Every entrepreneur I’ve ever met has a version of this story to tell: someone asked you to do some work, and you wanted to do it. You wanted the client for the reference, or for the cachet of its brand name. But the price they offered was too low. Conflict! Should I do the work anyway, and hate myself for it? Money is money. But the price is insulting! This kind of thing that can make you toss and turn on your pillow all night.
It may come in fits and starts, but over time you will build your confidence about the value of your offerings. In the beginning, you have to fake it ’til you make it. Say to yourself “I know what I am worth. I will work for $X and no less.” Say it over and over again. Say it in front of the mirror! We all need affimation, and sometimes the best place to get it is from ourselves.
It’s better – much, much better – to lose a client, or two or three, rather than to undersell yourself. People will try to tell you that you’re not worth what you’re asking and that you’re higher than the market. It’s astounding how blithely certain people will say “Well, I think your services are very expensive.” That’s fine. Let them think that. You are who you are, and your services cost what they cost. Why would you work for people who don’t appreciate your value, anyway? They won’t get the best of what you have to offer.
One of the things that I do professionally is speak, as in public speaking. At first, I did it for free. Then I spoke more and more and got better at it. But now, after I’ve spoken professionally for years and have keynoted many conferences and am a member of the National Speakers Association and have all kinds of awards for speaking, people still say to me, “Can you speak to our group? We can pay $500, but that includes travel.” Now, the group is far away from me – more than $500 in travel budget away, in other words – so it’s actually a net loss (not including my time) for me to go. Someone would find it worthwhile to go and speak anyway, to build her speaking resume. More power to her. But it doesn’t work for me.
I say “I’m so sorry, it sounds like fun but I just can’t. It’s just impossible.” There are good and not-so-good clients for everyone. The day after I turn down ‘the opportunity of a lifetime,’ my phone will ring with a true opportunity. It’s like a law of physics, it never fails. The same will happen to you. Try it.