Hello fellow WISE Symposium attendee!
It was such a pleasure to talk to you about the art of earning. I just love being in a room full of on fire and in touch women. Women are really taking charge of the Great Transition and crafting an economy that works for them. Thank you for being a part of that change.
Below is a FREE chapter from my book, The Art of Earning. Just for you. ‘Cause you’re cool like that.
creating a business where earning is an art
My come-to-Jesus moment with money was when I truly discovered how easy it is to earn what you need when you work for yourself. What is easy to you, what comes naturally & beautifully to you, is ugly, difficult, and downright nasty to someone else. That is the source of value. I’ll say it again:
What is easy to you, what comes naturally & beautifully to you, is ugly, difficult, and downright nasty to someone else.
That’s the source of value but it’s not the end. Value flows forth from your alignment with your purpose and your relationship to those who identify with your purpose. Your purpose is the beginning & the end of the transaction.
What you do – the work that is paid for – may be meaty, but it won’t seal the deal.
The art of earning is offering your valuable bits for sale. The art of earning is finding your purpose scattered throughout the experiences of your life and business. There is no need to paint a different picture or construct a different model. Take your “easy” talents, your insane passion, your drive, and purpose and box it up for sale.
Nota bene, parts of this equation often missing: Ease, Talent, Passion, Drive, Purpose, Package, For sale sign…
It is all fine and good to talk about earning more, why you can do it, how I’ve done it, and why it’s okay. It’s quite another to tell you how to do it. I am quite clear on what I’ve done to create a business where earning more is an art. What follows is how I do it and what I would recommend to you. Others may have more to add. You may find that not all of these things apply to you & your business.
Take what you will. Reap the rewards.
Get clear on how your business fits into your life.
Are you looking for a side-business with no intention of quitting your day job? Are you looking for a business that happens during nap time and evenings in front of the television? Are you interested in a business that allows you to work from the road or the air? I’m writing in a plane right now.
Are you interested in a business that will allow you to retire at 45? Are you seeking a business that will sustain you into your early 100s? Are you looking for something that puts you in touch with interesting people? Maybe you want something that allows you to work in solitude?
I was a stay-at-home-mom with breadwinner ambitions. I was able to start my business during nap times but I was under no delusions that, as my abilities & vision grew, so would my schedule. Each time my business grew into a new stage, my income grew more. Not because I was doing more work – more work does not equal more money – but because I was better able to focus on the work that needed to be done within the scope of how my business fit into my life.
Your business can take whatever form you want it to take. That form will constrain it in some ways – that’s reality, folks – and will liberate it in others. Your business needs to fit your life and your life needs to fit your business. You are in this for the long haul and some parts just need to be comfortable.
If you are working against the shape of your current life, either life will change or your business will fail. For some, the former is a welcome realization. It was for me. For many, the latter is only a phone call away.
If your life wants a part-time business, build a part-time business. If your life wants a full-time business, build that instead. Or build a life & business that work together seamlessly. You can have an office or not. You can have a partner or not. You can serve your clients virtually or not. It’s a choice. But it’s a choice you have to make & love.
Until your life & business fit together like puzzle pieces, you will have difficulty earning more.
Get clear about the work that you do.
Most people I know are not actually clear about the work they do. Many people fight the work that is so clearly calling to them. It might be due to lack of experience, fear, or past rejection but fighting your true work is never a good earning strategy.
I have very little business experience. I have much more experience with Death of God theology, Bach Cello Suites, Star Trek, and Roman history. No really, it’s true. At least as of 2011.
I fought being a business coach. I fought the idea that I could help people truly succeed in their businesses. I wanted to be a writer, a publisher, an activist, a visionary, a designer. I pushed myself into each of those titles and, like George W Bush, declared “Mission Accomplished” in the form of business cards and about pages.
Those business cards & words are now in the trash.
Part of the faking it is that it derails you from your natural developmental cycle, so you stay in this little eddy of faking it. It works in service to paying the mortgage, it works in service to satisfying other people in our lives, but it keeps us in this little spiral, keeping us quite small in a “danger to oneself” way.
— Dyana Valentine, Woke Up Knowing
I am all of those titles but I wasn’t able to truly accept them until I accepted my role in shaping the businesses that came yearning & pleading for my attention. As a business coach, I am also a writer, publisher, activist, visionary, and designer. I am free to embrace those roles within the scope of my economic vision. I am free to exercise the full range of my talents doing the thing I am truly good at regardless of experience, fear, or past rejection.
How did I reach that conclusion? Easy. By fighting it. Each time I donned a different moniker – blogger, web designer, social media consultant – people asked the same questions. I shook my head and said, “But that’s not what you’re paying me for!”
