Friday, 5 October 2012

Advice to a New Yorker, by Jon Danzig

Get tough in New York, advises Englishman Jon Danzig
Photo by ShedBOy^'s

An email buddy in New York just started a new business. She felt uncomfortable charging people money and wrote: 
"Because I don't have much money, I don't feel like charging my customers much.  I figure they're struggling too.  But maybe they're just pretending, to get a lower price. That's the stupid game of business.  I know you'll have another point of view." 
And here it is:
  • The world is awash with money. There's enough in the world for every man, woman and child to be rich.  Don't believe me? Just work it out. You need to get some of this money.
  • Stop wearing the cloak of a victim. Be a winner. Value yourself.  Agree to yourself that your your time is worth, at a very minimum, so much per hour or per day. Never, under any circumstances, agree to go lower than that amount, even if it means losing work. Even if it means starving. Once you devalue your daily or hourly rate, to yourself and to other people, it is very difficult to climb back again. Protect your minimum hourly or daily rate like gold dust. You work for money. Repeat it yourself. Remember too that your minimum is just that: your minimum. Your goal is to earn much more.
  • Try to target who your customers should be. Stop targeting people who can't afford you or pretend they can't afford you. If people want a good service (and keep telling yourself, that is precisely what you offer) then it will cost your customers real money. If people say they cannot afford you, be polite, but leave. Fast. You'll be surprised, some will probably call you back. If you hesitate about your rates, people will think less and less of you. Go up market. Target the rich. 
  • When people ask you how much something will cost, look them straight in the eyes, and tell them boldly and clearly and confidently. Practise in the mirror. If you are unsure what to charge for a particular job, tell them that you will work it out and get back to them. Then tell them, preferably in writing followed up by a phone call. Don't haggle. Don't gargle. Just tell it straight. If they can't afford you, find customers who can. Rule: don't debate rates. 
  • Never give away anything for nothing, not even a discount. If you have to give a discount, then always get something in return. Say, 10% off for 50% up front. Or 15% off for free meals. Or 10% off for payment the day the job is done. You must never give a discount without getting something back. And even then, never, never, never ever discount below the daily rate you have set yourself. 
  • Keep your eyes on the prize. Stay focused. Do one good project well rather than loads of projects half-baked. Remember: you can do anything. But you can't do everything. 
  • If you want to remain poor, please ignore all the above advice. 
  • When you get rich, then you can help all those people who you feel sorry for. But they'll learn most from following your example. 
  • I'm just an English country boy. I never in my life thought that I would be giving advice to a New Yorker on how to get tough! 
© Copyright Jon Danzig 2012


  1. Jon,
    I whole heartedly agree. Never de-value yourself. It's amazing how many people are not prepared to discuss rates for a job.
    Be Bold. Put the price out there. If the client doesn't like it, walk away.

  2. I enjoyed reading your article. Its a very good advice and I may take it, if I set up my business someday.


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