I’m giving a shout out to my ladies out there! The ones who are in business, contributing to the backbone of society – its small to medium sized enterprises. You are heroes! Each one of you. I look up to you. I feel sorry for you. I feel happy for you. I feel tired for you. I feel energized and visionary for you.
I am one of you. So I think I am qualified to say what I am about to say.
When I studied Business for my undergraduate degree, I left thinking I knew everything there was to know about business. This feeling lasted until about three hours into the first day of trade in my cafe. Six years on, I am feeling a lot older and a little wiser. My last post covers the issue of my brain breaking, I won’t go into it again.
What I do want to talk about is money. I have a number of girlfriends who are starting to etch their way into the business world and all of them (and me) have this issue: When it comes to charging for our work, we clam up. We freak out. We are more likely to give our time/efforts/products away for free than to actually charge for them. So here are a few thoughts – from a businesswoman to other businesswomen.
1. You are good enough to do it. I had a dear friend say to me “But other people out there are surely doing this and can do it better than me.” Well, yeah maybe. They are probably out there doing it, but there is no reason to expect that they are doing it better than you. I’m generalizing here, but we women are notorious perfectionists. So I can say with a fair amount of confidence – You are good enough. Don’t let your self-doubt stop you from chasing your dreams.
2. If you are good enough to do it, you are good enough to charge. People need stuff. Its a fact of life. My first business was/is a cafe. Its easy to hand someone a wrap and a drink and say “That’s $10.” Why? It’s a tangible good. It cost you something to make. It should cost people something to eat. (Whether or not $10 is enough or too much for your product is a whole separate issue). Intangible goods, things such as creative services, can be much harder to cost. But just because you can’t hold them in your hands and sink your teeth into them doesn’t mean it isn’t worth money. Everything is worth something. You just have to find out how much your service/product is worth.
3. If you are good enough to do it, and good enough to charge, then you need to charge. When I started out managing Facebook communities, Twitter pages and doing photography, I did a lot of freebies. I did it to prove to myself that I could do it. But that didn’t take long to prove. I then got stuck in a rut of not charging. Someone would say “My business or group really needs this…we just knew you’d help.” I’d start to say “Okay, well my hourly rate is…” and then I’d see the look on their face. And I’d get scared. And I’d end up not charging. I ended up way too busy and not a cent richer. Can I put it bluntly? I was stupid. I allowed myself to be taken for a ride. You are being unfair to yourself if you don’t charge what you are worth.
4. Know what you are worth. Charge what you are worth. Now, I know that sometimes it actually is strategic to do pro-bono. I did a bit of pro-bono for a fundraiser for a local assisted living group. It was a great cause and I loved the work. I also got exposure out of it. That was good pro-bono. Not charging because someone gave you a scary look isn’t good pro-bono. My husband is much better at charging for things than I am – that’s because (again I am generalizing) men seem to be much better at just saying “Here it is. Take it or leave it” and not getting all insecure if the answer is “I’ll leave it.” So, knowing his tendency was the former and mine was the latter, I got him to help me. We did some research, got the industry rate ranges, decided what ours would be and then did a schedule of rates. I use that to quote now. I still cringe. But its on paper and I have had to learn to work by it.
5. If you still find it too scary, get someone to do the quoting and invoicing for you. That way, you get to just focus on doing what you love. That is where the passion comes from. Passion is where the quality comes from.
But don’t ever tell yourself that you aren’t good enough. Because you most likely are. Plus, if we women never charge for our work, we can never go shoe shopping with the fruits of our labour.
And that’s just not cool.