How do you price up a new product or service when people are tightening the purse strings? Well, not by going in lower, says money and business coach Ray Dodd. Especially not if you’re a woman in business…
Words: Ray Dodd
Cast your mind back to the beginning of the pandemic. If you are someone who was running an online business at the time, or even an observer of those who were, you may remember people reacting in two stages. Initially there was concern, worry and panic about what might happen to our businesses – would anyone have money to spend in the coming weeks? In the coming months, even?
The second reaction happened as we started to get more specific about this worry, panicking about how others were going to spend their money. As tends to be the case, this struck a different, particular chord amongst female business owners. There was a sense that people shouldn’t be spending their money on yoga, coaching, wellness, on any “luxuries” at all. People were being shamed in their DMs for daring to offer or sell what they do. All over Instagram, I was watching people slash their prices and offer their work for free.
It was the most stark example of a phenomenon that I have come to call ‘kindness at all costs’. And the truth is, ‘kindness at all costs’ is one of the most significant things getting in the way of women making more money.
It’s something that is baked into our conditioning. When the pandemic hit and we felt panic about our incomes, it made perfect sense that our instinct was to override what we needed for ourselves. It may sound contradictory, but in the face of our own concerns we dropped our prices, stopped selling and even offered stuff for free. Because in moments of crisis, we believe that the kind thing to do is to sacrifice our needs for the supposed sake of others. We slip into that caring role with the most subconscious ease.
Kindness at all costs is one of the biggest things stopping you from making money because it puts you in a cycle of perpetually giving your power away to others. When you do this, you are allowing what you have decided other people need (not what they have communicated they need) to be more important than what you actually desire. In turn, by making these assumptions you’re skipping past what other people actually desire too!
If we take a step back, we realise that so many other people are not doing things this way – people who do not share your gender, your social surroundings, or the things that make you uniquely you. This caregiver role is not imposed on people (cough it’s mostly cis men) whose values are not judged in the same way. Who are free to go out and work full time without their parenting being called into question. Who can sell no matter what is happening in the world and are not judged as unfeeling for it. Who are able to move around the world without feeling the pressure to ensure everyone around them is happy and ok as they do so.
What if continuing to sell what you offer is exactly what your people need?
Now I want to be very clear on something in case you’re feeling conflicted. I do believe that we need a kinder approach to money making. We do need to be looking at where we are putting profits above people, where we may be inadvertently pressuring people or using outdated sales tactics, where we are not treating our clients and customers as the whole humans they are.
But what we are not going to continue to do is make ourselves bottom of the pile while we decide how others need to be cared for. Because with all that is going on at the moment – the cost of living crisis, the impending recession, the continued impact of the last couple of years – I see people starting to pull back again. Believing that they know what people should and shouldn’t be spending on, believing that selling is unkind and that only low prices are the only ethical choice.
What if continuing to sell what you offer is exactly what your people need? What if investing in you is the exact support they need to weather whatever is coming their way over the coming months? What if they absolutely can afford what you offer? Can your clients and customers afford for your business to no longer be here because you’ve had to seek money out elsewhere?
How to navigate your ‘kindness at all costs’ conditioning:
Recognise that feeling this way is not your fault. It makes perfect sense considering the messages we are all given throughout our lives. Annoyingly, though, it is your responsibility. Commit to noticing when you are putting others’ needs before your own and make choices that fly in the face of that programming. At times this is going to feel really uncomfortable, and that’s okay. It means you are rewriting those inherited stories.
Get yourself a network of people who are supportive of you making the money you want to make. Who do not question your motives, who are consciously working through this stuff too. Read books and listen to podcasts that also promote that message. This is one of the ways you will ‘recondition’ yourself to think and act in ways that actually support you.
When you are pricing or creating products and offers, ask yourself – is this generous to me AND to them? We absolutely need to bring more generosity to money making. But if we exclude ourselves from our own generosity, is it even generosity at all?