What to do when a client says “I can’t afford it.”

“I can’t afford it.”

Ah yes, we’ve all heard this phrase and we’ve likely even said it ourselves. Life as we know it, is getting more expensive to live, after all.

As small business owners, we’ve likely been told it a lot too (usually, in response to our pricing).

You often feel deflated and begin questioning your pricing after this. You even find yourself spiralling into a panic about the overall future and success of your business. Am I right? We’ve all been there!

Whilst we won’t ever be able to stop hearing the phrase, we can change how we respond to it and how it impacts us as small business owners. “How?” You ask.
Grab that that cuppa you’ve been waiting for all day my friend, sit back and keep reading to find out.


We spend money on the things we value

First things first! You need to understand that “I can’t afford it” has nothing to do with you.

What they’re really saying, is “it’s not that important to me.” To spend money on. 

Sound harsh? Maybe, but it’s true. You and I both know we spend money on the things we value. We’ll find money for these things and put all the things we don’t really care about at the bottom of our shopping lists and the back of our minds.

Remember the time you really wanted that new pretty handbag? You found the money. What about the time you were dying to go on a long weekend down south? You went. Of course, it’s often, the fun and fancy things that you’ll prioritise first, because you can see instant value and gratification in them.

When it comes to clients seeing the value in your service offering, it’s not quite that simple – wouldn’t it be nice if it was though?

Don’t drop it like it’s hot

Now, this is not a cue to drop it like it’s hot (your price I mean). And you don’t need to feel guilty about it either.

So, what do you do?

You have a few options, my small biz friend…

1. Smile and stand firm on your price

Simply smile and stand firm on your price! Let them know that your price is the best price you can offer for the service and results they’re looking for and finish by noting that a lower price would mean you having to compromise on your service, value and the results that service would provide.

If they question this, take the time to show the value of what it is that you actually do. It’s possible they don’t truly understand the value. And, if you’re focusing on selling the features of your service or product, rather than the benefits, that may very well be the case.

They may surprise you and decide to pay once they can really understand the value. If they decide to walk away, that’s okay. Say goodbye and send them on their way. They’re not the client for you. They’re not your people!

2. Lower the price, BUT change the offer

If you really want to work with the client, lower your price, BUT ensure you remove something from your service and overall value. Absolutely, do not provide the same service with the same value, at a lower rate. You’re undervaluing yourself if you do that and you deserve better!

Ask them what their budget is and explain that you could offer the same service but with certain parts removed. For example, if you were quoting for designing a website, you might choose to reduce the size of the website and number of pages, and perhaps remove one round of your included revisions. Maybe your package usually includes the integration of another program into the website – so you could remove that too.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re not giving the same offering for less. You deserve to be paid what you’re worth!

3. Keep your price and offer a payment plan

There is an exception to the ‘it’s not that important to me’ rule. Sometimes, the client genuinely sees the value in your offering and wants to go ahead, but can only afford to via a payment plan.

Do you really want to work with this client? Are you in a position to offer them a payment plan? If yes, then this is another option.

Just be sure to have a clear payment plan and agreement in place and do not provide all your services until all payments have been made (we’ve all made this mistake and it’s not a fun one).

Painful and uncomfortable, but necessary

Hate telling people your pricing? Feel physical pain and that icky discomfort in your tummy whenever you have to bring it up?

You’re certainly not alone. Pricing is one of the top 3 topics I tackle with my coaching clients and 90% of small business owner I work with don’t know how to price for profit and sustainability.

When it comes to money, many of us have mixed feelings about it – longing, fear, insecurities, anxiety etc. Hell, some of us will even hide under our office desks or literally run away if it means we don’t have to talk about it. Money blocks are raw and very real and can stem from as early on as our childhood.

How do most small business owners set their pricing? They wing it like their eyeliner.

This can result in charging based on how they feel, and pulling random numbers out of thin air, which, unless you’re a magician or mathematician, isn’t a good thing!

The pricing confidence cure

So, how do you ensure your ‘winging it’ practice stays in the bathroom with your eyeliner, so you can start pricing with confidence?

I have the cure.

Cue my ‘How to price yourself Masterclass,’ created specifically to help you finally nail your pricing strategy and start charging with confidence.

In just 1 hour, learn the simple and powerful formula I share with all my private coaching clients that will enable you to price with absolute clarity and confidence, eliminate doubts pricing doubts and charge in a way that your business doesn’t just survive, but thrives.

Purchase now.


Want to work on your pricing confidence with me one on one?

Book and hour of power.

Now that you’re coming to the end of your cuppa (I hope it didn’t go cold), do you know what you’re going to do the next time someone tells you they “can’t afford it”?

If you’re still feeling a little lost, get in touch. I’m here to help.

With kindness – Lala xo

Making small business better