Tag Archives: money talk

Money Talk: Business

Last week I wrote about talking about money in your personal life, particularly the places where it is most important to discuss the stuff!  This week the discussion continues with the focus being on business money talk.  Here we go…

Money Talk: Business

It seems like we talk about money all the time in business, and, to a certain extent, that is true.  However there is a distinction between talking about money ‘in your business’ and talking about money with your clients.  Two different things.  And it is even more likely if you are self-employed in some way (which most of my clients are), that you don’t talk to anyone but yourself about the money ‘in your business’.

When it comes to one-on-one conversations about money we get tangled up between the businesspersonal and the business.   What I mean by that is the conversation with one other person about YOUR fees or what YOU charge feels pretty darn personal.  There you are putting a dollar figure on your time, energy, expertise, experience…all that and more…geez!  You feel like you are putting yourself on a plate, and that brings up all sorts of emotion about you and money.  Are you over rating yourself?  Will they think you are pushy?  What will they think of you and your fee?

Or maybe you go too far the other way to being self-effacing and undervaluing yourself and your work? Always discounting your fees?  Stating your fee and then backing off, or maybe adding on free stuff?

That’s on you.  It’s all your stuff.

Let’s look at it from the perspective of the client.  Remarkably, they actually want you to talk about money.  They want to know what to expect.  How much they are going to pay for your services.  And they want it in a clean, clear, matter of fact sort of way.  If you don’t give them that, you create confusion and emotion with your client, that just isn’t necessary.

Here’s a prime example.  I use this wonderful guy to help me with technical stuff that just confuses and bewilders me.  One time we were doing a project and I asked him:  “How much will the cost be?”   His response was “Don’t worry, it won’t be much”, so I asked again and got the same response.  He was assuming that I was worried about the cost.  I wasn’t.  I just wanted to know.  Notice how he was concerned about something I wasn’t?  When we say things like that, we can actually create problems that weren’t there to begin with.

There is a difference between being up front and direct with a client about your fees, and talking to your neighbor about them.  It’s part of business, and we all want to know what we are going to pay for something before we buy it.

Before you carve this in stone, let me make clear that there are times you don’t talk about your fees with perspective clients.  In this case I’m talking about people who are offering a service, and intangible rather than an item they can take home.  When you first meet someone, the initial conversation often goes something like:  “Hi Jane, nice to meet you.  What do you do?”  You then answer that you are a provider of a marvelous service (coach, writer, consultant, web designer, etc).  The next thing they say is: “Oh, wow, what do you charge?”  You do not want to answer that question at that time.  It’s not a real question.  It’s a signal that tells you that part of them is interested, and part of them just wants an excuse to end the conversation.  If you state your fee, at that time, before the person knows anything about what you really do, you are more than likely making sure they won’t hire you.  Instead answer that question this way: “I hear that you are interested in knowing what I charge, but before we go there, tell me more about your business (or how I can help you, or what you need, or almost any open-ended question).  It’s not only fine but appropriate to talk fees once you have explored what they really want.  If you do it before that, you are falling through what I call the Money in the First Position Trap Door.  The likelihood of you having the perfect fee (not to high, not to low) for them before they know anything about what you really do is very slim.  So don’t put yourself there!

So bottom line.  Tell your clients (meaning the people who actually do want to work with you) about your fees and charges in a clear and direct way.  Everyone will be happier if there is no guess work in the process.  Keep your emotion about money out of the conversation and just give ‘em the facts.



Money Talk: Personal Life

“What?  Talk about money.  Oh no.  I can’t do that!”  I know that we were all raised not to talk about money.  It is, after all, the great taboo.  Even if you weren’t explicitly told verbally not to talk about it, you were ‘told’ by the actions you saw.

So here you are, an adult, and some sort of entrepreneur*: what do you do with that ‘don’t
talk about money’ thing now? personal

* The odds are really strong that, if you are reading this, you are self-employed, commission based, or an entrepreneur.  The explanation of why that is true is yet another blog…so back to the issue at hand.

Let’s make some distinctions here. Talking about money in our personal lives is different than talking about money in our business lives.  And since it’s such a big place, it’s going to be several blogs over several weeks!  So there!

Money Talk: Personal Life

Simply isn’t done, is it?  You’ve been trained that it’s rude or even crass to talk about money in your personal life.  Ironic, isn’t it, since we use it every day.  Additionally, there is so much emotional baggage around money that we feel weird even trying to talk about it.  This creates a genuine mess for most couples.  Another irony about this, from my perspective, is that money doesn’t actually create the emotion; we do.  Money has no opinion.  Ask money “how am I doing?” and it will say “you have $ 5,432.16”.  It won’t even engage in whether that is good, bad or indifferent.  We do that all on our own.

It’s a challenging thing to change this money talk stuff in our personal lives.  There is a great deal of cultural pressure to not talk about money.  And I think there are two places where you want to throw ‘caution to the wind’ and talk about it.  With your partner or spouse, and with your children.  Yep, you got it, with those people closest to you.

There are both emotional and practical reasons to talk to both your partner and your kids. When couples have money issues, it’s mostly about that the other person doesn’t see things the way you do.  Which, oh by the way, is actually one of the things that attracted you to them.

At the end of a talk I gave, a lady came up to me and said:  “Your talk was really great.  I need you to fix my husband.   He does all these really detailed, weird spreadsheets and wants me to track my spending.  Isn’t that just ridiculous.  I mean really!”  Seems pretty clear they are on different sides of a giant money chasm.

It’s tough to talk about money, not because money is so tough, but rather because what we make up about it is.

Think of it this way: most of us really do want more intimacy with our partner.  If we talk about money that will happen.  We will learn a lot about who they are, what they fear, where they need support.  And they will learn the same about you.

Here’s how to start. Ask about how money was when your partner was young (under 10).  Just be curious.  Try and understand how it was to be living in that world.  Have empathy.  The truth is that your partner is still in that world as far as their money thinking is concerned.  Then, some other time, tell your partner about how money was when you were a kid.  Go easy and slow.  There is a lot to learn here.

What about the children?  For many people, talking to their kids about money is even scarier than talking to them about sex.  You want to talk about money in ‘age appropriate’ ways.  The stock market isn’t what to talk about to a 5 year old.  I coached this guy once that just couldn’t save money.  He couldn’t save money because of what his parents had done.  One day they had broken open his beloved piggy bank and taken all the money.  He decided it wasn’t safe to save.  What actually had happened was that his parents had indeed broken his piggy and taken the money.  They took him and the money down to the bank and deposited it.  He ended up with this little blue book with numbers in it.  Here’s the problem; he was too young for this.  It wasn’t age appropriate.  He didn’t understand the silly old book or the numbers scribbled in it.  He’d had real coins and now he had a book.  Yuck.  Where’s his money go?

You can see that the parents were well intended, but they both went above what he could understand, and didn’t actually talk the whole thing through with him.  He thought his money was gone.

Here’s a caution about money and your kids.  Don’t get your money angst and emotion on them.  If you feel bad because you don’t have enough money for what they want, you are tying emotion to the money, and they will feel that and take it on.   The biggest thing your kids react to and internalize are the emotions you feel or express.  And they tie them to the thing you are feeling about.

Talking to your kids about money is not so much for now, as for the future.  They could have a relationship with money that is better and more effective than the one you have, if you can frame money differently for them now.

Please do start talking to your partner and your children about money.  Let’s change this taboo for the sake of having money be able to actually do its job, which is to tell us how we are doing.

Stay tuned to this Bat Channel for next week’s topic of talking money in business!