One of the best - and hardest to use - pieces of advice I got many years ago was this: never be afraid to charge what you're worth. I have so often struggled with this over the years - what's appropriate to charge when you're new, when and how to raise rates, or putting together a class or other add-on to your business? Ever have that "wake up in the middle of the night worry," wondering whether you're keeping up with others in your industry?
So what goes into deciding an appropriate rate to charge for your service? What is your time worth?? Of course, the obvious tactic of researching what other folks charge is really helpful to get a ballpark idea of what you can ask, but you also need to examine what goes into your own personal 'product.' You don't have to have any concrete numbers here, but sitting down once or twice a year to draw up a rough picture can really put into perspective where your fees are already ear-marked and being dispersed.
Let's start with the base costs of your daily operations - for me, that number pulls from things like the cost of care for my horses (who are integral to my teaching, and teachers themselves), gas and general expenses for my truck, and 'in-part' costs for things like my cell phone, rent and utilities with my home office.
Add to that your transit time - for me, this is often the time it takes to drive from one client to another, but maybe it's just the time needed to transition to your next project - from the horse industry perspective, that can be tacking up horses, cleaning up your workspace, or maybe it's just mentally transitioning (I think many of us - regardless of industry - need more time here than we think). If it's longer that a few minutes, you should count it as time you should be getting paid for, because that's you stepping into your best self for that next person who's paying your bills. Office time goes here too - how much time are you *really* spending answering emails and making phone calls, spending extra time with clients - you might be surprised how much time it really is; but that time is important to promoting YOU, and it should be included in your fee.
This moves us into the most important, and probably hardest to tackle question - what's the value of of the time spent 'delivering your product?' For me, that's the block of time I'm teaching a lesson. What's the value of that knowledge, experience, and - for lack of a better term - partnership that is the 'storefront' in your operations? When it's a service business like mine, it's literally the "what are YOU worth?" question.
I'm a big believer that the process of making any decision about money requires a look inward; what is your relationship with money, both personally and professionally? How have your values or thoughts around money and income evolved over your life? What -- if anything -- did you learn from your parents about money growing up?
These questions may feel completely unrelated to who you are in business, but understanding your feelings and history about money and income can really put a spotlight on where you could be stuck. I know for me, I undervalued the time I was putting into my lessons early on. I thought that, since I didn't have much in the way of "street cred" (apprenticing for a major trainer or blue ribbons and titles from big name shows), I didn't think I had deserved more than the tiny wage that I asked for. I was worried that if I charged what I knew I should, that no one would work with me. Adding up all the time I put into my clients - then and now - that early wage was easily well below minimum wage back then. Looking back, the value of the time and talent delivered to my clients even in the early days was much higher, and bringing my rates up to better match my 'personal value' has actually brought in a (generally) better class of clientele.
If you are having doubts or uncomfortable thoughts around what you should charge, get curious about it. Because I'll bet you, what you give to the world is worth SO much more than you are willing to believe.
Take some time to journal on some of the above questions, and see what comes up for you. If you find some helpful insights, I'd love to hear what you find! Please email me, or share in the comments.