balancing scale with the words "The Line Of Regret"

The Line of Regret

How much should I charge?

It depends, obviously.

But for a transaction to be a win–win, you need to charge:

  1. LESS than the value to the customer, and 
  2. MORE than the Line of Regret for you. 

Let’s look at each of those separately: 

  1. LESS than the value to the customer

Value is relative, of course. 

As Jonathan Stark, one of my favorite authors, says: “What something is worth (i.e., its value) is NOT a property of the thing. It’s a perception in the mind of a human.”

Take a bottle of spring water. 

You will likely value it much less if you’re standing next to that same spring with a cup in your hand.

You will likely value it much more if you’re in the desert and haven’t had a drink in days.

Remember: Whatever your offer is worth to your customer, they will only buy it if they can get it for that amount of money or lower.

And I suggest you aim for “lower,” because giving extra value feels good to everyone.

Note: Many people recommend you offer a 10x return on what you sell.  So a $2,000 course would promise $20,000 of value, for example.

  1. MORE than the Line of Regret for you

There’s a floor to this equation, though. 

Business isn’t just about making your customers happy.

It’s also about keeping you on the proper side of the Line of Regret.

(This is a term I heard from my business coach Erika Bryant. I’m fairly certain she made it up on the spot as she said it, and may not even remember it. But it stuck with me…)

Above the line of regret, you’re happy to be doing the work for the price you’re getting paid. 

It feels fair, worthwhile, joyful.

They’re winning, you’re winning.

Everything is sustainable.

Below the line of regret, you’re wishing you charged more.

You’re feeling painfully aware of the opportunity costs involved in what you’re offering. (“I could be doing _____ instead.”)

The project is draining.

You’re perhaps entering the “obligation-resentment-entitlement” spiral.

The words “grind” and “slog” may come to mind.

Don’t do this to yourself.

Be aware this line exists.

Feel into it for yourself as you name a price.

Take responsibility for staying on the good side of it. 

Because that sweet spot, in the win–win zone? That’s where the good life hangs out.

No regrets,


PS – Both value to the customer and the line of regret are completely personal, relative, and can change. Keep revisiting to make sure you’re in the sweet spot. 

PPS – I tried to make you a chart but just ended up throwing away a lot of Post-It notes. If anyone has a good way to visualize this, I’d love to see it.

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