I quoted one of my first customers in my new business a few weeks ago. (More to come on that story)
Sounds exciting right? Well it felt terrible.
You see, I’m actually charging money for the first time. This is new territory – I used to be paid on a salary, and then I was paid in meatballs. I’ve never had to contemplate my individual worth and then sell it to someone. What’s an hour of my time really worth?
As soon as I hit the send button on the quote I started refreshing my inbox to make sure the client okayed the price. I felt like I was 16 again, waiting for my high school crush to msg me on ICQ.
Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. You have no new mail.
When I didn’t hear back in a few hours, I went into panic mode. Did I charge too much? Did I come across as rude? Greedy? What if I’m not worth that much? Ahhhhhh!
I paced the hall, biting my nails.
Clearly, they were judging me. It’s not possible that they have a life or a business to run and would respond to my quote later. Oh no, I went to worst case scenario. I pictured the two clients laughing and saying “who does this 26 year old hack think she is? Charging money…. she’s only worth meatballs.”
Refresh. Pace. Refresh. Bite Nails. EXHAUSTING
So, after 24 hours of tortured silence, I gave in. I emailed the clients, lowered my price, changed payment terms and in the end it made my time worth less than minimum wage per hour of work.
I totally cracked under the pressure. I didn’t want to be seen as greedy, how un-ladylike
And then it hit me. I’M BEING SUCH A GIRL RIGHT NOW!!!!
I’m doing the exact thing I warn business women about all the time – not valuing their own time and shying away from negotiation.
This is something I see all the time, women afraid of playing hardball. Now, I’m one of those women. All these people did was ignore me for 24 hours and I crumbled. This is no way to run a business.
Here’s the kicker.
They got back to me after two days (torture) and said there was no need to lower the price. In fact, they were happy to pay the original price because it was really reasonable and they were excited for my services.
Relief and embarrassment flooded over me. All of that anxiety for nothing.
I’m lucky this time because I doubt another person would refuse a lower price.
I’m still the cheapest on the block in order to make my services accessible to everyone, but it’s not free anymore and I’m having a hard time charging money.
I wasn’t like this before. I used to be able to ask for raises and sell the crap out of myself. I was a confident business woman, who could play hardball with the best of them. But, out here on my own, it’s totally up to me to make it happen, and I feel grasping and unworthy.
Like Oliver Twist, please sir, may I have some more.
I think a lot of people feel this way, especially if they are young and trying to forge their career path and it’s a shame because I’m sure a lot of us aren’t being rewarded for what we actually do.
I don’t think that nervousness in the pit of my stomach will go away soon, but I think I finally figured out how to deal.
I quoted another client this week. I reminded myself that clients are just people. They are not some all-knowing-all seeing god of my monetary universe. Just people who are resourceful and smart and if they can’t pay the price, they will say so. Then, the ball is in my court to come down in price or try knocking on another door.
It’s really that simple.
I’m happy to report that so far, every quote has turned into a new client, which means my prices are fair and reasonable. YAY!! I’m feeling good about 2012.
So please learn from my craziness. Whether you’re an entrepreneur charging a client or an employee asking for a raise, you have to ASK and hold your ground.
If you are an entrepreneur, remember that the client came to you in the first place, so you clearly have something they want. Value the service or good you are providing.
As an employee, when you head into your review, remember that the people on the other side of the desk are just people, and they are EXPECTING you to ask for a raise, that’s what reviews are all about. So, you may as well do it.
The worst thing that can happen is that they say no. At least you will know where you stand.
We all have value and have a right to be recognized for it, so get out there and play hard ball.