I went to Chicago to speak to a women’s entrepreneurial group. I said a bunch of stuff – I talked for about two hours. But afterward, almost all of the women who came up to speak with me said the same thing. “I loved what you said about value.”
The value of our work turns out to be a huge issue for almost every businesswoman I know. We struggle with pricing and with the value of our time. We agonize over decisions like whether or not to bill a long-term client for a piece of work we’ve done, or how to position ourselves when prospective clients say “I could get this done elsewhere for less.” We don’t have anyone telling us day in and day out “You’re worth it.” But we know we are.
One woman at this Chicago gathering gave me this tip. When she decides to do someone a favor (her business is home and office IT support, so she has lots of opportunities to do favors for people) she does it, and sends them a bill afterward with the amount due crossed out and the words “my pleasure” written next to them. This happened, for instance, one time when a long-term client asked for her help with a friend who was setting up shop in a new home office. The lady went over there, quickly attended to the problem, and sent the “empty bill” afterwards. The bill showed that she had delivered sixty or seventy-five dollars worth of value and wasn’t charging for it, partly because the poor lady who was setting up shop was too frazzled to ask about pricing and the service provider found it easier to solve the problem than to quote her hourly rates; and partly because the new client was a close friend of an old, loyal one.
You can guess what happened. The lady with the new home office because a devoted client and referred many other folks as well. She truly appreciated that initial call and the way that the IT pro had solved her problem for free.
Too often, we’re asked or just expected to do work for free with no recognition of the favor that represents. I can tell you that it happens to me all the time.
Once, when we were just getting the WorldWIT women’s network going, I got a call from a lady I’d heard of but never met. She suggested that we have lunch, near her home in Denver (that’s about 30 miles from where I am). I went down there and we had a pleasant lunch, while she told me about some women’s events she was planning. She asked me for ideas of speakers, and I had some, and she said “we would ask you to speak, but I know you charge a speaking fee and we don’t have budget for that.” Fair enough. Then she said “I need you to promote these events to your audience [that’s RockyWIT, our Colorado chapter] as part of our partnership.” I was still trying to figure out where the partnership piece came in.
She said “Because of our friendship, I hope you can do this promotion for no charge.” But see, the friendship was at that point about 30 minutes old, and strictly initiated by her based on her desire to get free promotion! Ha ha!
Later, my sister advised me on how to respond to this sort of request. She said I should say, “Gee, if we are friends, I’m assuming that you’d like to see me succeed in my business just as I’d love for you to succeed in yours.”
Stand for your value, ladies. No one else will do it if you don’t.