Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The “Money Problem”

There aren’t many scenarios in which people are repulsed by money…except of course, in the world of business. As a new business owner, conversations about money can be intimidating, uncomfortable and condescending. In a discourse where the exchange of service for currency is inevitable, it’s hard to conceptualize such a fear, but most business owners are able to recount instances where having to pick up the phone and discuss payment was a nerve-wracking as pulling teeth.  

There are three primary factors that are attributable to the money problem:

·         Value - Entrepreneurs struggle to accurately assert a price that is complimentary to the value of the service they offer. In some instances business owners quote clients/customers fees that are much lower than the product value because they fear that the consumer will not recognize the worth; the opposite is also true.  Pricing comes with a warranted level of sensitivity because quite often it dictates how well a business will perform in the respective market.  Consequently, talking about it can result in gaining clients or losing clients and some entrepreneurs are not willing to take that risk.

·         Cultural taboo - Cultures discourage discussions about money. Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs allow that inter-generational value to seep into the discourse of business. Where it is unacceptable to talk about money in the familiar institution, it is equally disrespectful in a financial one.  The symptoms of this cultural taboo are evident in scenarios where business owners are complacent in obtaining late fees, outstanding balances, and unpaid debts. Instead, they carry on quietly and accept the loss, notwithstanding instances where the obtainable amount is not of “significant” value.

·         Social Psychology, “A need to be right, and a need to be liked” - This explanation is quite simple: business owners and people in general, want to be liked and want to be right. When a conversation of money begins to occur, the rigidity of these two qualities is threatened. Consequently, a client may refuse business on such premise.

Talking about money can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary. The following strategies have been effective in relieving conversational tension on this hot topic.

·         Market Comparisons - Compare your prices to your competitors’ prices. Although this may require a little bit of research, the effort is worth the outcome. Pinpoint noticeable financial trends and assess your business on a similar spectrum. If there are businesses that price their services above average fees, evaluate their company to see why. Some businesses may offer additional services, have more qualified professionals, or may have simply capitalized on effective branding.  When you refer to your prices, quoting some of the prices of your competitors will reassure your client that they are not being lowballed. If your business is above average, make the same comparisons, but emphasize what you are offering that warrants a departure from the status quo.

·         Managing Your Motive - Why are you talking about money? How important is the conversation you’re about to engage in? These two questions are fundamental in shaping your thinking about money in business. If both responses yield a matter of urgency and your business will suffer if the matter is not addressed, it is imperative to have the conversation. On the other hand, if your sole motive is to get more money without providing a service that matches same, you’re better off not mentioning it.

·         Formal Non-verbal Communication - Talking on the phone or over a meal in a meeting may work for some business professionals, but it is not ideal for everyone.  Send an email outlining the details of pricing and be clear and direct. Not only does this alleviate some of the burden, but it also functions as binding documentation of exchange between you and the client. Further, emails accommodate, what are otherwise, high-intensity negotiations.
      In closing, the infamous expression, “money talks” is misleading, because money cannot talk until someone else does. And the reality is: if you cannot get rid of the money problem, it may result in a “non-existing business” problem. 

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