The number one priority of every business owner is to stay in business. When you’re just starting out, the pressure to avoid returning to the cubicle farm can be so overwhelming that you put your passion and ideals on the backburner in favor of survival.
In most cases, that means taking on projects you’re not very interested in so you can pay your rent for the next several months. Or it could mean working on retainer with a client you aren’t the least bit excited about, because it’s an easier win than trying to land the kind of client you really want (or maybe you’re not even sure who that would be yet).
It feels like you’re selling-out, because this isn’t the inspired, creative and soul-stirring work-life experience you envisioned you would have as an entrepreneur. But you allow yourself to settle (for now), hoping it will buy you some time to figure out how to make your dream work.
However (and rather unfortunately), most folks never get to that point. More than a few years go by and you discover that things, though not ideal, aren’t so bad. You have a consistent flow of income. You’re no longer hustling for clients. There’s plenty of work to keep you busy and constructive. And, bonus, you’re still your own boss. You’re proud of yourself, of course, but you’re not really satisfied because this not-so-bad reality doesn’t feel like the kind of success you imagined. Instead, it feels like another damn job, meaning:
You’re not so naive that you think your business needs to be “perfect”, but you know where you are now is not where you want to be. So how did you get here? And, more importantly, what’s it going to take for you to get on the right track?
Does it ever feel like your prospective clients are all talk and no action? You’ve revamped your messaging, content and copy to resonate with the right folks. You’ve validated that what you have to offer is both needed and super valuable. But you’re still struggling to get potential clients to commit to your higher-investment service.
Because you know your work is worth the amount you want to charge for it, you'll be damned if you adjust down the price by even one cent. Still, after hearing “I can't afford this” time after time after time, you're starting to wonder what in the actual hell could still be missing.
When folks get excited about working with you, but then balk at the price, it means what you're offering isn't aligned with their current priorities. That makes it hard for them to justify the investment.
In other words, they may value what you do and be dying to work with you. But they won't commit, because you haven’t addressed what they need the most right now. To be fair, this isn't always an easy thing to figure out. People know what they want, but they don’t always realize what they need (so good luck getting them to articulate it to you).
Picture this scenario: You've been working for a while with a client who "loves" having you on her team. Then one day she tells you about some consultant/guru/shiny business person she's just met who's offering a service that's strangely similar to what you do—but at 10-times the cost.
Your client is super excited about the idea and wants to know what you think about her signing up to work with this new person. But despite your (very rational) arguments against making this investment, she goes ahead—shelling out thousands more than what she pays you—and assures you of how "awesome" it's going to be for the company (WTF?!).
Hopefully this has never happened to you before (if it has, don’t worry, you’re not alone!). But I bet you’ve had experiences with clients that made you wonder why they even bother paying you if they don’t really value your expertise.
Here’s what you need to understand:
You’ve put a lot of energy into honing your expertise and refining your niche. You’re done with clients who don’t get the value of what you do. And you’re over having to justify why your work is worth more than it used to be.
Perhaps you’ve even managed to upgrade some of your existing clients so your work can reflect the way you serve best (yasss!).
But now you want to bring new people into the pipeline—and that’s where you keep hitting dead ends.
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