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How to charge your worth

How to charge your worth


Are you a lawyer and genuinely struggling to get paid what you're worth? Then have no fear, as Vanessa Ugatti is here to help

What does that little voice in your head say just when you’re about to discuss fees or bill your clients? Does it go along the lines of “Oh I can’t possibly charge that, they’ll never pay it”, or “Gosh that’s a lot of money, I wouldn’t want to pay that”? How about “I’ll probably lose the client if I charge that and I can’t afford to lose clients”? These are not just words I’ve made up, they are quotes from real lawyers.

Perhaps you have been doing this for a long time and yet didn’t really realise it until now. If that’s the case, congratulations, you’ve just taken the first step in being able to transform it. Or maybe you were aware of it but didn’t know how to stop it or even if that was possible.

Let me reassure you, it is possible. In fact, it’s more than possible; you just need to know how and then apply it. The problem is not that the voice says these things to you; the problem is that you believe them and, worse still, that you take action based on them. Believe me, I know how compelling that voice can be; it’s fear based and fear can be an extremely powerful motivator.

That fear creates a very uncomfortable feeling; it’s primeval and all about self-preservation. In this case, though, it’s an imaginary fear rather than a real one. After all, you’re not going to die. However, your experience of it is identical to a real fear where your life is in danger. This then drives you to take action, making you feel better, whether or not that action is really good for you, or in this case your business, in the long run.

As a human being you’re motivated either by moving towards pleasure or moving away from pain. In this instance, you move away from the pain by under-charging, discounting your fees, or over-servicing your clients. Although it may alleviate the immediate uncomfortable feeling you’re experiencing, in the longer term, it causes you real problems, both financial and emotional.

In the first instance, it causes you a loss of revenue. This could be anything from £10,000 to £30,000 or more a year, and that’s right on the bottom line.

In addition, it probably means you’re spending far too much time working to make up for the shortfall and feeling overworked, stressed, tired, and resentful. Not a great place to be.

You also probably feel devalued, when in reality it’s you who has been devaluing yourself. This then leads to your self-confidence taking a tumble and that becomes a vicious circle, so you repeat the same behaviour and of course get the same results.

So, in the long term, you can clearly see this just doesn’t really work for you. In fact, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. It reminds me of a sole practitioner I worked with.

In a free strategy session I asked him how much he thought he lost a year in revenue by not charging his true worth. He replied that it was approximately £20,000. I then asked him his age. He was 40. So in ten years’ time he would have lost £200,000 if he continued in the same vein.

As you can imagine, there was a long sobering pause as he took that in. It wasn’t until that moment that he realised the full impact of his behaviour on his bottom line.

If you have reached this far, then you have recognised this behaviour in yourself and are probably itching to find out what you can do about it. So here is a simple three-step process to apply immediately:

  • Before discussing fees or billing, take a few deep breaths. Sounds silly? Well it’s not, because if you’re feeling fear, it means your breathing is shallow, which is one of the physiological side effects of fear. Breathing deeply will reduce the fear, which will also enable you to think with greater clarity.

  • Before discussing fees or billing your clients, find out what the piece of work is worth to the client. What’s the benefit to them? What problem have you solved? This gets your mind focused on the value you’re providing, rather than being focused on what you’re charging.

  • You must get comfortable saying your fees. You must be so comfortable that you could just as easily be saying the time of day or the day of the week.

Of course, you do have to make the effort to change; it’s not necessarily easy but it’s so worthwhile. I wish you every success.

Vanessa Ugatti is the author of Amazon bestseller True Worth. She is also a coach, trainer, and speaker