Events and conversations have been conspiring lately to force me to think about how I work.
“Sometimes I listen to the things you are doing,” a friend said to me recently, in a tentative but ultimately kind way, ” and I do wonder why on earth you are doing it.”
Do this sound like you?
It could be that you are a busy fool. It’s a common disease, particularly prevalent amongst small business owners and freelancers, especially those prone to panic about cash flow. I suspect also that more women suffer from it that men.
An email pops into my inbox.
“Hello Jo,” it begins (good start – they don’t always get my name right). “We are massive fans of your blog and would love to work with you. We’re looking for ideas for ways to market our cool new product.” All good so far. “We’d love to have a chat – could you spare an hour or so to meet for a coffee so we could pick your brains in return for a yummy slice of cake?” Hmmm… I do like cake, but isn’t that just me giving away an hour of my time? Or they might say something like this… “We’d love for you to write about our new campaign, and to share it with your followers. We have a budget of £150 for two posts, 7 tweets, 2 Facebook updates, a message written on the pavement in your own blood etc etc”
Now you might laugh and think “Well that’s nonsense, of course she would say no to something like that,” but if you are a classic busy fool then it isn’t quite that straightforward. Instead that annoying little voice pops up in your head.
“£150 is £150 you know,” it whispers. “That would cover the council tax this month.”
“But surely that much of my time and expertise is worth more?” you whisper back.
“Maybe, but what if next month, no one offers you anything? What if you ask for more money and they never want to work with you again? What if they don’t like you? Can you afford to say no? What if because of this decision, your children starve?”
And so it begins. You work hard at small bits of work, never leaving enough time to market yourself better for next time.
It’s all too easy when you do something every day to forget that you are good at it. You forget, because it comes naturally to you, that your experience and knowledge is actually extremely valuable to others. You forget that you are worth more and focus on undercutting the competition rather than the high quality of your work.
You mustn’t though. You are worth more than that. Your skills are valuable. Yes, you may get less work initially if your prices are higher, but even if for a little while at least that means you are doing less but earning the same, then where on earth is the flaw in that equation? Concentrate on what it is that makes you special, understand your value to your client, and choose your work wisely.
Quit being a busy fool. It’s just not cool.
Image part of an infographic from here.