‘Because I’m new to the industry, should I charge less just to build up my client base?’

So this is a good question because in my opinion, let’s say you’re a newly qualified yoga instructor, you have no clients – you want clients – and you’re thinking ‘Right, the easiest way to do that is just to discount – make it really cheap – and I’ll get clients.’  Now, the principles of that are good, in that I would much rather you have clients than have none at all, just to get yourself out of the gate.  Just to get some success stories, some testimonials – just to make you feel like you are actually running a yoga business rather than someone who is qualified but still doesn’t have a single client.  I would always rather you have clients paying you less than not having clients at all in the beginning, because it’s important you get out there and you live it and you breathe it.

But here’s what I would say – I think rather than taking the approach of charging very little or discounting to get people in, do it a different way.  Do something that I actually learnt from one of my business coaches, which is called ‘get scholarship clients.’  Now what a scholarship client is, is someone who you effectively give a scholarship to, so you’re saying ‘Hey so I would normally charge 80 pounds a month for you to be able to do one yoga class a week with me but I’m going to charge you 20 pounds a month and I’m going to give you a scholarship for the 60 pounds a month.  But in return for that scholarship that I’m gifting you, what I need in return is this.’  What you can do then is you can tell them how they’re going to earn that 60 pounds worth of their tuition fees for them to attend heir yoga classes.  You might say, ’In return for you having a scholarship which means you only pay 20 pounds a month, I need you to refer one person, per month to one of my free yoga classes, that I can then look to turn into a paying client.  So you need to go out and you need to ask your friends and family and colleagues and convince them – because you like my yoga – that they should come to try my yoga too and see if they like it.  I need one of those a month from you and that’s what will pay for your 60 pounds a month scholarship that I’m giving you.’

That’s a much nicer way to do it than the ‘D’ word – I don’t like the discount word – the D word.  It’s also a much nicer way to do it than saying ‘Oh I’m charging cheap’ because you can set your price.  You can say it’s 80 pounds a month, and that’s what you want to charge, but you’re just letting people come for less than that in return for them doing something for you.  That is absolutely a better thing to do than to discount.

And the other thing I would say is just because you’re new, don’t think you should charge less.  I mean, charge less in a scholarship way to get your classes filled up and get people out there doing referrals for you, but why does you being new mean you should charge less? Surely if you’re new, it means you have the most up to date training because you’re just new – you know all the new stuff because you’ve just qualified, rather than some old crusty who did it 20 years ago (no offence if you did your training 20 years ago) but my point is you could say ‘Oh I’ve been doing this 20 years so I charge more because I have more experience’ or you could say ‘I have the most up to date, brand new, fresh out the box training so I charge more.’  You can charge more with either of those in your camp – it’s just down to you and how confident you feel about charging more.  

So my advice is charge what you want to charge, don’t discount in the early days but give away scholarships so the person parts with less money, but in return they help you with your marketing.   

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