This week is special because I’m joined by money mentor, Denise Duffield-Thomas and we’re talking about 2 things that teachers find challenging; maintaining an abundance mindset and applying that to pricing for your business
Abundance is something that teachers struggle with in many ways. There never seems to be enough… anything.
Not enough supplies.
Not enough time.
And certainly not enough money.
We feel stretched in a million directions and there’s not even enough us to go around.
And of course, most teachers enter the profession with that understanding, particularly around money, as we discussed in How Teaching is Keeping You Broke.
Denise Duffield-Thomas, author of Chill and Prosper and my money mentor, says, that’s what teachers get told. We say to ourselves, “While you’re in it for the right reasons, you’re in it because you love teaching. You love kids. It’s almost like, well, if you love what you do, you shouldn’t get paid for it.”
Obviously that’s a bullshit excuse…
…Derek Jeter loved playing baseball, but no one thought anything of him earning $12 million a year from it.
…Lady Gaga loves making music, and no one batted an eye when she earned $100 million dollars from a 2-year Las Vegas residency.
So, yeah. Bullshit.
But, as Denise points out, the amazing opportunity that we have now for teachers is that they can develop side hustles, that they can create abundance for themselves, so they can recapture their love of the profession until the salary catches up.
However, our misbeliefs about money often carry over into our side hustles, leading us to under-charge (or not charge at all), and even repel money because we feel bad about earning it.
Instead we say we “just want to help people,” as though you can’t help people and make money at the same time.
Denise points out that teachers aren’t the only ones who struggle with this money block. A student of hers helps people with postpartum, pelvic floor yoga and believes deeply that everyone should have access to it, so she under-charges or gives away her services for free.
Another student is a pet photographer who says, “But I love dogs so much, I’d do this for free!” And that’s great to love what you do that much, but you don’t have to do it for free.
Additionally, society frequently reflects these “if you really cared” beliefs back to us.
Have you ever been asked to do something for no pay, “for the kids?” I know I have!
Have you ever been offered or given something of no monetary value as a thank you for going above and beyond? Like a jeans pass? Or a mention during morning announcements?
That’s all fine, but a jeans pass isn’t going to pay for my kid’s gymnastics class (and I wear yoga pants every day anyway), and a thank you won’t fill my gas tank.
Or has anyone ever referred to your work (at school or in business) as selfless?
That’s not really a compliment, you know.
According to Denise, there’s often another layer to this money block that makes it particularly hard to clear, and that’s the idea that we have to give up something in order to become a person who makes money.
Do any of these resonate with you?
- I can make money or be a good mother
- I can make money or be ethical
- I can make money or be very caring
- I can make money or I can be down to earth
- I can be a godly woman or I can make money
- I can be a good teacher and care about my students, or I can be an entrepreneur
Instead, try to embrace the power of and.
- I can make money and be a good person
- I can make, make money and take care of the earth
- I can make money and be a nurturer
- I can make money and I can be the same person I’ve always been
- I can be a spiritual person and I can make money
- I can be a present, engaged teacher and I can be an entrepreneur
This often shows up in the Side Hustle Teachers group when it comes to pricing products and services. There are frequent posts about how much to charge for tutoring, or a course, or VA services…
In today’s interview Denise says, “This is across the board of all industries, to be honest. And I think it’s tricky, especially if you’ve had a job or come from a profession where salaries are kind of just set. It’s not like if you work really hard, you know, the department of education goes, wow, let’s, let’s pay you so much more. It just doesn’t happen.”
“But we know that often in the corporate world, women don’t negotiate either. Right? And so what I find is that when people then go into entrepreneurship, they’re just adrift because they go, ‘I have to put a value on’ and we take it so personally, even though in our jobs, they didn’t take our personal value into consideration either. They seem to just pick a number arbitrarily.”
“But we somehow then take it really personally because we think that the number we choose makes us look like we believe something about ourselves.”
“And so it’s like, ‘Oh, you think you’re so great. You are putting this figure on yourself,’ and that’s not true. We’re just putting a price on the value that we can offer to someone. And we know as well, that pricing is marketing. Pricing can be positioning. Pricing can be this made up construct because price is different for our customers. Sometimes people are suspicious if things are too cheap, sometimes things look better if they’re more expensive.”
“It’s one of those weird things that we sometimes can’t get our head around that pricing is this, this made up thing. And so what I often say to people is you have to, you have to figure out your pricing. You can’t ask other people.
“And this is the tricky thing. When you, when you pull together entrepreneurs and people go, ”How much should I charge for this?” it’s just this collective money block situation where people could be in different states, countries, professions, and they still ask each other.”
“But also it has to be personal because when you are the one who has to work with your clients, you are the one who has to fulfill that service. And if it’s not energetically win-win, you will feel resentful. I’m sure you’ve experienced it. I know I have. I have, you can feel it, right?”
The answer to which is a resounding “YES!” If there’s one thing that teachers understand, it’s that there’s no way to make everybody happy, and no matter what you do, someone will complain.
So the question then becomes, how does someone who has been told their entire career (and sometimes through their childhood) when they decided to become a teacher that they are never going to make any money, that they’re never going to be given what they’re worth – and their paycheck reflects that – start to just pick a number?
“Just start with an arbitrary number. So if it’s something that’s, you know, under a hundred dollars, you could start with $10 and just go, how does that feel? And then go, how would $20 feel? And you could write it down, have a look at it. How would $30? So you might go up in 10.”
“If you’re charging in multiples of hundreds, you could start at a hundred and go up… same with more… start with a thousand and go up.”
“And what you’re looking for, it sounds very unscientific, but it actually does work. You’re looking for that number that goes, oh, oh, oh, oh, uh, okay. That’s the number you’re looking for! (But I have used random number generators, which you can just find online and say should I charge 59 or 79 or 89 or 99?)”
When I first started private coaching I radically undercharged and I found myself resenting every minute with those clients. I actually felt icky – like I was being taken advantage of by my own pricing.
What helped me was visualization. In my head I’d imagine a new client who paid $X (a little bit more each time). I visualized each piece of the process from getting the reminder on my phone to getting on the Zoom call, to the actual coaching, note taking, summary writing, 2-week follow-up emails… the whole thing.
In the end, it wasn’t until I quadrupled my original rate that I felt good through the entire process. So that’s what I did.
Denise, whose business earned over $4 million last year, went through similar trials.
“I would get requests for speaking and they’d say, ‘Oh, what’s your rate?’ and I’d go, ‘What’s your budget?’ And then they would say, ‘Oh, $500.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, what a coincidence! That’s my rate!’ because I had no idea what to charge.”
“And I realized that when you don’t charge that win-win pricing [the extras have] gotta come from somewhere, and it was coming from my life force energy. And you have to learn from that.”
“And I mean, teachers are great at this. You see people who’ve been in the industry for a long time. They can be absolutely in that martyr energy, you know, and they can be bitter and resentful. And that’s where I was heading to, instead of just going, no, I have to stop this because it’s just eating you up inside and that’s not good. That’s not good at all.”
Next week Denise is going to be back with more great mindset shifts all about keeping your business simple, and embracing the idea of “good enough” when it comes to building a sustainable income.
For now, go grab her updated book, Chill and Prosper: The New Way to Grow Your Business, Make Millions, and Change the World. Once you’ve got it, go to DeniseDT.com to claim your bonuses!
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