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“What should I charge?” How much will my target market pay?” “How much do I need to earn to keep my business in the black?” “How much do I need to pay myself from my business to make my personal lifestyle work?”

These are questions I ask myself every year? The answers change each year depending on what goals and dreams I have both for my business and personal life.  It is also a juggling act between discerning what I need and what I want. Many conversations go on in my head figuring out what my most important priorities are, what will get funded, what will be on the back burner so to speak, and what is needed to make the lifestyle of my choosing work.

I am a firm believer in re-figuring and knowing my target earning numbers each year, for two reasons. One is that I hold this number as an intention for what I want to earn in a given year. When I do this, synchronicities unfold, unexpected opportunities arise and I more confidently step into these invitations from the Universe to meet my target earning number.

Second, knowing my numbers helps me to feel grounded and in control. I enjoy making all the pieces of my life/money puzzle fit together and then like to step back and appreciate what the Universe and I created.  It feels satisfying to me to create a life/money plan that helps me breathe life into my short and longer term goals.

Creating through numbers is not a lot different than taking a brush to a canvas. It’s just taking a pen to a spreadsheet.

Determining your fee structure is both a physical act (taking pen to paper) and an emotional act (feeling good about the fee you charge for the value your clients receive). Sometimes, there is a gap between what you need to earn and the rate you are willing to charge. An inner tension and struggle can develop.

Following are guidelines to support you in creating a fee structure to give your business a solid foundation which in the long run will allow it to thrive and keep you in business! These guidelines address the physical and emotional aspects of setting a fee structure that supports your business.


Calculate the amount of money your business needs to generate annually to cover your business and personal expenses. Calculate the amount of money it takes to live on every month, savings required for short and long term goals as well as those periodic expenses. Periodic expenses equate to non-reoccurring monthly expenses. Examples of periodic expenses are: car registration and maintenance, insurance premiums, health care deductibles, vacations, holiday spending, home projects, sports camps, seasonal clothing, property taxes and a new computer.

Let’s say you determine you need $100,000 annually. Then ask yourself how much you need to charge per billable hour to generate $100,000 annually. Consider there are 2,080 work hours in a year, based on a 40-hour workweek. Consider how much vacation time you want to give yourself. Let’s say you give yourself 4 weeks of vacation time equating to 320 hours. Deduct another 40 hours for personal or sick time. Deduct about 30 percent of time for marketing and administrative time. This leaves you around 1,000 billable hours in a year. This information tells you to reach your income goal you need to charge $100 per hour.


One research study showed that entrepreneurs who initially set their fees on the high side were more successful than those who set lower fees. By setting fees on the high side to begin with, you set the intention of being serious about your business and give it a firmer foundation. It’s also much easier to discount your fees on a case-by-case basis should you desire to do so rather than raise your fees.

Focus on what qualities and value  you bring to your clients and business rather than focusing on what you lack. If what you lack keeps needling at you, take action and resolve the lack.

Begin where you are. You are enough!

Each year, you evolve and when you evolve, your business evolves. Your evolution increases the value of your services. Each year you become more of an expert and your fees need to reflect your “added value” to your client base.

Don’t allow perfectionism to interfere with your fee structure. When I first started my business over 7 years ago I remember saying to my business coach, “I need to get my Ph.D. before I can charge those rates.” She said back to me, “Denise, the issue here is that you don’t feel you are enough already.” She was correct. I took her wisdom to heart and set a fee structure that supported me.

Remember, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should your clients believe in you?


Let go of assumptions about what your clients will or will not pay. Don’t use the economy or your clients as reasons for not taking action to raise your rates. Many of my entrepreneur clients tell me,  “My clients can’t afford that fee.” The truth is you don’t know what your clients can or cannot afford. You have no idea what your clients spend their money on. This thinking is merely your projection onto your client. It’s really you saying, “I don’t feel my product/services are worth that amount.” “I don’t think clients will pay for what I have to offer.” Sometimes we are afraid to ASK for what we want and need.

The truth is, if you value your fee structure, your clients will to. When you are comfortable deep inside with the fee structure you are charging, you radiate that outwardly in the energy you carry with your clients. They will pick up on your non-verbals. If you receive push on your rate from clients, do an internal check-in with yourself and see if you are carrying the energy of doubt about your rate.


When setting your fee if you are selling a product, take into consideration the cost of materials, your time spent, and labor, mailing and shipping costs. Most sources suggest to charge enough to create a minimum of a 50% profit margin.


Ask the question…”What fee structure would support my highest good?” See what answer you receive and compare it with the number you calculate telling you how much you need to make a living. Listen to your intuition, there is lots of wisdom that can come from this way of knowing.


  1. I feel I have been guided to your blog. It answered questions I have/had about how much to charge. In fact, it would seem you did the math for me. As an emerging interior designer, I know my time is valuable, and $100/hr is not unreasonable for someone starting out. 😉 I still have some things to learn/find out before opening shop, but this puts me at ease, a major question answered. Thank you for your blog.

  2. Hi Denise,
    I totally resonate with your ideas on tapping into your intuition for the fee structure. I agree, no one knows what people spend their money on. if you value your level of expertise and what you are offering to the client. At the end of the day you can place your head on the pillow at night and feel good about your services that to me speaks volumes. I was researching the topic and you made the process easy. Thank you for sharing!

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