(L)Earning What I'm Worth

Don’t let your own self-imposed earning ceilings get in the way of thinking creatively about what you can accomplish and how much you can earn.

tara gentileI told myself, “If other women can figure out how to make money working from home, then surely I can too.”

It was the summer of 2008. Two days before this realization, I received a phone call that made my blood boil. Just days before giving birth to a tiny baby girl, I was told someone else got the promotion and raise at the bookstore I’d managed for five years.

When my fury subsided, I sat down at the kitchen table and started making a plan to earn money on the side while I was busy learning how to be a mom. My goal was to add a few hundred dollars to the family accounts each month working from home.

After all, I had just decided to quit a job that was paying $28,000 per year where I worked 50 hour weeks, managed 40 employees, and oversaw $5 million in annual sales. My expectations were not high.

Fast forward eight years, and I now own a business training company, I’ve self-published 4 books, and I speak globally on entrepreneurship and marketing. My company generates over 17x what I used to make in a year, and I expect to double that revenue next year.

What changed? My money mindset.

Raising the bar on my financial expectations

The company I worked for back in 2008 justified its low wages by providing "an ideal work environment." Being surrounded by books and cheap coffee everyday is indeed wonderful but it doesn't pay your bills, help you realize your dreams, or bring you a deep sense of self.

I've always had a high sense of personal worth, but I had resigned myself to a low net worth thanks to degree in religious studies and a value for loving my work more than getting rich.

After struggling to balance rent and a car payment without eating ramen every day, I said to my co-manager, "I feel like I should be making more." And I remember feeling ashamed and embarrassed. Who was I to want more? What did I have to offer?

I stagnated. I even started to believe that despite my education and experience I wouldn't be able to find another job. So when my daughter was born in July 2008, I used it as an opportunity to start fresh and learn about myself.

I started my first website in January 2009, right about the same time Amanda launched DailyWorth. When Amanda and I met for the first time a few months later, I was making a small amount of money every month selling advertising and teaching social media skills.

I was pretty happy with the way things were. After all, I’d already met that goal of adding a few hundred dollars per month to my family’s income.

I read DailyWorth religiously in its inaugural year. I thought about my future, my daughter’s future, and the wealth that, just maybe, even I could be building. I dreamed of flexibility, satisfying work, and the chance to build something I could pass on to those I loved.

Little by little, I started to realize that more than I had ever dreamed of was possible, but I had to change my approach to money and the value of my own work.

I kept blogging, built a web presence and brand, and learned web design. Exactly a year after my daughter's birth, I bought an existing business with a loan from my credit union and a huge leap of faith.

I now had a huge audience to entertain, edify, and enrich. I took those responsibilities seriously, and soon several business owners started inquiring about other services I might offer: web design, coaching, development.

Making the jump

Then came the dreaded question: what is your fee?

I seriously had no idea what I was doing. All my life I had been told I was worth between $8-14 per hour. So when I quoted $25 per hour for those first jobs, I felt like a rockstar.

It only took a few of those jobs to realize that that rate wasn’t sustainable. But more importantly, it only took a few of those jobs to realize that the value of what I was delivering was so much more than a few hundred dollars here and a few hundred dollars there.

I channeled everything I was learning from DailyWorth and started raising my rates. At first, slowly. Then, steeply. I researched what others who were doing what I do made per hour, per project, per client and I decided to charge something much closer to that.

A funny thing happened. As my rates increased, so did my profile. I worked with higher performing clients and I was able to focus on the projects I liked best.

I turned my service into a training program that’s launched to 6-figure sales multiple times. Next year, my business will break the 7-figure mark in annual revenue.

Eight years ago, I didn’t expect to be here. I couldn’t have even imagined what it would be like to buy a beautiful home, support my partner in pursuing his passion, and love my work every single day.

I didn’t get lucky. I created this success little bit by little bit by realizing the value of the work I do, translating that into easy-to-buy offers, and setting prices that allow my business to grow.

You are in a unique position to take advantage of the same opportunities I have over the last 8 years. You’re already a DailyWorth reader — that’s a phenomenal start. You’re thinking critically about what you have to offer others and how those skills or ideas could save them time, money, or inconvenience. You’re tired of being taken advantage of or seen as just another cog in the wheel.

Don’t let your own self-imposed earning ceilings get in the way of thinking creatively about what you can accomplish and how much you can earn.

Tara Gentile is the creator of Quiet Power Strategy® and the host of the podcast Profit. Power. Pursuit.  She helps emerging and established business owners design their businesses for more income, influence, and impact. Take her free course on how to price your product or service to grow your business: click here.

This piece originally appeared on DailyWorth in October of 2013.

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