Common Pitfalls of Making the Journey from Penniless to Profitable

Common Pitfalls of Making the Journey from Penniless to Profitable

Do you check in on your numbers regularly? And by numbers I don’t mean social media followers, unsubscribes, or anything like that. I mean the real numbers… the ones that show you if your business even makes you money. The ones you can dig into and find out if your business model is healthy or doomed.

Yeah, those numbers.

Oftentimes, it can feel like digging into your numbers lands you in a dark, scary hole… and even worse, it’s one that you dug for yourself! And if you’re trying to make a difference in the world, a lack of funds could also mean a lack of impact.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can go from penniless to profitable by understanding your business by the numbers.

Common pitfalls of making the journey from penniless to profitable

Sure, you could start making more money today by doing things like cutting expenses or getting your marketing ducks back into a nice, neat row. However, if you want your marketing and sales machine to actually make you profitable, you’ve got to fix your pricing. You can have dozens of new leads in a month, but if your pricing is off then you can actually LOSE money for every new customer you bring in the door. Crazy, but true!

Here’s the even scarier thing, though. There are three big pricing pitfalls you can easily fall into right when you finally manage to climb out of the numbers hole.

You see, when you realize that you’ve got to get this pricing thing figured out right now, three things start to happen:

Under the guise of market research, you start comparing yourself to others.

You think you’re just going to spend some time researching the competition to figure out what can charge for your work within the market. But instead of learning anything of value, you fall into the comparison trap.

Here’s how it happens: You create arbitrary methods for measuring how your portfolio compares to someone else’s. Then you stack up your client list or media features against theirs. And finally, you make an arbitrary judgment call about how your pricing should compare to theirs… without a clue about how they run their business, how they define success, what things look like behind-the-scenes, what their specific flavor of “philanthropy” is, and so many other unknowns.

You begin to fear that you can’t charge enough to keep your business up and running… or to support the causes that are so near and dear.

You think you’re doing the smart thing and assessing the demographics of where you live or how much you think your customers will spend on what you sell. But more often than not you’re just limiting yourself unnecessarily.

When you survey the landscape of your market from a place of lack, you end up with a list of everything your customers don’t have enough of… like money, time, appreciation for what you do. Fear takes that list and uses it to justify your prices. Fear tells you that unless you maintain low prices and give discounts, no one will buy from you. Before long, you believe that the only reason someone hires you is because you’re within their budget.

You develop a bad case of imposter syndrome.

All this comparison and fear leads you right into the pitfall of imposter syndrome. Because you’ve opened yourself up to so much self-criticism tied to money, it’s hard to even imagine someone paying you for your products and services. Worst yet, you may find yourself thinking you’re not a worthy advocate for whichever cause you’re supporting.

Each time you try to work on your business, you end up asking yourself why your ideal customer would hire you when they could just work with this other person who knows so much more and doesn’t charge that much more than you. You start to forget all the happy customers you already have and begin to doubt everything about your business.

So what’s the solution? Forget your feelings and trust the numbers.

The numbers don’t lie like your inner critic does. So if you can do the hard work of understanding the numbers behind your business, you can actually price for profit.

When you make decisions using numbers rather than feelings, you can stop trying to sell to everyone. Instead, you’ll tailor your message for the smaller group of people who will deeply connect with your offerings.

When you price for profit, you confidently sell to the people who are the best fit for what you’re selling and no one else. When you’re no longer desperate to get any kind of sale just to pay the bills, you develop more confidence. Now your customers are happier because what you did for them was the perfect solution to their problem… and price had very little to do with it.

Common pitfalls of making the journey from penniless to profitable