Setting Prices As A New Entrepreneur

I spent the weekend in the Los Angeles area (a place I once called home), and had a fantastic time At The Helm, a unique event for women in business where entrepreneurs, small business owners and community leaders join together for a powerful day learning and business growth. It was refreshing to see such a diverse group of women, learning, leaning and gleaning from one another. I met the organizer of the event Alaia Williams, CEO, One Organized Business, a few months back while doing some online networking in the Ambitious Diva Facebook group and we have just began our journey (she will be contributing to CAREER Magazine soon, so stay tuned).

During one of the break out sessions, Haneef Jordan, Owner, Touch My Closet (another member of the Ambitious Diva group) asked a question about setting prices as a new entrepreneur and I shared with the group the formula I used to set prices when I first began my business, well over 10 years ago.   Almost immediately, I realized that I had a similar conversation with Colletta Abernathy  just last week as she was sharing with me some new services that she will be adding to her virtual assistant business, Tru Level Concepts.

As a new entrepreneur, one of  most challenging areas will be defining your worth and communicating your value to potential prospects.  It’s easy to “throw out” a price based on what you  feel you should be paid, but to be effective, you will have to understand your target market, how they do business, what the competition is charging for the same/similar services, and most importantly how to sell your business to a new customer base.

Setting prices as a new entrepreneur seems to be an on-going conversation, so I’m re-sharing this video with a formula for “setting prices as a new entrepreneur”.

If you are an aspiring business owner or setting up your side hustle, take a peek at this video and it will give you some starting points on how to set prices. While understanding your time/value are important, here are also a few things to consider:

1. You have experience/skill as an employee, but you still have to learn how to become an entrepreneur
2. Set competitive pricing because people will search competitors sites and compare pricing/services.
3. Don’t sell yourself short, but be realistic about your prices. You can’t pull prices out of a hat.

If you are in need of business development consulting, feel free to visit the StephanieHarper.com website and drop me a  note and the best times to reach you via the “Let’s Connect” form!

bump industry standards, pay me my damn money!

Well *sigh*, I’ve told you all before that I am an emotional blogger (but I am a believer that there is always a lesson to be learned)…so here we go!

I was invited to attend a TweetChat for Speakers, which I thought was pretty cool!  There was a ton of information shared, some that I agree with and some that I didn’t.  But that’s what you expect in a public forum.

Being a human resources professional, I completely understand that there are “industry standards” in every industry!  Speaking being one of my streams of income, I also understand that when you effectively build your brand, you have the freedom to create your own set of rules for your playground!

During this tweetchat, we began to talk about fee’s.  The featured guest said, “industry standard is getting 50%.  Then you invoice for the remaining 50% and expenses after you speak!”  Well, I guess she wasn’t stranded in West Virginia with no way back to Atlanta.  But I was!   Very early in my speaking career, I agreed to do a five-day career camp for an organization in West Virginia.  My fee,  $5000 + expenses (airfare and hotel ONLY).

  • Mistake #1:  I did not secure my date!

Yes, I had a physical date that the camp was to take place.  But I failed to be compensated for removing myself from the office or missing out on other opportunities if for any reason the camp was cancelled.

Lesson #1:  I now require 25% of my fee (which varies by event and organization) to be paid before I “save the date” on my calendar!  This is a non-refundable fee that covers me in the event the organizer cancels and I have turned down other opportunities.

  • Mistake #2: I did not count the cost!

Yes, we had a contract, but I didn’t have any money to prepare for a 5 -day career camp, there was a good 10+ day preparation period.  I wrote the curriculum, developed a teacher key, created a student workbook, and researched activities, which included taking the participants of the camp to neighboring businesses.   No one paid me for the 10+ days of prep or to design and print all the workbooks.   I guess that was my contribution.

Lesson #2:  Contracts should include any expenses incurred PRIOR to the event.   Once you arrive at the event, you are have already completed 90% of the work.  The other 10% is just your delivery.

  • Mistake #3:  I got on the airplane without all of my money!

Because of the relationship I had developed with the organizer of the event, I was willing to work with the organizer on the $5,000 fee.   I looked at this as an opportunity for us both.  She could have her camp and I could create a product (and yes, my 5 day camp is now a product #winning).

