One of the things many of us struggle with is the conundrum of how to make more money in a way that feels good – especially in a world that feels so unequal and unfair. Many heart-centered folks really struggle with the concept of charging rates that allow them to thrive – especially for work that feels like it’s a gift to them. Throw in our feminine conditioning around putting ourselves last, not asking for our needs, not taking up space etc. and there’s little wonder the concept of money and charging
I recently hosted an online virtual garden party event shindig, virtual retreat type thing and it was delightful. It was just so lovely, it was a free event, we had guest speakers and the theme was all around how do we continue to build businesses that are sustainable, not just financially, but also energetically and emotionally.
So I thought I would share some of the recordings of some of the sessions over the next few episodes with you. So today, I’m going to be sharing one of my sessions which was how we can, as coaches and healers, reframe this concept of value because, for a lot of us, we really struggle with charging enough to be able to survive and thrive in our businesses. I think there’s a number of particular reasons for that, so we talk about how we can overcome that, how to make more money in a way that feels good, we do a bit of live coaching and it’s all-around lovely.
The event focused on how we can do business differently – moving away from the testosterone, go! Go! Go! Sleep is for losers approach that’s advocated in some parts of the internet (I’m looking at you, Gary V) and instead find ways to make our businesses sustainable financially, economically and emotionally.
In this episode of the podcast I’m sharing one of the sessions I did around financial sustainability – namely, How we can reframe the concept of ‘value’ and make more money in a way that feels good, isn’t manipulative or exploitative and allows us to thrive as coaches, healers, and holistic folk.
You’ll get to hear me live coach some of the participants around things like:
- recognizing the value we bring,
- how to NOT discount your fees
- How we can charge sustainable fees when we’re surrounded by so many people in need who don’t have the means to afford those fees.
You can listen to the episode below or if you prefer, you can read the transcript of the full call.
And if you’d like to watch more of the sessions from The Meaningful Business Garden Party, you can see those here.
Prefer to Read Rather Than Listen? Here's The Episode Transcript
“So I recently hosted an online virtual garden party event shindig, virtual retreat type thing and it was delightful. It was just so lovely, it was a free event, we had guest speakers and the theme was all around how do we continue to build businesses that are sustainable, not just financially, but also energetically and emotionally. So I thought I would share some of the recordings of some of the sessions over the next few episodes with you. So today, I’m going to be sharing one of my sessions which was how we can, as coaches and healers, reframe this concept of value because for a lot of us, we really struggle with charging enough to be able to survive and thrive in our businesses. I think there’s a number of particular reasons for that, so we talk about how we can overcome that, we do a bit of live coaching and it’s all round lovely. So without further ado, here it is, hope you enjoy.
Okay. I want to spend some time talking about that first piece I mentioned right up at the beginning, that of financial sustainability. We could fill days and days and weeks and weeks and weeks talking about this but I want to talk about one aspect of it that I see as being particularly prevalent with holistic folks, coaches, healers, those who identify as meaningful business owners, heart-centered business owners, whatever kind of terminology you want to use to identify yourself.
If those of you who are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we have our basic needs, like somewhere to sleep and security and things like that, if we are not charging enough, and I know so many people who are not charging enough or who avoid the conversations, or who avoid marketing to avoid the conversations so that they can not charge enough, then we end up not being able to do that work in the world. That to me is not just a tragedy for those individuals themselves, it’s a tragedy for our society because if there’s one thing the world needs more of right now, it’s healers, it’s coaches, it’s people who can help heal some of the really toxic and painful stuff that is going on in the world and is being almost like passed around like some toxic pass the parcel that’s going on.
You know, if we can stop the cycle of trauma being taken out on other people, people not being grounded in their own self-awareness in order to be aware enough of the impact of their behavior on others, if we can break that cycle then we can truly start to make some change on a systemic level, not just on the individual level. But it starts with healers and coaches and holistic folks being able to get past that idea that it somehow sullies things to charge a survivable amount, and I’m going to push it even further and say a thrivable amount. Because if we can’t, we can’t do our business, or we can’t do it in a way that is sustainable because even if we are the point where we’re charging a certain amount, not quite enough, then we’ve got all of the stress, all of the trauma, all of the fear, all of the worry that comes with not being in a financially sustainable position.
