Being a solo entrepreneur is difficult -- to say the least. Every aspect of your business relies on your actions, your decisions, and your leadership. Fully engaging as the leader of your business can be especially difficult if your self-worth is a little beaten up. How can you successfully promote your business if you find it challenging to value yourself or your work? How can you charge a sustainable price?  There is so much to consider when determining your pricing, and a lot of potential self-worth related roadblocks that could stand in your way. It’s more comfortable, and probably less time-consuming, to ignore those hard conversations with yourself. One of the ways I’ve seen entrepreneurs get around the issue of self-worth is to set their prices based on the last hourly job they had. These entrepreneurs accepted the value someone else placed on them and carried that valuation over to their own pricing.  I know how hard it is for some entrepreneurs to set their prices or consider raising them. So let’s take a moment to reframe the conversation. Instead of thinking in terms of money, let’s think in terms of choices.  Wouldn’t you love to have more choices in your life? More choices that you could use to support your family, your kids, or your community? Say you’re charging $40 per hour for your service -- that’s now 40 choices per hour. Doesn’t 50 choices per hour sound better? Wouldn’t that allow you to do so much more?   Exploring and healing your relationship with your self-worth will give you the opportunity to see, consider, and accept more choices in your life. And choices are really what it’s all about. Let me give you a real-world example. I had a client who sold sandwiches. She was barely getting by. If even one piece of equipment in her shop broke, it would sink her entire business. She was not charging enough to be sustainable, and she had very few choices if something went wrong.  We talked about how she could grow her company so that it was in a healthier financial position, but raising prices seemed like an untouchable subject. In her words, “I know what the people in my community can afford.” That was that. So we explored her choices. If she chose to charge a little more, she could guarantee that her sandwich shop would survive. It would give her community access to healthy food choices for years to come. But she wouldn’t budge. We kept at it. More discussion led to a realization that self-worth was playing into her pricing decisions. She chose to price her sandwiches based on how much she would have been able to afford in her younger, less financially stable days. She was looking back on the scarcity of her youth and relying on that image of herself to make decisions about her present. But still, even after we uncovered that choice, she wouldn’t up her prices. We went a little further. I asked her, “If you raised the price of your sandwiches, but a portion of the price went into a fund to send kids to summer camp, would you do it?” Her answer was a resounding “Yes, of course!”  Bingo! The moment the price increase was associated with something other than herself, something other than her ability to provide herself with a sustainable income, it was no longer an issue. She could justify setting aside money to improve the lives of others, but she couldn’t justify making even a small change to improve her own life. (Even when those changes could, in turn, allow her to make positive community changes down the road.) How often do we allow our past history to influence our decisions in the present? How often do we let our negative self-worth influence our pricing and business choices? Take some time to sit with those questions and understand the roadblocks you may have placed in your own way. It may be uncomfortable, yes. But it’s worth it.  Now I’d love to hear from you! How did you determine your pricing when you first started out? How long did it take to actually pay yourself? Terry Doloughty is the Founder of B.O.S.S. Consulting with thirty years of experience in both the for profit and nonprofit sectors. Terry believes that leadership is the most valuable renewable resource. He’s passionate about sharing his skills and life experiences with the next generation of leaders so they can grow their organizations and support their communities. Be the first to read our next post -- sign up for our blog below!

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