Shouldn’t you wake up every day knowing ‘how to own your value’?
As a woman entrepreneur, life coach, or consultant, you’ve heard this advice endlessly: Step into your value.
You’ve heard this mantra many times: Own Your Value.
While the advice to own your value is well-meaning, it isn’t always as easy as it sounds, is it? It sure wasn’t for me.
The reality is, if you haven’t already done so, you must get a handle on your value.
That way, you can charge what your products, programs, and services are worth. And, you can be at ease when you’re…
- Setting accurate pricing that reflects the entire, positive impact you bring to clients
- Quoting your fees with confidence
- Unapologetically explaining the depth of value clients gain from your programs and coaching services
- Successfully collecting your fees in a timely way
- Standing for the true worth of the effort and hard-won expertise you put into your work of empowering clients to become their better selves
Let’s step back and look at the value you bring to each client for a moment, shall we?
You didn’t wake up one day, instantly knowing everything it takes to be the expert you are, did you?
Your unique products, programs, and services didn’t simply flow out of the sky into your beautiful brain, did they?
No. They did not.
You spent years learning, fine-tuning, trialing, experimenting, and perfecting your special genius. Didn’t you?
In some cases, you navigated a rocky road to overcome your own struggle with the pain points, health issues, or life experiences and you now coach others to do the same.
For many of us, it’s a Mt. Everest-high climb when it comes to asking for our value when presenting services and fees to potential clients.
I hear you, because when I started out, I was there.
When the question comes up, “Are you charging your true worth for your coaching services?”
…What comes to mind for you?
Are you in agony because it’s not a subject you want to think about?
Is getting comfortable stating the precise amount you’d like to be paid (and know you’re worth!) an issue you’ve been meaning to work on?
But somehow, you haven’t found time?
Could it be, you’re resigned to bumbling through asking for (reducing) the amount you quote to clients?
Have you given up stating to clients the real amount you know your work is worth?
If so, you’re not alone.
Women coaches, creatives, and consultants: instead of bumbling, reducing, and hesitating when speaking about your fees, prepare in advance so you can shift your mindset about stating the value of your services when speaking with potential clients.
Would you like to dive into a mindset shift around quoting your fees to clients with confidence?
Fabulous, I’m glad you’re here. We’re going to unpack this widespread, age-old pesky problem: How to own your value.
Minda Zetlin sums it up nicely and reminds us: we entrepreneurs are in charge of our raises.
If you’re a woman entrepreneur, you don’t have to ask your boss for a raise. You’re the boss and you can give it to yourself.
And, though it may not be easy, you can even tell customers that you expect to be paid what you’re worth.
It all begins with knowing what that is.
I’ll assume, if you’re still with me, that you agree.
As Minda recommends, let’s start with ways to ‘know’ what you’re worth.
You can do this, think of it as hitting the know-your-value reset button.
First, you want to create a firm foundation about the one-of-a-kind value you bring to clients.
Here’s how I worked through this thorny problem, it can help you too.
How I Struggled with Knowing My Value
I struggled with asking for my value for years in corporate. Does this sound familiar to you?
After several years in a customer service center, I was thrilled to earn a promotion to corporate headquarters. I gave my new role as a staffer my all. Staff work was more creative, interesting, and absorbing than my previous job.
It was a dream assignment and full of opportunities to inch my way up the corporate ladder.
No surprise to many women, I felt queasy about asking for an appropriate salary increase each year. This was a major corporation, like many, where your value to the company was demonstrated by annual raises.
At the time, in my (much younger) mindset, my value = my annual pay raise = my self-worth.
Today, I embrace that my self-worth wasn’t limited by corporate raises—but bear with me here.
Despite how much enthusiasm, effort, and skill I put into projects, during annual reviews, bosses told me different stories about why I was getting a tiny raise.
I loved the work and overdelivered, consistently getting positive feedback from bosses and coworkers.
When directors asked for volunteers to travel the next day, I’d say, “Sure, I can be in Omaha tomorrow.” I even lived 30 minutes from Newark, New Jersey airport so I could get to flights quickly. How pathetic was that?
In those days, I put my career so far above everything else, often it didn’t feel like I had a life.
Sadly, even after learning how to document my contributions, I was rarely successful at negotiating for anything more than average raises.
On the flip side, I benefited from the wide-ranging skills I developed due to the staff experience. After all, I was happy as a clam about making a difference on projects big and small
How My Mindset About My Value Suffered
However, over time the pay issue dug deeply into my ability to own my value.
Without realizing it until years later, I fell into the mindset (habit) of allowing OTHERS to define my value.
Were you ever frustrated after consistently over-delivering in your corporate job—and not getting the appropriate salary recognition?
