“Prices are a shortcut to our most sensitive emotional responses.” ~ Tom Whitwell

We’re going to continue our discussion on how you react to the price of something. Though not as a consumer where you’re paying, but as an entrepreneur where you are charging.

Now, I realize you may not be an entrepreneur*. You may not even have a desire to ever be. But if the Bureau of Labor statistics bear out — that 40% of the workforce will identify as freelancers by 2020 — you may become one, if only for a little while. As such, you will be confronted with this fundamental business question: How much do I charge?

It’s a question that taps into how and why your work.

It’s a question that taps into how you feel about your obligations, responsibilities and aspirations.

It’s a question that taps into the relationship you have with yourself, with your business and with your money. And let’s be honest, this is a tricky trifecta!

Yes, you are born with certain innate gifts and talents. Managing the emotional aspects of this trifecta isn’t one of them.

That is something you need to cultivate.

But before you can cultivate something, you have to first recognize you have a relationship with it. Likewise, it helps to understand the factors that influence the health of that connection.

The Silent Influencer

In business, you’ll often hear, “It’s about relationships.” And, it is.

Usually, however, the relationships being referenced are those with prospects, customers and clients, fans and supporters, vendors, et al. Rarely, if ever, is your relationship with your family included in this declaration. Although given the magnitude of its impact on one’s values, beliefs, and mindset, it should.

I thank Nicole Lewis-Keeber for bringing this dynamic connection into fuller view for me – personally and professionally. Nicole is a business therapist. Her work and mine are similar in that we explore uncommonly thought of relationships. I explore peoples’ relationships with money; she helps business owners explore the kind of relationship they have with their business. Because when it comes to money and to business, the choices you make, as well as the choices you even see as options, are greatly impacted by your family dynamics.

It totally makes sense. After all if what you experienced in terms of what you had or didn’t have – emotionally, materially, financially, physically, spiritually, etc. – affects every other relationship you have in your life, why wouldn’t your relationship with your family impact your business, too?! In positive and less than positive ways.

In fact, pause here for a moment to consider the kind of relationship you have with your business. Does it feel nurturing; does it feel like it is taking care of your wants and needs, “feeding” you by serving as an outlet for your creativity and intelligence; by taking care of you financially; does serving your clients and making a contribution feel easy?

Or, does it feel like a demanding, bottom-less pit that never gets enough and is never satisfied. Does it feel endlessly draining, consuming all your energy, resources and money such that you feel bankrupt on an almost daily basis.

In what ways does the relationship you have with your business* resemble any of your key relationships?

Now is probably a good time to say this piece isn’t about giving answers; instead, it’s about asking questions that prompt you to explore a territory you may have dismissed: the Venn diagram that reflects you; your business; and your family. Where these three circles overlap is ripe with insight about your behavior and feelings about money, and about how you manage relationships.

And if, like I said before, price isn’t just something you pay — it’s something you feel. The same must hold true when it comes to the price you charge.


  • What if the price you charge were somehow connected to relational dynamics that started with your family?
  • Do you charge too little because you grew up poor and feel self-conscious about charging “a lot?”
  • Do you use your pricing as a barometer to prove your worth to your parents or siblings?
  • Does your family role as the go-to nurturer and fixer mean you “take care” of your clients by allowing them to pay in a way that suits them but hurts you?
  • Does your pricing add up just the way you want on paper (and in your account), but requires that you work with people you don’t like or really respect?

These type of questions harken back to what I mentioned before about value, boundaries and worth when looking at price through the lens of you as a consumer. Same coin; different side.

The Next Frontier

I think getting entrepreneurs to see they are in a relationship with their business and treating it accordingly is the next frontier. What is nascent now, will soon become “common,” much like how people now acknowledge they have a relationship with money when to do so previously was considered “woo-woo.”

In the process, entrepreneurs will hopefully begin to pay closer attention not just to the message price sends to their customers, clients and competition, but also to the message that is being returned to them.

I know I certainly have!

If pricing were just about the dollars and cents, developing a pricing strategy would be easy. But since it can also set off emotional, complicated and tangled triggers, it helps to understand your emotions and your triggers.

Thus, the question: Do Understand What You Want and Need Out of Your Life?

When you ask this question and make the effort to discover the answer, you tap into how best to get that need or want satisfied. As an example: You don’t look to get from your client interactions what you were (or are) craving from your mother or father; brother or sister; or husband or wife. You fix what needs to be fixed where it needs to be fixed so that it can have a positive impact on your relationship with your business.

But not only do you have to make the effort to get to know the “what,” you also need to know your “why.” This is important so that you can tap into what role money plays in your life and in your business.

And when you understand money’s role, you can more quickly identify the emotional components to the question, “How much do I charge?”

The question and the answer you settle on become a catalyst for giving you feedback on how to have the healthiest relationship possible with your business – on all levels!


p.s. *And if you really, truly can’t ever see yourself being an entrepreneur either by-default or by-design, then substitute salary for price. Because, in the end, this is a multi-layered conversation about your relationship to how and what you get paid.

p.p.s. If you find exploring the relationship you have with business and money fascinating, join us on March 26th; click here to RSVP. The theme: Pricing Strategy For Serviced-Based Entrepreneurs (it’s not just about the numbers). Can’t make it? Please spread the word by sharing the RSVP links (and, thanks!)

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