How to know your worth

know your worth
After Picasso, drawn on a napkin!

It’s important to know your worth.

Actually, it’s crucial.

Virtually every meeting I have with solopreneurs, small business owners, or aspiring entrepreneurs, the subject of worth comes up and it’s directly linked to pricing.

When I ask someone why aren’t charging more, the typical answers are:

“Oh but I can’t charge that, I don’t have enough experience” – In most cases this is untrue. More often than not we discount experience because it seems irrelevant. Yet, most of our experience influences and enhances who we are today. We find inspiration in the most unexpected places. We borrow skills from our past and will continue to do so.

“But my competition only charges X” Ignore your competition – do they have the exact same skill set and experience as you? I doubt it.

“I just don’t know how to charge more” – this is probably the most honest answer. And where does it stem from? It’s a confidence issue which can easily be overcome by learning how to sing it loud and proud.

In short, most people don’t know their worth.

They have no idea how much value they actually provide.

To help you know your worth I urge you to take a deep breath (and grab a piece of paper)

Write down the answers to these questions:

  1. How many years have you been doing what you are doing?
  2. How many people have been touched/affected by what you’re doing?
  3. Look at the core skills you use to do what you do now – when did you start using them? (Take the difference and add it to the number in Q1)
  4. What makes you different? What makes you stand out in your industry?
  5. What have you achieved that you’d have never thought possible?
  6. What obstacles did you face to achieve that, and how did you do it?
  7. What is your proudest achievement? And why is that important to you?
Take a look at your answers – I am sure it’s a pretty impressive list!

Know your worth by borrowing courage from others

Ever look at someone and say “Oh I wish I could have their success/boldness/audacity?”

Well, you aren’t alone. That’s the little voice in us that tells us to stay where we are.

To highlight my point I want to share a story about Picasso (my favourite artist and hustler as it happens)

Picasso was in a café in Paris when someone asked if he would do a quick sketch on a napkin.

Picasso said yes, drew something and then asked for a few thousand francs.

The guy was shocked at being asked for such a large sum of money and said “How can you ask for so much? It took you less than a minute to draw this!”

To which Picasso replied “No, it took me 40 years to be able to draw that fast”

Keep this in mind the next time a client asks you for a discount or questions your pricing!

It takes thousands of hours to become an expert in something and your experience is gold dust no one else possesses. {click to tweet}

Gold stars, qualifications, and awards are all nice. But you need to get out there and DO.

If you need help with knowing your worth and what to charge get in touch.

It’s something I am incredibly passionate about.

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25 Responses to How to know your worth

  1. I struggled with this one when I was still a freelancer, and took on any job that came my way:

    “You can only afford $150 for a website? ……..”

    “Well, ok. But don’t tell anyone”


    It wasn’t until I realized my prices had to come up or I was going to continue working 90hrs a week and never get anywhere. I was right (as are you). I raised my prices and was able to officially start my business after only 2 mos. (that’s after freelancing for almost 2yrs!)

    • Hi Keith,

      Yes, it hard to stick to your guns and say “No, this is how much it is” – I’ve been there and stung a few times. The client usually ends up being difficult because it’s a lot of money for them and you feel crappy because you know you are worth more. It’s a lose-lose situation.
      Always compete on value – not on price!

      Thanks for sharing your experience and well done for making the shift!

    • Nice one Keith! Your comments here are very timely for me.

      I’ve just spent a fair amount un-billable time explaining the pro’s and cons, to a potential client re developing his website.

      A sly smile came to my face when he wrote the following words… “To be totally honest, your pricing is far and beyond the rest of the quotes I have got, but, your prices seem realistic and not too low like the others. I’d like to see better prices now I know you are the real deal…”

  2. Great advice, Ameena.

    I was in business for over five years before I finally decided to significantly raise my prices. The overall volume of work went down, but the billable hours per client increased dramatically, as did the quality of the projects and my yearly billings more than doubled. Oh, and I stopped working every single weeknight and every Saturday and Sunday.

    This was all in the early 2000’s of course 🙂 but I still won’t budge on price, sorry! When it comes to marketing, advertising or branding and a client’s main concern is price, you might be able to work with them, but if it’s their only concern, run for the hills.

    People do sell themselves short. Setting higher rates can be scary business, but it’s a great way to avoid certain types of projects that will take years off your life, and instead find those elusive clients you’ve been dreaming about. I would also set a standard for how low you are actually willing to go on price and don’t budge. The nasty economy has seen some exceptions to this rule of course, but use some common sense and avoid the bartering crowd 😉

    • Hi Craig, thanks for sharing your experience – yes, working all hours of the day and night is not sustainable … the idea that you can work less and make more is very doable … and always compete on value, never on price!

