Evaluating your own professional worth can be very difficult. As mentioned in previous posts, our underlying discomfort with transactions can cause us to make long-lasting mistakes.
Even outwardly “successful” business owners often struggle with Imposter Syndrome: the fear that eventually, someone will find out we were faking it all along. As a practitioner, you may feel uncomfortable discussing costs with your customers. You might wonder when you’ll get paid but take extreme measures to avoid discussing the topic of money.
These are all signs of Transaction Avoidance.
If you are having trouble charging what you’re worth, here are some tips:
1. Recognize the Root Cause
The first step is to evaluate where the discomfort is coming from. What causes you to shy away from the payment process? How do you feel towards money? Is it a tool that can bring security and enjoyment, or an unpleasant reality that you’d rather not discuss?
Discovering your past experiences allows you to see the root problems. Perhaps money was a source of pain in your past. Maybe you struggle with scarcity mindset (see this NPR article) and are constantly worrying about having enough. Each of us has a unique perspective toward money. Before you can fix the problem, it’s essential to understand your core belief system and philosophy, and the barriers that have been holding you back.
2. Isolate the Emotions
What uncomfortable feelings come up when you think about asking for the sale? What feelings are keeping you from collecting a payment? Is there an underlying sense of guilt or shame?
Consider how you feel in every stage of the sales process. Then, visualize yourself completing the cycle successfully. Many times, we get stuck in a mindset of failure because something in our past has short-circuited a successful outcome. By practicing a healthy sales cycle, you can re-train your brain to overcome the subconscious barrier to discussing money with your clients.
I really like the Money Quiz by Shell Tain, “The Money Untangler.”
3. Determine the Value of Your Service
We often think of value from a first-person perspective.
“If it were me,” we think, “I would be willing to pay X amount of money.”
There’s nothing wrong with seeing the world through our first-person lens; it’s a blind spot we all have as humans. And as with anything that obstructs our view, we might be totally unaware of how our patients and customers actually benefit.
The key is to focus on pain points. Which critical need or desire do you help patients or customers solve? What fear are you uniquely qualified to help them overcome?
Here are some examples:
- improved health
- relief from pain
- peace of mind
- awareness of their options
- enjoying better movement and mobility
- reduced pain
- feeling more enjoyment of life
What dollar value does this outcome have for the patients you serve?
Instead of guessing, ask your ideal patients this question. You might be surprised at their answers.
4. Look Into the Future
You don’t need a crystal ball for this one. Just ask yourself:
“How will the future look if I continue on the path I’m on right now?”
and “What will happen if nothing changes?”
I find it very helpful to discuss my clients’ vision for the future, both the current trajectory (what happens if nothing changes), and the ideal version (what it feels like when they reach their goals). This future-thinking process helps them visualize the actions they will need to take to get to that future point.
Try using the Dickens Method (which Scrooge used in “A Christmas Carol” by author Charles Dickens). I’ve described the 7-step process here.
Imagining the future can be very painful. By answering this question truthfully, you can jump-start your thinking and make lasting changes.
5. Review the Numbers
This is the most obvious step, but it’s one that many natural health professionals skip.
- When is the last time you analyzed your Profit & Loss statement?
- Look for “leaks” in your overhead costs, inconsistent payments, and outstanding A/R.
- How profitable was your business in the past month, 6 months, year, 2 years?
- Is net profit increasing or decreasing?
- Are the figures artificially biased, perhaps by justifying purchases or bad debt?
- What are your top 2 or 3 most profitable services?
- Calculate the total net profit for each service you provide (subtract ALL expenses, including any personnel costs to set up/follow up)
- Look at your services with an objective eye; what actually brings in the most profit (not just sales)?
- Where are the “leaks” in your overhead, supplies, and payroll?
- Hidden expenses are often the root problem of cashflow problems.
- Are you spending a lot without a reasonable Return on Investment (ROI)?
- Are most purchases an impulse buy, or were they all budgeted ahead of time
- Only 3 or 4 activities move the needle closer to your strategic goals. What are they?
- Where are barriers or delays in your key activities? Consider which of these 8 types of wasteful activities are happening in your company:
- Over-production waste (using more than needed or faster than needed)
- Processing waste (extra steps that do not add any value)
- Transport waste (excess movement of materials, tools, or equipment)
- Waiting-time waste (delays or unavailability of resources)
- Inventory waste (over-purchasing, accumulations, obsolete stock)
- Motion waste (poor workflow, disorganized and non-standardized processes)
- Defects (unclear customer specifications, improper quality control)
- Talent waste (under-utilization of employee talent, which can lead to disengaged and unmotivated staff)
In addition to reviewing numbers, I also highly recommend doing “Post-Mortem Evaluation” after every program launch, marketing campaign, event, or even quarterly. The Post-Mortem (also known as “Lessons Learned”) simply involves taking a look at:
- what happened
- what went well
- what didn’t go well, and
- how we can adjust for the future
The answers are a fantastic jumping-off point to help you Avoid (eliminate), Reduce (mitigate), Retain (accept), and/or Transfer (insure) risk.
Ultimately, your goal is to serve more Ideal Patients: those people who gain the most from you, are easy to work with, and pay you on time.
Interested in hearing how you can reverse a toxic workplace? Find out more here.
Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.
Find more at laconteconsulting.com, or connect with her on Instagram and Twitter @lacontestrategy.
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