The $250 hour

When a $250/ hour does not equal $250/hour

I get paid between $125 and $250/hour for workshops when I do them for other people. It takes me 2 x as much time to prepare for them as for presenting them. For every 2 hour workshop I spend 4 hours preparing. That doesn’t count the time to get there set up, and stay to answer questions and follow up.

When I do workshops myself, I make anywhere from 0 to much more. Along with prep time, there is logistics, and marketing.

I charge $500 for  business strategy sessions that last around 2 hours. I spend time before we get together researching the business and their industry. I send a follow up report and other materials. I know it’s a good investment because I can find ways to save and to make more than $500. These sessions are not about the face time, they are all about the value I provide.

I will do a one hour $250 session, but quite frankly, it’s a loss leader for me. Realistically for me, I can only do a few of these a week, otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the pre and post work. Dollar for dollar, there is more superficial value here, but it’s too short a time to dig to find the priorities, not just the low hanging fruit.

In the same way that a good such as clothes or car parts is marked up to cover the costs to get it into your hands, information reflects so much more than just the time to hand it over. A $250 hour is not just an hour.


Your lesson

When you come up with pricing, you need to think about all the time it takes. It helps to think about it in terms of how many can you do in a week. That includes your Sunday afternoons doing the bookkeeping and your evenings returning calls and your early morning preparation for the day.

Don’t forget about sales time, professional development and follow up. They are all very important in providing really good value.

Not every hour is worth $250

Different work is priced differently. I do other work that is much lower value and I charge much less for it. I don’t mind doing that sometimes because it’s work that I don’t have to prep for it, it’s mostly ongoing, and the time is pretty much just the time spent and billed. It also tends to be the easy work for me.

Your lesson

It’s okay to have different rates for different work. It means you can charge more for work that provides more value because of your distinct skills, talents and strengths. It costs you money to get a new client, so once you have a client, your best pricing should be for them.

Do you charge the same rate for changing oil as you do for diagnostic work? Do you charge the same rate for a 1 hour repair as you do for a 9 hour job?

Knowing where to hit

Once a large ship’s engine failed. The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure how to fix the engine. Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was a youngster. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.

Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed! A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for one thousand rupees.

“What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!”

So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.”

The man sent a bill that read:

Tapping with a hammer …………………… $ 10.00

Knowing where to tap …………………….. $ 990.00


This story is told many times. Sometimes it’s a car, sometimes it’s machinery in a factory. The ultimate price goes up based on the cost of the cost of the machine sitting idle.

Your Lesson

You know more than your client and that knowledge took you a long time to get. That invested time has value.

People aren’t interested in information, they need answers to their problems. They aren’t looking for a how-to manual, they want their problem solved.

The bigger the problem, the more value you bring. Focus on solving bigger problems if you want to increase your value and your rates.

Who pays $250/hour?

Not everyone will pay for all you bring. Sometimes it seems like the people who need us most have the least ability to pay.

I had a client who needed some help with making his business more profitable. He wasn’t able to pay the full fee, but could I help him anyway. I did. We did a short session. He was a current client so I was already pretty familiar with his situation.

I followed up a few weeks later. No, he hadn’t had the time to implement most of my suggestions, he was too busy buying and setting up his new big screen tv (back when they were much more expensive than today.

Six months later he asked to get together again, because he was in trouble again and he wanted to go over some of the solutions we had talked about. No, he couldn’t pay my full fee, but this was only a follow up, right?

I learned that people will value your help at what they pay for it; that ability to pay is very relative; and once you give your time, people believe that’s how you value it, too.

Your Lesson

Who will pay $250 ?

  • People who believe in their business and want to invest in making it better
  • People who are open and willing to make changes
  • People who have experienced how a small change can equal big returns over a period of time
  • People who value their own time

How about you?

Are you worth $250/hour

Could investing $250/hour save or make your business more than that?

What would it take for you to make $250/hour – and how many of those hours can you do in a week?

What do you think?


