Back when you started your business, 6 months, 1, 2, 5 or however many years ago, I can almost guarantee that there is one thing, one thing with lasting repercussions, that you did wrong at the very beginning.
How do I know this? Because I did it, too.
The good news: You can fix it.
The #1 mistake you likely made when you were just starting out was NOT not having a gorgeous website. It was NOT not having a gorgeous Instagram feed fully integrated with your Twitter and Facebook, and a thorough editorial calendar governing your every content-marketing communication with your clients, present and future. It was certainly NOT not having a great idea, or enthusiasm, or drive, fans, clients, supporters.
Your #1 Mistake was that you set your prices too low.
I get it. It’s so common to do this. Hell, I did this, too. I was new to having my own business, selling my own services on my own. I talked to someone who was doing similar work, and thought I’d just try her hourly rate + $10/hour, and see if people said Yes. They did. A lot of them said Yes.
So I was busy.
And that was fine. That was good. At first. Because it gave me the opportunity to work, to test my value proposition, to get clients, to get feedback, to get testimonials. To learn what it was like to have a business, to work for my own damn self.
The trouble is that when you go out soft with your pricing — which so many of us do, because we’re testing our own voices, our own ideas — well, that soft will actually hobble you down the line. It will keep you working a bit small, certainly not with the people who can afford to pay you what you really want to charge for the work you really want to do. It will prevent you from making a profit, it will block you from hiring, it will make sure there isn’t enough money in your bank account. When you start soft, which so many of us do, then you get stuck.
You’ve painted yourself into a corner. How to get out?
Sure, you could raise your prices by X percentage. Sure. But the problem is that small increases to too-small prices result in prices that ARE STILL TOO SMALL, and that’s not going to cut it for you, either.
When you find yourself there, stuck with your too-small prices, a lot of experience and success stories but still not enough money in the bank, then what?
What you need to fix that #1 Mistake you made when you started out is a bold re-think of your business model and pricing in order to bust you out of the corner you put yourself in and take you where you really want to go.
What I did?
I realized that hourly billing — while yes, it gave me the opportunity to test my concept, to prove I could do this — was a recipe for burn-out and also a recipe for the kind of work that ran me ragged and still wasn’t what I really wanted to be doing. My solution was to package my services differently, to move to charging monthly for a suite of deliverables that allowed me to plus-up what I was selling — i.e., bookkeeping PLUS financial intelligence, PLUS partnership on the numbers, PLUS you get the picture. This also lined me up with the right clients, with clients who wanted to really embrace the power in their numbers, do more, do better.
And did I initially set that monthly price too low? You know it. And did I learn from that and adjust and do better and adjust and do better? You know it. Still learning. Still improving.
The Really Great News is that having a business is never one-and-done — we have constant opportunities to test, to prove, to assess, to improve. If you’re stuck with prices that are too low, that doesn’t have to be, is not, the end of the story. How could you switch it up? How could you, keeping you eye on the big transformation & outcomes you’re offering clients and price from there? From the big change. From the new freedom.
If you made the same #1 big mistake as me, well done! You tried. Now let’s sit back & sort it out, move on, move up, do more, do better.