Picture this: You’re running a successful business—and as your reputation grows, so does your workload. Your days are getting longer, and the nights shorter. You’re buzzing from one task to another like a bee in a sunflower field, so absorbed in the hustle that you hardly have time to pause and take stock. But here’s the question you need to ask yourself: Is this frenetic pace a boon or a bane? The answer isn’t as complicated as you might think. It’s just about knowing when to act and how. Let’s delve deeper into it, like an explorer unearthing hidden treasures.

First, envision your busy schedule as a rising tide. Picture yourself standing on the beach, watching the waves inch closer. It’s exhilarating, but there’s an underlying fear. Will it be a rising tide that gently submerges your toes or a tidal wave that crashes down on you? As author Kelly Goto astutely advises, “Charge what you can.” But how do you determine what you can? The answer lies in the ebb and flow of your business, in your understanding of the demand for your services.

Imagine your business as a theater performance. You, as the lead actor, are “on stage” when you’re actively working, billable. When you’re “off stage,” you’re not billable, busy with behind-the-scenes tasks like administrative work, emails, or strategizing. Now, if you’re spending more than 70% of your time in the limelight, it’s time for a standing ovation. Your skills are in high demand, and it’s your cue to raise your rates, like a celebrated actor who commands a higher fee with each successful performance.

On the other hand, if you’re spending less than 50% of your time under the spotlight, it’s time to rethink your performance strategy. Perhaps your rates are too high, and your audience is seeking a more affordable show. Lower your rates, attract a larger crowd, and soon you may see your theater filling up again.

Then comes the tricky part: dealing with legacy clients. They’re like your first cheerleaders, who supported you when your business was a fledgling trying to spread its wings. They were your lifeline, but now they might be more like anchors, holding you back from soaring. Letting them go feels like abandoning your first fans. But remember, a bird cannot fly high if it’s weighed down.

By releasing these ties, you gain the freedom to take your business to greater heights. It’s a win-win; they deserve someone who can give them their full attention, and you need to do your best work without restraints.

So, as you navigate the waves of your busy life, remember that your rates aren’t just numbers; they’re indicators of your value, they’re barometers of demand, they’re your instruments to maintain a balanced business.

The key is to recognize when to adjust your sails and ride the rising tide without fearing the tidal wave.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.