The value question: How to answer it [as a freelancer or business owner]

A recent conversation with a fellow freelancer raised the question of value.

Just how does a freelancer demonstrate their value?

Most are working to a cost sensitive marketing budget, so there’s great appeal in becoming fluent in communicating your value to would-be clients, and even existing clients who may be experiencing a momentary memory lapse.

Without a big marketing juggernaut to pave the way preparing clients to literally fall at your feet, it’s up to us, not only to believe in the value of what we do, but know it and be confident communicating it.

This applies to every small business owner who recognises the value (that word again) in doing business with their ideal customers.

So how is it done?

Agreed, it can be a real challenge, especially when you’re getting started and don’t have runs on the board. Or when you’re expanding into a new area and don’t have experience. It can even be a problem when you know your business well.

I’ve faced all these hurdles and here’s what I did.

#1 – Write it down

Call me biased (I’m a writer), but writing things down can make all the difference.

If it’s true that writing is the bridge between spirit and matter and the key to manifestation, then we would be wise to do just that – write it down.

While thoughts are things, once something is written, we’re moving it from one form (spirit) to another (matter). We can see it and start to believe it.

As a freelancer or business owner starting out, belief – or lack of it – can hold you back. Even if you’ve been operating for a while, it can be a hurdle.

If we follow my reasoning, then writing down the value of what we do for customers or clients could be considered time well spent.

Right back when my business was just a side hustle, I did write down the value of my work.  And it wasn’t just a one or two line exercise.

I wrote down 200 benefits of my service to clients, an exercise borrowed from Dr John Demartini.

Yes, you read that right. Two hundred. I know people who have written many more.

Why so many? Well, when we write things down, we get very clear. We can be very detailed about the value. And we even create new neural circuitry.

What’s great about this? It means our certainty grows and if someone should ask, we’re able to respond with posture and confidence.

Writing 200 benefits of my service wasn’t a five minute exercise. It took much longer, but I did get it done.

You may read this and think, Come on, Macushla, 200 benefits? Really? Who has time for that?

Yes, I know. It’s a lot. As a writing exercise, you may find your hand hurts, your pencil breaks, and that you must think. A total drag, right?

It will mean putting aside time and maybe even skipping a night or two on Netflix, but seriously, as a value creating exercise, it’s so worth it.

I can tell you, even though I wrote that list before things got serious in my business, the  benefits I listed still stand. And of course now there are more because now I have more experience.

Certainty around your value as a business owner is priceless. My tip? Invest the time to articulate it and you’ll be repaid in multiples.

#2 – Talk to the right people

The great thing about knowing your value is you can discern very quickly who your people are. By people, I mean your ideal customers or clients.

Rather than being distracted by those who kick the digital equivalent of your business tyres, those customers who are genuinely interested in working with someone of similar values will find you.

How will you know if they’re right?

Here are my go-to pointers:

The way they talk. That’s right, you’ll speak the same language.

They will respect you. Incredibly, they will even expect you to have boundaries in business.

And they will pay you. For real. Recognising the importance of fair exchange, they are happy to pay for value.

When it comes to pricing and payment, it’s easy to be a little sensitive and weaken at the slightest resistance.

We might dance around the subject. Or worse, we could even sell ourselves short. Hello!

However, when we’re clear about our value – and are ideal customers are too – because we’ve communicated it so well – you’ll find much less time is spent negotiating down to a price.

#3 – Hold your position

It was Kenny Rogers who reminded us you have to know when to fold them in his timeless ballad The Gambler. Gotta love Kenny.

It’s wisdom we could all heed when it comes to knowing our value.

I’m not saying we don’t take constructive feedback on board and integrate this to grow and evolve, however, if we feel we’re not being valued, we’re probably right.

At that point, it’s time to put aside your disdain for country music and listen to Kenny and walk away.

In some cases, it may even pay to run. I know that’s what I should have done before being stitched up by a venture capitalist who didn’t pay his bill.

If we’re prepared to hold our position with those who don’t value us, there is space for others who do to come into our sphere. Importantly, our confidence about doing this is galvanised when we’re certain about our value (and it’s back to my first point).

The wrap up

Value is intangible, but we know it and feel it. We also know when we’re not valued. It creates an environment that is ripe for resentment and bitterness to grow, which is hardly conducive to doing our best work. If you haven’t already, spend the equivalent of two episodes of Schitt’s Creek getting clear and you’ll be happy you did.

Macushla Collins is a content coach. She helps business owners, content creators and  technical professionals create content that supports clear and conscious marketing communication. If this is the kind of communication you’d like to learn more about, connect with Macushla via the contact form on this website or by reaching out on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.