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33 Why You Must Stop Selling Your Time

If you’re stuck in the rut of selling your time, do yourself a favor and grab this free eBook I’ve cosponsored with my friends from FreshBooks – Breaking the Time Barrier.

Very early on in my consulting career I learned an important lesson about time – You only have so much.

unlock the time barrier

photo credit: subcircle via photopin cc

I know that may seem like an obvious thing, but many businesses still base their pricing, and therefore their capacity to earn, on time calculations. You know, it takes me 10 hours to build this so that will be 10 X $75/hr.

When I provided consulting services this way I quickly filled up my capacity and essentially trapped my profit potential. After I had done this for a few years I started to raise my prices and a funny thing happened – I stayed just as busy.

Then one day a potential client called and said he heard that I was really good at getting companies featured in the local business journal. Instead of suggesting an hourly fee I told him that if I was successful the cost would be $2,500. At first he balked, but then he considered there really wasn’t any risk unless he got a result.

I hung up the phone and made one call to a journalist that I knew was looking for precisely this kind of story. I secured the interview and called my client back with the good news and an invoice. He said, “but wait, it apparently only took you 15 minutes to get me that story and you want me to pay you $2,500?”

I told him in fact it had taken me the better part of 10 years to be able to get him that story and that he was paying for the value of the result and not my time. He had no argument with that logic, paid the invoice and was thrilled with the result.

That was the day I knew I would spend the rest of my business life using value based pricing. I began to align all of my fees based on the results I knew I could deliver and took time off the table every time it crept into a client conversation. In the end clients don’t want your time, they want a result. When they become confident you can deliver that, they don’t really care how you do it.

The keys to embracing value based pricing

  • Understand that price is a function of perceived value – increase your or your product’s perceived value and you can increase the price. This is why best-selling authors can charge much more for speaking fees and why Apple can charge more for a phone.
  • You must have a clear point of differentiation – Your methodology, point of view, feature set, delivery, packaging, experience, training, design, etc. must set you so far apart from others that there is no way in which a prospect would consider using price as the lone comparison tool.
  • You must measure results – Once you start to appreciate that the work you do delivers tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in results to a client, you’ll get much more open about value based pricing. You must measure and review with your clients the actual results they get from working with you so that you can confidently begin to price and sell your work based on this knowledge and proof.

My friend Mike McDerment, co-founder of FreshBooks, just completed a free eBook (with Donald Cowper) in which he chronicles the story of a web designer who comes to appreciate why he’s going broke selling his time vs. selling the results of his work. If you’re stuck in the time rut, do yourself a favor and grab this free eBook – Breaking the Time Barrier – How to Unlock Your True Earning Potential.

3 Integration is the New Killer App

chainAll around us companies are innovating. New web-based applications are cropping up faster than you can count. These applications, when used as a stand alone, can make life much easier.

However, the real power of an elegantly thought out application comes when two or more application providers find ways through APIs to get their applications to work in tandem.

This is classic multiplication at work here. When one app with a fan base can start working seamlessly with another app with a fan base, all the fans win and the organizations grow exponentially through cross pollination and an enhanced feature set.

This kind of thinking is something that needs to be baked in at the strategic layer of every business – online or off.

Below are 7 examples of web apps that multiply in value when you understand how to use them together.

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15 Is Personality a Strategy?

hi hat coffeeWhen I originally started this post the title was going to be – Is Culture a Strategy, but I amended it to personality because, while what I am talking about here is commonly referred to as company culture, I think the word personality is more fitting for the typical small business.

Most small businesses I encounter, have a culture that is representative of the thoughts, values, leanings and character of the owner of the business – for good or for bad. Now, can that personality or company culture be molded, grown, morphed and adapted by the customers, practices, and people in the organization? – you bet.

And I’d like to suggest that a great deal of an organization’s ultimate success or failure from a marketing standpoint has to do with developing a culture or personality that people come to know, like and trust. Let’s face it there are characteristic traits that make some people more knowable, likeable, and trustable than others.

Unfortunately, you can’t fake these, but you can adopt habits that create a culture that brings out the best in your company’s personality.

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22 5 Ways to Amp Up the Personal in Your Brand

This is a special guest post as part of Make a Referral Week 2009.

Pamela SlimBy Pamela Slim of Escape from Cubicle Nation

As small business owners, the line between our business and personal lives can be a little bit challenging to define. Some people worry that the term “personal brand” means sharing about their twelve cats, troubles with their mother-in-law or penchant for collecting pez dispensers.

The reality is, people don’t refer companies or brands; they refer the people in those companies. The more your customers know your personality, your interests, your values and your real voice, the more likely they will refer business to you.

So here are some ways to amp up the personal in your brand:

1. Hang out with your customers.
When I asked my Twitter buddies which companies they considered great in personal branding, Freshbooks jumped to the top of the list. When I asked what it was about their brand that felt very personal, I learned that the CEO and staff blogged, Twittered and participated in user forums. There is nothing that builds good will faster than answering a customer question immediately and personally. If you have a face-to-face business, take time to stop by and visit your customers just to see how they are doing.

2. Show your face.
As the daughter of a photographer, I might be a bit biased when it comes to the importance of good pictures. But pictures really do convey personality and style in a way pure text cannot. So make sure the “About” page on your website has good photographs of you and your staff. Look at one of my favorite examples, the team of mechanics at Pat’s Garage in San Francisco. You thought car mechanics had no personality? Think again.

3. Write clearly and with personality.
Check your website, blog posts, marketing materials and emails and make sure you are communicating in a clean, clear, engaging way. The basic rule of thumb is to write like you talk. If you are a corporate refugee-turned small business owner, you may be used to using words like “value-add,” “paradigm shift” and “out-of-the-box-thinking.” You wouldn’t use these words in regular conversation, right? Strike them from your written communications and people will find you are not the tremendous bore they thought you were, you are actually down-to-earth, funny, and engaging. Colleen Wainwright aka Communicatrix demonstrates this well in her Hire Me page.

4. Create your posse.
Are there any small businesses that serve your market in a non-competitive way? When you build relationships with other like-minded entrepreneurs, you can expand your brand to include a network, not just your company. Then you can refer business to each other with confidence, knowing you share similar style, values and results. Your informal posse could develop into a collaborative network like Men With Pens.

5. Serve the right customers.
Do you ever feel a bit nervous about communicating with your customers? Are you afraid that they will find out that you are really an imposter? When my clients share these fears, we almost always discover that they feel that way because they are not working with the right market. When you find your ideal customers, talking with them will feel calm and comfortable, because you will know with conviction that you are the perfect person to solve their problems.

You do not have to share your entire personal life to have great personal brand. You just need to show up fully, clearly and passionately in your business.

Pamela Slim is a business coach and author of Escape from Cubicle Nation, coming out in May, 2009 with Penguin/Portfolio.

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