“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” – Anna Taylor
If you’re anything like me, you were raised to believe that generosity is about giving. You were taught the importance of sharing at a very young age. And you learned your lesson well.
You’re a generous spirit. You know how to give. You’re doing ‘good’ work. And the chances are you first trained as a therapist because you wanted to bring hope and relief to others. You wanted to be ‘of service’ in this world.
So if generosity = unconditional giving for you, it’s only natural that you find it hard to charge people for the value, information, time and energy you give. Maybe you keep your prices low on purpose. Perhaps you find yourself going down the slippery slope of offering free sessions to attract more clients. Maybe you offer on-the-spot discounts because the whole pricing conversation feels awkward, uncomfortable, embarrassing to you. It’s not at all unusual for therapists to reduce their rates to remain competitive.
When you’re doing work that helps or provides relief, it’s entirely normal to want to make your service both affordable and accessible. You’re not alone in wanting to bring your help to more people. And you’re certainly not alone in feeling a little bit guilty (perhaps subconsciously) for being paid to do something you enjoy and that helps other people out.
Let’s reframe generosity:
Here’s the thing. I actually believe it’s ungenerous to cave in on your advertised price when pushed. Here’s why:
- You can’t sustain a business this way
It’s heartbreaking to witness so many therapists frustrated by lagging profits. It pains me to see businesses fold because they don’t make enough money to keep going. When this happens, not only does the business owner have to set their passion and talent aside, but potential clients of that wonderful business also lose out. Clients wanting exactly the support that person offers in exactly the way they provide it won’t get the help they need.
Let’s imagine I didn’t charge for the support I give clients. Workshops, one-to-one care, online tutorials … all free. Sounds great? Now consider the conditions under which I’d be able to do that. I have my personal expenses and I have business expenses. So, how would I pay for those if I weren’t making money through Roots and Wings? I’d probably have to return to the corporate world. When I returned home, I wouldn’t have the bandwidth to create free blogs, write talks, prep the content for my workshops, and give ongoing inspiration, encouragement and support. It would be ungenerous of me to give so little of myself to the work I’m motivated to do. The most generous thing I can do is to keep trying to find ways to become profitable through following my passion. The same is true for you.
- For the sake of your client
I’ve met a lot of therapists – as a mentor and also as a client. As a client, few have been visibly comfortable quoting their rates or answering the question “So, what do I owe you?” If this sounds like you, this is entirely normal but here’s something I’d like you to remember. By approaching you for help, I’m saying I have a need. I’m admitting a degree of vulnerability and I need you to be rock solid. And here’s the irony: when you waver on your price (“£50?”) or worse (“£50. Does that sound OK?”) you’re removing a really crucial level of safety. Imagine there was a price tag on a pair of shoes in a department store and it didn’t say “£35”, it said “£35? Is that OK?” How would you feel as the potential buyer? My hunch is that trust would be broken. For the sake of your client, please stand firm. In order to move forward, clients need to feel safe with you in more ways than one.
- You can’t then pay it forward
I enjoy paying for things that matter to me. But if I don’t make money through my business then I can’t pass the money to the next person. I can’t pay other businesses a healthy amount for the products and services they provide. But by striving to make a profit, I can contribute towards a virtuous circle. I can invest in reflexology, pay for reiki, treat myself to a massage or facial, join a yoga class, or experience the benefits of EFT. If you earn a healthy living, you too can then pay it forward. Whether that’s supporting your FHT peers to stay in business or keeping your local coffee shop afloat, you’re doing your bit to keep everyone thriving.
- It’s disrespectful to your peers
It only takes a handful of therapists to offer on-the-spot discounts or undercut peers to make it increasingly hard for others to charge a fair amount. Make a commitment to the long-term sustainability of your industry. You’ve spent thousands on training (plus time and energy) and you deserve to earn money as professionals.
Over to you
I want to live in a world where therapists are able to sustain themselves (energetically and financially) doing the work they love. I have a hunch you feel the same way. So let’s rewire the way you think about on-the-spot discounts once and for all. Decide right now that the next time someone asks you for money off, you’ll hold firm on your price. By sticking to healthy rates you’re ticking four important boxes. You’re being generous to your peers and industry. You’re making a commitment to the longevity of your business. You’re putting yourself in the best position to pay the money forward. You’re also building trust with clients.
About Lisa Barber
Lisa Barber helps complementary, sports and holistic beauty therapists to get more perfect-fit clients and to set up their businesses for the long term. Her video course, ‘How to Market Your Holistic Practice’ is currently available for FHT members. For affordable, DIY marketing techniques and smart, sleaze-free strategies that work, click here to get her online video series.