Lightward's pricing policy: Pay what feels good
Lightward's pricing policy is made for all times, and all situations. It was not made for COVID-19, but it feels *really, really important* during COVID-19. Here, I want to talk about what our policy is, and *why* it is what it is.
Pay what feels good.
(2020-03-20) A note, in light of COVID-19: This has been our official pricing policy since January 2020. It took us a while to distill what we know/feel down to this specific policy; but, this is the heart of how we've operated from the beginning, and it's how we handle pricing for all of our offerings (see lightward.com). While this way of doing business has proved integral for many of our existing customers, it's all the more important as the world finds its way forward.
Our top priority is to create health for ourselves, and to give you the best tools we can for creating health for you. (We interpret “health” broadly: healthy transactions created in healthy business can enable health in a million other areas.)
We believe (a) that the financial side of this is as important to get right as the functional side, and (b) that the best way to guarantee healthy financial movement is through clear and invitingly open conversation.
In practice, here's what that means:
- When you do business with us, we suggest a price based on what we know about you.
- If the price feels good to you, you pay it – no further conversation needed.
- If the price we suggest doesn't feel good, you tell us what price does feel good to you. This is important: the price we suggested was based on the best knowledge we had, but we're not claiming to know your entire story. In this part of the conversation, we rely on you to improve our knowledge of what's right for you, by asking you specifically what price you'll feel good paying.
- Our turn! If we can meet you at that number, we will, and we all proceed. If we can't, then we'll talk about that too – it'll be our turn to execute step 3.
A note about “what feels good”: when talking about numbers, it’s that sweet spot where you feel you’re appropriately investing in something. Only you know what that number is for you, where you’re neither straining yourself to afford the thing, nor paying a number that represents undervaluing what you receive. If that gives you pause, it’s okay. Take a minute and feel it out. :)
That's the entire policy. We apply this everywhere, in both our off-the-shelf-ish offerings, and our more involved engagements.
Because we’re here to catch hands with you and make something. It’s only secondarily about money.
Because we don’t believe in having to watch your back when focused on your work. If your financial circumstances change out from under you, we’re the last thing you have to think about.
Because a stable relationship is made of the mutual trust that we will both show up again tomorrow, even if we need to ask something different of each other when tomorrow comes. We’re here to make something real, not make a castle out of contracts.
Ultimately, it’s because we recognize that numbers are a clumsy-at-best proxy for value. Especially with software. Who knows what any of this is worth, you know? For us, numbers only make sense in terms of specific relationship, and that value can only be discovered in conversation.
It should be said that not everyone will opt in to this conversation. That’s okay. We’ll never, ever force a conversation. That’s not a relationship either. Everyone is free to accept our suggested price immediately, or to walk away. Because we begin with a variable price suggestion, based on what we can see about the specific customer at hand, we make more from those non-conversations than we would if we offered everyone a single low flat rate. (We used to do that.) We feel ethically clear about this because of the transparent invitation to talk pricing. If the suggested offer works for you, great! We’ve made that offer from a place of self-respect for ourselves and our own value. If it doesn’t, great! We made that offer while only knowing the barest details about you. Tell us what feels good to you instead.
And when you tell us, we do require that you tell. us. Like, in an email, addressed to us, signed by you. We don’t give you a text box inside the app that automatically grants us whatever price you type in.
There are two reasons for this. First: we get a say, too. This conversation is about respect and acceptance for both of us, and we won’t enter into any situation in which we feel actively devalued. It’s not worth it. Second: this is about human relationship, and a text box is not a person. A text box is for “pay what you want”. But we’re talking “what feels good” instead, and because that is highly dependent on the relationship context, you have to talk to us about it. You have to participate in the relationship. It’s easy to type a one into a text box and hit enter. It’s less easy to make direct, one-to-one contact with someone, and behave disingenuously in that context. We’re showing up honestly and openly, and we very directly ask the same of you, too.
We have this theory, this feeling, that an economy made of this kind of arrangement would Just Work. We think it would result in balance, and peace. We can’t prove that, and we recognize that we’re speaking from our specific corner of the world. But still, this feels right.
This is the kind of business we want to run. This is the kind of business we want to do business with. This is the kind of world we want to live in. Dear friends: it works really, really well.