Business Rants

Call Me Captain Obvious, But…

  • October 16, 2012

I recently found myself in a situation all too common for solo entrepreneurs. A would-be client contacted me, spelling out their dissatisfaction with their current situation and asking what I would charge to set them up in a better one. Why did I phrase that like the situation were potentially negative? I’ll tell you:

My first reaction: who am I kidding? I did some preliminary research based on what information I already had (that’s polite phrasing for Google stalking them), and at first blush was hard-pressed to understand just how I would be able to improve on what they already had. How could I reasonably offer them a service that by all appearances would cost them more?

Have you been there, too? Self-doubt. Self-worth issues. How much soul-searching did you go through before you put trembling fingers to keys to tap out a price point, all the while asking yourself who in the Hell were you to be worth that?

It’s hard, man. At least for me. I trust for some of you, too.

In my case I have a fabulous resource in a loving partner who believes in me and what I do. Here’s the gist of the pep talk I got today:

They contacted you. They are not happy with what they have, and it is up to them to decide whether it’s worth it to invest more money. The responsibility is on them. You go about your business, and see whether they are interested. You are not a dishrag. If people want your help to grow their business they need to be willing to pay for it. Period.

And that’s dead on target. My value added is right there: I can help make their situation better, and my time is valuable. I can second-guess myself and chop my asking price so low I’m sure I’d get the gig, but is it then worth it? Am I in this business to ingratiate myself with people, or to earn a living? If the would-be client is out there to pare their cost to the bone then they’re probably not a client I’d want to engage anyway: such clients tend to be high maintenance entirely out of proportion to what they’re paying.

Stick to your guns. Ask what your time is worth and if they bolt then you’re almost certainly better off in the long run.

So maybe you already knew all of this and are wondering why I’m posting it like some big revelation. Understand, your average solo entrepreneur has little or no marketing background, and is probably as riddled with self-doubt issues as I. Setting prices is a veritable minefield of conflicting emotions and information–what information is out there at all. Self-marketing requires quieting your inner demons long enough to think things through clearly, and they don’t take well to being shushed. I got the benefit of a verbal boot in the butt, and maybe it’ll help you, too

I welcome your comments and observations.

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