News flash: if people are asking you the same questions, with the same earnest intensity, and you keep giving the same passionate, inspired answers, that’s what they should be paying you for.
It’s certainly what they will pay you more for.
It’s okay to fail miserably; in fact, it’s okay to fail repeatedly. It’s almost a necessity. To fail & fail quickly, you need to be bold. To ask for the sale. To hang out your shingle. Get started but be prepared to analyze.
Get very clear on what it is that you are actually doing for people regardless of what they are paying you for, regardless of what you call it.
Once you have that in mind and on paper, change your title. Change the name of your service or the packaging of your product. Make sure it reflects what you are actually doing because what you actually do is worth so much more than what you think you are doing right now.
What title would you give yourself if you ignored the butterflies in your stomach?
What service would you offer if you couldn’t fail?
What product have you been avoiding because it doesn’t fit in with your grand “plan”?
These are the things that carry premium price tags. These are the things that make you an authority, that get you noticed. These are the things that inspire a never ending stream of word-of-mouth referrals.
Get clear about what the value of your work is to others.
You can’t fake this. You can’t guess. You have to do the work and then ask. Get numbers, figures, dollar signs, changes of psychosomatic state. On your own, you will always get this wrong. At least I have.
Your best customers – or guinea pigs – will set you straight. They will tell you that your product made them feel beautiful even though they only had 2 hours of sleep. They will tell you that your service gained them 300 new subscribers, 50 of whom registered to receive info about a new service. They will tell you that your very presence made the muscles in the back of their head relax.
Understand this value. Allow yourself to bask in this value. And ask yourself what you would pay for similar results. Never ask yourself what you would pay for similar work. That’s ridiculous. You would pay zero – you can do the work yourself!
Ask others what they would pay for similar results. Ask those who have already paid what more they would pay.
Then add at least 20%.
Get out of the middle.
All too often business owners set themselves right in the middle. They know they don’t want to be at the bottom of the market, attracting bargain shoppers and competing on price alone. But the other end of the market is scary: high end prices mean you can only sell to “rich” people, right?
If you’re suffering from “the middle problem,” you’re likely overworked and underpaid. You value the quality of your work too much to make decisions that prioritize profit over quality or craftsmanship, but you lack the confidence to ask more for what you produce. Most of the people who are attracted to your business and its offerings aren’t ready to jump at the price you are asking. Those who are ready to spend the money end up questioning the quality of your work.
Being in the middle may keep your business afloat but it doesn’t make you feel happy, free, or effortless.
Sustainable businesses don’t stay in the middle. They either make the decision to prioritize profit over quality and therefore lower prices to compete in a discount savvy culture or they choose to attract those customers & clients who make the product a priority.
While sliding down to the low end may be a viable option for some, I’m going to assume it’s not the direction you want to go. Climbing up to the high end is frightening at first. You fear alienating previous customers, losing your customers completely, and not living up to your new higher prices. In general, I find these fears to be unjustified.
• You are likely more valuable to your customers & clients than you realize.
• Your higher prices will attract more qualified buyers who appreciate your work more.
• Your increased income per sale will allow you to do more soulful work that feels beautiful & liberating.
It is also an unjustified fear that, by raising your prices, you will only be serving the rich. People’s buying habits are determined less by how much money they have and determined more by how much they prioritize your product or service. Those who truly need or desire what you’re selling will find the money to pay for it.
Think I’m wrong? What luxuries are you paying for that others are not? Organic produce? Extra comfortable shoes? Premium gas? HBO? High speed internet? No matter how much money you make, we don’t cut every single corner. We “splurge” on what’s important to us.
To get out of your own middle problem, you need to find the people who truly believe your work is important.
Ask yourself this: do you think your work is important?
For your consideration:
What are your top priorities for connecting your business and life? (30 work hours per week, $100k per year, family involvement, etc…)
What do your customers thank you for?
What is the main outcome or result of working with you or buying your product?
How are you touching your customers’ lives? How are they changed because of your work?
Are you attracting customers who really value your work with your prices?
Ready for more?
First, I invite you to download my FREE pdf called, The Syllabus. It’s an outline of what I talk about here on the blog, at conferences, or over a glass of wine with fellow business owners. It also contains a bunch of resources for you to explore and coordinating questions that will enable you to see your business from a fresh perspective. Download it here.
Next, I invite you to check out my digital guide, The Art of Earning. It’s a name-your-own-price PDF that dives further into my own money & earning philosophy. It also contains many brainstorming questions to help you rewrite your own money story. Find out more here.
And finally, if you’re ready to lead with both your message & your business, you should check out MAKE YOUR MARK. This is a new group coaching program that will unpack the psychology & philosophy of premium pricing while enabling you to create the signature product that will spread your message near & far. Find out more now!