Great! I’m busier than a one-armed juggler!
That’s nice. But are you making any money? * drops mic
And there we have it, folks, the Fear-less Fact that being busy is not the same as being profitable.
Let’s say you have 12 clients who contract you for small jobs, paying anywhere from $100 – $400 a piece. Imagine in one month they all hire you for a $400 job each. At the end of the month, that’s $4,800. Now think about how much time you’ve spent managing each client with phone calls, meetings, emails, not even touching upon how many hours you actually spent on their projects. Pass the Tylenol.
Now let’s imagine you have three clients paying you $2,000 as a flat retainer – that’s $6,000 a month and you have only three clients to focus on. Sure, you’ll have to provide even greater customer service at that price point but your work and satisfaction level – for both you and your client – is going to be far higher than juggling numerous clients with small projects. Pass the Moet y Chandon.
Which scenario would you rather have – busyness or a business?
Now before you start with the internal monologue of terror with the “but how can I start charging so much more money? How will I get clients? How will I survive??!!”, chillax (as my 8 year-old is saying ad nauseum these days). Others have done it and I’ve done it. Was it scary? As hell. But so glad I did it.
A number of years ago, my wedding planning company was going great gangbusters. Between our planning and travel divisions, we had 14 employees and months where we had 13 weddings. It was insanely busy for all of us and while it was profitable, we had to keep running on the hamster wheel to cover all the expenses. Then I became pregnant and realized that I couldn’t keep up the same pace once the baby came, nor did I want to. Burnout was peeking its blackened head over the not so far horizon and I wasn’t eager to become his new buddy. Something had to change.
Around that time, I hired a planner from LA. She was a firecracker and a vigorously shaken bottle of Dom all mixed together with confidence to put Muhammed Ali (RIP) to shame – to say she stirred things up would be a gross understatement. When she booked her first client, she charged double what we normally charged without blinking. And the client signed on the dotted line without balking.
What. How. Huh?
It must be some Jedi mind trick, I thought. But nope, she just had the cajones to charge what we really should have been charging for a while but were too afraid to. For years, I’d held a self-limiting belief that we couldn’t charge more than XX or else no one would hire us. I’d upped our fees a bit after a groom told me during the reception that I really needed to raise my prices (when a client is telling you to charge more, you know you’ve been lowballing yourself). But to make that jump to where we really should have been seemed too risky.
But LA Spitfire Girl saw without fear-tinged glasses that we’d undervalued our services and it was time to change things up for the better. Which we did. Overnight. Took a deep breath, prayed to anyone up there who would listen and doubled our fees. Then prayed some more.
And we continued to book clients who didn’t blink at the prices. Definitely, we had fewer clients than before but that was the idea. We’d been in business for a number of years, had garnered a great reputation and were finally (!) charging what we were worth. The clients who booked us understood the value of our services and weren’t nickel and diming over every small charge the way budget clients tend to. Result? We have more time to spend with each client, more time to be creative and more time period.
So, are you charging what you’re worth or are you undercutting yourself? If you have busyness, what do you have to change to have a business?