Blog #1 about Rule #1
What’s coming between you and getting paid what you deserve
There. I said it. The elephant in the room, the turd in the punch bowl.
Getting paid. Making money.
It considered a vulgar topic to everyone but the person who eats what they kill. The self-anointed Pharisaic Powers That Be who will shame the business owner into the “its vulgar!” conversation fall into two categories. They are either those who don’t want to pay you what you are worth and what you deserve - usually clients who want to get your valuable services for what fits in their pedestrian budget. Or those who have already ensconced themselves in some vaunted position such that they can condescend to you about what you are worth. These lofty habitués are usually securely and amply paid, such as academia, the media and the government lifers.
If you let these guys determine your worth and what you deserve, you can just continue to wonder why you can’t off pay your student loan for your college degree in Philosophy.
No surprise that my first Connelly Consulting + Coaching blog post is about the bane and the lifeblood of anyone in a business. Whether your selling legal services or coffee, pizza, or chachka, you live or die by your ability to command the money that you deserve.
So what’s in the way of you getting paid what you are worth? What are your conversations- conscious or just below the surface- that come between you and your destiny? Where are buying into the nonsensical consensus that it’s vulgar and unseemly, to your own detriment?
In over 30 years of law practice, most of which was in private solo practice, I heard too many very, very good lawyers talk themselves out of getting what they deserved. And this blog is no way, no how, no shape or form about how to get away with cheating someone, taking advantage, price gouging, etc. It’s wrong and The Business Karma will righteously smite your larcenous ass if you do.
The Big Six Reasons how you talk yourself out of getting paid what you deserve:
“I will lose the business” Be like Humphrey Bogart on The African Queen! Let them walk. Let them walk to the next guy who will grab his ankles and let himself get driven like a stolen car. Your business and peace of mind will be better off without them. The 80/20 rule is stare decisis here. Twenty percent of the clients cause 80% of your spirit-sucking aggravation. Cull that parasitic group from your body, like Bogie frantically claws the leaches off of his six-pack torso in The African Queen. Reclaim your life for your family, your community, yourself. Use the free time to do some maybe fun charity work, play with your mostly fun kids or get a definitely fun massage.
“Other guys are doing it cheaper” Does Lexus compete on price with Kia? Ask yourself “Who is that other guy?” It’s usually someone who cannot even hold a candle to the person who is talking themselves out of what they deserve. I coached a lawyer some years ago who pined away about these nebulous yet omnipresent “other guys”. The lawyer I was talking to was a courtroom warrior and courthouse legend. Years of experience. Well respected by both sides of the courtroom and the bench. He could finesse a deal most could not dream of just by charming his way into the negotiations. The “other guys” as it turns out were a composite bogeymen of lawyers who were younger, inexperienced, graduated from the fourth-rate Skidmark School of Law and What-not, who showed up unprepared and late for court with their cheap suit and a vinyl folio riding in on a skateboard. This lawyer’s clients would easily pay quadruple what the “competitors” were cajoling, but he was too fearful to ask. Know your “competition” that you are pricing yourself against; they may not even be competitors because they are not in your league.
The flip side of “keeping up with the Jones” is trying to “keep down with the Jones”. What are you going to do when the next mouth-breathing bottom-feeder lowers the price even more? What is going to happen to your practice after you’ve lowered your fee to match The Competitor on The Skateboard but then The Competitor on The E-bike buzzes up with a price even a few dollars lower? Will you lower it again? When does it stop? No one wins the race to the bottom.
“They don’t have the money” Bullshit. Ever see people of apparently ordinary means spending money on luxury non-essential items whether it’s a brand of shoe or cell phone or an overpriced cup of coffee? Why do they do that? Because that merchant, unlike the woebegone entrepreneur wanna-be, has enrolled the customer in value. They have the money if they think that you’re worth the money. If they believe that they need your service, if they believe your service has value to them, more importantly, if YOU believe that they need your valuable service, they will find the money.
I consulted with a very good lawyer recently who was reluctant to bill the client for some urgent and complicated litigation work that would make or break the case. She assumed that they didn’t have it, but she had never even asked. Know that if it is important to someone, they will, repeat, they will, find the money somehow somewhere to pay for it. It is up to you to enroll them in why it is important to them. QUESTION - if you told that customer that you were not going to provide that service unless they paid the fee that you are worthy of, would they walk away or would they find what you are asking for?
“I feel bad for them” Don’t mix your charity with your business. Be generous with those who are deserving, but do it with the money that you have gotten paid by those who are getting the ample benefit of your valuable services. Want to do a case for pro bono? Great idea, set up your intention ahead of time to do a pro bono case; but don’t fool yourself with disempowering thoughts to justify your reluctance to set - and collect! - 100% of your just and well-earned fee.
“I want them to like me. They might get mad, ” Who is “they”? The people who don’t want to pay you? The same manipulative people who will leverage your self-sabotaging need to be liked against you? You’re in business to make money, not make friends. If you want people who disempower you to like you; then get into politics, the hours are less and the pay is better.
And the Number One excuse that we tell ourselves is ........
“I don’t deserve it”. This is the Patient Zero of the historic plague of a thousand reasons why we don’t command the price that we deserve. This is the granddaddy of all excuses. Every excuse above suckles at the teat of WE don’t believe that WE deserve it.
Take stock of yourself. Look at your accomplishments. The years of education and experience that you have. The trust that you engender. The passion that you bring to the space. The confidence that only you can inspire in this client because of all that you are. You are unique and you do what no one else can do. You deserve it, go out and earn it.
Don’t be made to be ashamed of it. Be proud of it. Be proud of being a job creator, a contributor, a doer, a net positive to the world’s bottom line.