Money: How to close the conversation gap with authentic pricing

Money: How to close the conversation gap with authentic pricing

The Work of Byron Katie supports authentic pricingIt’s one of those beautiful situations in which you’re in a great conversation about your work. Everything is going so well.

Until the talk turns to money.

Suddenly you’re out of synch and that wonderful connection you had is broken.

What happened? (more…)

How to Get Prospective Clients to Value Your Work When Money Is Tight

How to Get Prospective Clients to Value Your Work When Money Is Tight

Collaborative Conversations about Value and Pricing

Illustration: istockphoto.com

Why do some businesses survive in tough economic times while others fail?

One explanation is that people always necessities, like groceries, but not luxuries, like diamond rings or massage. But that isn’t necessarily the case.

Still, if you look around you, you’ll see tons of evidence that people continue to invest in discretionary goods and services even when money is tight. (more…)

Part 3: Whose business are you in? You and money

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In the first two articles of this series, I covered two reasons my first business failed:

Today, let’s look at the third reason: the lack of a specific financial goal.

Money matters, especially when it’s not about the money
If the idea of a financial goal makes your head swim or raises resistance, I understand. When you work for yourself because you love what you do, it feels weird to make it about the money.

But money matters whether you want it to or not. If you rely on self-employment for an income (or want to), money determines your ability to stay in business. But it’s about more than just the bottom line.

Money, or the lack of it, affects your confidence. It colors the attitude you have toward potential clients. (Imagine a conversation with a potential client when you have no money worries. Now imagine the same conversation when you’re sweating your bills. Which way would you prefer to show up?)

Money determines how much you can invest in self care and professional development. The more you care about the quality of your work, the more important it is to make those investments.

Finally, if you exist in a money fog, your business is shrouded in fog, too. That makes it hard to navigate everything from pricing to equipment purchases to paying taxes. The resultant money worry is stressful and distracting.

So even if you’re not in it for the money, money matters.

Earning a living from self-employment is a creative activity
Another reason it’s important to set a financial goal is that it’s a critical piece of the creative process.

A consistent stream of income doesn’t just happen. It’s created the same way you create anything: by defining what you want to create, assessing current reality, and taking action to close the gap.

You can’t create what you don’t define
Creating begins by defining the desired outcome. Yes, serendipity comes into it. But how do you recognize what is serendipitous if you don’t know what you want to begin with?

When you establish a specific financial goal, you are declaring to both your conscious and unconscious mind that you intend to create a certain amount of income. It’s entirely different from muddling through from month to month, hoping to make ends meet. (If that’s all you set out to do, that’s all you’re likely to get.)

How to create a financial goal when it’s not about the money
So how do you set a financial goal?

Start by making a list of all your regular expenses. Look up actual amounts whenever possible. The more specific and accurate you are, the more powerful your goal will be.

(Notice if you’re thinking this is too much work. Then ask yourself if earning a really good living from work you love is worth an hour or two of research.)

Next, dream. What things are you not currently paying for that you need in order to be truly comfortable? Include things like insurance, self care (massage, anyone?), and holidays. Add these to your list.

Now, account for contingencies, profit, savings, and taxes. Contingencies are unexpected expenses. Profit lets you reinvest in yourself and your business. Savings and taxes are self-explanatory (though often Accidental Entrepreneurs forget to plan for them).

I suggest you add at least 30% to the total of expenses and dreaming for contingencies, profit, savings, and taxes.

Make a commitment
The final step in setting a financial goal is to commit to reaching it.

Are you comfortable with the goal you calculated? If so, making a commitment is easy. But for many people, the number they arrive at feels daunting or just plain weird.

That’s a sure sign that you’ve got money issues to work through. Identify the thoughts and fears that keep you from committing to your financial goal. Question them, noticing how you live when you believe them. Imagine how you would live without those thoughts and fears.

One tool you can use to work through your money stuff is The Work of Byron Katie. The Work is one of three blockbusting tools in the Profit Alchemy program. During the program, participants systematically and thoroughly shift their beliefs about making a profit while learning exactly what to do in their businesses to make that happen.

They’ll be shifting beliefs while taking daily action to create their financial goals. Along the way, they will develop confidence in their ability to earn a good living from self-employment. They are going to know they can rely on themselves to earn a good living.

