I am passionate about my business, but have discovered that merely having a passion for one’s particular business is not enough: one needs a business head too. Unfortunately, I don’t have one of those.
Oh, I can do my tax returns and balance the books, but when it comes to charging for my services I’m a wuss! I display my charges on my websites and in other business literature, but it seems that most potential clients like to hear me say it and that’s when I lose my nerve.
I know from continual market research that my charges are very reasonable and compare favourably with similar services without undercutting fellow professionals completely, yet when I try to say the figures on request, I turn into a stammering wreck and invariably hear myself justifying why I’m going to charge less.
Recently, I was put in a situation where I had to do some work for someone who had cut me down to less than 50% of my original quote. The feeling of resentment I carried with me as I undertook the task was immense and spoiled what should have been an enjoyable working experience. I was, therefore, flabbergasted when this person expected me to continue beyond the original contract, but not as flabbergasted as this person appeared to be when I refused politely. It would seem that I should have been grateful for the work!
Now I realise how important it is to know my worth, have my price and stick to it. I read recently that if no potential client ever tries to haggle when you give them a price, you are probably not charging enough. There’s a lot of truth in that. If there’s a market for one’s skills, then there is a price that has to be paid for them. Not charging your worth compromises the businesses of those in similar professions and their perceived worth, not just yours.
That customer who got my services for a song may have been patting herself on the back for getting such a bargain; she may even have been unaware of the going rate. But what I know for sure is that she received a second-rate service from me as my heart wasn’t in the job.
The adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is very true. As to whether I can stick to my resolution, that remains to be seen.
Kathy Salaman is Director of The Good Grammar Company.