Should you “Charge what you’re worth?”

Service providers, have you heard that you should “Charge what you’re worth?”

Or that you should “claim your value” or “stand up for your worth” in pricing your services?

What does that really mean?

To read the 2019 updated version of this article, click here.

When you start connecting your price to your “worth”, you are in trouble… it’s called prostitution… “Charge what you’re worth” is an insidious lie started by some high-priced coaches who need to justify how much they’re charging you.

I have seen so many people try to apply this idea, and once they raise their prices (because they’re “worth” so much more!) they saw their business decline.

How much are you worth? $25/hour? $150/hour? $500/hour? $10,000/hour?

Does this mean does people who charge more are worth more? It sets up a very unhealthy comparison.

Truth: You are worth an infinite amount. Your worth is unquantifiable because you are a child of God / a precious human being (the odds of you being born are somewhere around 1 in 400 trillion!)

Stop trying to pin the idea of your “worth” to how much money your business charges. Let’s replace “charge what you’re worth” with a truer, more practical teaching:

You’ve got to price based on what clients are expecting and seeing in the market. Look at your niche mates and what they’re charging, and then compare your needs, and branding, and price your services accordingly. You may need to change your pricing based on what the market’s response is.

Yes, there’s such a thing as perceived value. If you have a more premium branding and copywriting, people tend to be willing to pay more.

However, before we all rush to rebrand as a premium service, we need to ask ourselves: is my branding authentic to how I wish to show up in the world? For me, I prefer to be minimalistic and “among the people”… a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage.” Luxury branding is not for me. However, it may be for you, depending on your personality and authentic style.

Let’s look at another common idea:

What does this mean? You are supposed to charge the maximum amount that your clients will tolerate.

Let’s flip it around (and apply The Golden Rule) — You are my market. You are my potential clients, so this is actually true. How does it make you feel, if you knew that I was charging you the greatest amount you could bear or tolerate?

And yet, this is how most high-price coaches and training programs are doing to us. They are charging as much as possible to maximize *their* revenue, with their profit as the primary motivation.

(Their justification to you: “if you pay more, you’ll take it more seriously.” While this may be true to some extent, it is still a justification for their primary intent, which is for their self-enrichment rather than your well-being.)

I used to do all this, and I used to teach it. And I’ve worked with dozens of JV (joint venture) partners who all operated from this selfish mindset as well. We shouldn’t be surprised: this is how business is supposed to work, right? Everyone is out for themselves. The sellers charge more and sell more, and Buyers need to beware.

Can we all please remember that we are all in this together? Can we reconnect to our greater purpose, and our higher values? Can we act in our business to bring forth a vision of a more compassionate world?

A few years ago, I underwent a personal transformation, and it resulted in a deep shift of intent and motivation. It dramatically changed my business towards authenticity, service, and fulfillment.

Now, I no longer want to charge “what I’m worth” or “what the market will bear.” Instead:

Do I have what I need? Can I lessen my needs? The reality is that I live in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, and for personal reasons I need to stay here for the moment. If I lived in Mexico or Thailand (which I might actually do one day) I would charge less and be happy.

Still, I already charge less than my peers, and I’m happy to be able to.

In this video I share how I came to my rate, and how you can calculate your “Enoughness” rate too.

Am I saying that you should always charge less than your peers? Not necessarily. It depends on your Enoughness needs. You may need more than your peers.

And, the unique service you are offering may be comparable in the eyes of your audience to other higher priced services. Can you authentically, with integrity, position your service to be similar to higher-priced peers? If so, then you should, because it’s true.

Another common lie:

So, if you’re a marriage coach who helps people avoid divorce, how much value is that worth? Or a divorce coach that helps a person recover their well-being and ability to work again. How much value is that? Could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s ridiculous to price your services in that way, and your potential clients will think so too.

Look at the market rate, my friends. Market rate is the audience’s vote for what something is valued for. Don’t use your own arbitrary “this is valued at…” number.

The other value I follow in my pricing is Compassion. We’ve all had the following 2 experiences:

Experience 1. We love a service, and we feel the pricing is so affordable. “This is SUCH a good deal. I would be proud to tell others about this service!” We feel relieved by their pricing, grateful, and we become advocates of that business. This is compassion working both ways. The seller is charging compassionately, and the buyer feels compassion for the business’ well-being.

Experience 2. We would like to buy a service, but we see the price and we get sticker shock. We think “wow, they charge a lot…” As we think about making the payments, we are stressed, rather than relieved and grateful..

If the buyer has done any shopping around, they have a sense of what the market rate is. (Buyers — we should always be shopping around to get the market rate before we buy into someone’s persuasive marketing!)

By the way, our 1–1 service does *not* need to be the lowest-price thing we offer. We can offer books, workshops, group programs for lower prices, which may then give the audience that feeling of relief and gratitude, while allowing them to taste what it’s like to work with you.

The bottom line — separate your service rate from your “worth” or skills or experience. Charge from Enoughness and Compassion. Build a clientele and audience that feels relief and gratitude for your business, and become advocates for you.

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity"