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Money / Financial management

How I used a mirror to double my hourly rate

The most neglected relationship we’ll ever have is the one we have with ourselves. Here’s how bettering that relationship can double your hourly rate.

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Staring into his eyes, I said the words out loud, albeit a little awkwardly:

“Warrick, I appreciate you and everything you have done today. And Warrick … I love you.”

As you can tell, I wasn’t declaring my undying love for my partner. Well, in a way I was. I was completing a 30-day ritual taught by many personal development mentors. One of learning to love myself. More importantly, I believe, one of valuing myself.

Speaking of valuing oneself, try this quick little exercise. If you’ve done it before, try it again as an update on your last results:

  1. Write down how many hours you spend ‘working’ each week. By working, I mean everything to do with your business. Paper shuffling, answering emails, bookwork, website updates, content writing (we all know we should do more of that!).
  2. Now, calculate your average, gross weekly earnings from your business. If you’re still in a part-time or casual employee role exclude that from this figure.
  3. Finally, divide the number from 2 (your earnings), by the number from 1, (your hours worked), and write that number somewhere you can see it every day.

That’s your current, ‘effective’ hourly rate.

"We put so many hours into our projects, our clients, winning more clients, retaining the old ones, that our real hourly rate is terrible!"

For your sake, I hope it’s at least double digits.

If not, what you have is not a business. What you have is slavery!

Jokes aside, this number can be quite depressing and confronting for many of us as entrepreneurs. Part of the problem is that we put so many hours into our projects, our clients, winning more clients, retaining the old ones, that our real hourly rate is terrible!

So what’s the solution?

The standard answers are usually things like: put your rates up (der), take on better clients, bigger clients, outsource the little stuff, make to-do lists, stop procrastinating blah blah blah.

I tried all that. When I first became a business coach, I worked under the tutelage of a successful coach and friend. I saw what he was charging and, because I didn’t know any better, I began charging the same rates.

Without giving it a thought, I began signing clients and working with them at these rates and things were good. In fact, they were fantastic! In my first year as a coach, I grossed almost $400,000 with no staff and few overheads. Life was great!

Then, the voices started. You know the ones. Those little voices in your head that start out as whispers and then, over time, become clearer and clearer until they’re practically shouting at you …

‘You can’t charge that!’

‘How can you justify those rates?’

‘Are they really getting value from your services?’

You get the picture.

I started to doubt my fees. My programs. Whether the positive feedback from clients was real or just nice people saying nice things.

It wasn’t that my services had changed or that my clients weren’t getting value. In fact, my experience and advice had improved and increased dramatically over the years. What had changed is my opinion of the guy in the mirror … my self-value.

I’d attached my self-worth as a coach to my earnings and, inevitably, when I lost a few clients, I saw that as a reflection of my value as a person rather than a simple case of wrong client, wrong coach or whatever the reality was. Perhaps those clients really weren’t getting value but that in no way meant I was a lesser coach … certainly in no way a lesser person.

So, how do you increase your hourly rate as a business owner?

Well, in my experience it wasn’t as simple as the well-meaning strategies put forward by my well-meaning mentors. I tried those things … and found myself working even harder for my clients to try and prove I was worth the higher rates!

What’s worked for me and what’s taken my hourly rate from just a hundred or so dollars to, in many cases, three, four and even five hundred dollars an hour, has been the value I place on myself. The man in the mirror …

Here are five things I do to affirm and increase my self-worth every day. See if they work for you:

  1. Meditate: this helps you start the day with a clean slate and an open outlook on what’s possible. Just 10 minutes is enough.
  2. Be mindful of self-talk: what you say to yourself when you’re by yourself is incredibly powerful. We say affirmations every day without realising it and you can make these uplifting or degrading of yourself.
  3. Express gratitude: especially about your talents, achievements, connections and value.
  4. Eat right: by putting nutritious foods into your mouth you affirm your value as a body and a person (plus it helps with the first three!).
  5. Move your body: Like point four, doing something for your physical body and wellbeing cascades into other areas, especially the way you feel about yourself. There are also some cool chemicals that get released when you do this and they’re free!

You might read this list and think they take too much time or money to implement. The truth is that’s just a story you tell yourself. Give them a try and see if you start to value yourself more and therefore, serve others to the best of your ability as well as receiving what you’re worth in return.

Warrick Bidwell

is host of the Tradies Business Show podcast and works as Tradie Wingman to tradie business owners right around the country. He helps tradies get off the tools and into true business ownership. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

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