Guest post by licensed Right-Brain Business Plan® Facilitator Laura Burns
What if you didn’t charge your clients for your services, but instead let them choose how much to pay? A little scary, huh? Meet Adrian Hoppel, a Philadelphia web designer who quit his soul-crushing job to create an intuitively positive business where he lets his clients ‘gift’ him with payment they feel is appropriate. You can read the full article over on the Huffington Post.
If you’re not ready to ditch the invoices and move to a barter economy just yet, there are still plenty of ways to adopt a similar philosophy. Adrian’s motivation was that he hated feeling “awful, hollowed out and bitter” every day at his corporate job. Many of us are familiar with feeling this way, and sometimes even those of us with our own business can begin to feel that negativity and inauthenticity again. For those looking to create more of that positive environment in their current work life, here are a two ideas to think about.
Just say no
Like Adrian, don’t be afraid to turn down jobs from people and organizations you don’t respect. I left my previous career to create a business that felt honorable and positive, and one of my biggest rules is that I only work with the clients I respect and enjoy. It was scary at first, but once I stopped letting the fear of not having enough clients guide my actions I found that my perfect clients came out of the woodwork and found me.
When business is slow it can be tempting to take any job you can get, but in some cases that can be damaging. If you immediately get bad vibes from a person or a business, it’s best to politely decline the job and save yourself the negativity and potential unhappiness of working with people you don’t like. It’s likely that you created your own business because you wanted a more authentic and happy work life, so picking clients and customers who creep you out, are patronizing, or otherwise really don’t fit your idea of a perfect customer – is crazy.
Now for a one-time or short-term project, working with a client outside your comfort area or perfect customer profile may not harm you. However, making a practice of taking business that doesn’t feel right can get in the way of living your life the way you want. Also, when you accept too many jobs from people outside your target market you run the risk of establishing your reputation and referral base among the wrong group of people!
Increase your available payment options
We all take payment for our businesses in different ways, and you know what works best for your biz. Some of us work off of contracts and invoices, while others whip out their smart phones and take credit card payments on site. No matter how you choose to receive payment, there are options beyond the traditional. I’ve found in my own personal business that having a variety of payment options has helped me feel emotional fulfilled and allowed me to remain true to my core self’s desire for generosity and flexibility. Three of my favorite alternative payment options are listed below. I have adopted all three of these in my business, and it has really worked out for me. I’ve found that implementing these three options has given me the ability to work with ‘my people’ and still be able to pay my bills. While you may not feel these are right for you, try to be open to the ideas here and contemplate how it would feel to accept payment with these methods.
Sliding scale: Create a sliding scale of your services/products and prices. This allows you to still work with the people and organizations with whom you’ve established yourself, but opens up space for those who previously could not afford your work. By expanding your client/customer base you can gain perspective and create accessibility for other deserving clients.
Installments: One of my favorite changes I made in the first year of my business was to allow people to pay in multiple installments. This is an accessible way for people to pay in a way that works for both sides. You still get the fee that you need in order to run your business and turn a profit, but your customer gets to avoid the stress of paying a large amount of money that might be difficult for them to pay all at once. Not every client will need this option, but I love having it available so that my services are accessible for everyone. This change in how I agree to accept payment has revolutionized my business. I’m now able to work with those creative minds who would have previously been intimidated away by the price tag.
Name your own price days: This payment option has been picking up steam the last few years – I’m seeing more and more independent businesses adopt versions all the time. The basic premise is that you pick a day and let people choose what they want to pay for your work. You choose your specific product or service and open it up for people to pay based on what they can afford/how they value your work. There are numerous articles online with anecdotal and scientific evidence that when people are allowed to name their own price, they’ll pay more when they perceive the quality of work is high. Of course some will lowball, but the majority will exceed what you would have charged in the first place! These ‘name your own price days’ are also great marketing tools and can help you get attention for a product or service you’re wanting to promote.
You don’t have to do a full Adrian maneuver and move to a barter economy to make your business feel more authentic. There are always changes you can make that will allow more of your core values to shine through and attract your perfect customer. Don’t be afraid to try out new methods, even on a trial period, to see if your notice a difference in your business. You never know what will work for you unless you try it – and the changes possible can lead to a more authentic and positive work life!
I help heart-forward businesses create thoughtfully crafted plans for growth and sustainability. I love to inspire people to think critically, dream big, and clear out the cobwebs to let in the light and the joy! Wanna leave your soul-crushing job to start your own business? Check out my new book, Work Life Revolution! Laura Burns is one of our licensed Right-Brain Business Plan® Facilitators.