It’s a powerful program. Click here to learn more and apply.

Image credit: HikingArtist.com via Flickr

Good enough for prime time: How to clear the last hurdle to releasing your info product

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“I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.” Rabindranath Tagore, poet

The last hurdle to creating your info product is finishing it. Declaring it complete. Done. Ready for prime time.

Yikes! Releasing your creation into the world can be scary. What will people think? Is it good enough? Who are you to claim expertise or insight?

This article looks at this last hurdle and shows you how to clear it gracefully.

The problem of originality

One of the blocks to completing a product is worrying that it is not original enough. Now that you have written and/or recorded your product, it suddenly seems hackneyed. No different than scores of other products on the market.

But it is different. It’s as original as your fingerprints.

What makes your info product original

There are four things that make your info product original, unique in all the world:

  • Your tribe
  • Your point of view
  • Your way of communicating
  • Your personality

Your tribe is the people who resonate with you and your message. It doesn’t matter how many other similar messages are out in the world because yours speaks to their needs at this moment. Your product only needs to be relevant to this tribe to be ready for prime time.

Your point of view on a topic determines what elements you emphasize and why. Your way of thinking not only about the nuts and bolts but also about how they relate to each other and to the needs of your tribe is distinct from anyone else’s. That adds up to originality.

The way you communicate comprises your choice of words, the way you organize your thoughts, and your choice of media. Even when what you say is the same as what someone else says, the way you say it makes it unique.

Finally, your personality is what brings your product to life. It’s the animating spirit or voice that lets people know you are a human being. It’s the key to making a strong connection with your tribe. Like your signature, it distinguishes your work from everyone else’s.

The important thing to remember is that you already have all four of these things to make your info product original. While you can make choices to polish each of them, you already have a tribe, a point of view, a way of communicating, and (doncha know?) a personality.

In other words, you don’t have to force originality. You’ve got it.

What makes your product good enough?

No matter how hard you have worked on your product, it is natural at the end of the process to worry about whether it is good enough to release. Will the quality of your work stand up in the marketplace?

The thing to understand here is that “good enough” is always a moving target. The more you work on something, the more you see that you could improve. At some point you need to declare enough or you’ll never stop.

So what constitute’s good enough? I like the 70% rule. Release your product when it’s 70% perfect and fix the next 20% in a future revision. The logic behind this is that you’ll be better able to address the 20% after the product has been out for a while, and you’ve gotten feedback. The remaining 10% represents that part of perfection that is always changing. You’ll never get there no matter how hard you work, so let go.

You’re at the finish line

Closely related to knowing your product is good enough is knowing when to declare it finished. Where good enough has to do with the quality of the product contents, finishing has to do with the quality of the packaging.

Who wouldn’t want to release a product that is as beautiful as it is useful? Especially if you and your audience are particularly creative. Besides, a beautiful presentation gives your info product authority.

But if this is your first info product, you may not have the deep pockets to hire a designer for the cover, layout, and graphics. It’s not good for your business to spend too much in these areas until you can be certain that you’ll earn more than enough to justify the investment.

Fortunately, you don’t need fancy design to release a product that is credible and valuable. What is important is that your product be neat and easy to understand.
Odds are that you’ve bought a few info products yourself (if you haven’t you really should, if only to get a feel for the medium). Look at how they are designed and put together.

Choose a product that looks nice without being too flashy. Notice how the margins are set, what font is used, how paragraphs are spaced. Imitate these elements as best you can keeping it as simple as you can. As with the quality of content, shoot for 70% and you’ll be fine.

It’s about singing your song

Your info product is the song you’re here to share with the world. Don’t let preoccupation with how your instrument is strung keep you from making music. The more you play, the better you’ll get.

 

Photo credit: kruemi via Flickr
Under a Creative Commons License

Setting prices: Why lowering them doesn’t work and how to resist the urge

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A few years back (okay, 20, but who’s counting?), I participated in a three-day studio tour on beautiful, art-friendly Bainbridge Island. I was insecure about setting prices, so I spent most of the weekend scurrying around, pricing and re-pricing every scarf, sweater, and hats, certain that if only I chose the right price my work would fly off the walls. It didn’t.

That weekend came vividly to mind as I read the following letter from artist Julie Sadler.

