Jason Falls, a popular social media consultant, had a thought-provoking post yesterday about when, why and how much he charges clients. In a world where few people talk about how much money they make, it was an interesting behind-the-scenes glimpse of a successful entrepreneur grappling with the challenges of having a lot of demand but a limited resource (himself).
For Falls, it often comes to down to deciding when he should do things for free because it’s the right or nice thing to do, and when he needs to charge people. This is a common problem (albeit a nice one to have) faced by many one-person operations in which the product being sold is you. The upside is you sell a product that you believe in; the downside is there is only so much of you to go around.
If you have no interest in expanding, this demand-supply problem will always be an issue. It means taking on what you can handle, and passing up the rest. The alternative is becoming more than a one-person operation, which involves another set of opportunities and challenges.
Another consideration is determining how much your time is worth and, as important how much clients are prepared to pay for it. Even after establishing a price, the price isn’t always the price because potential clients have different budgets. For some clients, providing them with a lower price makes sense if there’s an opportunity to work on an interesting or exciting project. It comes down to your appetite to work with a client and how much you’re willing to leave on the table to do it.
Since starting ME Consulting in January 2009, these are issues that I have encountered and worked through with advice from friends, family and colleagues. While this may seem an odd take on the world, I believe the money isn’t paramount. While it’s obviously necessary to pay the mortgage, put food on the table, etc., if you’re driven by money, work is just work.
To me, work has to be more than work. It has to be something that’s stimulating, exciting, interesting and/or challenging. It should be something that makes it easier to get up in the morning because you can’t wait to get going. During my professional career, I have been extremely lucky to have had jobs that provided these things. When I was a sports, retail and technology reporter, I loved every minute – even when I was making $13,000/year as a wet behind the ears sports reporter at the now-defunct Brampton Daily News. Having a job in which every day is different and you get to meet new and interesting people made the money, in some ways, secondary.
Today, I love what I do. I enjoy the work-life flexibility, the challenge of eating what you catch, and working on different and interesting projects. As someone who spent a long time as a good cubicle-dwelling corporate soldier, including three start-ups, my only issue with the current gig is why I didn’t do it sooner.
What I find encouraging is seeing a growing number of friends have decided to take the same entrepreneurial plunge. They’re at a stage in their lives where they have worked hard to establish their networks and credibility, and now seems like the right time to roll the dice and do something different. Every time someone announces they are doing their own way, I get the entrepreneurial pom-pom out to do a little cheer.
I guess my advice would be to focus on doing something you love and enjoy. If you can find or creat a job that achieves these goals, the money may materialize or not but the upside is work won’t be “work”.