Earlier this week I got a call from a new enthusiastic lead, which gave me that kick of motivation I really needed after sort of a lull in work. Sometimes I think it’s just burn out but really I know it’s a flare up of self doubt.
I’ve just turned twenty-three. I’m an American woman living in Barcelona, Spain. I started my little web development and digital marketing business for startups and entrepreneurs with one client during university and have since grown to a team of four and clients in 9 countries.
I’m beyond proud of what I’ve done. Even just writing it down here feels like a dream. This is what I wanted and worked for.
However, even when someone calls me, I still feel terrified for the “numbers” conversation. I am already mentally preparing to lowball myself in order to meet the expectations even if I haven’t spoken to them yet. I ballpark ranges of figures under what I would want. I draft 3-4 emails, changing the number each time, etc. trying to avoid just asking.
I’ve been doing this for almost 5 years. I know what I should ask for. I know my ability. I know that I am valuable and how much my work is worth. But that conversation still triggers the worst self doubt. Last week, I hired my first two employees and there is no more room for lowballing myself or my team now. In order to get them what they deserve, I have to believe in what I deserve.
I remember a story from a female in college: during a hiring session for a summer internship (mind you, we’re talking about 19 year olds), one of the male candidates negotiated and asked for $25 an hour when asked if he was ok with the normal $10 they offer interns, which she had agreed to. He was given the $25 an hour with no questions asked. This baffled me. I would never have it in me to do that.
Men, unfortunately for many reasons, are more likely to see their value and chase it.
I spoke to few of my mentors including Connie Pheiff, author of The Art of Ask (you can see why she’s helpful). I’ve found the tools that help me get rid of my self doubt and have the conversation about money with clarity and confidence.
Clarify and simplify your value (for potential clients and you):
One of the underlying feelings behind the anxiety around talking about money for me was not understanding my value entirely. In the past, I didn’t really have a concrete grasp on what I brought to the table. If you don’t have that laid out for yourself with clarity, how are you going to say it with conviction to anyone else? I knew I had done things but I needed to understand what the end value of those things was and say it in a way that immediately conveys value.
I wrote down what I normally do for clients and then worked out what the end benefit was for each of those things. For example, if I’m a content and ghost writer, I create authoritative and enticing voices for my client’s brands and public personas. When I figured out how to convey my value to myself and clients better, I was more confident asking for my rate.
Lay out your substantial work samples:
Unfortunately, no matter how much we do, we often never feel we have broken free from “imposter” syndrome. To combat this, I’ve found that looking back at concrete examples of my most substantial work and displaying in places aligned with my brand like my website and social media changes both how I feel about my outward representation and others’ approach to me. Things went from “we’re on a budget so we’ll quote you” to “let me know what the monthly invoice will be”.
Know your 30 second pitch:
I used to scoff at this in business school and then I started to jump on calls with potential clients or meet people at events and I realized how important this is. I learned how much the few sentences you say after your name impact the way you enter a conversation and relationship with a potential client. This is now something I really work on with clients when we start too. I had to rework my “pitch” a few times before I felt it was strong enough and I felt strong saying it. Notice the way people react to you. Are they still confused as to what exactly you do? Do they lose interest? Are you excited to give your 30 second pitch?
As you can see, I’ve found that preparation and a realignment of thought is key to confidence in the value of my work.
List out your accomplishments:
Have you ever held back to share your accomplishments or talents only to regret it when someone else isn’t? Don’t be afraid to share your accomplishments. As a woman, do not wait for permission. Ever. In anything. You will regret not showing how great you are entirely, especially if you’re getting hit with offers lower than you know you should. It’s too late if the only time you’re sharing your accomplishments is to counter a low offer. They should know your value before contacting you or within a few seconds. Watch the difference in your confidence and others’ approach towards you online and off.
Closed doors will only be reopened:
Don’t be afraid to say “no”. I will be the first to admit I am still terrified to say no. Terrified. I suck at it. This is something that comes with practiced confidence and constantly reminders that you deserve what you want and what you’ve worked for.
Have you ever heard that you should “fire your worst clients”. When something isn’t right, make room. You need room. Your time and energy is finite. Be conservative and give it to the opportunities that align with your goals best. No is ok.
I hope this was helpful. It was almost therapeutic and another good reminder to myself while writing. For more education, growth, and inspiration, and networking, you can check out beunstoppabletogether.com.