I coach business owners for a living and money and pricing will always emerge in our coaching sessions in some form or another. I’m always amazed when my client says, “It’s not about the money.” Could you imagine a person who is trying to lose weight say, “It’s not about my weight.”; or an actor saying, “It’s not about the applause.”? In yet, somehow business owners somehow think, “it’s not about the money”.
The “Money Talk”
When I hear my clients say, “It’s not about the money.”, I know I need to have the “money talk”. I believe there is this notion that thinking about connecting business success to money is somehow evil. After all, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The problem with the way that people interpret this verse, or their own thinking, is that somehow money is evil. However, the same Jesus tells the parable about the talents where he calls the man who failed to invest his money as a “wicked, lazy servant”.
I want to illustrate different views of money and how they can help or hinder you as a business owner.
The person who starts a business and is passionate about helping people in a certain way may think that if he simply focuses on his passion, the money will follow. He believes that if he starts serving people that those people will recognize the value he offers and pay him in some way. This Oblivious business owner is usually reluctant to charge for his services.
In many cases, a spouse who has a working partner earning enough income to support the both of them, is in this position. They feel like they don’t NEED the money, so why should they charge for their services.
The problem with people who don’t create a deliberate business plan and attempt to make money, will spend their time and their treasure and get nothing in return. At some point, the “oblivious” will stop doing whatever it is they are doing. The reason? Their customers don’t think they take their business seriously. They’ll find that their customers will not engage with whatever their business is; and they will fail to have sufficient funds to keep whatever their passion is alive.
The Miser is worried she will run out of money. She won’t spend money for people to help her; she pays her employees the least she feels she can get away with; and she will often spend her own time doing tasks outside of her responsibility to save a few extra bucks. The Miser will often be successful to some extent, but not as successful as she could be, if she would pay others and trust others to do their work. The Miser will be afraid to invest in big opportunities and is ruled by a kind of “fear of loss” rather than a “hope in opportunity”.
The volunteer is a great person. It’s the person that will give of their time, their talent and their treasure without asking for anything in return. While this is an admirable personality trait, it is terrible for a business owner to possess. Most people in business who are afraid to ask customers for money, ultimately don’t believe their service is worth paying for. They feel that most people don’t have sufficient money to pay them; and therefore either undercharge for their services or give their services away for free.
Clearly, a volunteer cannot make it in the business world for very long. But, worse, they will be demoralized and feel they are worthless and have nothing of value to offer the rest of the world. This worthless feeling is not what I want my business owner clients to feel. My clients are powerful, and worthy of the highest fees possible. Once they believe this, they tend to perform to this higher level, they feel energized and the world is a better place as a result.
Very rarely, I will run into a business owner who is mesmerized by money and wants to get as much money as they possibly can without offering a stitch of value to their clients. The reason this person is quite rare is that they won’t last long in the small business world. They’ll quickly get their clock cleaned by other competitive business owners in the free-market.
For my Greedy clients, I have to quickly do some market research to show them what their competitors are charging their clients so they understand what prices are reasonable for their level of service. At that point, they have one of two options: 1) improve their quality to justify their higher prices; or 2) lower their prices and understand how to work more efficiently for their clients.
If you have $10 to your name, and you know that you have a mortgage payment coming up that is $1,000, and electric bill for $150, and a grocery bill for $200, it would be natural for you to face fear that will cause major anxiety. Unfortunately, this is a very common type of business owner; but I rarely get them as a client. After all, if they can’t afford to pay their basic living expenses, how can they afford to hire a business coach? The reality is that if you are really in this situation, you shouldn’t own a business. I know that you’ve heard of people who became wonderful successes as an entrepreneur with only a few dollars to their name. But, I guarantee you that they probably worked as an employee, saved enough to make their first investment, and then worked their tails off after getting a small amount of savings to start their enterprise.
The Afraid are those who are not quite destitute, but have little money and are fearful they will run out of money before their business is successful. When these business owners hire me, the first thing I do is establish a business plan to show them they can make money at their business with their meager financial means; and they’ll eventually build the wealth they hope to by doing what they love to do.
The key is that this is “a plan”. A plan is not an automatic recipe for success. In fact, executing that plan is the hard part. But what most Afraid business owners need is HOPE that will extricate them from a state of fear that tends to paralyze even the best entrepreneurs.
Every once in a while, a business owner comes along who has convinced some investors to give him a ton of money to start his business; and he decides he NEEDs to buy every new gadget, NEEDs to hire lots of employees, NEEDs to lease an expensive building and NEEDs to build huge warehouses of inventory. The Spendthrift doubles down by using their new-found wealth to take prospective customers out on expensive dinners and outings; and pay themselves exorbitant salaries.
When the investor asks the Spendthrift how things are going a year later, he is angry to learn the company has no money left and no customers to show for their extravagant spending. When I have a client like this, my first inclination is to ask them how they will get a return on each and every investment dollar. When they start looking at money as a stewardship responsibility instead of as a spender, they gain an appreciation of what they owe their investor in exchange for the trust the investor has placed in them. They immediately start making wise investments instead of engaging in frivolous spending.
What is Money… Really?
If you are a business owner, you had better bet that, “It IS about the money.” You see, money is not something evil, it is a resource…. just like any other resource that is at your disposal. In business, people who need products and services exchange money to gain the benefits associated with the products and services you have to sell. The more someone will pay you for those products and services, the more they think your products and services are worth to them personally.
When you are paid more money than you pay others, you gain a PROFIT. Ken Blanchard said it best, “Profit is the applause you get for taking care of your customers and creating a motivating environment for your people.” Along these lines, can you imagine saying that you want to become and actor, but don’t want your audience to applaud your performance? What you are really saying is that you somehow want to be on stage, but want to give such a terrible performance, no one claps. Or worse yet, you want to be on stage, but don’t want anyone to attend your performance.
As a business coach, I offer programs that will help my clients produce an amazing amount of wealth for themselves and their families. If you want to better understand how you can be successful beyond your wildest dreams as an entrepreneur, I’d love to help you get there.
Note from the Author
My name is Jeff Schuster. I am a certified Life and Business Coach serving small business owners, corporate executives and others who want to transition from “expert” to “entrepreneur”. I have been a small business owner for most of my 30-years in the workplace. I grew an energy efficiency and renewable energy engineering and construction company from nothing to over $10-million/year and sold it in 2013. I now help other business owners make amazing progress toward their own dreams of business ownership independence and success.