An interview about my entrepreneurial journey the other day took me back to when starting: the last quarter of the year 2002.
It was a trying time financially and the tendency to negotiate with prospective clients and allowing them to mark down my charges seemed to be the only way to close a sales project.
Some of my prospects knew me but no one had ever heard of my company. But this is a story for a whole other article.
Do you remember the first job interview you went to and the recruiters and it appeared you could not do the job simply because you hadn’t done it anywhere else? And, I’ll bet you had to suppress the urge to ask where on earth you were expected to acquire the experience without an opportunity gain some.
It’s the very same thing when starting an enterprise. You have a brilliant idea for a product or service you know the market needs but they think it should cost less not because they don’t value it or wouldn’t pay more for it from more established providers but because they think you’re in a weak position as a beginner.
It’s a Catch-22 situation and most people whether hoping to get a job or clinch that ground-breaking project that puts our business on the map will normally buckle under such pressure if only to get a foot in the door so that future employers or clients have a reference point and you have more bargaining power.
As you gain more experience, you inevitably reach your “mark-down” limit. This is the point at which you are comfortable enough with your delivery to not have prospective employers and clients toss you around about the salary you expect or fees you charge.
In fact, by this time you’re usually quite engaged in a job you enjoy or serving a steady stream of clients. You’re not necessarily looking; you’re busy serving. And because your hands are full, you’re not on search mode. This marks the tipping point of the value of the service you provide.
At this point, taking on a new job opportunity or client project ceases to be about what someone wants to pay to whether or not the project is worth your time and effort.
You see, when your value addition is not debatable, you take your place in the driver’s seat of your finances, perks and privileges.
This is the point at which when asked what you charge, you don’t smile coyly before mumbling it. You don’t tilt your head to one side, you don’t clear your throat with an unnecessary “Ahem” and you certainly do not adjust your seating position.
All these are tell-tale signs that you don’t believe your service is worth what you’re charging or that you not only expect but also accept that the prospective buy will want to mark down your fee. Those signs inform your buyer reducing the quoted fee is welcome. And boy, do they just love that!
It’s at this point where the fees you charge takes on a very different character inside your mind.
There’s always the inclination to cost your fee based on industry standard pricing. Not too much above that. Now, when you’re confident about your worth that need to align your pricing to the market simply doesn’t come into play.
I suggest that you master the confidence to charge what you know your service is worth right from the onset. Your value remains your value whether or not it’s ever been sampled. Those who charge what they want do not necessarily offer anything more than you do. They do so because they refuse to accept anything less than what their time and effort is worth.
Employers or clients don’t do us any favours by working with us so it’s unnecessary to behave like an underdog.
You want to take a moment to put the figure that is worthy of you on your contribution or service and shut out that deep need to keep your charges low. Go from cajoling your prospects by reducing your value to stating your fee without batting an eyelid. It is a matter of a healthy self-image. When you have that you honour yourself by accepting nothing less than is worthy of you. By doing that you inevitably train everyone to treat you in the same way.
The writer is an expert on attitude and human potential.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.