Knowing Your Worth
As I sit down to write this article, my overwhelming goal is to explore with you what I believe actually enables us to be top coaches, and to lay to rest some misunderstandings about what it takes to raise your prices.
You may even be closer than you think! Since founding my practice six years ago, my coaching rate has increased by 500%, so I really know the challenges that confronting this area creates.
Firstly, I’d like to begin this discussion by scotching a couple of myths. Are you ready? Really? Then I would like you to say this slowly and clearly to yourself a few times, just to be sure it is sinking in:
You are not being paid for your time. You are not being paid for results.
I believe that it is partly our misunderstanding of what clients are paying for that leads us to charge less than we are happy with. So if your charges are not for either of these things, then what on earth are you being paid for?
Your client is investing and committing to their own deep change; the payment is not linked to anything you do for them, or for sitting in the same space with them.
If that is the case, then what is your role? This is what I’d like to explore.
What Brings You Joy?
You see, I know something about you. I know that there is very little that brings you more pleasure and satisfaction than seeing your clients grow and even surpass your expectations. So great is your enthusiasm for what you do, that you sometimes forget you are delivering a service.
Imagine your life now if I said that you could never coach again; you were never again able to facilitate change for people—go ahead and imagine.
Could you actually stop? Or would you continue to find ways in your everyday life to facilitate people to have better lives and become greater versions of themselves, regardless of whether they were paying you?
If you answered ‘yes’ to that question, this article will be highly relevant and there will be no reason why you can’t raise your own prices in a way that is congruent with yourself and your values.
If you answered ‘no’ to that question, it may be that you need to find your enthusiasm— those clients who do make you feel this way. You may also need to turn up your caring. I think that most coaches have a very deep caring for their clients, and people in general, but they have not always allowed themselves to connect with it. If this is you, the time is now.
Dreams and Aspirations
The trouble is most people are fixated on improving their techniques and results before they will raise their prices. However, what if something else is actually required here, and you don’t even have to wait? What if it’s not your results but actually your aspirations that need to grow?
I remember when I started out, I priced myself at the top of a very small pool of coaches and therapists. I still lived in the small rural town I grew up in, and my biggest aspiration at that time was to be the local expert—perhaps have my own column in the local paper and have a full diary.
I’d just like to say now that I never had a full diary! I also thought I needed to get results for my clients to justify my fee. Yes, for clients, results are key. However, let’s measure success by what our clients become after working with us. That’s not so easy to quantify but far more worthwhile.
Now, for the purpose of comparison, I would like to share my current aspirations. My greatest aim for my life’s work is to facilitate people to greatness, so that they go out into the world and facilitate others to greatness. I see that what I offer makes the planet (yes, the planet!) a better place.
I would like my work to empower people whom I may never see; who may never buy a course off me; who may never know that my work is directly responsible for the change they experience. I am willing to do whatever it takes to bring this about—even working for free because I know that what I do is so valuable (and I have so much confidence in what I offer) that the right people will see it. And they do see it, frequently. Can you spot the difference?
What Makes You Tick?
I’d just like to take this moment to check in with you. Let’s explore your aspirations, as they are now. There was nothing wrong with my early hopes for my business; everyone starts somewhere and some coaches choose to stay there, but if you are reading this you are probably looking for something different.
My early aspirations were what I would call ‘pots and pans’. They were primarily about how I would get my practice to pay for bigger and better pots and pans: the house, the car, the clothes, etc.
Can you take a minute to jot down what your aspirations are right now? Please don’t try to change them; they are wonderful exactly as they are. The only thing that will change your money issues (or any issues) is getting completely present with what your aspirations are right now, not how you would like them to be—any attempt to inflate them will only result in you getting more stuck!
Now take a look at your list (or your mental note). How many of your aspirations are about money? How many are about creating change in the world? The first and most foundational recommendation I can give to you in order to be more confident in raising your prices is to begin—today—to grow the second category.
How do you do this? Firstly, you do this by committing to recognising the unique way that you, and only you, create change with clients. If you don’t believe in yourself, it will be very hard to ask for a higher price. I know, I’ve tried. I remember raising my price five years ago by 25%, and the shame that overtook me led me to lower it again the following month!
However, something interesting happened in that month. A famous writer came to me as a client. Her father-in-law had looked through all the local listings and had seen mine and said: she’s the real deal—go with her. I am absolutely certain he said this because of my fee, and the money I invested in the website.
Secondly, I’d like you, right now, to do an exercise. Don’t tell yourself you’ll come back to this later, just do it quickly. I’d like you to imagine a figure that you would feel very uncomfortable charging. Don’t make it so ridiculous it doesn’t feel relevant, but go for something on the outside edge of what you think is possible. Write it down and then experience what that is like in your body. It should feel a bit tense and, well, yucky!
Now imagine that as soon as you’re done with this article, you are going to change your whole website to reflect that price and update all your social media profiles. Stay with that feeling. I want you to write down every single point of view that comes up. Don’t edit or think about it.
Now for every point of view (e.g. I will have to be better; my results must improve; people won’t pay for it; I will have no clients; people will think I don’t care, etc.), get really present, without emotion, and ask: is this actually true? How do I know it’s true? Can I think of a coach for whom this is not true? What is the difference between me and that person? You see, here is the thing: many of the points of view we hold about money are conflicting, emotional, and just plain untrue.
So what is true? The truth is that the more clarity you have about the many conflicting emotional beliefs you hold around money, the less they will control you. Instead, explore what are your deep core values, the values that sustain you in your work.
For me, a core value (as you may have noticed) is to help wherever I can. I do not let my need for money dictate what I can and cannot do. I put absolutely everything—my whole self—into my methodology, my writing, my videos, my posts. Anything I share is done unstintingly. This is because I want to, but it also has the effect of telling the world: I am not in lack; I am not needy. I am successful and confident.
I also offer many ways for people to work with me for free, such as free challenges. Rich Litvin, a very high-ticket coach who I admire greatly, is another great example of this. He produces vast swathes of material which contains a wealth of support and information that anyone can access for free. Does he have to? I seriously doubt it.
For me, my free challenge is a service. I have to be really clear here and insist that this is not a sales funnel. I have no investment in whether those people go on to become clients or just go on to be happier people.
I gain a great deal personally and professionally from working in this way, and it enables me to be an even greater, more relevant coach. I cannot sacrifice the greater good that my voice in the world creates in order to serve many people at a lower rate. My personal rate reflects this.
That doesn’t mean that I’m giving you instructions to work in the same way, far from it. There is no right or wrong way—there is only your way. I am inviting you to get clear on what matters to you, and to build a practice around that rather than what you believe will bring you money. And please remember, this is a process and does not happen overnight!
When you are committed to being authentically yourself, you are the most valuable commodity this world possesses. If this article leaves you with anything, I hope it gives you enough faith in yourself to commit to excavating and developing your authentic self and, when you are truly walking your talk, to go out there and ask a price that reflects this. Next to your skillful perception, it is your willingness to rate yourself highly that creates change for your clients.
Editor’s Note: Want to know more about Jessica and her work? Don’t miss our interview with her here at Life Coach Magazine.
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Jessica Summers helps empathic entrepreneurs and coaches connect with their authentic voice and Big Mission. This allows them to transcend the marketplace and become much-needed thought leaders. She lives in Montenegro with her husband and young daughter.