payment or pain

After Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple, he set up a company called NEXT Computer. Having always recognised the value of typography, he asked designer Paul Rand to draw up some logo options for him to consider. Rand had other ideas. “I will solve your problem, create one solution/design and you will pay me,” he told Jobs. “You can use what I produce or not, but I will not do options and either way you will pay me.”

The fee was $100,000.00 and Jobs paid it... and that was in 1984 prices. The point about this story was that Rand understood the value of his work. DO YOU?

Too many small business owners spend valuable unpaid time on the premises of potentially lucrative prospects. They’ll suggest great ideas and feel that they’ve made a valuable connection... only for the prospect to take it all in, thank them for their time and find a cheaper option.

Why do they do this? Well, you could say ‘because they can’, but the real answer is because many small business owners lack sufficient respect for their own value, especially in the creative professions where the value provided can be quite abstract. After all, if a particular skill has always come easily to you, then there is a tendency not to value it, whether it’s taking a photograph, designing a logo, making a speech or planning a floor space.
Yet with tradesmen, the value of their intervention is often crystal clear: if the central heating isn’t working just before Christmas it’s quite likely the customer (no messing about with words like ‘prospect’ here) will pay almost anything to get it fixed. Even on less critical jobs there is the custom of ‘call out charges’, which protects them from losing money on smaller jobs.

So, if yours is one of the more abstract or creative professions, try this exercise: write out a list of everything you have to offer, including all the skills you’ve gained over the years. How many hundreds or even thousands of hours of experience IS that? If you were to deliver a seminar based on that, how much would you charge per person? A one-­‐to-­‐one consultation should be worth even more than that. Value your skills and your time and others will value them too.
Perhaps you can allow a free consultation to build up the relationship and if you can solve the client’s problem say so; but DO NOT say how. Let the prospect speak -­‐ they love to speak. Reassure them that you’re the person they need, then charge them for everything else. If they insist on a second meeting to find out more then you should charge a consultancy fee deductible from the final bill if the job goes through.

We began with a story about an artist who understood his own value, so let’s close with one. Picasso was sitting in a Paris café when a passing admirer approached him and requested a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso politely agreed, drew the sketch and then asked for a large sum of money before handing it over. The admirer was horrified: “How can you ask so much for a drawing that took only a minute?”. “No” Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years”.

by Ilyas Kirkan -­‐ business mentor, coach and strategist
Must read ... Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson