Pay What It’s Worth
In Pay What It’s Worth, Tara Joyce provides an elegant framework for understanding how not setting prices can be a viable strategy for your small business. Consciously explore your relationship to money, to other people, and to exchanging value. Imagine, the growth made possible when you don’t set a limit to your business’ value.
Chapter 1: The Foundations
My Truth: Exploring the Heart of Value
It would be convenient to think my own journey with Pay What It’s Worth began when I was shaping my business—but the reality is, I started on this adventure far earlier. My education, experiences, and environment were all integral to my decision to take this journey. They formed the foundation of my relationship with money, and my recognition of it as a tool for empowerment.
Business was a fundamental part of my life growing up. My father is a real estate entrepreneur and very much a traditional businessman who thinks of profit first. For him, a day is worthwhile and joyful when he makes money. As a kid, I discovered business was a powerful tool to connect with him, and to build our relationship. We would spend time together talking about his business and the business world at large. I found satisfaction and love in connecting with him this way, and in supporting him however I could, that, as odd as it may sound, business became one of my favourite tools for exchanging love. This early belief stayed with me. No matter what the rest of the world thought and taught, I knew the truth. Business is about relationships—it is about exchanging value and it is about service. It is in my nature to be loving and generous, and business became a natural tool for me to express this.
At a very early age, I also had my first lessons in understanding my external value, and my first experiences of providing a service and of being fairly paid for it. At the age of two, I was employed as a model and I received my first paycheque. I continued to work steadily as a child and to learn about the intrinsic value of doing my best work, and the external value of being paid for it. Later, when I was fresh out of undergraduate business school, I participated in my first Pay What It’s Worth experience, though only years later did I realize that was what it was. I was a marketing associate, and one of my roles was doing the accounting administration for our department. Each month I would process the blank invoices of our graphic designer. My manager would determine the price on the invoice and how much our designer would receive for the project(s) he’d worked on. Their relationship’s foundations were shaped by trust—he trusted her to fairly value his work, and she trusted him to skillfully and consistently deliver work she valued. There was an ease and fluidity to their relationship that unknowingly stayed with me. When I shaped my own design business this experience helped me feel confident that nurturing my relationships would continue to bring wealth into my world.
Does this truly answer why I came to question setting prices and why I was willing to risk my business health (and my personal wealth) to explore an alternative? I’d say, no, not really. The truth is there was something deeper, more unconscious, driving my decision… I was in pain, and I was looking to relieve it and heal myself, using business as a tool. Extremely sensitive to money being misused, especially to gain power over another, I was hurt by and rebelling against the scarcity mindset and fear-based messaging I saw all around me. I objectively live in abundance, and yet I had learned to believe in—and invest in—scarcity. As my colleague Ebele Mogo wrote, “a language and logic of fear and scarcity around money and finances” (personal communication, July 13, 2014) pervaded my world. With my newly forming business relationships, I could choose differently—and create things differently. Not setting prices was my way of critiquing my experience in a scarcity-focused economy, by creating a different relationship with money and with exchanging it than I had known previously. It was my money pain that led me to question my scarcity mindset and to feel I could trust people (and myself) to be fair in their giving. I needed to believe there was a different perspective on money, and of others, that I could grow wealthy with.
Overview & Preview
What if the customer determined the price they pay, rather than the business, based upon the value they receive? How might that change things? Pay What It’s Worth pricing is a system allowing for a different way of valuing the products, services and experiences we have and exchange with others. Each of us has the power and ability to create our own economy, and approach to valuing products and services.
In Pay What It’s Worth, you’ll explore the power and potential, as well as the pitfalls, of not setting prices. Mutually beneficial exchanges are possible and sustainable for you, as a business owner, and as a customer. Your integrity is your most valuable wealth creation tool.
"Pay What It's Worth will cause you to re-evaluate your understanding of business, money, and value. Tara Joyce has done the research and work to demonstrate that we can shift from extraction and zero-sum models to shared respect and value models that add more depth, self-awareness, and dignity to commerce. Definitely a new, more relational approach to business."
—Keith Witt, Ph.D.Author of Loving Completely, Shadow Light, and The Gift of Shame.
"It gave me the basis and strength to believe in other pricing ideas."
Restaurateur & “Pay What It’s Worth” practitioner, São Paulo, Brazil
"Beyond innovation in pricing, the book allows you to evaluate, redesign and take responsibility for the systems and economy you find yourself in, while giving you building blocks to create change in the systems around you."
—Ebele Mogo, Ph.D.
President, Engage Africa Foundation
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