Guest post by Mikelann Valterra.
If 2012 is the year to make more money, raising your fees could be a vital ingredient. Many people have kept their fees flat for the last few years, due to concerns about the economy. But with the impact of inflation, you can’t keep your fees the same forever. Generally speaking, you should raise your fees by about 3-5% each year, simply to keep from falling behind.
And yet why does looking at what you charge, and possibly charging more money, feel so difficult? For years I’ve encouraged many of my clients to look hard at their fees, and to assess whether it was time to raise them. Often, it feels quite emotional. When you undercharge or simply give too much time away, you start resenting your clients and your work. And of course many service providers genuinely like their clients and deeply value these long-term relationships. They fear that if they raise their fees, they’ll lose these wonderful clients.
But it goes deeper then this for many women—and some men as well. They fear harming the relationship itself. Relationships are everything! And god forbid these wonderful people who are our clients think that we believe money is more important than people….
Time and again I’ve seen the “Good Girl Syndrome” raise its head and keep people from charging an appropriate fee. This “Good Girl Syndrome” is simply the behaviors that arise from wanting people to like us and not wanting to make people mad. Some call this the “internal people pleaser”—and you can see how this impacts our ability to charge people money.
I have found that women tend to identify with that internal people pleaser more than men do. Though of course there are plenty of men who struggle with this also. (Particularly men in the helping professions.) We fear that our clients will be angry that we’ve charged them too much money. We worry that raising our fees will harm our relationships with them. We worry that money will drive people away. And we all know that people pleasers hate not pleasing people….
But there’s another component to the Good Girl Syndrome—beyond just wanting people to like us. There is also a fear of not being good enough. So one way we protect ourselves against not being good enough is by striving for perfection. We think that no one can be disgruntled if we never make a mistake! But this perfectionism holds us back from making more money.
Countless self-employed women are waiting until they have it “right” (waiting until they’re perfect…) before they consider charging more.
We tell ourselves that when we are really ready, we’ll charge more. But somehow we are never quite ready. Tweet this tidbit! We never attain “perfect,” so we don’t want to look at our fees. Convenient, huh. Besides, we can’t charge more money. Not yet! We don’t have enough experience, or the right credentials or … When you add to this the desire to please people, and then you sprinkle in the concerns of the economy over the last few years, well, no wonder so many service providers feel frozen.
Waiting until we are perfect is a great rationalization to keep from moving forward. We stay where we are—undercharging our clients, giving away too much of our time for free, taking clients who are not our ideal clients, etc., all the while saying to ourselves, “someday I’ll charge more money. When I get it all together. When I’m really, really good at what I do. When I’m really WORTH it. Then I’ll charge more.”
We try to please our clients and go to great lengths. And while we wait to raise our fees, or reign in how much time we give away, resentment grows. When you undercharge or simply give too much time away, you start resenting your clients and your work. We don’t do our best work at that point. We feel taken advantage of, walked on. Our inner Good Girl grows resentful, while she continues to be as perfect as she can, and as nice as she can, sometimes for ungrateful clients.
I invite you to consider raising your fees. You deserve to make good money.
Guest blogger Mikelann Valterra has been a money coach/ Financial Recovery Coach in private practice for 15 years. She is also on the faculty of the Financial Recovery Counseling Institute where she trains new money coaches throughout the world. Mikelann is a published author and is a nationally sought after speaker on the issues of women and money.
Power Chicks Chime In: Have you ever had that "not worth it" feeling? How did you overcome it? What is your biggest fear about raising your prices?
(Psst. We think you are worth it!)
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