Have you ever heard the phrase, "Great work ain't cheap, and cheap work ain't great." - it's short, but in my opinion it's absolutely spot on. The thing is that the 'Great' doesn't really quite explain what's involved in producing great work. I'd like to talk about this in today's post.
Online service providers everywhere, especially when they start out have a battle with how much they should charge, self-talk debates go on where they ask themselves questions like, "If my prices are too high I might not get any clients." or "If my prices are too low, my work might not be taken seriously." or "If I charge this price I'll make so little profit I'll feel bad about it."
The fact is, there's never any right or wrong price, it depends on your circumstances what you charge and your reasons for it, and it depends on the client's circumstances what they can pay. There are rich people in the world and poor people, so there will always be people who will pay for your services and people who won't.
When do I charge for 'great'?
The ideal answer is that from Day 1 of your business you immediately start charging for great work. But that seldom happens, because we don't believe that we can come straight off the starting blocks, with no testimonials, no portfolio, no history, no clients, no established brand identity, no [fill in the blank] and start charging for 'great' - and have people pay it.
It's not that we can't charge for great - we can, but it will only work if we've done a hell of a lot of work on our own self-confidence and belief system beforehand, to have a sense of knowing, without doubt that you'll get those clients in the door at your 'great work' price.
So we do the hustle, for a while.
No, not the dance, although that might help your mood. When I say "do the hustle" I mean, we grab opportunities to start developing the kind of things that will build our confidence and help us to break the limiting beliefs we have that we can't charge for 'great work.' In order to do this effectively we have to of course be clear in our mind, that this is only temporary.
When I started my business I was a complete novice, I was entirely self-taught and had nothing to compare anything to. All my theories of doing business online with clients from a remote location were just that, theories, and I couldn't say confidently that I was able to provide services to the kind of excellent standard I strived for when I worked offline. So I basically put myself to the test and did work for free, or very low cost. By doing this, in no time I had testimonials, experience, I had proven my theories, and I had first-hand knowledge of what it cost me personally to do great work.
At that point I raised my rates, and this is why....
'Great Work' ingredients
When you charge a 'great work' rate you tend to spend more time devoted to the project or task because you've got that time worked into the budget. There's a reason why Mcdonalds haven't earned a Michelin Star for the Big Mac... And why it's a hell of a lot quicker to make one...
When you don't charge for great work, you feel under pressure to finish the job as quickly as possible, and when things are rushed, you lose out and so does the client. My work tends to require a great deal of creativity, ideas, innovation and Ah Ha moments, which often come due to my experience, and you generally can't turn a brand new innovative unique idea on like a tap.
This goes hand-in-hand with time a little, you see I don't do 'Shoddy' work, and if I'm not being paid my 'great work' rate, then I run the risk of producing something shoddy, and ouch... that wouldn't make me feel good, and it obviously wouldn't make the client feel good either.
If a clients asks you for a cheaper rate are you going to say, "Sure thing, you can take my shoddy package, it's half the quality so half the price" - well, some might... Generally, we always try to do our best, and the best, comes at a premium....
That's why Michelin Star restaurants don't serve Big Macs.
Every client I work with literally takes a piece of me, and there's only so much of me to go around. I'm passionate about what I do, the standards I strive for, and the outcome I produce, and that kind of devotion to my work takes energy. This is why I introduced my Premier Support programme, so certain clients who have the inclination can work on a whole new level with me, through my ability to place my positive energy into their business, and devote a piece of myself to them.
Have you noticed in Mcdonalds you have to carry your own Big Mac, dispose of your own rubbish and you don't have someone attentively waiting on you throughout your meal?
This is the one that goes the most unnoticed by clients, especially any with an old-school boss/employee mindset. You see the thing is, it will come as no surprise that most service providers are naturally warmer to clients who are great to work with, who appreciate us, respect our boundaries and are polite, and if you team that up with individuals who pay our 'great work' rates, what you've got there is complete and utter loyalty, reliability and trust... The relationship is so good, that the client receives pretty much everything their heart desires, because the service provider is so bloody happy and grateful to be working with them, it's a match made in heaven. That's the entire foundation of long term business relationships that last the distance, because everyone's happy.
Clients who are any less than that, well, you probably aren't ever going to care about them in the same way, especially since you'll be comparing them to the ones who you really do care about, and therefore in some way, shape or form, you both suffer.
If I had a choice between a Mcdonalds Big Mac meal or Michel Roux's Stone Bass and Pastilla, Scented with Arabian Spices Fennel, Red Rice and Meat Jus, I'd know what I'd go for... The one that showed it was cooked by the person who truly cared about it.
And I wouldn't expect that Michel Roux could produce that meal (or would even want to try) for the same price as a Big Mac meal, not even a super-size one ;-)
There are of course various other factors, but these to me are the most important ones, by charging a great price, the clients receives more of your time, attention and energy, which makes for a higher quality service, and very desirable end result. Compromise on that, and you could potentially compromise your business and the client's business too.
I hope you see the humour as well in this post, I'm not saying you should choose whether you're a Mcdonalds or a Michelin Star, or even that one or the other is better, I'd eat at a Mcdonalds, and I'd eat at a Michelin Star restaurant, there's a clear place for both of them in this world, just like there's a place for all online service providers charging all kinds of prices, but what I'm saying is that if you look at this from a different perspective, while some clients may ask for a price which is cheaper than YOUR great price, you might want to explain why that's really not best for either of you.