That’s kind of the big why behind this. So let’s talk a little bit about why we think it is so difficult. Feel free to unmute yourself for this. Maybe this is something that applies to you, maybe it’s something that you see in peers, or maybe you imagine that this is what some of the problems are. Why do you think it is so difficult for us to be able to charge a sustainable or a thrivable amount for our work? What are some of the things that come up for you?
Nic I definitely don’t think that I have enough skills yet because I’m starting a new business so I’m like, “Oh well, I don’t that think I can add X dollars amount of value, so I’ll stick with free and then there’s less pressure on me.”
Jo: Oh okay, I will say there’s a number of things in there then. Tanya’s face …
Nic: I see that.
Jo: You so know this is going to be the subject of your next call with her. Okay, so [first of all, let’s pull out how you’re defining value. Do you mind if we just do a little bit of kind of …
Nic: No, I’m really happy to.
Jo: I know what you do but would you mind sharing what it is that you do?
Nic: Sure, I’ve just started a life-coaching business for pregnant women and new mommas and my tag line is that I help them stay centered amidst the chaos of life. By that I mean I help them learn supportive philosophies and habits that they can implement in their lives to feel more connected to themselves and feel more confident about the choices that they’re making.
Jo: Okay, so where’s the value in that? I can see no value in what you’re doing at all. Do you see what I’m saying? I’m being slightly sarcastic there. How do you measure the value that you provide there?
Nic: I think I’m getting over the habit of measuring my value by how many times in the call they’re like, “Oh that’s such a great idea.” Like how many breakthroughs we can actively have in our 45 minutes together, something like that. That’s pretty much my current metric so I’m just going to shove a lot of stuff into that amount of time.
Jo: Okay, yeah. So let’s just take a step back for a minute. Let’s just imagine that there is a mom there who is utterly overwhelmed. If she doesn’t get help with that, if she doesn’t move out of that position, if she stays stressed and scared and overwhelmed, what are the repercussions of that?
Nic: For her?
Jo: For her.
Nic: Oh man, probably in all areas of her life she would start to feel less connected and the stress and the lack of connection would probably spiral horrendously and impact her parenting and potentially relationship involvements and such. Just lower quality of … lower experience of quality of life.
Jo: Okay and what’s going to be the impact on other people? On the people around her?
Nic: I think similar disconnection and potentially, depending on what expectations they’re bringing to the table, disappointment with not being able to connect with her fully.
Jo: What else? I really want to dive into this. What else?
Nic: I just keep thinking it was just fucking suck.
Nic: Tried to dance around that but that’s really what I’m thinking.
Jo: Okay, so without you having to put a figure on it and share your fees and things like that, compared to say … Think of one of the other things that somebody might invest their money into in order to have a life that sucked a bit less. Say a vacation, say they spend a couple of thousand dollars, probably more, on a vacation. What is the lasting impact of the vacation going to be on their situation, the situation on their relationship, the situation on their child?
Nic: Without the skills to do personal development, I would say none.
Nic: Not none ever, but after a few weeks, none.
Jo: So there’s some really interesting but incredibly depressing research I found, it’s an organization in the UK that does a lot of stuff around wellbeing and they did a study measuring the bump in wellbeing that people get from going on vacation and how long that lasts. So there is generally a marked bump in our wellbeing markers, so reduction in stress, increase in satisfaction and things like that from a vacation and then how long it takes to get back to people’s baseline level of wellbeing. Anybody take a stab at the average it takes to get back to the baseline level, exactly the same level they were before they went away after they come back from vacation?
Nic: Let me guess, two weeks.
Jo: It’s an average of four days. I appreciate your optimism with that, it’s an average of four days!
