That person will go away and find someone else to work with, and you will be free to work with someone else who values your work. Option 2: You can tell them what you CAN offer for the price they are willing to pay. Often our imagination goes wild with scenarios of what might happen, even without any experience of the terrible things we imagine might happen. This leads me on to my next point…
Everything is an experiment
If putting your prices up seems wildly scary right now, how would it feel to put them up just for 3 months just to see what happens? Is there a certain area of your business that you could more easily experiment with? What might it look like if you were to consider a temporary trial of price rises in part of your business?
Practical ways to make pricing easier
My top tip for pricing is to have a system for working out prices for each project so you don’t have to go through the painful discussion in your head each time you give your potential clients an estimate. Spend some time working out what your system will be and then trust yourself when using it to provide quotes to clients.
Once you’ve decided on your prices, the next thing is to decide on your boundaries around prices. It’s much easier to say no to clients who try to get a discount when you’ve already made the decision that you never give discounts or freebies. It’s also difficult to make sensible decisions when under pressure, particularly when you’re an introvert and the client is on the phone! But if you have boundaries in place (perhaps starting with all pricing conversations being done via email), then it is easier to roll out a stock phrase when challenged by a client.
QUESTIONS FOR A QUIET MOMENT
If you’re struggling with this too, here are some questions for you to consider. Maybe you’ll discuss these with a business buddy. Maybe you’ll use them as journal prompts. Or maybe you’ll take the questions on a walk. What matters is spending the time getting clear on your own thoughts, and then taking action. As cheesy as it sounds, nothing will change if you change nothing.
- What would earning more money mean to you?
- If you were to experiment with pricing for 3 months, what would you do?
- What boundaries do you need around pricing?
- How would increasing your prices benefit others?
Are you struggling with pricing things in your business? If you’re constantly wrestling with yourself about putting your prices up, book a discovery call to chat about how I could support you.
If you’d like to submit a question, sign up to my email “The Rebel Review” where I regularly share opportunities with my community.