Be Awesome, Let People Know

Michelle and Maggie giggled with delight when Janet gave them the business cards with their names on them. They had oohed and aahed over the the new name and logo on the truck. Janet’s Roofing. The Careful Roofers.

They got to the new job and Janet put their sign on the lawn making the girls giggle again.

“Have you got everything you need?” asked Janet preparing to leave the girls.

Maggie had a look at the delivery. “We’re short a piece of starter strip.” She picked up the packing slip and had a look. Janet smiled to herself to see Maggie taking control of ‘her’ site,

“Janet, how do you order the materials for each job? You are very good at it. We almost always have just the right amount of everything.”

“I picture the job as I call it in.”

“Don’t you do a take-off when you do the estimate? Do you do it twice?”

“Sort of, I guess. This is pretty easy for me.”

“What if you do the estimate and give me a copy and I’ll call in the order. It’ll save you a step and I’ll get to learn more about how to estimate and manage.”

As they were driving home at the end of the day, they chatted about where to drive the truck and where to park it to get more exposure, now that they had the logo on the door.

“I’ll be at the Habitat for Humanity building site Friday and Saturday. I’ve decided to make it our official charity. I like giving back and now that we are getting paid better for our work, I can help out this way.”

“Me too!” they both called out.

“We want to help, too. I love Habitat for Humanity”

“It’s fun to teach other people, especially if there are kids there.” said Michelle.

What Kind of Roofer is Janet?

“Janet. This is my friend Mark. He’s the one who made your proposals look so great.”
“Thank you Mark, I hardly recognized myself.” Mark chuckled.
“No problem, Janet. Mike says you have a great business, but you may need some help with your branding and marketing.”
“Branding! Isn’t that for much bigger companies than mine?”

“Every business has a brand. Your brand is how people perceive you. Without any other clues, people will think about you based on their experience with others like you. From what Mike says, you are different than the others and there are distinct people you like to work with. Consciously working with your brand, helps people see you for who you are. You’ve been in business for 8 years, right? You have many happy customers?”

“They call us back when they need more work done, but of course that doesn’t happen often.”

“Do they refer you?”

“Sometimes, I think.”

“Do you ask people how they heard about you when they first call you?”


“That’s a start. You need to know how people are coming across you. Secondly, you need to make it easy for happy customers to refer you. But these are tactical questions. First, we need to figure out what kind of roofing company you are and who you like to work with.”

“My favourite is helping people who are having a tough go of it to get a warm safe home.”

Mike and Mark looked at each other. “Janet, it’s awesome that you want to help people, but you can’t build a business helping people who are not able to pay. That doesn’t mean you can’t help them, only that your business needs customers who can pay. Maybe you could get involved with Habitat for Humanity.  They need skilled people with tools to help. Your business can support them; but it needs to be a business making money, first.”

Janet looked at Mark and Mike. She had been giving this a lot of thought and had come to some conclusions. Should she share them? She took a deep breath and plunged in “I think I’ve realized that I need to hear people appreciate the work we do as well as pay for it.”

Mike smiled. “Everyone needs to feel appreciated. Recognize that and work with it.”

“Mike, you really listened to people and made sure we addressed their specific concerns.I feel really good about the work we’ve been doing lately and it’s great having more money, too.”

“What do you think, Mark? The Roofer who listens? Your Roof, your way?”

“The Careful Roofers”

“I like that. We are careful.”

“And you care for your staff and the community.” Mike added.

“What name are you using now? It just says Roofer on your truck.”

“Some people are uncomfortable with women as roofers.”

“But you don’t want to work for them, do you?”

“I don’t want to exclude people. I will work for anyone who needs us.”

“Be who you are and let people chose you because of who you are instead of who they think you are. I would think being a crew of women and calling yourself the Careful Roofers would attract certain people.”

“But not everyone.”

“Exactly. Why would you want to work for someone who is not happy having you working for them”

“Mike said you wanted to see a bunch of my estimates.”

“Yes, I would like to put together a branding package for you.”

Mark showed Janet some branding projects he had done for other clients. Among them was various pieces for a Ed’s Garage: blank estimate form, invoice and flyer, all with the same logo and colours.

