Valuing Your Time (and Yourself) as an Entrepreneur

If you read one of my earlier blog posts, you’d know that I lived in Saudi Arabia for several years. While I lived there, I opened a hair salon. One day, one of my male clients came to me and asked me to shave him with a straight razor. This is something I’d never done before. I wasn’t trained in it. I didn’t want to do it. I was afraid that I’d cut him. I didn’t trust myself. “Go home and practice, and when I come back next time, you can try it on me,” he said. “I trust you. I know you’ll do a good job.”

And I did. It’s funny how having someone that believes in us, when we don’t believe in ourselves, can magically help us shift our thinking and see our value and talent.

In this post, I will explore the connection between valuing ourselves and valuing our time – specifically geared towards entrepreneurs like myself that provide a service. Then, I’ll share a bit about my experience when it comes to calculating the value of my time, pricing services, and (eek!) raising my rates.

The Self Worth Question

When it comes to valuing ourselves and our work as entrepreneurs, many of us struggle getting over these hurdles. Our fear of success, rather than failure, keep us “playing small” as Marianne Williamson says in her book, A Return to Love:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Whether you believe in God or not, are spiritual, agnostic, or other, I feel her words still carry a powerful message. Approaching your work from a standpoint of what you are doing to help the world is a motivating force. When we can connect those dots for ourselves, we have a foundation upon which to sincerely value the work that we do and get paid well for it. We can give ourselves permission to shine, to succeed, and to generate wealth as an outcome of valuable services we offer or products we create. Before we can begin the work of crunching numbers, we need to fully believe in the value of what we do or sell and that we are worthy of receiving abundance as a result of doing this work.

Another key question to ask is where IS the fear coming from? Is it a fear of failure or a fear of success or something else? It is important to understand where that FEAR is deriving from in order to know how to look at it in the face and have a real conversation with it.

Limiting Beliefs

Have you, or are you currently struggling to value your work and your time as a business owner? What limiting beliefs do you think caused this?

Some of my old limiting beliefs included crap like…

“I am not good enough.”

“I am not worthy.”

“I am not wanted.”

“I am not lovable.”

“Money is evil.”

“There is value in the ‘struggle’.”

Once I began to examine these negative things my head was telling me, I realized that they were old, old, beliefs, stemming from my childhood. I was abandoned, adopted, and abused as a kid. Eventually, I was sent to Mooseheart School in Illinois, where I was lucky to have the space to be a kid and start to process, as well as find others who helped me to overcome these circumstances. It took me a ton of self work, healing, and countering the negative beliefs with positive thoughts and actions to turn a corner. Even still, they can crop up if I’m not careful. The difference today is, I know that they aren’t true and I do not make decisions in my life based on these limiting beliefs.

I encourage you to write down your limiting beliefs, especially those around self worth, your career, and money. Getting them out of your head and onto paper can help take the charge out of them. Read them over and then write down a positive belief or affirmation to neutralize each one. Share this with someone you trust, someone who is a good example of the opposite of your limiting beliefs, that can give you a different perspective.  Find someone who can hold the space for you to revisit these, heal from them, re-work the stories you have supporting these limiting beliefs in your head to create a new supportive storyline. (A entrepreneurial development coach can be great for this, hint, hint!)

Acknowledge and make changes in your life, in the people that might surround you that keep you in this limiting belief. Taking action, despite our lingering negative thoughts, is key. Maybe you have to love from afar, in order to support your growth and new mindset.  My previous post on The 5 P’s Every Entrepreneur Should Know offers helpful insights into this area as well.

Get Clear on The Value You Offer

Next, if you haven’t already, write down the specific values or benefits (not features) that clients receive from your services and as a result of working with you. How does what your business offers serve the world? I think that getting clear on the value that you provide is one of the most crucial things you can do as an entrepreneur.

Ask yourself, do these values resonate with me? Do they move you, inspire you, and make you want to shout about it from the rooftops? If your answer is YES, then you are on the right track.  Then SHARE these with people, ask your clients, am I missing anything that has been of value to you? If you do not have clients yet, ask business associates around you, what you do or bring to them?

Calculating the Value of Your Time

An article in Entrepreneur gives a simple formula for calculating the value of your time based on an hourly rate. They suggest starting with the typical yearly salary for a person in your position working at another company. You can use the site Glassdoor to research this. Then estimate how many hours you work in that same period (monthly or yearly). Finally, divide the salary by the number of hours. This should give you a ballpark hourly rate to value your time.

