This has been a problem for me my whole working life.
Of course I like money as much as the next person. And I need money to survive. And I need lots of money to live in a city like Toronto.
What I really mean is that I am not motivated by money. At all.
When I wake up in the morning I do not think about the money I’m going to make today. I don’t dream of being a millionaire or rich, except when I buy lottery tickets (and then it really is just a dream).
I do not connect what I do with the money I make, at least right now, when I can afford my bills.
If I couldn’t afford my rent and my food I would think differently. But I would only be thinking about making enough money to pay my bills and hopefully put a small amount aside. That’s all.
As I said, this is a bit of a problem for me, especially now that I am a solopreneur.
When I have worked for governments, companies and schools I never used to be able to ask for a raise. It took me years – plus tons of cajoling from my mother – to get comfortable asking for raises. What I cared about was doing my job well.
I got a bit better at asking for raises, but not much. In my last job I got more raises before I was ready to ask than I did by asking. (Though I should note I left because they wouldn’t give me another raise. So maybe I’m growing.)
Now that I’m on my own this is a particularly difficult problem. Fortunately I’ve been working on it for years.
When I first started, I would give tons of advice for free. (I still do. See a future post.)
And I wouldn’t charge enough. Not enough for my time and my expertise, at least if I wanted to live off of just my clients. But until January, I had the safety net of my day job so I could undercharge or negotiate my rate.
Now, I’ve learned to set my rates at a level that will pay the bills. (Though someone just told me on Thursday that I don’t charge enough.) But I had to force myself to set them at what they are, and I needed a lot of cajoling from friends and coaches.
And knowing that some people still think I’m expensive, I constantly think about lowering them.
And I do so because I really don’t care about the money.
Yes, I would like to be able to afford a house in Toronto instead of renting.
Yes, I would like to travel more.
Yes, I would like to eat out more.
But I don’t want to do any of that enough to obsess about how much I could make or to pursue the most efficient course to make lots of money.
What I’d rather do is help people.
That might strike you as corny, but I can’t help myself.
I don’t have my business to make a lot of money. To be honest the only reason I have this business is to make enough money that I can devote more time to writing than I was able to find working a 9-5 job.
But, since I have a business, and I have a certain skill set, I know I can make some money doing this.
But I really don’t care if it’s just enough to find time to write – as I seem to be able to do right now – or if it let’s me buy a mansion (which it will not).
Because all I care about is helping people.
In fact, the couple clients I’m not sure I helped enough I think about all the time. Could I have done something differently? Could I have helped them more? Could I have worked with them differently?
(Also, the two websites I tried to build for people after insisting multiple times that I shouldn’t build their websites – well it still bothers me, even though I told them ahead of time I was the wrong person for the job.)
All this amounts to is that, when you don’t think about more money as the end goal, it’s really hard to use these marketing systems that are everywhere. They all feel like they are all about making as much money as possibly, and treating people as marks.
Instead, I’m struggling trying to find the best way to market myself individually, as an “advisor” or “teacher”, someone who wants to help as much as possible and doesn’t really care about the bottom line. (Though I have to, like everyone.)
It’s a work in progress. So far I’d say it’s not really working. But here’s hoping I get lucky.