Jo: I love this example because this can be applied to so many of our types of businesses, so somebody spends a couple of thousand dollars on going on vacation, they’re going to feel better for the duration of that vacation and maybe four days afterwards. Maybe a few more if it was a really good vacation and yet investing, whether it’s a couple of thousand dollars or whether it’s more than that, in working with you can have a lifetime impact on their wellbeing, on the wellbeing of their family, on the health of their relationships, on the wellbeing of their child. That’s value.
Nic: It’s so true.
Jo: Right? Kara says ‘lineage baby’ Yes!
Jo: That’s the value that you offer. That’s the value that you offer just now, it doesn’t matter how many … I don’t know, what are some of the things or experiences that you’re thinking … so this is imposter complex 101 right, isn’t it? “When I’ve got that, I’ll feel like I can …” You know?
Nic: When I’ve had mystery number of clients, just more than I currently have for mystery amount of time and mystery number of wonderful testimonials that I can put on my website, then I’ll be like, yes, I have arrived.
Jo: Okay, that mystery number, it seems a bit hard to quantify that then, seems like a bit of a slippery one, that one.
Nic: It is. Okay.
Jo: So how can you remind yourself right now of the potential value that you bring to people even before you have the mystery number of clients and testimonials?
Nic: I think my biggest thing will be, as I was discussing when Tanya was speaking, this stepping into seeing myself and the value that I bring right now. Zero more things needed, zero more trainings, times, testimonials, clients, none of it, it’s truly like owning all of the amazingness that I embody in this exact moment and being like, “Yeah, I add a ton of value.” I suspect I will add more different value over time as I continue to grow, and I still add a ton of value right now.
Jo: So how can you set up some reminders for yourself for how much value you are providing right now?
Nic: Right now? Okay, well I’m laughing as you say that because I was just thinking about but not committed to doing this secret project of 30 days of self-acknowledgement for myself. So it seems like doing that, means I will acknowledge myself and something about how great I am. I still feel awkward saying that but just doing it anyway. I think that’s going to be my work, really filling my folder of self-acknowledgement with, well, self-acknowledgement.
Jo: It’s okay to feel awkward about it because I think doing anything new feels awkward. It’s like if I asked you to fold your arms the opposite way to you would normally fold your arms, it would feel super awkward, but after a while, you’d get used to it.
Nic: True, yeah.
Jo: So I want to throw this invitation out to all of you. What value does your work truly bring to people? Take the vacation example as your benchmark comparison point for example. So I don’t know what all of you do, I know what some of you do. So I know that, for example, Lara helps people to avoid corporate burnout. So not only is the value there that I see to the organization that they get to keep their staff happy and whole and don’t have to lose them to either another organization or just leaving, but also that human value. That human value to that individual, to their family, to their loved ones, to their descendants and people that come into contact with them, the ripple effect to that work is enormous.
Jenny, I know that you help people with health conditions to get to grips with their diet. Particularly for those folks who are in this really scared place or maybe they’ve just had a health diagnosis and things like that. You are literally giving them a lifeline that can extend their life because you are helping them to really take ownership of those health decisions that they’re making around food, that they’re making around diet. Give me some more examples. I love doing this stuff because I really want you to see the value that you provide and the reason I want you to see the value that you provide is I want you to as much as possible, banish these thoughts of, “I can’t charge that amount. I’m just going to charge what I think they’re able to pay.”
I’ve shared this story before on courses that I’ve done is really early on in my coaching career, I would have conversations, it would get to the point of, “So how much is it to work to with you?” And I would kind of go … and I would say the figure that I had thought of beforehand and then go, “I know that is an enormous amount of money, that’s a huge amount of money, I can totally do it for less money than that.” Literally those words come out of my mouth. I also had it when I’ve had the figure in my head as to what I’m going to charge and then a totally different, less, figure has come out of my mouth. So I know how this feels and kind of the antidote to this is really owning and seeing the value that you have.
Nancy: Can you hear me?
Nancy: Oh good. So hi everybody, this is my first time in this group so I’m super excited. I am coming up on my seventh year of being in recovery from alcohol use, abuse, and I also have a mental health diagnosis that I deal with every day and I’m still standing upright, holding down a job and have a wonderful family and have a lot of experience and I’ve always known that I’m here to bring something to others and my experience is not that different than anyone else’s and that’s where I get stuck, is I think … Can I curse?