Here’s where I fell down. Maybe you experienced this?
During annual reviews, bosses gave wimpy excuses for not granting me a more generous increase:
- “We have smaller salary budgets now.”
- “It was a tough year.”
- “The budget is done; this is what you’re getting.”
And my all-time favorite:
You’re already at a higher pay rate that the 7 others on my team. I have to bring your peers up.
Your increase has to be smaller, so I can catch them up.
(Reason #173 why I don’t miss big-company life.)
I didn’t learn how to stand up for my value and keep asking.
I felt like all my skills and experience amounted to very little.
It seemed each year that I had to work harder, and harder. Volunteer for more projects.
Even though I continued to enjoy the work, I felt exhausted about the pay issue.
Maybe you’ve been there?
In hindsight, it’s clear that finding a trusted mentor would have been super helpful for me back then.
New Mistakes in Owning My Value as an Entrepreneur
Fast forward to when I became an instant, overnight entrepreneur.
The ‘how was I going to own my value’ question reared its ugly head again.
After leaving big corporate life, I joined a Silicon Valley tech startup.
Then two years later, along with half the startup’s employees, I was downsized. Those were scary times for me, maybe you can relate?
After becoming self-employed, I made a raft of different mistakes around owning my value. (I’m nothing if not inventive.)
You won’t be surprised, the first misstep I made was to undervalue my capabilities.
This time, I told myself that the business owners I wanted to serve knew how to do the things I was expert at. Which wasn’t true.
My inner critic said: your marketing services are worth less because stadiums full of business owners have marketing skills like yours. (Also, not true.)
At the time, I was consulting to small businesses and startups. Here’s how my self-talk went:
- Nearly everyone who runs a small business, or leads a startup, has the same marketing capabilities as me.
- Doesn’t everybody know how to craft marketing messages, campaigns that attract ideal clients?
- Don’t most business owners know how to develop website content that clients relate to?
- All entrepreneurs know how to turn industry jargon into words customers respond to, right?
- Surely, business owners know how to choose topics and use language their future clients relate to when marketing…don’t they?
Back then, I undervalued my skills and talents.
I convinced myself that my capabilities were commonplace. Once again, not true.
As a result, I undervalued my worth by charging clients less than I knew my services were worth.
I didn’t trust my belief in the benefits and improvements to their revenue streams that I helped them achieve.
It took me too long to recognize that this mindset, inner critic circle of self-doubt was a huge roadblock to my own income level. Please don’t make my mistakes!
Tell me, have you had these kinds of self-talk conversations?
“Well, nearly everybody knows how to [insert your special skills and talents].
I shouldn’t price my programs and services too high.”
All of this to say that, you are in great company when it comes to knowing how to step into your value.
You’re not alone in taking your expertise for granted. Not by a long shot, because tons of studies prove it.
In 2017, Women Entrepreneurs Made 43 Cents Compared to Male Counterparts
Did you know that a 2017 economic report by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration found that:
For every $1 a woman-owned business makes, a male-owned business earns $2.30 in revenue.
Therefore, women entrepreneurs in this study make 43 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts.
I can’t even type the words that this brings to mind for me. Sadly, this statistic was just one of many.
I don’t know about you, but after reading too many stats like this, I threw a tirade worthy of a furious 4-year old being denied a cookie.
After all, millions of women entrepreneurs left their corporate JOBS, so they could earn their worth. Right? Argh.
So, I ranted to my empathetic husband. Then I ranted to my overworked (and evidently underpaid) women entrepreneur friends.
After more fuming—wine may have been involved—I knew I had to take action.
That was in 2015 and I channeled my frustrations into proactive work to support women business owners, life coaches, and creatives by:
- Pivoting from marketing consulting to mentoring women entrepreneurs who want to attract more of their ideal clients.
- Creating a Signature Program to teach women business owners how to achieve perfect client clarity and speak their clients’ language.
- Starting my book, She Markets, A Guide for Women Entrepreneurs.
- Working hard to get my book to an Amazon #1 bestseller in early 2018.
- Giving talks to women’s’ business groups about how to understand their ideal clients, better than anyone else in their field.
2021 Update (Sort of)
Women-Owned Businesses Earn a Measly 4% of All Revenues (Men Bring in the other 94%)
Yes, so frustrating, that even with more women than ever becoming entrepreneurs the total revenue numbers for privately-held businesses aren’t budging. (Source)
In a study by biz2credit published March 13, 2020 the gap in earnings by women and men entrepreneurs looks ginormous and makes my blood boil.
According to biz2credit’s 2019 research of 30,000 US companies, women-owned businesses earned $384,359 in 2019. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?
