My Biggest Lesson as an Entrepreneur: Knowing My Worth – and Refusing to Settle

When I first started my business, I had no clue what it truly meant to be an entrepreneur.

It’s taken time, but I know my worth as a small business owner and I refuse to settle for less.
Photo by Ryan Riggins

Be my own boss? Sure, I could do that.

Knowing what to charge clients for my services? That was a whole different story.

I had worked for a public relations firm for a few years sandwiched between my last two journalism jobs. The firm’s rate seemed extravagant. I attributed that to the many sales calls that didn’t pan out and the dwindling number of clients.

Now, fast forward to me starting my business. I wanted my services to be affordable. I wanted to get off the ground as soon as possible. And, more than that, I didn’t want to limit my client base, especially because of service costs.

But, sometimes people liken affordable to “cheap.” And no one ever wants to have their services or products be referred to that way.

In retrospect, I set my rate too low. One of my first would-be clients, while phoning from one of their three homes, grilled me about my rate and told me it was more than he and his family could afford. Worried that I would lose this small business as a client, I caved and compromised on a lower rate. It came to be one of my greatest business lessons.

From that experience – and ultimately discontinuing work with the client – I learned to always know my worth. I never again accepted less than I deserved or considered discounting at a client’s request. It’s about knowing your value – and not letting anyone force you to settle for less. Regardless of how low your price is, there will always be someone who wants to pay less.

I have been fortunate to have many regular nonprofit organizations, municipal governmental entities and small businesses continue to work with me since my entrepreneurial journey began in 2014. As I began looking ahead, I thought long and hard about my rate for 2018. I needed the perspective of a business owner, not an employee. The income needed to be enough to pay me a salary – not simply be my salary.

I wondered, What’s the right amount? How much is too much? I knew costs needed to increase if I wanted to grow my business, but I was cognizant of others’ budgets. I settled on an amount and began notifying clients.

It had been three years since the last rate increase. Besides that, the dynamics of my business had changed and were continuing to evolve. I saw myself moving further away from my role as a (mostly) solopreneur. Staff, to some yet-to-be-determined degree, would be in the mix.

Although the rate increase was larger than any I had ever earned from a “job” I held, I knew it was deserved. I had a track record (good, I hoped) with my clients and felt confident in my asking price.

One of my nonprofit clients suggested a smaller increase. I dug my heels in. I was torn between not wanting to lose them as a client and not wanting to work for an organization that devalued my work. Ultimately, the client agreed to the rate and said they have been happy with my work and would budget accordingly for 2018 marketing and PR efforts.

It’s taken some time, but I finally feel like I am beginning to understand what it truly means to be an entrepreneur. And yes, I know it’s more than being able to work around my daughter’s schedule, at home in comfortable clothes. For me, it’s about making tough choices – risking clients even – and having the guts to stand by the decision.

What’s your story? I’d love to learn more about you and your organization – and how I might be able to help increase awareness of your cause. Drop me a line at Theresa@KatalinasCommunications.com and arrange a free, no-obligation consultation!

 

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