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small business owner

How Much Can You Afford To Invest In Your Business?

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Jun. 27 2019, Published 6:00 a.m. ET

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As a small business owner for the past decade, I’ve come across many people who hesitate to patronize me for the service they’re asking me to provide. I’m not referring to discounts or working for free (which happens more often than I would like to say). I’m talking about their surprise when they hear how much I charge. It’s normal to be surprised when a price is higher than you think it would be. But what about when you are speaking to a service provider like a photographer, or a graphic designer, or a website developer? You say that you need not just X, Y, and Z but you also need A, B, and C and you want to start immediately. You have grand ideas and we, the service provider, get really excited to work with you. After sending the proposal, sometimes we get responses that surprise us. It seems some people are shocked that wanting a service can be a significant investment.

So, what can you do as a consumer to be prepared if the rate is higher than what you were expecting?

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 It’s Okay To Ask.

asking about prices

First things first, there’s nothing wrong with inquiring how much something costs. I’ve had so many people ask me what my rates are and they either book me or they don’t. Both are completely fine. Save time for both you and the service provider and first ask how much the service costs. As a photographer, I have received emails listing everything they need shot. That makes me think that this person is ready to go. In actuality, they just wanted to have an idea of how much it cost. Instead, give a general overview of what you are looking to get done. If the rate works in your budget, then proceed with the rundown of your ideas. The service provider will appreciate that.

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Re-Evaluate What You Actually Need.

Close up on one hundred bills.

Sometimes the service you want costs more than expected. Then it’s time to go back to the drawing board. See if you can scale back to what’s most important at the moment. Instead of an entire branding session including website, logos, photography, copywriting, and social media management, maybe you can start off with a website and logo. Or, you figure out you need to work on your brand awareness first. Instead, you hire a photographer to create great imagery for you to share on your social platforms. Start off with your most pressing needs first and then add on services as you earn more money.

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Ask Yourself If A Scarcity Mindset Is At Play

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Creative service providers refer to their services as an investment because you are investing in yourself, your business, or brand. Just like investing in the stock market, you hope that your money will get a return. I would never tell a person to go into debt to hire the dream team to revamp their business entirely. I want people to understand that it is critical to spend money on the things that are going to propel them in the direction they want their business to grow. Some people are afraid to invest because they are afraid to lose their money. As you would do in the stock market, make educated choices on who you are hiring. Do they have testimonials from people raving about their results? Or are you choosing them because they’re cheaper than who you really want to hire? No one wants to lose their hard earned money, so make smart decisions when hiring. 

As a creative entrepreneur, I would prefer instead that you save your money now to get the service you really want down the line. You are investing in your business. The phrase “it takes money to make money” exists for a reason. It may be scary to hand off that check or commit to that deposit, but if you’ have the right mindset and research, it will pay off dividends in the end.

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