I was recently in an outdoor art show and had to give prices to people as they asked for the original works that I have done. Even tho I have gotten a fair price for some of my larger works on the internet, I found that if I asked for my price at the show, people walked. When I went down 50%, items sold.

Does this mean, I am pricing things too high to begin with? Is it better to sell only a few things…at a larger price, or many things at a smaller price??

The simple answer to this question is that you can expect to sell for less when you sell your work on the street, where you cannot control the context, where you are not in charge of the guest list, and where you don’t even choose what your neighbor will be selling.

What to do? It’s not enough to say, “Don’t lower your prices.” Nor is it enough to say, “Stay off the street.” You and others, whether artists or architects, who struggle with what to charge, need three things to master setting prices and get off the price roller coaster.

  1. A platform.
  2. A path.
  3. A practice.

Setting prices begins with a solid platform

Your platform is your “come from,” the context that encompasses the unspoken (but palpable) values that you and your just right customers hold in common. In many respects, it’s your niche. (Did you know that “niche” comes from the Latin for “nest”? How cool is that?)

Your platform (and I’m not entirely satisfied with this word, so if you have ideas, please send them my way) is what makes you visible to your audience and what tells them where you are coming from.

To grasp the significance of platform, consider the difference between Disneyworld and the Louvre, between an Aveda spa and a remote, rustic hot springs.

With all due respect to sidewalk art shows—and my first venue was the local farmer’s market—when you sell art on the street you have left the cathedral for the carnival. It’s no surprise that folks expected to pay less.

Your prospective clients need a path to ongoing relationship

In order to reach your platform, your audience steps onto a path. The nature of that path determines not only the initial exchange, but also the future of the relationship as well as your own sanity and sense of direction and connection. Knowing the path makes setting prices a lot easier.

You see, there is always a path, but until you take charge of the landscaping and maintenance, the path is likely to lead your customers into the wilderness instead of into an ongoing relationship with your work.

The other thing about a path is that it tells you where you (and your work) are headed. Knowing and taking care of your path keeps you on track, reminds you what you are up to, reinforces your choices, and gives you a map and a rationale for setting prices and other key parts of selling your work to the just right audience.

There are a couple of clues in your email, Julie, that tell me your path wants your loving attention.

I was recently in an outdoor art show and had to give prices to people as they asked for the original works that I have done. Even tho I have gotten a fair price for some of my larger works on the internet, I found that if I asked for my price at the show, people walked. When I went down 50%, items sold.

Setting prices doesn’t mean everyone will buy

When you have a path, you know what your prices are and they are not a moving target. If people approach your work, express interest, and don’t care to pay the price that is right for your path, that’s okay. A path is not for just anyone; it exists for the pilgrim, also known as your just-right customer (or customer in training).

Does this mean you have to be rigid about where you show? Not at all. From the hours I spent immersing myself in your work, your blog, your Web site, I got the impression that engaging with people feeds you. If that’s so, by all means take your work to the streets.
But here’s the deal. Make the street fairs a way to get onto the path, not the end of the path. Print greeting cards, mat color reproductions that you can sell for street prices. When people buy these low-end representations of your work (steppingstones along the path), invite them to get on your email list, then talk to them from time to time, inviting them to make pilgrimages (to gallery shows, your Web sites…).

Practice keeps you on the path

Finally, without a practice, you’re bound to fall off the path. In other words, fear, the desire for appreciation and approval, and even your creative nature will distract you from your path without a practice to keep you focused.

I could write a book on practice (in fact, I did—see The Way of the Accidental Entrepreneur). For the sake of this article, here’s a simple practice to support sane pricing.

  • Set prices in advance and take a vow of abstinence from lowering them. Your price is your price is your price. You owe it to the people who have paid full price to honor the value that you and they have already established. Prices go up, not down, unless you are selling a commodity.
  • Use the buddy system to seal your vow. Wherever two or more artists (or architects or bod workers) gather together and agree to hold the line, there is light…
  • In lieu of selling, share yourself with people who are interested in your work. Talk to folks. Ask them questions. Answer their questions. (Tip: listen literally and answer the question they ask, not the question your fears hear. For example, “Why is this so expensive?” is not the same as “How dare you charge so much?”)
  • Work on your platform and path. If you are busy designing and building your dream, you are less likely to be distracted by the nightmare.

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