As a business owner, do you suffer from awkward money topicitis? Possible symptoms include:
- Feeling uncomfortable telling people your rates
- Worrying people will balk at your pricing
- Insecurity about what you charge
- Hesitancy asking clients for payment, worrying you’ll seem to only care about money
- Fear that repeated requests for payment will annoy, pester or bug your clients and even harm the relationship
- Sweaty palms, rapid heart rate, and general “cringey” feeling before and during money conversations
You offer a service – you need to tell people your rates. You provide that service, you need to get paid. Seems simple enough. But when we’re talking about money (crap, do we HAVE to talk about it?!), conversations are not always simple. If money topics make you feel awkward, stressed, and uncomfortable, you’re not alone. All jokes aside, money is a complicated, emotional topic for many people.
You started your business to earn money, among other reasons. So, let’s look at three money topics business owners may struggle with, and tips to help!
Problem #1 – Telling people your rates
1 – Like many things in business and in life, it’s best to keep it simple. If someone asks your rate, don’t go into over-explaining or justifying what you charge. Simply tell them your rate, then close your mouth.
2 – If your rates are consistent for all clients and you’re meeting people in person, consider using printed materials that include rates/pricing. When asked about the cost, you can show them the rates in your brochure as you tell them. Having your rates in black and white may also increase your confidence in talking about rates, and provide back up if someone asks for a discount (‘Sorry, as you can see, this is our rate’).
3 – Practice with friends and family exactly what you say about your rates and how you ask for the sale. Practice with the scenario where they ask you the rate, and also where they agree to hire you but haven’t asked about rates and you’ll need to bring it up. This will help you get comfortable with what you say and as your comfort increases, the real conversations will be easier. Bonus points if you can have a friend play an adversarial customer so you can practice thinking on your feet and overcoming objections.
Problem #2 – Asking for overdue payment
1 – Set up automated payment reminders. There’s no need to feel awkward when you have payment reminders sent directly from your accounting software or platform. Typically you can create a rule that all unpaid invoices trigger a reminder email at a certain point (30 days, 45 days, etc.).
2 – Automated emails may be ignored or end up in junk folders. Emails directly from a business address are more likely to be noticed. You can develop a pre-written email that you send to clients for past-due accounts that is polite but firm. If you go this route, take the opportunity to add a marketing message or links to your social media accounts in your email signature.
3 – Delegate or outsource the task of following up on overdue accounts. The longer a balance is outstanding, the less likely you are to ever receive payment (argh!), so it’s important to have protocol in place to help collect overdue balances. But, you can let someone else be the “bad guy.” Whether it’s an employee dedicated to accounting, an assistant manager, or an accounting firm you’ve partnered with, paying someone else to handle this will relieve you of a stressful task and allow you to focus on things in your business that you (hopefully!) enjoy.
Problem #3 – Your inner dialogue
Do you lack confidence, feel like you’re undervaluing your services, or suffer from imposter syndrome (feel like a fraud despite having experience and skills)? These are not easy things to overcome, but it’s possible if you take action.
1 – Shift your mindset by doing positive affirmations. Start with making a list of the value you offer and how you help your clients beyond the actual service provided. Are you making their life, health, or business better? Are you saving people time or reducing their stress? Think about all the ways your business benefits people. Take this list and create daily positive affirmations which you say out loud each morning. They might sound like:
- “I improve people’s lives by helping them reach their fitness goals.”
- “I bring my clients peace of mind by providing expert advice”
- “I save my customers time and stress providing pre-made meals while also nourishing their bodies”
For more ideas check out 40 Affirmations for Small Business Owners from Small Business Trends. Your mindset (and your words!) are more powerful than you realize.
2 – Remind yourself that you have happy/satisfied clients (at least we hope you do!). Print positive reviews and thank-you emails from clients you’ve received and put them on your office wall. If you haven’t received reviews or thank you’s yet but have been serving clients, send them a survey to collect feedback.
3 – If you believe your rates are what you should be charging, stay the course. The more you work and are paid your rates, the more you will feel that you deserve it. However, if you think the rates you have set are too low, change them! Research competitor rates for your industry, evaluate how your offerings compare to others that charge more, and come up with your new pricing.
The bottom line
Money can be an uncomfortable topic! The great news is that you have the ability to improve your confidence and your outlook, and ease the stress of “awkward money topics.” We have confidence in you.