Sadly, that’s $367,795 less on average than male-owned firms earned. BTW, male companies earned an average of $752,154 in 2019. [Source: biz2credit.com]
So, now you see why it’s super important for ALL of us women coaches, creatives, consultants, including you—and well everybody— to own our value and charge our worth! Let’s dive into what you can do today.
Have You Lost Sight of Your Value?
Here’s what I finally discovered. Can you relate?
In this moment, you’re so expert at what you do that it’s easy to lose sight of how you got here.
You’ve perfected your expertise over time, including inside corporate, and now as your own boss.
Because you’ve honed your skills for years, it’s all-too-easy to fall into the trap of being too close to your unique gifts.
Consider this: you’re so practiced at your talents, you may have slipped into the false mindset that your special gifts come naturally to everyone.
Newsflash! It’s not true.
- You’re an expert at what you do—for good reasons.
- After years of intense effort, you possess hard-won skills, practices, talents, knowledge, shortcuts, systems, processes, and more.
- You have a sixth sense for what works and doesn’t work that enables you to help your clients transform.
Does this ring true for you?
Fabulous! Grab your notebook, journal, Moleskin, or Google doc and let’s get to it.
5 Tips to How to Own Your Value + Charge Your Worth
Tip #1: Clarify Your Value for Yourself
Here’s where to start, getting a firm handle on exactly what makes you valuable is a must-do. It’s the first step so that you can learn how to own your value.
I promise, it will be easier to own your value once you’ve gotten clear in your mind exactly, precisely, what skills, talents, life experiences, and knowledge you bring to the table when working with clients.
This exercise worked wonders for me. To this day, I repeat it periodically.
- Re-visit your precise knowledge, new skills, and fresh insights that your clients can’t gain without your help.
- After this reflection, you’ll be tons more comfortable with being intentional about how your value enhances your work with clients.
Your unique genius saves your clients time, money, frustration, stress, strains on their health, and more. Doesn’t it?
Of course it does. Own this fact!
Arriving at clarity about exactly how you help clients transform, is what it means to begin to step into your value.
Owning your value begins with seeing clearly how you help clients get from where they are stuck, to where they want to be.
When you are comfortable with how to own your value, you are unapologetic about your skills and expertise.
Getting comfortable, grounded in the value you bring to the table for your clients means: you are also unapologetic about your fees.
To remind yourself of how you’ve helped your people, do what I have my private clients do:
- Replay your best client success stories.
- Record them in a journal, on your laptop, in Google docs. Use the tool that makes it easy for you to jog your memories.
- How specifically did you help your clients?
- Don’t leave out any details of your clients’ happy results after working with you.
- Which of your talents, skills, knowledge bases, or techniques did you apply?
- Get down all of your skills and talents, that you use/have used.
Don’t forget to list your skills that have become ‘second nature’ to you. Those that you do automatically, almost without thinking.
Once the bits of your expertise are down on paper, you can see clearly the building blocks of your unique genius.
You’ll remind yourself of the rich layers that make up your special gifts and your ability to help clients.
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Avoid Time-Wasting, Whining, Would-Be Clients
Another juicy benefit to stepping into your value is this:
You deal swiftly and decisively with tire kickers and time-wasters who aren’t going to become clients anyway.
As a newbie entrepreneur, I wish I’d learned this lesson earlier. I made the mistake of taking coffee meetings with scads of folks who wanted to “pick my brain.”
How do you respond when someone says, Hey can we meet so I can pick your brain?
As a purpose driven entrepreneur, coach, or business owner it can be hard to say no, right? I hear you.
Especially as women, we kind of want to help everybody, right?
Next, become clear on how your clients benefit from your products and services.
Tip #2: How to Own Your Value from Your Clients’ Viewpoint
Shore up your understanding of exactly, precisely, how your clients say you help them.
Journal on these questions:
- Exactly how did successful clients describe their businesses and lives after working with you?
- What feelings did clients express when they texted, called, or emailed you to express gratitude for your help?
- How specifically did clients explain what it meant to them to have your support and expertise when solving their giant problems?
For this exercise to be effective for you, you must be specific when you’re documenting the highlights from your work with former clients.
Get down in writing the juicy comments, feelings, surprises, and aha moments clients shared with you.
This is a warm, fun, gratifying exercise.
Don’t you want to relive the luxury of basking in work-done-well when happy clients reached out to say, “Thank you so much“?
What’s the purpose of this step?
It is so you can clarify, reinforce, and keep in mind specific ways your clients are enriched by working with you.
Now, it’s time for you to get comfortable with how to own your value during client conversations.
Tip #3: Practice Talking About Your Value Out Loud
Part of learning how to consciously take ownership of your value as a service provider, is to become comfortable discussing the value you bring to the table for clients. Get grounded in explaining exactly how your dream clients benefit from working with you.
