When you are self-employed, you need to make a healthy income doing what you do. Otherwise, your work is not sustainable and won’t last.
Many of your clients will understand this perfectly and not resent you for it. Yet, there will always be people who think that you “owe” them and who will contact you to let you know that what you are charging is wrong.
As a business owner you need to balance compassion for others, with compassion for your yourself and your work. This can be tricky to say the least.
I’ll be the first to admit that I get accused of being “not very empathic” from time to time when it comes to confronting someone on an issue that needs confronting.
Being a caring person doesn’t mean you always give people what they want. It also doesn’t mean you always make everyone feel good. When people are stressed, they can be unreasonable and only see the “me me me” side of things. They are suffering, and therefore you should bend over backwards to accomodate them. Not so.
Besides, just making someone feel better to make them feel better does not actually serve them.You’ll find that much of the time, healthy boundaries serve everyone involved. It doesn’t actually pit you against your clients.
To have a healthy business and be a happy business owner, you need to strike a good balance between what you provide for others and what you get back. What you get back is basically money.
I know you might want to add some things to the list, like: fulfillment, kindness, appreciation etc. And those are all good things BUT you can’t count on them, and I don’t believe you should want to count on them.
If you’re in the business of helping people heal and transform, then you are in the business of resistance. Your clients will resist you. They will get stuck. They will get upset. Not all of them. Not all the time. Yet, if you are counting on kindness and satisfaction, to balance out a lack of financial compensation, then you’re doing everyone a disservice.
My rates include bad client behaviour
You need to charge a rate that allows for your clients to behave badly from time to time.Click to tweet
So that, when they are stressed / unreasonable / don’t follow through / don’t want to hear you… you still get paid well. You still feel appreciated based on what you are being paid. This is really important.
It’s much easier to be o.k. with someone acting out when your rate “covers” that. It’s much harder when you have a “sympathy” rate that expects your clients to be perfect angels all the time.
The money covers some of the lashing out you’ll need to deal with (whether it’s bold and outright, passive aggressive, or in the form of unnecessary complications).
Let’s just say, when I hire someone to help me with something big and meaningful, I want them to build in some space for me to be moody and unreasonable. Making important changes in your life means your buttons get pushed.
The more you create a safe space for your clients, the safer they will feel to unleash their fear and frustration. That is a good thing. But it’s not the same as dealing with the “perfect student” who never makes a fuss. When you charge the right rates, it compensates for all of that. You don’t feel grumpy.
Compare that to what it’s like when you basically gave someone a lower rate in exchange for expected kindness and good behaviour which you didn’t get.
Sympathy rates come with all kinds of strings attached. You don’t want to offer that to clients. You want them to pay you a rate that functions like a real ticket to entrance. They pay you that much and they can really be themselves with you, ask you all kinds of questions, have an emotional meltdown, request explanations in three-fold… it’s all included.
An example of how healthy rates change lives for the better
I currently have a client who was abandoned by previous therapists. They considered her “too difficult”. I’ll readily admit, for a crucial while, she was one of my toughest clients. But, I am up for a challenge, and because she paid me a healthy rate for sessions, I felt well compensated even during sessions that were far from peachy. Basically, it allowed both of us to hang in there and get to the other side of the woods in one piece.
She wasn’t paying me peanuts and she wasn’t a charity case. She was truly contributing to my livelihood, and as a result, I could really invest energy and attention into sessions with her.
If my rates had been half of what they are, I would have felt resentful and probably not wanted to continue doing sessions. That would have meant that she wouldn’t have gotten the help that she needed. She had tried and been rejected so many times, do you see how crucial this is?
It’s not her fault that she behaved the way she did. She had a complicated painful history and a sensitivity to energy that few people really understand. Yet, had I only focused on that and treated her like a victim, I would have walked out on her. Instead, I treated her as a competent person, able and willing to pay for the help she needed and quite aware that she was no easy case. We could both be honest about that.
It paid off. She got to the other side of the resistance that she’d been struggling with for years, a lifetime even. It took a while to get that ball rolling, but now she can keep it rolling on her own.
Of course, all of what I’m saying here does not cover outright assholes. If you know of an asshole who wants to work with you, I highly recommend thinking twice and if you do proceed to charge a special asshole rate. This covers the costs of all the extra massages and time off you’ll need to recuperate from the abuse. I’m serious. It might be worth it. Then again, assholes being assholes (they want to get the most and give the least), if you actually charge them what it would truly cost you to work with them, chances are they’ll be the one to say “no thanks”, which is perfect too.
About the Video Below
Anyhoo. Below is a video in which I unravel a complaint that I received about pricing for one of my programmes. I decided to share this one because the email is just so nifty and it is sure to push so many Kind Businessowner Buttons.
I don’t want you to reflexively go into “give more” mode just because someone insinuates that you are unkind, unreasonable and “wrong” for doing what you do in the way you do it. So I am sharing my “unraveling” thoughts on this and offering a different perspective.
Towards the end, I’m also including thoughts for those who feel like they’re always on the wrong side of poverty and can’t have what they need.
- If you’re struggling with negative feedback (you can’t seem to let it roll off your back, no matter how hard you try)
- If you have a big heart and tend to over-give to clients and get depleted
- If overal you feel that you’re on the right track with your work, but would like to feel more energised and inspired doing it
…then I might be able to really help. You can find the services I offer to Highly Sensitive self-employed pioneers here.