Jo: Oh yes.
Nancy: Oh good. “So fucking what? I’ve got nothing else to offer. I mean, what do I have different to offer?” The fact of the matter is, and I can say this but I haven’t internalized it yet, that we all have a trauma or a hundred traumas. We all have our own stories and what we have to bring to the table is there are so many people who say the same thing. “Oh I shouldn’t be feeling so shitty. My crap isn’t any bigger than anybody else’s, I’m not going to ask for help.”
So it’s important for me, and again, I can say this but actually taking the step … it’s important for me to validate this for others, women of a certain age. I’m 60 years old and these are the people that I really want to work with. I want to work with the women who are coming into this second interaction of their lives. You know, they’ve raised their families, they’re in recovery, they have stuff that’s happened that they minimalize and they’ve stuffed down and I can do so much working with and side by side others. I talk a great game but stepping into it, just … I keep waiting for that next class and that next certification and that next … it’s just … And then I start about doing it for free and then I think, “Well I can work on a sliding scale.” And I can work on a sliding scale, I can do pro bono work if I want to but only because I have to be able to judge someone is really in need and can’t afford it, but I can’t afford to do it pro bono. Right?
Jo: Yeah, right.
Nancy: I mean who can?
Nancy: I have a corporate job right now and it’s a bloodsucker. It’s sucking the soul out of my body.
Jo: So that’s like the extra. You have to add the amount of blood that’s being sucked out of your soul and your body on top of your fee if you’re going to do the …
Nancy: Right. It’s the BS fee, the bloodsucking fee.
Jo: Yes, exactly, exactly. So I hear you and I can resonate and I can empathize with that and I’m sure a lot of us can. That’s a story that many of us tell ourselves. That is one of the ways the imposter complex gets its claws into us. So I have this real belief, it’s a real metaphor that I work with in that I believe that this that we do is alchemy and so if you have the right two elements, and only the right two elements, the right coach and the right client, the work that they do together creates something that is greater than those two parts. You are the alchemic match for some people out there and so you don’t have to be like everybody else.
So what a lot of us do, I did it totally, is we see who else is out there and we kind of go, “Oh I should try and be more like them, oh God, I’ll never be more like them, they’ve got so many more years experience, why didn’t I start years ago?” And then we go round, round, round, you know? But if you remember that you, just you, will be the right kind of chemical element if you like, to create that reaction in the right people. It’s not going to happen if you’re not out there doing the work and so you don’t have to … Okay, this is the thing I think we can all remember. I think I’m kind of building on Tanya’s point. The next course, the next piece of learning for us, is actually doing the work. The next course, the next assignment for many of us, is we have to actually do the work.
So for you, I want you to really believe and really remind yourself of … because I honestly believe that we all know this at some point inside us, is that we know that our story is going to be the story that is the key that unlocks it for somebody. Actually, probably many people. How many times have you heard advice from a particular teacher, or half a dozen teachers, and you’ve kind of gone, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.” And then you’ve heard it off one particular person and gone, “Whoa … “? That’s the alchemy that I’m talking about. But if you’re not out there sharing your story, if you’re not out there sharing your stuff with people, if you’re not out there telling them how they can benefit from working with you and if you’re not doing that at a rate that allows you to replenish some of that blood that’s been sucked out of you and hopefully be able to move away from that if you want to, then you’re doing yourself and you’re doing them a disservice, they’re not going to be able to do it. Does that help? That’s what I want you to keep reminding yourself of-
Jo: … you don’t have to have done every course or read every book, or been on every retreat, or you know?
Jo: There’s always going to be more that you could be doing.
Nancy: Yeah. Well it’s like what you said, the 1.0 versus the 2.0.
Nancy: I mean, I haven’t even created the 1.0 yet and that’s what-
Jo: Oh honey, yes you have.
Nancy: Well yeah, I have, but I haven’t put it out there yet.
Nancy: That’s … you’re right, you’re right.
Nancy: Thank you.
