A few years ago, when my business and DailyWorth were both in the toddler phase of development, I wrote an article on this site about learning how to charge vastly more for the work I did. That article was the most widely read article on the site that year.
I felt like a poster child for empowered female business owners.
Women would write to me after reading the article. “I’m going to charge what I’m worth from now on!” they’d say. At first, I celebrated with them. “That’s right, sister! Go get ‘em,” I’d reply.
But then I started to feel a bit uneasy about the whole thing. The emphasis these women seemed to be putting on their rates was less on understanding the value of their work and more on trying to put a number on their own personal transformation. From a business perspective, that’s a mistake.
There are two serious problems with the “Charge What You’re Worth" mantra:
1) You are priceless. Your work is not.
There’s really no way to quantify what “you’re worth” because you can’t measure the value of your precious life. However, skills, products, and services are quantifiable. There’s a going rate. And there is also the ability to raise or lower the going rate depending on how you position those skills, products or services.
When you’re focused on your internal worth instead of the quantifiable worth of your work, you miss an opportunity to get clearer about the results of your work, who it’s for, and why it’s needed.
2) You’ve made the transaction about you.
Commerce is an exchange. It’s every bit about the person buying as the person selling. How much is a doctor worth without patients? How much is a house worth if no one will buy it? How much is a company worth if the investors all bail? What you make or offer has no value until a customer is willing to purchase it.