At some point in your small business career you will hit a moment when you realize that you really have a small business. It’s not a hobby, not a paying pastime, but a real business. That realization comes with a whole set of new learnings, one of which is that your business can be killed off with kindness.

Killing with Kindness

What I mean by that is because you haven’t been considering your business a business until now, you have probably done favors for friends and family, and maybe even given your products and services away for free to genuine customers in order to expand your customer base. You have reconciled these favors with terms that you have heard or learned, things like “loss leader,” “cost of doing business,” etc.

Actually, what you are doing is chipping away at the foundations of your business. For every “favor” you do and every under-priced job that you take on, you are damaging the credibility of your business and your ability to charge what you are actually worth.

The Danger of Favors

When I started my company it was extremely tempting to under-charge or at least price lower than I wanted just to try and win the business. I just wanted a customer, even if I didn’t really make much money from that one deal. Unfortunately, having done it once, it becomes an expectation, and then you are locked into a spiral with that client that you will find it very hard to extract yourself from.

What small businesses don’t realize is that the psychology of pricing is the reverse of what they think it is. When presented with two equal but unknown suppliers, decision makers will often base their choice on price. We all get that; however, as business people, what we don’t always realize is that the choice made is not to choose the lowest bid, but in fact, to choose the higher bid.

Okay, that seems counter-intuitive doesn’t it? Maybe, but it’s true.

When faced with equal choices from unknown suppliers, decision makers will usually choose the higher price because they associate higher price with higher quality. Note that I did say when all other things are equal, which means you have to ensure that your bid is highlighting all the great things you are offering for the price you are asking. Provided you have done that, don’t be frightened to ask for the price you really want, not just the one you think you can get.

Don’t Leave Money on the Table

I know over the past few years I have left money on the table. I’ve found this out after the fact when client representatives have moved on to another company and contacted me to do business again. They have told me: “You know, you could charge at least 30% more and still get our business.” What!!?? 30% more. 30% I left on the table. Now that will keep you awake at night.

So remember the next time you are making a quote, step back from it and ask yourself, is this what you really want to charge, or are you doing yourself and your business a disservice?

Image credit: Eastop