Do this: Become comfortable describing the specific value clients gain from using your products and services.
Practice out loud. Practice talking about your value with your friends and family.
What? You don’t like talking about yourself? No worries.
You’re Not Talking About Yourself
Instead, you’re telling micro stories about the positive outcomes clients experienced from your programs and services.
See, isn’t that better?
Share the wonderful outcomes and results your clients have gotten and the byproducts of their results. For example, if you’ve coached women in transition from terrible divorces you might share tidbits about how their lives are now.
You could say, “The women in transition I’ve coached have felt so much better about themselves that they’ve gotten promotions at work, begun to enjoy dating, taken trips they’ve always wanted to take, and more.”
During sales (enrollment) conversations with potential clients (AFTER you’ve clarified what their urgent problems are) tell them how your past clients describe their path to success after working with you.
In addition to practicing saying how you’ve helped clients, train yourself to say your fees out loud. Unapologetically. This is a giant step to learning how to own your value.
Saying why you’re worth your fees with certainty, is the cornerstone to ‘owning’ your value.
If you cannot state, with conviction, your pricing and why it is justified, you’ll be stalled when it comes to earning your value.
With your words, you teach others how to treat you.
Not only that, because you’re mastered owning your value as an entrepreneur, you can now show clients how they will benefit from your services. You can do this with your words and your attitude.
Tip #4: Become confident about your value to clients.
Tennis superstar and entrepreneur, Venus Williams summed it up nicely in a December 2018 NY Times interview:
Having confidence is the basis for a happy and balanced personal life, which in turn can contribute to greater success in our professional lives.
That’s because when we’re confident, we are energized and focused on the future rather than just putting out fires and coping with everyday problems.
Combine everything you’ve gathered together from these steps. Becoming confident in owning your value means having clear conversations with your inner critic.
Your path to owning (communicating) your value with certainty, includes letting your inner critic know that it’s okay to state your value to clients.
Again, envision how your clients’ lives improved—on all levels—after they worked with you.
Keep these facts close to your heart and on your mind at all times when marketing your business.
Remind yourself of the weeks, months, and years you’ve spent refining your expertise.
If it helps, post a sticky note near your desk to re-energize yourself each day.
Create affirmations to reinforce the examples of the value you bring to your clients.
Continue to journal about the specific examples of how your clients benefitted from your value.
Think about the clients waiting for you to teach, lead, and inspire them to become their best selves.
Your future clients need you.
There are people who can only learn from you.
For your ‘tribe’ of future clients, you’re the best expert to help them get unstuck, to transform, so they can get where they want to go.
Tip #5. Become Unapologetic About Your Worth
Kim Kohatsu, founder of Charles Ave Marketing, “Madison Ave for Small Businesses” puts it together neatly:
While no piece of advice will spare you from the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, almost every struggle I have had as a female business owner is overcome when I remind myself to know what I’m worth.
For me, knowing my worth means two things: being unapologetic about the rates that I charge and being equally unapologetic about collecting those rates.
I love Kim’s no-nonsense take.
- How can you become unapologetic when quoting your fees and prices?
- Can you try Tip #3?
- Practice stating your rates firmly, enthusiastically, and confidently.
Here’s another technique you can apply:
Be quiet after stating the investment to work with you to a potential client. Simply pause a few moments.
Wait to see the reaction from your prospective client before you discount your fees. Or, begin to over-explain your pricing.
Final Thoughts on How to Own Your Value
How much time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears have brought you to where you currently are with your expertise?
Do you have a solid understanding of the value you bring clients?
Do you have big dreams of where you want to take your future clients AND your business?
Ask yourself, do you *see* your highest income goals?
Are you doing everything within your power to OWN your value–the value you know you deliver?
If you become intentional about making your value clear to prospective clients–no matter where you are today–you’ll engage more clients who see your value.
You’ll rapidly increase your confidence.
I’ve seen it with many women entrepreneurs. I’ve seen it with myself and my mentors.
You can get clear in your mind—in your bones—about the value you provide clients.
But will you?
Will you commit to applying the exercises above? Will you create (or strengthen) the habit of owning your value?
Are you ready to remind yourself—and your inner critic—exactly how much value you bring to clients?
Will you make it easier for future clients to find your business, and grasp the deep benefits of working with you?
Will you act unapologetically every day, and thus quiet your inner critic? Or, will you continue earning less than you know your work is worth, like too many women?
I’m so rooting for you, 1,000%!
No matter where you are in your own-your-value journey, a lot of your success with getting your message out depends on deeply knowing your ideal clients.
You read all the way to here, you’re committed to explaining, owning, and stating your value to clients, customers, and students. I have confidence in you. You’ve got this, my friend!
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