The Un-Icky Way to Set Fees and Get Paid What You’re Worth — According to Newton’s Third Law

Marcia Hoeck growing the business 0 Comments

I know. You don’t like to talk about your money. And you don’t like to look at it, either. It’s so much easier to try to figure out ways to make more money than it is to peek at your business finances, to get the picture of whether or not you’re actually profitable. It’s icky, and it makes you feel bad. You might not like what you see. Besides, who has the time to dig into stuff like that?

So you don’t look. You don’t tally things up. You don’t analyze your pricing. You turn your head away and look for the next project you can bid on, the next referral you can follow up on, the next cool mailing you can do, the next networking event you can attend. Maybe one of those will pan out and you can get some new business, and keep the money coming in.

And then you won’t have to look at the money you’ve already made, and whether or not you’re actually profitable.

Following up on leads and marketing your business and all of those things are important and good and yes, you should do them. But not at the expense of looking at your money. You need to look at your money – if for no other reason than to assure yourself that you and your company are sturdy enough to be around tomorrow.

I know because I didn’t like to look at or talk about the money in my business, and I ignored my money, too — because it made me feel icky to think that I wasn’t doing it right. I didn’t like the money conversation with clients and I wasn’t at all sure that what I was doing was worth what I needed to charge for it.

Until I found a different way of looking at the money in my business.

What you put your positive attention on grows

“You become what you think about most of the time.” —Earl Nightengale

You probably know by now that your life follows your attention. If you put your positive attention on your dog, your dog’s behavior changes and grows better. If you put positive attention on your kids, your relationship with them grows. If you put positive attention on your spouse, that relationship grows. Even plants respond to positive attention, growing stronger and healthier under your care and the time you spend with them.

Money is no different. Start looking at it, start paying positive attention to what money is doing in your business, and it will start to move and grow. Grouse about it, get mad at it and neglect it, and your money will wither up and die.

You can balance the energy of money with physics

Now that you’re paying attention to your money, let’s think about what money really is. Money is a tool. It isn’t good and it isn’t bad, it’s neutral. It’s a way to exchange value, a way to trade. And it’s a form of energy. (Hang with me here, this is going to get you where you need to go. I promise.)

If you think of everything in your life as energy – and science has proven this to be true – then money is no more valuable than anything else. It’s just a symbol of something else, really – it represents the value you place on it.

It isn’t icky to look at or to talk about or to earn.

Newton’s Third Law can help you take the emotion out of money

There’s a law of physics, Newton’s Third Law, that states:

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

That’s what keeps energy in balance. 

According to Newton, whenever objects A and B interact with each other, they exert forces upon each other. When you sit in your chair, your body exerts a downward force on the chair and the chair exerts an upward force on your body. There are two forces resulting from this interaction — a force on the chair and a force on your body. These two forces are called action and reaction forces and are the subject of Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

You and your client are exerting forces

When you do a project or service for a client, you are exerting your energy for that client. This action could be the first of the two forces. In turn, there has to be an equal and opposite reaction to the energy you are exerting — which in this case would be a reaction from your client in the form of payment and appreciation.

These opposite forces have to be equal. It’s a law of physics.

When they’re not equal – when you’ve underbid, or the scope of the project creeps and you don’t notify the client with a change order, and you feel you’re not getting paid for the value of your service – you feel icky and uncomfortable. You don’t want to talk to that client and you don’t like the project anymore. It’s because you’re out of balance with the energy of the universe. You’re giving more than you’re getting. The forces are out of whack and you feel like you’re going to fall over or get squashed.

To feel not icky, balance the forces

You can balance the forces in one of three ways:

1.) If you catch this at the beginning of the project, you can raise your quoted price until the icky feeling goes away, and not underbid in the first place. When the right price balance is there you will know it – it’s that sensation of “Yeah, this feels right!”, when you can’t wait to do the work for the client because you know you’ll be paid well for the value you’re providing.

Your work = the pay you receive.

2.) If the client balks at your pricing, you can cut back on some of your service. If you’ve bid your project menu-style, you can go back to the client and negotiate which elements you can remove to fit her budget. Perhaps she can do the research or supply the copy. Notice the point here is to remove part of the energy you’re exerting in the form of the amount of work you will provide, not to reduce your price for the same amount of work just to satisfy the client. That’s the only way to achieve balance and take the icky out of it.

Your work – certain elements = the pay you receive.

3.) You may decide that client appreciation PLUS the payment you receive join together to balance the value of the work you provide. This could be the case with a favorite non-profit client that cannot afford your services, and you have decided in advance to give a special discounted price because their mission is close to your heart. Being able to make a difference to them and to be genuinely appreciated, as well as the freedom of creativity that often comes with a discounted price, becomes part of the balanced force coming back to you from the client, along with the project fee. If you’re good with that, the icky can go away. Just make sure you don’t do this with all of your clients!

Your work = the pay you receive + appreciation.

Your client takes his cue from you

It’s up to you to balance the energy of the money in your projects so you get paid what your work is worth – your client can’t know this if you don’t tell him. Often, clients are unaware of what is involved in the work you do and are happy to pay for what they understand. And sometimes, by sticking by your guns with pricing, you may find your client doesn’t really need (or want) all the levels of detail you envisioned – so you can remove a few levels and not get left holding the bag when it comes time to present the invoice.

If this type of common sense negotiating doesn’t work with your clients so you can remove the icky from your pricing and get paid what you’re worth, I can only say one thing – perhaps you haven’t yet found your ideal clients.

And that’s something you can work on.

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