Yesterday I posted an article from ForbesWoman.com on my member forums that came about because of a discussion on their Linked In Group message forum. Good to see there’s dialog going on SOMEWHERE! But I digress. 🙂

It really got me thinking. This discussion couldn’t have come along at a better time. I have long been an advocate of owning and valuing your worth and setting rates (or commanding a salary) that you are worthy of. As I read the discussions, even though I was comfortable about my decisions in changing my rates, monetizing some aspects of my businesses and restructuring the way I had been monetizing other areas of my businesses, I became more convinced that I did the absolute right thing. As you already know, I have stepped out of the recruiting world and decided to go full speed ahead and turn Empower Me into it’s own real live, sustainable, breathing business entity. I’ve been praised by many, chastized by a few. But in the end all decisions rest with me.

Here’s the deal. I’m going to break this down so that it makes you take a look at not what I’m doing, but how you should be viewing your own life/business/career.  Here are the business tenants I live by:

* When you’re in a business, you’re in it to make money and be profitable. You’re not in it for hobby or to pass the time of day. Once you throw up your shingle, it is your responsibility to generate revenue to sustain the business.

* Nonprofits have their place. But even they have some for profit activities, otherwise how would they survive? On goodwill, faith and prayer? Yes that is a small portion of it.  But rent, utilities etc. have to be paid somehow. Where is this money supposed to come from?

* Nobody is supposed to remain at the same salary level year after year after year. Times change, costs of living change, people change. I’ve never encountered anyone who has refused a raise. As your skills improve and your knowledge base grows, you are worth more. It’s only right that you ASK for it (in some cases demand it). Are you going to stay at the same salary through the life of your career? I should hope not.

* Charge for your VALUE. If you have nothing to offer, or if you offer crap, people will know it. Figure out what you do best and make that your specialty…and charge a premium for it. (Admittedly, I still struggle with this one sometimes). Don’t let people dictate what you can charge. You and you alone know what your worth is and what your financial goal is.

* When people want to complain about what you charge, release them. They’re not your core customer base. Why waste time and energy on trying to change you to fit what they want. People come to or hire you for a specific purpose. When they really want that, they will pay for it. Period.

Some of these may seem a bit harsh, but you know what? We live in a harsh reality. Women are the main culprits who don’t honor themselves by asking for what they are really worth. We let ourselves be used, force to give stuff away for free (through guilt or tug on the heartstrings….”my sista”, “my family” “woman to woman” can you hook me up? You owe me.) Say WHAT!!?? Yes, I’ve heard this. If free stuff was the best stuff, there wouldn’t be paid stuff that’s worth more than free stuff. I don’t think you heard me. Who wants what you can get freely everywhere? Not me. Some things I am willing to pay a premium for. While I’d LOVE free Coach bags, I know that if it came free or cheap, it’s probably a knock off of the original thing. I see myself, my skills and knowledge as a Coach Bag. I’m trying to give that type of service, not knock off service that doesn’t fulfill my clients.

I had a client (maybe she’ll read this, maybe not…I won’t mention names) who was so unsure of her rates. She felt “obligated” to remain low priced to accommodate the needs of the people in the community. But guess what? Upon further exploration, I found out those same people were NOT paying her to begin with! They would bargain her down, guilt her into discounts and make her feel bad about losing business if she raised her rates. I told her cut them off. Raise those rates to what was at least competitive. She has children, and bills to pay. Why should she live in poverty and risk messing up her credit and financial standing just to keep a few customers happy who weren’t paying her to begin with! That is insanity!  I told her to start looking for a better class (yes I said class) of clients.

Let’s look at it from a corporate perspective. Say you’re used to making $80K per year that allows you to comfortably pay your bills, save and invest, and take care of your family. A hot company comes by and they seem to be the right fit for you. You can grow your career with them, you can learn a lot by working with some extraordinary people. So you sit down to negotiate a compensation package. They offer you $40K. Yes, I can imagine the look on your face. Wait that’s not all. They go on to tell you that you should be grateful they are offering you an opportunity to work with a fantastic company AND that you’re capped at $40K per year. No increases, no raises, no bonus. How does that make you feel? Would you work for them?

And that ladies, is it in a nutshell. If you know your value and your worth, you don’t accept anything less, and you especially don’t let other people dictate what you’re supposed to make.  So why in the world would you ask ANYONE to give you anything for free or ask for the “hook up”?  It’s human nature to want to get the maximum for the minimum. I can’t lie. There are times I just don’t want to pay for stuff. But I know I have to, and I do. I don’t want what everyone else has access to. It makes it less valuable to me. I want what’s premium. I prefer Breyers over store brand ice cream…more money, but better quality. I want the Coach bag instead of the off brand look alike. More money, but better quality.  You should be viewing your own business and career in the same vein.

So, stop holding yourself back from earning what you’re worth! That’s an order. And further more, stop trying to hold other people back. Respect their abilities and pay what they’re worth.

Adrienne Graham

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