Building It Into Your Pricing

Many business owners forget to factor in all the time spent and costs associated with doing business when creating a pricing structure for services. Take coaching for example. I might spend 1 hour of time with my client fulfilling the actual service, however I spend additional time preparing for the meeting, reviewing proposals, providing feedback, etc. Then there’s the time I spend working in my business like marketing, sales, and invoicing. Don’t leave these out!  There is so much more that goes into Time Worth Value (TWV) calculations. Interested to learn more? Contact me below.

If you do not know, ASK! Ask your coach, ask your CPA, ask other professionals in your industry. You can even ask your competitors!  Find out what is going on in your industry and others to help you make the best decision for your business. Don’t be afraid to break the mold or “standard” for your industry, either. Make sure you are aware of the pros and cons and the FULL picture. Your local Small Business Development center, like the SBDC in Kailua-Kona Hawaii can be a wonderful resource for market research and their services are free.

A quick story on pricing: I owned and operated a security business (low voltage alarms) for several years in Hawaii. Early on in my business, I spoke with a particular vendor that I trusted about pricing. He gave me a laundry list of things to take into consideration when pricing our hourly service costs besides the markup on our equipment. By the time he was done, our hourly should have been triple what it was!

However, this was a price system typically used by security companies who lock their customers into long term contracts. Instead of tripling my hourly, I kept it a service (NOT alarm specific) industry standard price point (not too high, not too low) and made up for the additional cost that should be factored in to the service charge in other areas: initial system cost, quality control, customer service, negotiating with vendors and more. There are many ways to get where you need to be with price point, but you might have to be creative and do your homework.

Raising Your Rates

As my accountant likes to say, “If your services aren’t too expensive for some people, you aren’t charging enough.” He is constantly pushing me to increase my value and surpass my financial goals. I trust his opinion because he is someone who highly values his own time and is sought after in the community for his services because of the quality that he offers. If you don’t have one already, I highly recommend finding a financial mentor. Someone who can hold your feet to the fire on tough issues like valuing your time and pricing your services.

Charging less than your worth because you are afraid of losing business doesn’t help your business in the long run. Some potential clients may be scared away by rates that are too low – which can make you look unprofessional or not on par with the level of expertise that they are looking for. This is especially true for larger clients.

When I began with Asentiv, I started by teaching a 12 week course Asentiv Pro (Certified Networker III). I had to decide what to charge.  On our last day of certification the Co-Founders helped us brainstorm on pricing – industry standard, market standard, company suggested, our comfort zone (it’s good to be stretched but ALSO you need to believe in the price that you are quoting). After brainstorming, they let us come to our own price.

I started at $1,500 per attendee. Within 2 years, several conferences, multiple trainings, plus an array of other learning and self development activities, I doubled my price to $3,000 per participant. I also raised my price to match the demand of the course, which got more and more popular with entrepreneurs in my business community. Finally, I stopped teaching it. My private coaching business had grown, largely thanks to referrals from those classes and I accepted a larger role as COO at Asentiv Global.

Based on my experience, I like to tell my clients – find a starting point. Know and believe in your worth. Every time you go to a training, conference, or invest in yourself, you become more valuable and your prices should reflect that. You can continue to raise your rates until you get to your “cap” for your target market and physical market you want to be in, as I did.

Invest in Yourself

When I first learned of the Asentiv opportunity over eight years ago, I remember standing in front of a window in a hotel on Oahu, watching paddlers race across the water in their outrigger canoes. I was contemplating if I was going to leave my teenage kids with an auntie so I could go to California to purchase this new franchise. Was I ready to invest the time, money, and resources to jump head first into a new journey?

As I got quiet, I heard a loud voice. It said: “If YOU do not invest in YOU, how do you expect others to invest in you??”

WOW… Absolutely!! I had my answer. So, the last thing I want to say about value and pricing is that education and self development are key. Invest in yourself – in all aspects of yourself. Invest in your health – physical, mental, and emotional. Invest in your personal and social life, in your business, and in your happiness by doing things you love just for fun. These are the things that fill us up from the inside out and enable us to bring more to the table and feel worthy of receiving financial abundance in return for our work.

Did this post resonate with you? Have you struggled with self worth or valuing and pricing your services as an entrepreneur? I’d love to hear your story. Drop me a line here.

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