I have a confession: I think the term "self-employment" is awful.

You’re probably wondering why I think this. It seems innocuous, I know. Isn’t self-employment good? Doesn’t it scream “self sufficiency”?

When I hear the term “self-employment", all I can think is that it just means you’ve created a job for yourself. Every day I see evidence of this. And I don’t like what I see.

So many people I know and love (and many complete strangers) are working for themselves, but they complain about being broke and overworked. They complain that they don’t have time for vacations, lunches with friends and other fun or meaningful activities.

This has to stop.

But Audra, you say, aren’t you ALL ABOUT small business?? YES! I just happen to think that your business should support you, not the other way around.

The problem: Undercharging and overbooking to compensate

Let’s say you’re still charging by the hour for your services. Let’s also say that you’re not charging enough. (If you’re still reading this article that’s a near certainty.)

While I argue that one should charge for value rather than their actual time, I recognize a lot of folks feel like they need to start here, and it takes a little time to move away from that line of thinking. So for the purposes of this article I’m going to roll with it.

When you are charging by the hour and you spend your time inefficiently, your customer is penalized by paying more than they perceive they should.

And the flip side: When you are very good at your job (and hence very efficient with your use of time) you are penalized.

Assuming you’re good at what you do (And you are. Admit it!), you are not making as much as you should. To compensate, you’re booking as many clients as you can without utterly collapsing. Or you just drink A LOT of coffee to keep you upright.

(Stay with me here, this is important.)

Now you’re feeling like you don’t make enough money and you’re exhausted. How well do you think you’re performing now? Do you think your clients can feel this?

Welcome to the vicious circle. It isn’t really fair to anyone, is it?

The solution: Take responsibility for valuing your services and your time.

This is your fault. You are doing it to yourself. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that you are the one who can fix it.

Take a good long look at your pricing. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much are you charging now?
  • When is the last time you raised your rates?
  • What are other people charging for similar services?*
  • Name 3-5 things you are particularly good at. What are your key strengths? (Note: These don’t need to be directly related to the service you offer.)
  • How does this translate to tangible (or intangible) value for your clients?
  • How much would you like to be earning per year, factoring in “vacation” and “sick” time?
  • Based on your answers to the above questions, what do you think is a fair price for your services?

If you are having trouble answering any of these questions, ask a friend to work through them with you. They may help you to see your unique talents and strengths.

If you are looking for additional support, I currently have two slots available. To book a complimentary consultation, click here.

To our success, Audra

* This should NOT determine how you price your services, but it can help to demonstrate to yourself that you’re undercharging.

Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo