No one will ever pay you what you're worth.They'll only ever pay you what they think you're worth. And you control theirthinking, not like this, although that would be cool.
That would be really cool. Instead, likethis: clearly defining and communicating your value are essentialto being paidwell for your excellence.
Anyone here want to be paid well? OK, good,then this talk is for everyone. It's got universal applicability.It's true ifyou're a business owner, if you're an employee, if you're a job seeker. It'strue if you're a man or a woman.
Now, I approach this today through the lensof the woman business owner, because in my work I've observed that womenunderprice more so than men. The gender wage gap is a well-traveled narrativein this country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a woman employeeearns just 83 cents for every dollar a man earns. What may surprise you is thatthis trend continues even into the entrepreneurial sphere.
A woman business owner earns just 80 centsfor every dollar a man earns. In my work, I've often heard women express thatthey're uncomfortable communicating their value, especially early on inbusiness ownership. They say things like, "I don't like to toot my ownhorn." "I'd rather let the work speak for itself." "I don'tlike to sing my own praises."
I hear very different narratives in workingwith male business owners, and I think this difference is costing women 20cents on the dollar.
I'd like to tell you the story of aconsulting firm that helps their clients dramatically improve theirprofitability. That company is my company. After my first year in business, Isaw the profit increases that my clients were realizing in working with me, andI realized that I needed to reevaluate my pricing. I was really underpricedrelative to the value I was delivering. It's hard for me to admit to you,because I'm a pricing consultant.
It's what I do. I help companies price forvalue. But nonetheless, it's what I saw, and so I sat down to evaluate mypricing, evaluate my value, and I did that by asking key value questions. Whatare my clients' needs and how do I meet them? What is my unique skill set thatmakes me better qualified to serve my clients? What do I do that no one elsedoes? What problems do I solve for clients? What value do I add?
I answered these questions and defined thevalue that my clients get from working with me, calculated their return oninvestment, and what I saw was that I needed to double my price, double it.Now, I confess to you, this terrified me. I'm supposed to be the expert inthis, but I'm not cured. I knew the value was there. I was convinced the valuewas there, and I was still scared out of my wits. What if nobody would pay methat? What if clients said, "That's ridiculous. You're ridiculous."
Was I really worth that? Not my work, mindyou, but me. Was I worth that? I'm the mother of two beautiful little girls whodepend upon me. I'm a single mom. What if my business fails? What if I fail?
But I know how to take my own medicine, themedicine that I prescribe to my clients. I had done the homework. I knew thevalue was there. So when prospects came, I prepared the proposals with the newhigher pricing and sent them out and communicated the value. How's the storyend? Clients continued to hire me and refer me and recommend me, and I'm stillhere. And I share this story because doubts and fears are natural and normal.But they don't define our value, and they shouldn't limit our earningpotential.
I'd like to share another story, about awoman who learned to communicate her value and found her own voice. She runs asuccessful web development company and employs several people. When she firststarted her firm and for several years thereafter, she would say, "I havea little web design company."She'd actually use those words with clients."I have a little web design company."
In this and in many other small ways, shewas diminishing her company in the eyes of prospects and clients, anddiminishing herself. It was really impacting her ability to earn what she wasworth. I believe her language and her stylecommunicated that she didn't believeshe had much value to offer. In her own words, she was practically giving herservices away. And so she began her journey to take responsibility forcommunicating value to clients and changing her message.
One thing I shared with her is that it's soimportant to find your own voice, a voice that's authentic and true to you.Don't try to channel your sister-in-law just because she's a great salespersonor your neighbor who tells a great joke if that's not who you are. Give up thisnotion that it's tooting your own horn. Make it about the other party. Focus onserving and adding value, and it won't feel like bragging.What do you loveabout what you do? What excites you about the work that you do? If you connectwith thatcommunicating your value will come naturally.
So she embraced her natural style, foundhervoice and changed her message. For one thing, she stopped calling herself alittle web design company. She really found a lot of strength and power incommunicating her message. She's now charging three times as much for webdesign, and her business is growing.
She told me about a recent meeting with agruff and sometimes difficult client who had called a meeting questioningprogress on search engine optimization. She said in the old days, that wouldhave been a really intimidating meeting for her, but her mindset was different.She said, she prepared the information, sat down with the client, said thisisn't about me, it's not personal, it's about the client. She took them throughthe data, through the numbers, laid out the trends and the progress in her ownvoice and in her own way, but very directly said, "Here's what we've donefor you."
The client sat up and took notice, andsaid, "OK, I got it." And she said in describing that meeting,"I didn't feel scared or panicky or small, which is how I used to feel.Instead I feel like, 'OK, I got this. I know what I'm doing. I'm confident.'"
Being properly valued is so important. Youcan hear in this story that the implications range far beyond just financesinto the realm of self-respect and self-confidence. Today I've told twostories, one about defining our value and the other about communicating ourvalue, and these are the two elements to realizing our full earning potential.That's the equation.
And if you're sitting in the audience todayand you're not being paid what you're worth, I'd like to welcome you into thisequation. Just imagine what life could be like, how much more we could do, howmuch more we could give back, how much more we could plan for the future, howvalidated and respected we would feel if we could earn our fullpotential,realize our full value.
No one will ever pay you what you're worth.They'll only ever pay you what they think you're worth, and you control theirthinking.