And why I actually LOWERED my coaching rates.
There's a trend in coaching to constantly be raising our rates. When did it become unacceptable to charge less than $100/hour of coaching? Or even $250/hour? Or...even more?
Now, I fell into this and quick. It seemed like every few months within a single year I raised my rates until I finally tipped into the unicorn rate...$500/hour.
"Ooooh, I've made it!", I remember thinking. I was wrong. I hadn't "made it".
Instead, I am sorry to say I lost something very dear to me. I lost my focus on the greater whole.
One of the ways coaches differ from other practitioners (ie. therapists, consultants, etc.) is we're trained to get to the heart of the matter and quickly.
>> Therapists may take months and even years to peel back the layers. It's process driven.
>> Consultants may also take months and even years to implement a system. It's results driven.
>> Coaches take what's in front of them and help their clients use their strengths, their story, and their desires to move forward. This can take months. It can also take days. Sometimes it can take a single conversation.
Because of our efficiency and effectiveness, we are encouraged to charge more money than other practitioners. This doesn't bother me. If we are doing our job well our clients probably shouldn't spend years with us.
One of the biggest questions I hear from coaches is - How can I make enough money and not burn out by over-filling my day with coaching conversations? In other words, "I only have so much time!"
One of the ways we bypass exhaustion is to make more money in less time. We default to high prices to re-balance our potential energy drain on our time...(I know because I did this. I got very good at doing this.)
-- BUT --
This shortcut is short-sighted.
At what point are our prices a deterrent to the work we claim to be so dedicated to?
At what point is our inflated belief in our value moving us away from service and not toward it?
Coaching has quickly become an exclusive industry because the reality is, money is an inhibitor even when we wish it weren't. The average annual income in the US in 2016 was $50,756.
I used to believe that it was not my responsibility where my client's found the money to pay for my services. Which in hindsight is a super convenient way to turn a blind eye to a deeper truth.
And while I do love money and love teaching people how to shift their relationship TO money, money is a limited resource for the majority of U.S. citizens.
For the most part, it is none of my business. But it is my business that my clients feel safe and congruent about spending their money with me no matter the amount.
Working with a coach is an investment of our three core resources - time, energy, and money - and each needs to be spent from a place of being OK. No exceptions.
But as our prices rise, our exclusivity rises. As our exclusivity increases, we are no longer building unity. We are now fueling the very thing most coaches and closeted healers claim to not stand for.
This was my final realization --
If my work is not accessible then I am not congruent with my declaration of bringing more harmony to our world. Inclusive, unified...harmony.
I brought my awareness to a dear friend and fellow master coach, Rachel, who founded the Integrative Wellness Academy. I told her about my revelation but that I also struggle with being too exhausted to take on more clients...so what is the solution?
She gave me a great question --
"How can I have a thriving and successful business while staying true to my purpose of serving others and maintaining accessibility?"
I sat down this month in the wee hours of the morning and had a heart-to-heart with myself. I remembered something a teacher and fellow practitioner shared with me months earlier. She said, "If a therapeutic process is inaccessible to any one person it is ineffective to all people."
This hit me hard then and still does to this day.
See the social worker in me, the one who was trained to advocate for the WHOLE system, still believes in this. If a system that claims to serve humanity is in any shape inaccessible it isn't serving humanity. It isn't a whole system but only part.
And which part of humanity do you serve? I'm sorry to say that when money is our only discernment it's rather obvious who it serves...and it is not the majority.
Why are we so compelled to get more for less? Less time, less effort. And why do I feel like I'm breaking some cardinal rule by not only NOT raising my rates in 2018 but actually lessening them?
My oldest brother is a teacher. He works for an alternative school, a school that opens its doors to kids who don't feel safe, seen, or supported in our public school system. On a recent visit he gave me a tour. I was blown away...
They have classrooms and labs and a library. They have a lunch room and a gym. This isn't what blew me away.
What blew me away is that they also have a room with a shower and a washer and dryer because a fair number of their students are homeless.
And they have a nursery and daycare because a fair number of their students are parents.
Here's why I was so taken back -- we can ignore reality or we can meet it eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart and serve it. As a coach I've been given full permission by my industry to ignore reality but that isn't good enough.
"Charge your worth!"
"People only show up when risk is alive!"
"People will find the money if they value it enough."
"Your rates should make you uncomfortable!"
These are the most common rebuttal to "worth" I hear from my industry. I've even believed them and said them! Probably right here in this space.
I can't go back but I can be honest in moving forward. We always have a chance to re-evaluate where we are and if our values change, that is ok. Let it be ok.
>> I've reintroduced a sliding scale.
>> I've reintroduced scholarship spots.
>> I've introduced an advisory track for clients I've worked with for at least a year.
>> I've introduced a foundation course for new clients.
>> I've relinquished just working with entrepreneurs, leaders, or coaches
>> And I've reduced my 1:1 coaching rates by more than 50%-70%.
Does this mean I'll have to serve more people to make the same income? YES. Think about this...really think about this. When and how did it become a bad thing to serve MORE people?!?! <----Sorry (not really), I am just really passionate about this.
Do I not value myself? Of course I value myself! I value my work and my skillset. I also value my client's livelihood and their financial well-being. I value long-term coaching relationships that unfold over time.
Am I a poor businesswoman? Nope. I love business. I love leveraging my time and systems to keep my income sustainable and my margins healthy. I track my numbers and I track my profit. I also love finding new ways to serve people without maxing out on time like my monthly membership and weekend-long programs.
Ultimately, here's why I'm getting out of this high-price game...
> I value humanity over a business. If my business acumen ever comes at the cost of my integrity or of serving the whole then I am not successful. Maybe I won't be a 6-figure coach next year and maybe I won't ever amass millions but I can tell you this - I sleep very well and have peace of mind.
> This work has to be accessible. Coaching is a wonderful thing to have in your life. It is supportive, playful, and challenging. It has drive and purpose but it's also a space to be seen and to practice things like vulnerability and self-acceptance. As much as I believe in the power of this work I don't believe it should cost you thousands of dollars or in some coaches case the equivalent to a downpayment on a house to get access to a coach or coaching conversations.
> Money is scary enough as it is. Money is easily in the top 3 topics my clients often focus on in our work together. I am not a financial planner or advisor but I am equipped to support my clients untangle their money stories, fears, and generations of money wounds. Hiring a coach or paying to do this work shouldn't be one more experience that triggers your money stuff. It also shouldn't stretch you or your family to such an extent that it causes additional stress or pain.
> If not now, when? The world feels a little uncertain right now. For many of us, 2017 was a trying and confusing year. Doing deep work like this can help us find our center amidst the uncertainty and keep us focused on how we can help ourselves and one another. This work is healing, not just for the one doing it but for everyone in your community you effect. In order to help make that happen my doors need to be more open than ever before -- I need to be more accessible than ever before.
If you've wanted to talk to me, hire me, or just connect with me but haven't because the cost was prohibitive, my door is open now.