Stay Positive in a Negative World, Part 8

January 7, 2008

by Matt Michel

“As a rule, men worry more about what they can't see than about what they can.”
Julius Caesar

You’re assaulted by negative information, making it tough for anyone to stay positive in this day and age. So how do you manage it? Some of these techniques may work for you, while others will not. Some might work for a while, but lose effectiveness over time or with repetition. That’s why there are 50 tips.

33. Charge Enough
If you want to improve your attitude and outlook, charge enough to earn a profit.  Earning a profit is a no-brainer, right?  Apparently it’s not.  One of the leading reasons small businesses fail is that they simply do not charge enough.

Companies fail to charge enough for a variety of reasons, with ignorance leading the list.  In fact, ignorance lies at the root of most other reasons.  Business owners are often ignorant about the market, their competitors, their own costs, and their worth to society.

I could write a book about pricing (in fact, I think I have).  For now, I want to focus on how a business owner’s perception of self worth affects pricing and vice versa. 

In the end, your pricing reflects your value.  When you fail to charge enough to make a profit, you’re telling yourself and the world that you’re not worth much.  That’s a horrible thing to live with.  When you raise prices to profitable levels, you’re sending yourself and the world the opposite message.  That’s uplifting by itself.

Charging too little leads to a life of austerity.  It causes you to question every extra for yourself, your family, your employees, and your customers.  Callbacks, for example, are resented because they’re money out of your pocket; money that you do not have. 

The resentment adversely affects your attitude and outlook.  Others sense it and reflect it back, making things appear even worse.  It starts a spiral that only you can break.  You can break it by saying, “Enough!  What I do matters.  It’s important.  It’s important to my customers.  It’s important to the world.  I’m going to charge accordingly.”

Your prices should be based on generating a profit, given your business’ costs and overhead structure.  If you fail to generate a profit, you can boost prices, increase sales while holding overhead in check, or cut costs.  While a good businessperson will always scrutinize costs to prevent unnecessary spending, you are unlikely to save your way to prosperity.  That leaves boosting sales and pricing.  Either can work.  However, if you cannot increase sales without increasing overhead, raise prices.

While your market accept higher prices?  Probably.  After all, there’s probably someone in your market, in your industry who charges more than you.  If there’s not, if you price more than anyone else, there’s probably another service business in a different industry with a similar cost structure that charges more than you (e.g., talk to the copier repair companies). 

Just like there’s always someone lower priced, there’s usually someone higher priced.  So while there is a price ceiling, it’s unlikely that you’re near it.  If you only charge enough to survive, instead of enough to thrive, you are almost assuredly below the price ceiling.

You are worth a profit.  Your customers deserve a service provider that’s worth a profit.  No one wants a grouch.  No one wants a company that skimps, that makes mistakes by rushing, that always takes the cheap way out.  No one wants a company that cannot readily stand behind its work.

Charge enough to earn a profit and your service will improve, your attitude will improve, and your outlook with improve.

34. Think Like a Texas Aggie
Texas A&M is the Rodney Dangerfield of universities.  Aggies get no respect.  Maybe this makes them the Avis of universities.  Aggies try harder.

While Texas A&M may not win every football game (or even half of the games this season), they never believe they lose either.  Aggies don’t “lose.”  They get “outscored.”  While the difference between “losing” and getting “outscored” may seem like mere semantics, it’s really a huge difference in psychology. 

When you get outscored, you simply run out of time.  It’s not defeat, it’s circumstance.

“You’re just lucky the clock ran out.  If I had a little more time, I’d show you!”

Losing is demoralizing.  Running out of time is not.  Losing is permanent.  Running out of time is temporary. 

All of us have set backs in life.  Are yours permanent or temporary?  Do you lose or simply run out of time?

35. Block Time For Worry.
In Frank Herbert’s classic book, “Dune,” he writes, “Fear is the mind killer.”  Fear paralyzes.  Worry and fear can stop us cold and keep us from moving forward.  Worse, when we focus on the things we fear and worry about, we direct our subconscious minds towards the very thing we fear the most.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to wish fear and worry away.  They nag at you, demanding attention, and refusing to be brushed aside.

Instead of refusing to worry, make an appointment to worry.  Set aside 30 minutes of time when you will worry about everything that can possibly go wrong, about every negative outcome.  If you start to worry during the other 23.5 hours of the day, tell yourself, “Later, I haven’t got time now.  I’ll worry about this during the scheduled time.”

Trite?  Maybe.  This technique is effective for many.  I’ve used it.  Maybe I’m fortunate, but during the times in my life when I was most worried about events and set aside 30 minutes, I couldn’t fill it.  I would run out of things to worry about after five minutes or so.  I bet you are no different. 

Allow fear and worry to run uncontrolled through your day and they will linger, paralyzing you.  Concentrate them in a defined block of time and not only will it free you during the rest of the day, but your problems will seem smaller, more manageable.  Most of us worry a lot when we really don’t have that much to worry about. 

Source: Comanche Marketing. Reprinted by permission.
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Copyright © 2005 Matt Michel

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