“Charge what you’re worth!” seems to be the catch-cry of business coaches the world over. But if you’re keen to earn more this year than what you earned last year, then stop thinking about this phrase. Stop using it, stop believing it.

Your self-worth has nothing to do with how much you earn – yes, even as a business owner or entrepreneur. The first step to earning more is to divorce the two. Self-worth is intrinsic. As a humanist, I believe that every person’s worth is invaluable and immeasurable. This has nothing to do with your ability to earn money.

Here’s what to try on for size instead.

Take emotion out of it

Socialisation and privilege has a very real impact on your earning ability. And while some factors can be huge and sometimes insurmountable, they may also by able to be changed far more than you may appreciate.

You are likely able to earn more money than you currently are in your business. The first step is to take the emotion out of it.

Money is a powerful force in our macro world as well as our everyday lives. It impacts our freedom, the decisions we make, and the way we view things. Understandably, we tend to get emotional about it (yes, even if we deny that we care about money. Or perhaps especially if we claim not to care about money).

While it’s not easy to take the emotion out of money, try. Especially in business. You’ve heard the phrase “don’t take business personally” – instead, try “don’t take money personally”.

People make personal decisions about who to spend their money with in business – it’s also true that people do business with people they know, like and trust – but this doesn’t mean you’re innately wonderful or innately horrendous. It means that you gel with some people and not with others. Like everyone.

Deeply understanding your ideal clients will make business far easier – and more profitable – while minimising your angst.

Pricing is arbitrary

Pricing isn’t easy and, when pricing services, there’s no single formula that works every time. Pricing is arbitrary – you set your price and people either pay and become clients or don’t. A lot of this has to do with your skill at communicating your value.

You’ve likely had the experience of wondering why on earth something is so expensive and why someone would pay that price – the same applies to your beautiful business. It’s your decision how much you charge, so stop taking direction from random outside influences.

One exercise I like to do with clients who are struggling to come up with a price is to go research the extreme ends of the market. Invariably, they come back with two extreme prices for the same thing.

This applies to almost all cities and towns. I’ve listened, with a straight face, as someone told me that people in Sydney’s eastern suburbs don’t have enough money to pay for her yoga classes (if they don’t have enough money in Sydney’s east, then god help the rest of Australia). And you’ll always find some poor sod selling the farm for a song.

That massive divergence in price has little to do with innate value or some summation of experience + expertise, and everything to do with what the business owner decided was her price.

You’re responsible for communicating value

Your responsibility, as a business owner, is to communicate the value of what you do. You communicate value through industry data and research, your own surveys and case studies, testimonials and ‘social proof’ through social media, media coverage (both your own PR and others in your industry) and your marketing.

Your marketing – especially long-form marketing such as business blogs, videos, white papers and books – enables you to illustrate that you know what you’re doing and to show evidence of your efficacy.

You communicate value primarily through your sales pages, but also throughout your marketing. Communicating value is an essential skill that all business owners must master if they want to grow their businesses.

You test your price by promoting it

If pricing is arbitrary, then you test your price by sharing it. When an ideal client (or perfect match person) pays your price, then you know you’ve done a good job communicating your value.

Value is not self-worth. Value is what others take from your services; self-worth is your intrinsic self-belief.

Money motivates your clients

Especially if what you do is highly dependent on your client taking action, then money is a motivator to get people moving. Think about a free online course versus a paid online course – the free one might well be fabulous, but as you haven’t paid for it, it’s easy to head off to the beach rather than staying home to do diligently do the lessons.

Especially if your clients are after a big transformation that requires change, discipline, discomfort or difficulty, charging more can be crucial to them doing the work required for the outcome they seek.

Finally, it can be easier to sell something if you raise your prices – over and over again, I’ve repeatedly witnessed how clients’ sales increase when they raise a price that was evidentially too low. When your prices are too low, prospects start doubting and questioning the value.

Money motivates you

With the best of intentions, we all get complacent in our businesses. And while it’s good to have systems, be methodical and get comfortable and confident, being too comfortable can easily slide into stagnation and complacency.

When you charge a price that makes you feel a little uncomfortable or even insecure, this can be hugely motivating to raise your game.

A new, high price can motivate you to research what your competitors are doing, apply great ideas from outside your industry, survey your clients more closely, apply surprise and delight to your customer experience, and implement other improvements.

Be (more) generous in your marketing

Content marketing – which is the type of marketing that I do and teach – is built on generousity. When you’re earning more, you’re buying time. You don’t have to work so many hours, you can afford to outsource things you used to do yourself, and you have more time to be better organised – and to be more generous with your marketing.

Start by creating a ‘taster’ or ‘sampler’ of your top-end service offering. What tiny chunk could you offer people for free, in exchange for an email address? How could you make that ‘chunk’ a quick win for people? Better yet, how could you ensure that this taster is specifically appealing to the exact type of person you’re most seeking to attract (ie: your ideal client)?

When you’re selling your expertise, experience, attitude and perspective, you need to give it away to show that you have it.

The more generous you are, through your business blog, videos, social media, e-book and white papers, and the more strategic in who it’s designed to appeal to and how it leads people into your paid services, the more money you earn.