Keys to Getting Paid Well

Sell what people want to buy

Listen to your people! What questions are they asking you? What do they want from you? How do they like to work with you?

Implement some feedback you get. Now they are co-creating with you! Your offering has gone from a sales pitch to a mutual project. Now you’re cooking.


Communicate so your customers feel appreciated

More people leave because they feel unappreciated than for any other reason. Listen, really listen. People can tell the difference.

Listen and make changes! Now they know you heard them.

Communicate the results you will provide. Of course, they are the results your people really want.
Take the time and space to think and get comfortable with this aspect of your business

Seth Godin once said to me (and everyone else in the auditorium) “You can’t sell what you won’t buy.” You can’t sell books, ebooks, coaching, pools, cars, professional services or anything else if you won’t buy them yourself. In his story it was knives door-to-door. He bought a set and successfully sold them. His colleague didn’t buy a set and didn’t sell many. If you aren’t comfortable buying, you can’t be persuasive selling.

You have to be proud of your price. As you name your price, you have to look the other person in the eye, with your chin held high and say it right out loud. If you can’t do that, you won’t sell your goodies. Take the time to get very comfortable with your value and your price.
Get feedback from your mastermind group about your price and offering

These decisions can’t be made in a vacuum. Your mastermind group can help you with examples of others who have offered similar and how they did with their pricing.

Your mastermind group can help you get comfortable with your price. They will push you to raise your prices when the time is right. They will give you 10 reasons why you are worth what you are asking.

Who, what, how, how much?

Fill in your work sheets for this week. Think about them, talk them over with your mastermind group, tell your customers about them.

Week 4 – Activity Get Paid Well

Doing the work you do is half the transaction. Getting paid appropriately and on time is the other half.

These worksheets take you through your business model, your pricing and your accounts receivable. These three business practices, are essential to getting paid well.

Get Paid Well

My ‘Day Job’ is owner of Crystal Clear Bookkeeping Ltd which is metamorphosing into Crystal Clear Money Management for Small Business. We are preparing courses and modules on all aspects of money management including these. If you need more help with these aspects of crafting Your Effortless Business, please click on over to here.

Week 4 – Getting Paid Well

This week we will examine our business model; we’ll talk about pricing and tie that in with our marketing.

Our business model is what our business is about – who we help, what results we give them, how we do it and what it costs. We clarify these things so we can test to make sure we have a market and that they want what we are offering at the price we are offering it. We look at how we deliver, what it costs and what people will pay. We test to make sure we can produce enough to make as much as we want. We look for the resources we need to make sure we can do what we say we can.

Pricing isn’t just about covering costs (although that is essential) it is an important part of our marketing. Our price tells people what kind of service we offer and it tells them whether this offering is for them.

Last week Seth Godin posted this:

Seth Godin's Circles of Marketing



What we offer is at the core of what we do. How we deliver (usability and support) is next important. Price, our story and the community of people who care are the reason we are doing what we do. The outer ring represents the tactics we use to get our story out.

Everything about how we do our business and how we market starts at the centre. We need to be passionate about what we offer; we need to care about our customers and we need to be good at what we do.


This week we look at what we do, for whom and how that makes us enough money. This week we look at getting paid well for what we do.









Story = Marketing

Abel Martinez Volunteer Docent Guide Piedras Blancas Lightstation, San Simeon, CA telling a storyMarketing is having a great story and telling it.

Your story is what you do and how you do it. It’s your history, your culture and your mission. It’s your vision, your dreams and your plans. It’s who you work with, how you interact and what you do for them.

Your story is what makes people want to work with you. It’s what turns you into a person or company who is likeable and trustworthy.

Predictability = Brand Image
People want your story and how you tell it to be predictable. They want to know it’s you, every time.  They don’t want to confuse you with someone else and they want to follow your continuing narrative.

Environment = Media
Your people want to come across it where they are looking. They want it in a way they can relate and with language they understand.  Which media you choose is based on where your audience hangs out and which ones make you comfortable.

