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With a healthy mindset and a few practical strategies, you can stop agonising over what to charge your clients.

A lot of soloists complain about feeling uncomfortable when it comes to charging their clients. Sound familiar?

Well, I’m here to tell you that it is all in your head.

And here’s why.

We all have our own ‘limiting beliefs’ – unconscious thoughts that have been ‘programmed’ into us since our very early childhood. These beliefs run on ‘auto pilot’ in the back of our minds and although they seem harmless enough, they actually dictate a lot of the way we think, act, react, and behave.

Experience (based on working with hundreds of clients and applying the benefits of neuroscience) has shown me, however, if you can change the way you think, then you can change your life.

Feeling worried, stressed or uncomfortable about charging what you’re worth? Well, believe it or not, it’s not all in your head.

So go ahead and ask yourself. ‘What exactly is it that makes me uncomfortable?’

  • Do you feel guilty?
  • Do you feel that your time and your skills and experience are not worth what you’re charging?

On the other hand:

  • Do you feel undervalued?
  • Do you feel resentful that you don’t charge enough?
  • Do you feel greedy when you want to ask for more?

From a neuroscience point of view

People have all sorts of limiting beliefs about themselves and about money and these can complicate the process of charging what you’re worth. But they’re not insurmountable. Because, at the end of the day, these beliefs are just perceptions. And we can change our perceptions.

Let’s figure out yours.

Get a piece of paper and a pen. Now sit quietly, take a few moments and ask yourself: What are my beliefs about money? Write everything down. And then look over the list just once.

Change your mindset

Now, scrunch that piece of paper up or tear it in half and throw it away. You don’t need those old ‘limiting beliefs’ anymore. Take your pen and get set to draw yourself up a new set of affirmations. Sticky note them on your computer screen if you need to, and look at them every time you write an invoice.

Remind yourself that feeling guilty is totally unproductive. It is the greatest destroyer of emotional energy. It leaves you feeling debilitated. It shatters self-esteem, creativity and personal growth.

Remind yourself that:

  • You turn up to work every day – you are loyal, dependable and trustworthy.
  • You work, and in return, you get paid, as do all other employed people in our society.
  • It’s the norm to be paid. It’s not the norm to work for free.
  • When someone provides you with a service, you expect to pay him/her and therefore others should expect to pay you.

There’s a wonderful quote that goes something along the lines of:

Working, and being paid for such work, is the economic foundation of our society.

Also remind yourself that:

  • You are worthy of this money.
  • You are skilled and talented.
  • You bring a unique perspective to any project and that is precisely why your clients want you.

Repeat these supportive statements to yourself as often as necessary.

Getting practical with pricing

But as much as you need a positive attitude, you also need a solid pricing strategy that’s based on extensive market research. And you should be able to explain all fees and charges. Prepare some well-articulated and well-rehearsed statements, for example:

“My services are priced roughly mid-range because ….” Or  “We’re priced at the top end because we can ….”

Know your value.

Know your market differentiator. This might be as simple as your experience in a particular industry, or the fact that you can commit to working weekends to bring a project to completion, or that you have proprietary technology or research about a subject that cannot be obtained elsewhere.

Talk about money

If you sense at the outset that the client will have a tight budget, which is often the case with start ups and SMEs, broach the subject head on with a question like: “Would you like me to provide you with a couple of pricing options – I can send them later today via email?”

This way, you get to control the agreed inputs, rather than struggle with it after the project is completed, and after you’ve put in more hours than the client can afford. This way, it’s written down too. And you both get a chance to review the numbers before you talk again.

People often avoid discussions about money but if you can keep an open dialogue, then it is a less troublesome subject. One way to do this is include ‘budget’ or ‘fees’ as an item on your agenda even when you’re having ‘informal’ catch ups with your clients part-way through projects. This way money becomes part of your regular dialogue – something you both expect to talk about, and do talk about, often.

Finally, make sure you are transparent with fees and other charges, and that you can guide clients through the benefits and the value of what you’re offering.

If you’re not sure of the benefits and the value that you’re offering then this is where insecurity and self-doubt and those old-limiting beliefs can kick in. My advice? Sit down now, and type some up while this whole idea is fresh in your mind. Refer to this list often.

As a practitioner of neuroscience, I have seen first hand how our beliefs can affect the way we live our lives, so if you really think deep down that you don’t deserve to be paid, or you’re not good enough, then this will manifest in your relationships with clients, and your business will ultimately suffer.

It doesn’t have to be that way. With a healthy mindset and a few practical strategies, you can stop feeling uncomfortable about money.

‘Prosperity is not just having things. It is the consciousness that attracts the things. Prosperity is a way of living and thinking, and not just having money or things. Poverty is a way of living and thinking, and not just a lack of money or things. ‘ — Eric Butterworth

How do you go with charging appropriately for your time? Is it still something you struggle with?