I wanted to know if you had ever felt what I call “pricing remorse” when you were starting out? Let me explain. A colleague recently contacted me to help with a project. After receiving all the information and discussing the details, I initially felt the project was too small and not really worth my time. Instead, I decided to help. I sent the colleague my pricing (using your pricing guide, I calculated what I felt was reasonable for my time & effort) and project requirements. Shortly after, the colleague graciously thanked me and declined. This left me feeling a bit shocked, but also kind of guilty. I started to doubt myself and the questions began to flow. Was I asking too much? Should I have asked for more information? Did I not do my job to convey my skills properly? During our conversation, did I come off as an apprentice? Was this the unideal or cheap client Danielle spoke about? So on and so on. I heard you talking in my head saying, “Don’t devalue yourself” but I’m still left with a bit of guilt. Any thoughts/suggestions, as always, are greatly appreciated. —Name withheld by request
Thanks for your question.
It’s been so long ago, I don’t remember if I had “pricing remorse” per se. But I of course had my own learning curve when I first started out, definitely.
When I was new, I was charging waaaaay too little. What I eventually realized is that instead of second-guessing what I was charging when I got rejections, I was talking to the wrong prospects in the first place. My fees weren’t the problem.
Once I started charging more, and got clear about who I was specifically looking to work with (i.e., my target market), I got better clients. This is practically an immutable law of business.
And I quit wasting time and energy on the wrong audience.
But let me tell ya, there were a whole lotta learning experiences in there before I figured all that out, lol.
So, first thing is I want you to know is these are perfectly normal growing pains in a new business. You’re figuring out where your footing is so there’s naturally going to be some feelings of being unsure of yourself.
Knowing that, I hope it will be easier for you to just embrace the unsureness, knowing that with each conversation and interaction you have with each potential client is going to help you get your business bearings and build your confidence. It’s all part of the journey.
I am a little unclear about what you’re really feeling. You mention “guilt,” but guilt over what? What do you have to feel guilty about? I’m not sure I’m understanding what you mean by guilt.
There’s nothing to feel guilty about in determing your fee and asking for it. There’s no wrongdoing in that.
Maybe what you mean is you feel rejection, that in reality you were hoping to get the project, and it hurt when they declined, and now you’re thinking should have asked for less. Is that more the case?
Either way, I do have some thoughts to help you explore all angles here.
First, before you let a rejection bring you down, we need to remember the situation were talking about. This was for a project, not a retained relationship of ongoing support.
And it was for a colleague, not an ideal client in your target market.
Always remember who you’re target market is. Colleagues are not your clients.
One of the reasons colleagues are not your clients is because we’ve got a whole lotta people in this industry who think they should be paying bake sale prices. These are not serious prospects. You can’t set your fees according to what non serious prospects want to pay.
So don’t fret over a situation that wasn’t even with someone in your target market for ongoing support in the first place.
My feeling is that our first instincts usually end up being the best. You gave her a price that you felt was right. All you’re doing now is second-guessing yourself. There’s no reason to do that over something that wasn’t even a real piece of business in the first place.
All of this does lead me to wonder, given that your initial reaction was that the project wasn’t of interest, why did you bother wasting your time then?
I mean, you are always free to do whatever you want in your business. Of course. At the same time, you always want to remember the standards you have set for yourself and your business. When we start stepping over our standards, trying to make a fit out of that which isn’t a fit, that’s when we create problems for ourselves.
Lastly, when it comes to pricing, and conducting consultations, and then having the pricing conversation with clients in a way that gets you more yeses, there are some tips I could give you, but they wouldn’t help you because you haven’t yet purchased my client consultation guide (GDE-03) or my pricing and packaging guide.
You wouldn’t have the right context and these are topics that are more involved than I can help you with here in this format.
You really need to invest in that learning if you want to grow from this situation and my guides are going to help you immensely with that. I’m really hoping you do that, for your benefit. Because when you get the knowledge and learning to navigate these conversations, you’re going to have a lot better results and more successes—in any kind of client scenario.