Lesson #3:   Get your money upfront!  Not only did the organizer not have all the money for my hotel, they also did not have the money to fly me back to Atlanta…OR PAY ME!  We ended up driving from West Virginia to Charlotte, North Carolina (6 hours) only to spend the night at the home of the organizer so I could get a flight from Charlotte to Atlanta the next day.

So back to the tweetchat!  When I shared that I get 25% of my fee before I save the date, the featured guest (who was obviously interested in selling her services) felt that I was arguing with her, but also felt it was appropriate to tweet about it!  (Can you say unprofessional?)

See there was no argument, on my behalf.  That’s how I run my business. Simply sharing with other aspiring speakers IN A PUBLIC FORUM that they too can shape their speaking careers, and not just conform to “industry standards”.  That’s being helpful, right?  NEWSFLASH:  You do not have to be boxed in by industry standards, that may not work for your bottom-line.  See I wasn’t there to sell my “hell.. I mean help speakers service”,  I was simply on the chat to share some of my journey.

Not only did I take issue with her unprofessionalism by tweeting something negative about me outside of the forum, but she also called me nutty and said the moderator ignored me!  (now she’s unprofessional, disrespectful, and a liar…more tweets coming).

Lesson#4:  Don’t let your electronic footprints kick you in the butt and the mouth! ( a huge thanks to my Ambitious Diva Friend, Tami Briggs who reminded me all Tweets are also stored in the Library of Congress!)

While the fee was really the biggest thing that we didn’t see eye to eye on, apparently the guest decided to have another side line conversation about me which also showed up in my Twitter feeds and Google alerts.   When I called her out about it, she blatantly lied and said that she was not talking about me, but politics.  Well, call me Ms. Politic Harper!

Lesson#5:  Tweets are public and show up in feeds and Google alerts!

Yes, I will be the first to admit.  I was boiling hot!  So I fired a few tweets back…but none as nearly disrespectful, nor unprofessional and well…I’m not a liar, sometimes…brutally honest to a fault, but not a liar!  I just politely let her know, I had the screen shot of the conversation!  So basically, she could tell her story walking because you can’t dress a lie. Once I sent her a copy of her screen shot, her conversation ceased…at least publicly!

Lesson #6:  When people show you they are! Believe them! (did you see the tweets too?)

No, my goal with this post was not to slam anyone (she and her buddy successfully accomplished that all by themselves).  Those of you who know me and my brand, you know I am all education, empowerment and excellence, I love to help others reach their career aspirations, which it why I take an interest in “addressing misguided information”.   My goal with this post is educate on the importance of monitoring our electronic footprints.  Time and again, we have been warned that things we put in writing can become public documents – - and they can be very damaging!

So for all of you looking to break into the world of speaking, YES there are rules in EVERY industry, but you still have room to create your own path and blaze your own trail!  You do not have to be confined to a box and shipped wherever people decide to send you (speaking bureaus…well some).   And yes, set your own rules which include telling people, “bump industry standards, and pay me my damn money!”

I learned from the trip to West Virginia that I am responsible for getting my money on my terms, but if I don’t establish what they are, I’m likely to never get them (or get them over a period of 6 months, as that’s how long it look for me to get all of the $5,000 owed to me).  I learned from last night’s tweetchat, that when people are slinging poop, just sit there and observe, but don’t tell them the poop stinks and or you might get hit!

Were you hired to be an employee or a mom?

A post appeared in my  Facebook news feed that caught my attention!  The post said something about “Have You Been Forced to Choose Between Your Job and Your Family?”  The post went on to say something about “care-giver HR friendly Policies”… blah blah blah.  I replied to the post stating, “I work for the benefit of my family, so the choice has become easier!”  The originator of the post angrily replied, “she talks to women after women who are FORCED to make this choice!”  Immediately, my human resources antenna went up and I told her, “as women we have to be careful about roaring, treat me equal and then ask for special privileges because we are moms!”  This is where things went down hill to the point that she blocked me on Facebook (hahahhaahha, really?)

