Should entrepreneurs talk about their income?

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“How much do you make as an X?” 

This question can make even the most transparent business owners uncomfortable. Chances are, we’ve all been told by friends, business advisors, or blogs never to share our income. But it’s not so black and white. In fact, some see it as an opportunity to grow their business.

So, should you share your income as a business owner or not?

Keep reading. We break down the pros and cons of sharing how much money you make as an entrepreneur.

The pros and cons of talking about your income

The concept of “salary transparency” is new, even in corporate spaces. As a solo entrepreneur, it’s almost uncharted territory. So, there’s no definitive right or wrong answer.

Talking about how much money you make has a lot of benefits for you and your clients. But, too much transparency can lead to awkward, even toxic, circumstances for your business.

Here are some pros and cons to consider before sharing how much money you make as an entrepreneur.

Pro: Attract potential clients

It pays to be open about your income. In fact, entrepreneurs share their income specifically to market their businesses and increase sales. Pay transparency can validate your value. It shows clients, students, and competitors that you’re legit. After all, if you’re making X amount of money, your service must be exceptional. 

Some entrepreneurs make money by teaching other people how to make money. For them, salary transparency is a part of their business model. 

For example, on YouTube, you’ll find hundreds of entrepreneurs sharing their pay to attract new followers and engage their audience. 

How many times have you seen a thumbnail titled something like: “How I made $10,000 in 3 weeks”?

These business coaches want potential students to aspire to their salary. So, they have to come with receipts… literally.  

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Con: Turn away potential clients

Money is a sensitive topic. Even if you talk about your income in the most professional way, there will be people who see it as boastful or rude. The problem is that these people could be your potential clients or business partners. 

So, it’s all about when and how you discuss your income. You have to read the room. Decide who will be receptive to hearing about how much money you make and who will think less of you for sharing.

Pro: Build trust with clients and employees

It takes a lot of vulnerability to be open about your income. And people will appreciate that. As an entrepreneur, you can build trust with your clients and staff by sharing how much money you make.

A client that trusts you is more likely to book another session. And the more trust you build with staff, the happier they are and more motivated to work towards your shared business goals.  

Con: Jealousy from peers

When you talk about how much money you make, you put a target on your back. It can foster jealousy or resentment between you and your peers. In extreme cases, a jealous competitor may take steps to jeopardize your business.

At the very least, jealousy creates a highly competitive environment.  Sure, competition is a good thing. It usually produces a better quality of work. But, it is easy to become caught up and obsessed with comparison. You may be so focussed on outperforming a competitor that you neglect your personal goals. 

So, it may be better to avoid a potentially toxic cycle entirely and keep your earnings private. 

Pro: Help others set a goal

As an entrepreneur, you know how tough it is to take a risk on yourself with no real promise of success. You probably spent months researching the viability of your business idea and potential income and came up with zilch! 

You can break this frustrating cycle by sharing how much money you make with future business owners. They may be undercharging (or overpricing) their services. Your income can act as a guide and even a goal for aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Con: Put yourself in a box

Once your income is known to the public, you can’t take it back. Future clients and companies will use it as justification for their own offers. So, it may be difficult for you to negotiate higher rates or raise your prices.

Of course, there are ways to justify rate increases, but it may not be worth the trouble. If you keep your income private, you can play it up or down as it suits you.

Pro: The truth will set you free

Do you want to share how much money you make with a friend or colleague, but negative emotions are holding you back? Are you ashamed of how much money you make? Are you guilty of making so much? Do you wish you made more? Transparency can set you free. Once it’s out there, these feelings have no hold on you!

Con: Open yourself up to judgment 

You know what they say: give people an inch, they take a mile. When you share how much you make, you open up a door that you might not be able to close. 

People will form criticisms and expectations whether you make a lot of money in your field or a little bit. They may expect you to live a lavish lifestyle or judge you for spending too much. 

Clients may feel like your quality of work isn’t up to standard with what you’re earning (and they’ll let you know!). So, before you share your income, be sure you’re prepared to handle what comes with it … internet trolls and all!

To answer or not to answer

It’s up to you whether or not you want to talk about how much money you make. If you share your income, for whatever reason, find the right time, place, and audience. Miscommunication can be detrimental (and just plain uncomfortable) with this topic. So, try your best to get it right! 

Talking about money can be tricky. But making money doesn’t have to be. PocketSuite makes it easier for you to grow your income. We have a range of dynamic tools, so you can schedule appointments, accept payments and grow your business.