Business Essentials: Know Your Value!

Know your value The Story

I’d like to share with you a quick story about your business and why you need to know your value.  It is my hope that by reading this, you may be more willing to understand and demand what you are worth.

A colleague and I were sitting down with a potential client not long ago.  This person had heard that we had recently written a book and wanted our help in writing one.  Of course, we are happy to help people to write a book, but we also consider it a service to the client to ensure that what we do is actually going to benefit the client.  In accordance with good practice, we had a long conversation to try and isolate the desired outcomes for the planned book project.

After some discussion, we began to realize that the client has developed a highly specialized skill set in a very close knit industry.  There are generally only a few dozen practitioners of this particular service.  The client’s boss had carefully crafted a set of processes that could be employed for tremendous value in uncommon but critical moments.  The boss was widely known and respected and, consequently, had great demands upon his time.  Our prospective client had approached the boss about capturing these skills in a book.  The boss had indicated that the idea had merit, but indicated that due to the demands on his time, he couldn’t write the book himself, and he challenged our prospective client to write the book.

And that is how we came to have this conversation.  Our client wanted to create a book describing how the firm did what they did.  It was at this point that my colleague and I both started recognizing some real concerns about the business case for the book project.  We found it unwise to provide detailed descriptions of the “secret sauce” of their corporate expertise.  I was trying to draw the client’s attention to the value proposition of book idea.  In any business, it is important to know your value.  But after raising our concerns, our client didn’t seem to understand the basis of our concerns.

Undeterred, I tried to illustrate our concern in the following way:

I asked, “How long has your boss been performing this service?”

“Ten years.”

I then asked for the boss’s hourly rate.

“$175 an hour.”

“So, assuming a conservative workload of 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year, we can estimate your boss works at least 2000 hours a year.  He’s been doing this for 10 years and at an hourly rate of $175 an hour, this means that your boss’s experience and expertise could be fairly valued at least $3.5 million dollars—and here you want to give away that much value for the cost of a paperback.

After that comment, our client’s face looked confused—struggling to grasp the significance of the comment.

I continued, “Listen, I think it is a great thing that you want to pass on useful and specialized skills to others in your industry.  It’s obvious that this will benefit them.  All we’re saying that it should work for you, too.  Don’t you think that the value you offer is worth more than the cost of a book?”  We then went on to talk about creating educational content for participants at a more favorable price point.

Takeaway

The point of the lesson is that it is vitally important to appropriately value your offering.  Not only is this a function of one’s realization of the economic value of what you have to offer, but also to have the self-esteem necessary to demand appropriate compensation for that value.

Entrepreneur’s Challenge: I Don’t Feel Comfortable with Self-Promotion

The Challenge of Self-Promotion

Stand out from the crowd

Stand out from the crowd

Self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to us.

In general, Americans have a distinctive mentality.  Americans love the underdog story.  The United States’ democratic tradition means that we have a natural predisposition toward egalitarianism and that it is somewhat taboo to set ourselves apart from others.  Humility is a wonderful virtue.

When it comes to marketing and promotion, however, excessive humility becomes detrimental to one’s ability to touch and impact others.  One challenge of new entrepreneurs is to how to resolve the conflict between one’s predilection for humility and one’s need to promote oneself and one’s business.

Of course, there are some people who never struggle with humility (often much to their detriment and to those near them). They have a natural gift for self-promotion and these people don’t have that psychological challenge to overcome.  But many of us are uncomfortable with self-promotion.

We are afraid that we will come off as arrogant or narcissistic.

This concern is completely understandable. But if we are going to be successful in being an effective advocate for the value that we offer, we must find ways to transcend this challenge.

Overcoming Self-Promotion Resistance

Overcoming this challenge, however, isn’t as difficult as we might first think.  It requires a change of perspective.  The key isn’t to promote yourself.  You must promote what you are offering.  More specifically, you must promote the positive outcomes what you provide brings to those who buy it.

I become a fully aligned and integrated advocate for my business when I truly believe in my heart that when people choose to buy from me that I am helping to make people’s lives better by the help I provide to them.  In this vein, self-promotion is benevolence.  I have to believe that when someone buys from me, that it is in their best interest that they do so.  Whether it be through my books, my talks, my educational activities, or my coaching, I believe that what I am providing to others is of great value and that the payment I receive for them is a portion of the value returned to me in appreciation.

Charlatans can sell stuff for their own benefit.  People with integrity can only sell when they know that what they are peddling is worth more than the price being paid.

If you don’t believe that, then you either should work more on improving your products or you need to have an honest conversation with yourself about your self-esteem.  The challenge of self-esteem is itself a challenge and will be the subject of a future post.  For now, remember this.  if you believe that what you are sharing with the world has value, then you should not feel guilty or self-conscious about advocating for it.

Be as worthy an advocate for your message as your message deserves.