Monday, January 23, 2012

For What It's Worth

One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in working for myself is to place a value on my time and skill, and then stick to it. It's not that I undervalue the work that I do, but more an issue of fear. Fear that if I tell customers this is how much it costs to buy my products, they might decide to go somewhere else. Fear that they will not believe in the value of my product, or in the value of me.

Combine that fear with my desire to please everyone and it's a recipe for, well, not a very successful business. In the beginning, when I was doing this in my spare time and I had a full-time job (and a full-time paycheck) it didn't seem as important to me. I was just starting out, getting my feet wet, learning the ropes and building a clientele. The brides I met, and worked with, were so sweet and sincere. Honest about their budgets and so I waved fees, changed prices, and essentially worked for free to give them the invitations of their dreams.

It was very generous of me, but I am running a business, not an invitation charity. Being honest with myself about that was hard to admit, because it meant looking at the fear I felt in my heart, staring right at it and saying 'Yes, I am worth it'.

I think that most creative professionals struggle with this concept at some point in their career. Putting a value on yourself is an exercise in self-awareness that makes most modest and humble people a little uncomfortable. But if I don't believe in my value, how can I expect my customers to? And if I change my prices or bend the rules to make my work more affordable for someone, what does that say about that belief? That it wavers? That it's not important?

All of this self-reflection has come at a price. It took feeling overwhelmed and frustrated to the point of having a good, therapeutic cry late one night last week. It took pushing me to my breaking point, knowing that I was spreading myself too thin and not doing a great job at any one particular facet of my life. My wonderfully supportive husband kindly pointed out the the source of my anxiety was probably the fact that I was doing too much work for free. That my time is precious and limited and I was feeling frustrated at not being paid what I know I am worth.

So this last week has been an exercise in sticking to my guns. Not doing more than I should without being paid, without requesting some sort of commitment on the side of the customer. Being honest about my prices and feeling confident about them. It was so freeing. I knew that every minute I spent working last week was worth it. It wasn't perfect, but I am getting there. I know I still have some other aspects of my business to refine and update to better align with my vision for Truly Noted, but it was a great start. I have a really good feeling about 2012.

1 comment:

Christening Invitations said...

Loving this design. So simple and elegant!