On doulas and money…are you squirming yet?
If there’s one thing most doulas don’t like to talk about it’s money. For many of us doing this work, it is the biggest ‘issue’ we have to face when working with clients – we apologise, we offer discounts, we offer to work for free because after all we’re not in it for the money…and then we are over-stretched, stressed out, our families and our own children suffer. We are painting ourselves into a corner. The exceptional few, with a spouse who provides the income or money from elsewhere can work. Doulaing becomes elitist in this way for sure. Women with a real calling and gift for the work are excluded, or need to relegate it to a tiny part of their lives as they expend the majority of their time and energy making money to live elsewhere.
Doulas, it’s past time to break this cycle. ‘Business’ is not a dirty word. Money is a part of all of our lives. As Tara Gentile tweeted not long ago, “Money is changing the world. Why not spend more of it?” Why do we, as doulas, feel guilty about accepting money for our services to clients – services that quite literally often change their lives profoundly for the better? And as doulas, where do most of us spend our money? My guess is that most of us are very mindful of where our money is going – where we spend money can / will / is creating an economic revolution.
I have to say that not long ago I was very much like everyone else on this issue. I’m still working on it. Money can be a scary thing. But I had to pull myself together on this issue. Why? Because birth and healing matter so profoundly to me – this is the work I want to be doing. I can only do it if I accept responsbility for myself and my earnings.
I want to share with all of you a few of the things I’ve learned thus far – and share with you resources that I hope will change the way you view money and your business. Because we are changing the world – and as long as we refuse to claim our place in the world, as long as we fail to value our own services, we will struggle to make an impact on birth culture.
What would happen if every parent, instead of sending their money to the bigs of the maternity and baby industries instead used that money to hire a doula?
This topic, of course, could fill volumes. So I’ll break it down to it’s essence today – share a few things I’ve learned about money, and places you need to go right now to start changing how you view money and how you present yourself and your work as a doula.
Money insight #1: You are not taking something away from your clients when they spend their money on your services – you are giving them, most of the time, an invaluable gift. Accepting their money in return means that you will be there to do the work, and will be there to serve more mothers and families in future. It is about exchange and flow – not about ‘stealing’ or hoarding.
Money insight #2: People value what they pay for. Think about it. Have you ever been given something free or cheap, and just not done much with it? But when you invest a significant amount of money in something it means something – it means that you are committing yourself and your resources, it means you think that what you are investing in is worth your time, your energy and your love. By accepting a reasonable fee for your work, you are giving your clients a gift – an opportunity to commit themselves fully to work and a relationship that will impact them for the rest of their lives and into future generations.
Money insight #3: If you don’t value your own time, no one else will – and it is you and your own family who will suffer. This one is self-explanatory. Think about it. Has this happened to you? It has to me.
Money insight #4: Price is pretty much irrelevant. If people really want something, they will find a way to pay for it. Only very rarely is ‘I can’t afford it’ true. Perhaps they can’t afford the £600 pram *and* a doula – but guess which one will bring more benefits in the long run? How many people who ‘can’t afford a doula’ have a new iPad? A Laura Ashley sofa? A holiday abroad? It’s about priorities. For those who truly can’t afford it, we all know there are options – and by charging a fair rate for your services normally, you will be more likely to be there for those who really need you and who cannot pay.
Money insight #5: Your clients need you to be confident and comfortable when talking about money. How awkward is it for them to have you uncertain, uncomfortable, stumbling. It feels icky, it feels unsafe. We want our clients to feel safe and confident – in us, in the work we do together, and ultimately in themselves.
Money insight #6: There are many ways to run your business, not be ‘in it for the money’ and still earn a fair income for the services you provide. Two things that I have adopted that feel really right for me in terms of my doula work – one, a sliding scale for fees, and two, a no-risk money back guarantee for my clients. To me, the latter especially, shows I’m not in it for the money – it ensures that I am more than 100% committed to the work I do, and shifts things so my clients can feel safe in working with me.
Doulas, I hope you are feeling inspired to go out there and become more comfortable around the money side of the service we provide. On the theoretical side, I can really recommend Tara Gentile’s work and especially ebook ‘The art of earning’ – it really got me thinking and transformed the way I think about money. On a practical side, there are many heart-centered business coaches out there – one of my favourites is the lovely Corrina Gordon-Barnes whose website is packed with excellent, inspiring free resources that will be so useful to doulas. Stephanie Dawn has been offering free calls on this topic as well. Finally, also really helpful are the Birth Your Business free conference calls. Get listening, ladies! It’s totally worth your time.
And let me know your thoughts. Do you, as a doula, struggle around money? What have been some of your biggest life-lessons around this issue in relation to your work? How are you doing with the money side of your work right now?