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Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is


We have all seen companies that make claims, yet don't seem to support them with their actions. Some practically guarantee you'll love their product, but also don't offer refunds in case you aren't a fan. Others say they want to change the world, but only offer that service to those who can pay big. This scratches a personal itch for me, because I've unfortunately been a part of this problem.

I have worked for and with companies that want to "change the world" by improving organizations around the globe. Alas, those same companies charge thousands of dollars an hour for their service, leaving it entirely out of reach for all but the most successful businesses. I had even been required to tell people I couldn't offer them the slightest amount of help or guidance because they didn't pay. Sure, a business needs to make money, but I believe there's a better way ...

That's why Theory Why Consulting uses a "Pay What We're Worth" model, where clients only pay what they think our services are worth, based on the value we provide. Long ago, I pitched the idea to some skeptical colleagues, who raised many valid concerns. So why did I go through with it regardless?

1) I trust the clients I work with. And I hope they trust me. One of the biggest concerns with this model was that clients might intentionally pay nothing, or very little, just to save the money, and I wouldn't be able to pay my bills. That perspective conflicted with one of my major values, and one of the fundamental concepts behind my business: trust. Trust is a two-way street, and you can't expect it if you don't offer it. How could I pretend to trust a client while thinking the entire time that they are going to take advantage of me? Similarly, how could I expect a client to trust me if the contract says they're going to pay me $X regardless of how much benefit I actually provide?

2) It ensures the most valuable feedback. Although a client can pay whatever amount they think we deserve, we do require a detailed explanation of why they chose the amount they did. Why? For starters, having to explain your actions means you're more likely to make a more meaningful decision you are comfortable standing behind. Secondly, it will provide us the raw, honest feedback we desire to improve everything we do. With normal transactions, most only leave a review if the service is perfect or abysmal. We want that feedback and everything in between.

3) It's the most convenient. Why we exist is to make it convenient for companies to improve their employee experience. Finding a service within one's price range is the first, and sometimes biggest, hurdle to jump over. By lowering that bar, we make the consideration easier and let them decide what to pay us afterwards instead of beforehand.

4) We want everyone to have the opportunity. Going back to why we exist, we do things the way we do because we want everyone to have the opportunity to be happy at work - not just those who work at companies that make a lot of money. By having flexible pricing, we can open the doors to those who would otherwise have never considered it, or who never could have afforded whatever price we had set for them.

5) It can change. Ultimately, nothing is concrete and anything can change. If this process does turn out terribly (which we don't believe it will), we can always modify it bit-by-bit.

Do you have experience with this sort of approach you want to share? Have any questions or opinions? Please don't hesitate to let me know!


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