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!

CAREER Magazine Welcomes Devora L. Lindeman, Esq.

We are pleased to welcome Devora L. Lindeman, Esq.  to the CAREER Magazine Team!

Devora L. Lindeman, Esq. had a number of careers, herself, before attending law school and choosing a career working with businesses as a management-side employment attorney.  As a partner with the law firm of Greenwald Doherty LLP, she and her colleagues work collaboratively with their business clients to help them understand and comply with the complex array of laws that apply in the U.S. if your business has employees.  She regularly deals with such issues as harassment, discrimination, accommodating pregnant and disabled employees or accommodating employees’ religious beliefs and practices, providing employee leave time, and employee wage and hour issues.  She reviews and drafts employee handbooks and contracts such as non-compete agreements and severance agreements.  She also represents employers before state and federal courts and agencies (such as the EEOC, DOL and NLRB).  She’s a regular contributor to a number of websites providing employment law information for employers, and is a sought-after speaker for employer and industry organizations.  She is admitted to practice law in NY and NJ, and was graduated with highest honors from Rutgers School of Law—Newark.

You can view Devora’s new column HR/Employment Law News You Can Use  in the July/August 2012 issue of CAREER Magazine!

Welcome Devora, we’ve been waiting for you!

 

If you have what you need, then why are you asking me? (offer something before you ask for something!)

Most of the time, I keep my chat option closed when I’m on Social Media websites.  Mostly because, it’s a distraction.  While many people use social media to be social, I use social media to make money!  I’m an entrepreneur… I’m in business to make money!

So I was sitting here working (on a Saturday morning) when I received an instant message asking me for advice on “how to start a magazine!”    Maybe it’s just me, but if someone whom I initially connected with on Facebook in 2010, but have yet to interact with replied to me that way, I would have immediately understood…

#1…They are not willing to help me for free and #2….They would prefer to have this conversation during normal business hours (not on a Saturday morning).   However, the person on the other end of the instant message did not catch the hint.    They returned the message by telling me that “since I’ve traveled the road, they are looking for a mentor”.  To which, I replied, “I understand what you’re looking for and that is not something I can do for free!”

The next instant message reads… {and I quote}, “Well i know how to start the business piece of it.. i guess what im asking for is the nuts and bolts for the publication its self… As far as good publishers… Good ways to research info, should it be subscription based starting out or maybe just advise so that i dont make a lot of costly mistakes investment wise..?”

To which, I replied, ” I knew exactly where you were going…I get these kind of request all the time…and yes…what you are asking for is business development advice. The questions you are asking are not surface questions…there are a ton of variables. For example..should it be subscription based?… that depends on the goal for your publication and how you plan to market it…all of which are not just simple questions..to get to the core of your questions….you have to “develop a plan” for it first”.

My guess is this is where I struck a nerve with the person, because they replied again, but this time added in their response, “I have a family full of networkers…. We have several allstate insurance office, my cousin owns a hair care company in Atlanta… I have all I need.. I only asked you because my cousin said you were a good person to know….. but sometimes helping some one can bring a million fold.. God bless.

Okay..now I believe I have the right to be offended!  But I know being offended is a choice and so I decided to laugh instead.  I have a website, a FB fan page, a Twitter page, a Linked in page and a Youtube page full of FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Information.  I also have nine books and a magazine, that provides even better information for a small investment, but yet, I’m being bothered with foolishness on a Saturday morning and being told that I should be willing to help people.   I could have totally lost it and went on the deep end, but I kept my cool (cause I’m cool like that!)

But he just simply couldn’t get it through his head…and now he is going to tell everyone how terrible CAREER Magazine is because “we don’t work for FREE”  (Is this where I insert a tear?)

I’m not really sure, what part of call my office on Monday was confusing, but it’s clear to me that when they heard the word, CONSULTATION, they also heard, SHE DOESNT WORK FOR FREE (and that didn’t seem to be enough to simply move on to all their family members who can help them better than me anyway).  Okay…now I’ll stop with the foolishness.

The point of sharing this, it to remind everyone NO ONE OWES YOU ANYTHING…not even conversation!  Everything cost something!  Even, it is just sweat equity!  Imagine how differently, the conversation would have gone if they said…”Hey, Stephanie, I love what you’re doing, and I’d like to start a Magazine one day, is there anything I can help you with in exchange for learning the ropes!”  Ahhhhhhh…..I may have put everything I was working on aside and made them a priority!  Truth is, the time I spent with the inboxer and the time I spent writing this blog has cost me an hour of work.  I planned to do a little work until noon today, but I will be here another hour.  So that I may get back to work, I will end this post puzzled but I  have to ask, “If you have what you need ALREADY, then why are you asking me?”

Has “your business coach” ever run a business?

In the movie Hitch, Albert (Kevin James) trusted Alex (Will Smith) and needed his help in securing a relationship!  Albert was heading to a dance with the apple of his eye and decided to show Alex his dance moves.  Alex watched as Albert danced his heart out then said. “DONT EVER DO THAT AGAIN!”.  Do you have anyone in your life that does that for you?  If you don’t you should…*I know I do*

I have some brilliant friends.  But let me also say “like” Jesus, I have masses (people who follow me), disciples (people who support me) and an inner circle (people who pour into me) – - love that analogy, but back to my topic!   Adrienne Graham of Empower Me Corporation is however, my accountability partner (the person who checks and challenges me – and I have given her permission to do so).    Just as Adrienne, pours into me, I decided to share this recent radio show of hers where she talked about coaching, with hopes that she will pour into you as well.

According to Wikipedia, Coaching, when referring to getting coached by a professional coach, is a teaching or training process in which an individual gets support while learning to achieve a specific personal or professional result or goal.  In a recent radio show,  Adrienne talked about selecting and working with coaches, and gave great insight and tips.   When it comes to the “business of coaching” many have made it a business out of it because it’s the “in thing to do”, but how many of these coaches have ever run a business, fixed a business, or salvaged a business?    And how many of those coaches are getting YOUR money?  Remember the definition states that you are seeking to achieve a “specific” goal, so an effective coach is not all things to all people.  That’s my take on it, but check out what Adrienne had to say in her radio show, “Will *THAT* Coach Help My Business?  and download a FREE “checklist” for selecting a coach.

Side note: Things that seem to be trending in these touch economic times:  Consulting, Coaching, Entrepreneurs and Experts….things that make you go hmmmmm.

Don’t forget to join Adrienne and I tonight (July 16, 2012 @7pm Est) for a REAL TALK  Hangout on Google+  Tonight’s topic is “Transitioning Into Entrepreneurship!”

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