Jo: Oh thank you. Any more? I’ve not been reading the messages, I am aware that we’re going a little bit over time.
Jenny: Jo, did you want one more?
Jenny Or do you … go on.
Jo: Go on, yes. Yes, please.
Jenny: I don’t know if you want to delve into this now but this is what I have wrestled with a lot and I’m guessing other good-hearted people in this group have as well in some way. My thing around money and value I get hung up on is living in a really economically depressed area, having lived in fairly extreme poverty in my own past and really struggling to charge when I see the inequalities in the world and the need that is out there and the people who really, truly can’t … You know as Nancy mentioned, really can’t afford it. I know you and I have talked about this some but I thought in the time do you want to [inaudible 00:28:11].
Jo: So I think that is such a good point and there is no getting away from the fact that we live in a horribly unequal world. Horribly unequal. I think what many of us go to, I think I said this at a couple of points, I think what many of us go to is, “Well if I start charging a certain amount.” Or, “If I start earning a certain amount then I become just like them.” Or, “I’m just feeding that machine that is perpetuating that inequality.” And it feels gross. I remember one entrepreneur that I was talking to and she said, “Honestly I thought, ‘I can’t start a business, I’ll have to become a Republican.’ ” This is obviously someone who’s American. Because I think a lot of us have those kinds of conflicts because modern day capitalism sucks, it’s fairly awful.
Then there’s also that real desire to help those people that we see who are in need and there’s no right or wrong with this, or there’s no black and white with it. I think we each have to find our own way of doing what we can and making that right with ourselves and I can share what I do and how I help to square that for myself but there’s a couple of prerequisite thoughts there, is that you cannot save everybody. You know, there’s that story in the Bible of Jesus trying to heal all of the lepers and just getting kind of swamped by everybody. I know that us people-pleasers, us people who really want to heal everybody, we have to be able to do that from a position of self-sustainability. If we just give and give and give until there’s nothing left, then we will disappear. We will be all used up. We cannot do that, we have to be able to sustain ourselves and part of that is being able to sustain ourselves financially.
Now, that does not mean that you go to the other extreme, which is, “Everyone’s on their own, we completely ignore them.” It’s about finding the middle ground that works for us. Now for me, for example, I came from … I had two socialist parents, I worked in the public sector for many, many years, the whole idea of even the word business still makes me go … a little bit. I’ve worked in non-profits, I had this real disconnect with charging and it was a real struggle to be able to charge a sustainable amount in my business. The way that I have kind of made, not just peace with that, but I don’t know, whatever the next stage up from peace is, is that I do a certain number of pro bono days every quarter. I do free workshops with some local charities, so I can be more in control of … and choose where I’m giving that time and that energy.
You could, for example, I know other people who have scholarship clients. I know other people who give a certain percentage of their income to charitable causes. We’ll keep in good business, it’s a certain percentage of their income, it’s a certain number of days I do each quarter. You have to, I believe, have that financial sustainability there first and if that means that initially you are working with people who aren’t in that really impoverished, needy position, then you have to do the work with the people who can afford your services in order to be able to support those who maybe can’t. Does that help? Because otherwise we … The world does not need one more coach who cannot afford to keep doing that work because then you’re not able to help anybody. Does that help?
Jenny: Yeah, it does.
Jo: Okay, cool.
Jenny: You and I have talked about this, but I know other people wrestle with that and it would be nice to …
Jo: I think it’s a really important conversation to have. It’s one of the dilemmas that we have. As part of the goody pack that you’ll also be sent links to for after the workshop, the kind of virtual goody bag, there’s a whole workbook I’ve got. I know some of you are familiar with this already, it’s called How Money Fucks With Your Head And What You Can Do About It. It’s not definitive but it’s some of my thoughts and tools and techniques about how we can really help ourselves with this because without that baseline of sustainability, we can’t do this work. Or, we do this work and we do it and we keep the day job. If you have a day job that is fine and helps you to do … I know lots of people who do both and they’re really happy with that but I know many, many more people who are doing that and it’s a soul sucking, or a bloodsucking job that they’re doing, like Nancy said.”