Team Building = Content
Your people want to know that you are there for them and that there are others there, too. They want a conversation and they want to be heard. Everything you say should speak to them and help them know you care. That, of course, assumes you do care.

Well Paid = Business Model
Your people want what’s fair for both of you. They want to reciprocate when you give them good stuff. Your price, your products and your offer are all part of your story. They tell people if they belong working with you.

That’s marketing, branding, usp, tactics, social media, and strategy all rolled into one story. Your story isn’t just about what you say, it’s what you do and what others say about you.  You can’t just make it up. Not any more.

The basics of your story answer these questions:

Who are you and what do you do?
With whom do you work best?
What do you do for them?
Where do you reach them?
How do you relate to them?
What do they want to hear from you?
What’s your offer to help them?
What’s your core message?
How can you wrap that to make it easily communicated?

Bernadette Jiwa tells us, in today’s post, what goes into our brand story and how everything we do communicates it.

Here’s Your Effortless Marketing Plan Worksheet. Your Story and How You Tell It

Answering those questions will give you a start on your story and ideas about how and where to tell it.

photo by Mike Baird

Jason Fried about Getting Good at Making Money

Jason Fried of 37Signals knows a thing or 2 about making money. He’s been doing it most of his life – quite successfully. I must admit to not being totally enthralled with his book Rework, but I didn’t actually finish it so maybe it got better. I do love this article of his in Inc Magazine.

Here is a very abbreviated outline of this article. Go read the article, it won’t take long and you will have the outline here to refer to later.

  •  People buy for many reasons almost none of them have to do with the features of your product. The facts are used to justify the decision that is already made.
  •  Find out what the most important factors are.  Make them an integral part of your offering and your marketing.
  •  Practice, practice and listen to your customers.
  •  People will pay if they like it. Even if it’s free elsewhere.
  •  There are lots of different models for pricing. Predictability for you and the customer works for both of you. Take away the risk as much as possible
  •  Bootstrapping means a focus on getting a product out fast that starts pulling in money. That means focusing on what customers want.
  • Practice, test, try again.

What one thing did you take from this that you will change from your business?

Are you selling what people want to buy?

A couple of women from a local job-finders group just stopped into my office.  They are walking around to gather information about the businesses in our town.  They had only just begun and they were surprised by how many different kinds of businesses there are tucked away.  I was once asked for what I look for when assessing the entrepreneurial spirit of an area.  “I look to see how niched the businesses are,” I replied promptly.  “Not just plumbers, or renovation plumbers, but plumbers specializing in bathroom remodeling in a Victorian style with claw foot tubs.”

How do you get to that point?

Most people start a business aiming pretty widely.  They start as a plumber for hire.  They may prefer renovations over new installs.  As time passes, they may do some jobs involving claw foot tubs.  If they have a passion for it and if people are interested they will develop more expertise.  They’ll find out who has a few in the back yard; who refurbishes them; who has the taps that fit them.  Eventually, people will get to know that they are the ones to call about claw foot tubs.

This happens because they tested the market as they went.  They listened to what people wanted and they followed their passion at the same time.  They won’t be working with the tub insert crowd and they won’t be working with the whirlpool crowd.

I told the women from the job-finders club that starting a business is an option and that I help people in business. That sparked for one of them as her eyes lit up.  She told me her passion is retail – sales retail, but (with sagging shoulders) she said that requires too much money and there’s too much involved in setting up a shop.

I told her about a friend of mine who sells environmentally safe products in pop-up spaces about once a month.  She also sells one to one to the people who know her.  I mentioned the farmer’s markets – we have several in the local towns.  There are restrictions about what products can be sold there. There are also craft fairs, specialty shows and flea markets.

It won’t take a big investment, she can start part-time and the best part, I said, is that it’s a way to test what people want.  Once she finds what takes off, she can think about growing into a full time shop.

Keep listening to your customers.  They will tell you what they like of yours.  They will ask for other things.  They most definitely talk with what they buy.

Your Effortless Business is predictable and pays well.  Selling what people want to buy is one of the keys.