This week we have been discussing Mrs. Teague, a woman who had a storehouse of content that she wanted to offer for free. She had definite attitudes about fee versus free. You can read part 1 here and the follow-up here.
In my discussion with Mrs. Teague I shared that I had no problem with anyone making a profit. My disclosure prompted her to protest “But I’m a giver! Her sentiment seemed to imply that giving and profit are mutually exclusive. This is one of the common beliefs I encounter that hint at our complex attitudes about money and in particular wealth.
I talk to so many small business owners who struggle with charging for their services. They do things for free, go beyond an established scope of work and very often charge too little for their services. They seem almost ashamed to make money, and are uncomfortable asking for it.
Money is not evil. It is inanimate and only has the power we assign to it. Having money does not make a person bad or less virtuous than those who have less. In this country we have these complex ideas about money. I have not heard anyone scream that they want less money but we have definitive ideas about how much is “too much” and how money should be spent when you live in abundance.
As a business owner you have to delve into your attitudes and relationship with money so that you can be a responsible steward of your life’s work. Getting to the root of any dysfunction can uncover attitudes that may be limiting you in multiple areas of your life.
Making a profit from your time and expertise does not make you a selfish, money grubbing charlatan. Profit is part of being a responsible business. Ensuring that you have a good and healthy cash flow says that you respect the precious gift which has been entrusted to you. Profit also allows you to be a giver. When you make money you can invest in other businesses goods and services, create jobs indirectly or directly and support the nonprofits and charities of your choice.
Unless you have taken a personal vow of poverty, your goal as a business owner should be to develop and sustain a profitable business.
Just as I am not against profit, I am not against free. With both, comes a responsibility to do what is right by your customers and your business. If “free” is going to bankrupt your business, then it’s not a smart decision. You should also reconsider free if you cannot afford to offer true value without a price tag. Even free comes with a cost and a decision as to how those costs are allocated – shared with the recipients or solely the burden of the giver.
Deciding on how much you want to profit is up to you. The first step is to understand your costs. Some businesses give so much that they struggle to cover the basics. MBO Partners has a great free online tool that will help you to determine your billable rate based on your costs and desired profit.
You can also begin to examine your attitude about money. Does money make you feel guilty, and if so why? Taking time to discover how you really feel about money provides an opportunity for you to become a much stronger financial manager, business owner and person.
Do you or someone you know struggle with making money or charge for services? How has it impacted your business and/or your relationships? Do you have any advice for others struggling with this issue?
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