      Great to see you here!

  3. Ameena,

    Yet another timely post. Though you and I openly disagree on pricing publishing, we do agree with correctly pricing your services. That being said, I love how you make me think more about pricing. Our company is looking at this aspect a lot these days and having many great talks. Your blog post brings a lot of clarity to me with how to better rationalizing upping our pricing across the board.

    Thanks again.

    • Hey Justin,

      Many think of pricing as just a number when it’s not – it’s linked to confidence, self worth and value … all of those things need to be in tip top shape when setting your prices!

      Good luck with raising your prices!

  4. I just heard a great phrase from Rabbi Daniel Lapin “… money is a spiritual measure of what you have done for other human beings and when you recognise that, you feel much more comfortable about telling people your worth…”

  5. Oh – I really like what the Rabbi has to say…. that puts a slant on it that I have not yet encountered. A slant that I am going to sit with, because I do and have done a hellva lot for others.

    • It’s an interesting way of looking at it isn’t it Rose – it’s so true.
      Think about how you feel when you get something for free or for cheap – it’s never the same feeling as getting something expensive.
      Plus, when you give a lot for a low price you don’t feel as good about it as you would if you were charging what you felt you deserved.

      Money is a symbolic exchange, a very important one!

  6. Hey Ameena,

    When I was 17 years old I had a sales position. I was selling very expensive products to a very affluent target demographic. Understanding my self worth was so critical. And I absolutely loved the experience. I would often get asked the question “Why should I buy that from you?” I often recommended they speak to others in the company with more experience but then I told them that we went through the same training, and I am right there with them as far as sales are concerned. And the choice is truly yours. As long as you purchase something you’re comfortable with, I’ve done my job!

    One thing I always remember when determining self worth is the importance of NO. In business, so many people are afraid of hearing the word NO. I love the word NO because it’s feedback – and it’s great feedback too! And to all the people that think an increase in price will deter customers from buying from you, remember there are always people willing to pay $10 for a product or service and there are always people willing to pay $10,000 for the exact same product!

    Awesome post and I look forward to ongoing interaction!!!

  7. Funny, when I saw this link in Facebook, the first thing I thought about was the Picasso anecdote.

    As you know, I’m embarking on my own project, and pricing is definitely been something that I worry about a little. Being that I’m new to the consulting game, I don’t know if what I want to charge is in line with A. my skill set (which I’m sure it probably is) or B. competitive with others like me. Hell, I might even be charging to little. It’s a nebulous subject, and we’ll see where I land on it, but now you’ve got me thinking I should up my game a bit.

  8. Talk about timing. When I started my own Virtual business, I asked myself the same questions, but at the end of the day: I need to get paid. My time is just as valuable as someone else’s and being cheap don’t pay the rent. For myself, I thought about my years of experience, what I know how to do and my limitations. Instead of saying,”well I don’t know how to do that so I will only charge this”, I highlight and focus what I do great and market that.

    Everyone is different, but don’t let anyone that wants to do business with you try “cheap you out” (my brother’s terminology). I had one potential client tell me my rates were too high and then proceeded to compare me with another VA. I basically said, “There’s the door if you want to go work with them”. Presto, my 2nd client. People will try and test you if you allow it. Always stand firm in your skills and what you know you are great at. Enough said….excellent post. Hugs to Little B!

    • Hey Sonia, Yeah well there is always someone cheaper than you – and someone more expensive – I’ve told more than a few prospects to go work with the “cheaper” person (and 9 times out of 10 they are so floored that they end up working with me) Some people are just wired to haggle which sucks but you have to stand your ground! Wishing you huge success with your new venture!!!

  9. Compared to most of the people who comment on here, I’m definitely in a small business, and with small prices too! I have crafty/handmade business with my best friend, and our most expensive product is $25. However, when we first started out in 2009 and were approached by a gallery store owner that some of our prices were too low, it really changed how we thought about the value of our time and products! We create new products all the time, and are working are constantly re-evaluating our pricing. Reading this helped me realize that the more we perfect our skills and our craft, the more we should charge for our products! I won’t be afraid to raise our prices any more, and I’m actually upping the prices on a few products this week! Thanks for the advice. It came at a much needed time. 🙂

    • Yay Krysta! I am so glad! There is nothing wrong with small prices as it all depends on margins. BUT If you’ve already had feedback that your prices are too low then there is a problem – a good problem, but a problem nonetheless! Good luck and keep me posted! 🙂

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