As an wife, mother, care-giver to my 101 year old grandmother, and entrepreneur (and yes in that order),  I certainly understand where the originator of the post is coming from and her passion behind wanting such policy.  However, as a certified human resources professional who deals with this every day in my line of work, I also know that employers cannot have a special set of “care-giver” polices for women (to add even more separation, mothers specifically) in the workplace, it’s a form of reverse discrimination.   Expecting for an employer to make accommodations for “moms” is one of the many reasons, women continue to struggle in the areas of hiring, retention, and promotion. When the rubber meets the road profit trumps passion and the employer needs an employee who can meet the demands of the business, not a mom who needs time off to be there for Little Susie or Little Johnny’s mid-day appearance in the school play.  Again, I’m a mom too, so please don’t think I haven’t had to face those same dilemma’s  or that I don’t understand the struggle.

The workplace environment around the world has changed significantly in recent decades.  It’s a fact, the pace, intensity, and hours required of workers have increased.  The participation of women has also altered the responsibilities for caretaking. Approximately 70 percent of children in the United States live in households where all adults are employed. At the same time, many adults—with or without children—have an additional caretaking concern: the elderly. Now, one in four Americans is caring for elders (like myself).

The increasing number of women breadwinners is a positive development for gender equality, reflecting a decline in discrimination and expanding opportunities for women to rise into leadership roles within all sectors of the workforce – so let’s not ruin our stride by asking for “mom privileges”. Recent research illustrates that women now outnumber men in many higher-education programs and in attaining advanced degrees – key components in breaking the glass ceiling.  Research also shows that in many organizations women are entering the professional levels in numbers equal to men, even in some previously male-dominated sectors.  Another piece of good news is that overt discrimination by managers and employers against women on the basis of gender has declined significantly. In 2008, the Pew Research Center found that almost 70 percent of men and women had an equal perception of both men and women as leaders (without any special policies in place for moms).

What Is Workplace Flexibility?

Workplace flexibility is simply a way to describe how, when, and where work gets done.

The Families and Work Institute listed the following 13 examples of flexibility in its 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce:

  • Having traditional flextime (setting daily hours within a range periodically)
  • Having daily flextime
  • Being allowed to take time off during the work day to address family matters
  • Being able to take a few days off to care for a sick child or other family member without losing pay, having to use vacation days, or making up an excuse for absence
  • Being able to work some regular hours at home
  • Being able to take breaks when one wants to
  • Having a work shift that is desirable and predictable
  • Having complete or a lot of control over work schedule
  • Being able to work part-time (if currently full-time) or full-time (if currently part-time) in one’s current position
  • Being able to work a compressed work week
  • Being able to work part-year in current position
  • Seldom being required to work paid or unpaid overtime with little or no notice
  • Believing that one can use flexible work arrangements without jeopardizing job advancement51

Understanding these as elements of workplace flexibility provides insight into how such flexibility can be incorporated in a number of workplace settings.

All of the above are great steps toward achieving balance, but more than “moms” need this!

While I am a woman with school aged children, I am also an employer.  The mom in me understands, but the professional must face the music.  Therefore, I do not agree that women should not be allowed special privileges at their place of employment just so they can be home with their children, because it has the propensity to also have an impact on businesses that employs them.   Remember we have fought for equality, therefore, women  (more specifically moms) should be required to put in the same amount of hours at work, perform all of their job duties, and not expect to be treated differently just because they have children at home.

Truth is, there are numerous households where the father is the only parent in the house, and men also have to deal with long days at the office, and being away from their children for days at a time.  There have been increasing talks about workplace flexibility and it is needed – but moms are not the only types of employes who have to balance work and family.   There is also huge difference in Federal/State Employment Laws and HR Policies set by employers.  My point is, an employer does NOT have to meet the needs of your family and it is unreasonable to expect them to.   Work/Life balance affects, the total population of the workforce, not just “moms”.   Some would argue despite demographic shifts, the current model of work is still based in part on an outdated 1950s view, when middle-class families had a single breadwinner and women stayed at home to care for children.  That may be true, but if we are going to make “care-giver HR friendly policies” *whatever that is*  in the workplace, they must be equal and fair for all – - not just moms.

So I guess you have figured out by now that I am an emotional blogger (that’s why I have others on the team who blog between my rants).

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