Startup Advice

Five questions new founders should ask when deciding what they’re worth, according to this pricing consultant

Dinushi Dias /

“No one will every pay you what you’re worth. They’ll only pay you what they think you’re worth,” says TED Talk speaker and pricing consultant Casey Brown.

In her TED Talk, ‘Know your worth, then ask for it‘, Brown says this reality. Entrepreneurs can only ever earn their full potential if they honestly define and price their value, and Brown says this is one of the reasons for the gender pay gap in the “entrepreneurial sphere”.

“A woman business owner earns just 80 cents for every dollar a man earns,” says Brown.

“In my work, I’ve often heard women express that they’re uncomfortable communicating their value, especially early on in business ownership.

“They say things like ‘I don’t like to toot my own horn’, ‘I’d rather let the work speak for itself’, ‘I don’t like to sing my own praises’.”

But this mindset stops talented people from realising their full potential, and it’s a lesson Brown herself had to learn the hard way.

Brown admits she was a year into her consulting business when she realised she was under-pricing.

“It’s hard for me to admit to you because I’m a pricing consultant,” she says.

To figure out what she should actually charge, Brown says, she defined her value by answering the following questions before calculating the return on investment she gets her clients:

•   “What are my clients’ needs and how do I meet them?”

•   “What is my unique skill set that makes me better qualified to serve my clients?”

•   “What do I do that no one else does?

•   “What problems do I solve for clients?”

•   “What value do I add?”

This process helped Brown realise she needed to “double” her prices, but it also opened the floodgate for doubtful thoughts like “was I really worth that?”, “you’re ridiculous” and “what if I fail?”.

“This terrified me,” she says.

But while it may seem scary, Brown says it’s crucial at this stage to look at the data and the clearly defined value in front of you.

Doing so allowed Brown to realise her full potential and value with clients continuing to hire, refer and recommend her.

“Give up this notion that it’s tooting your own horn,” she says.

“Make it about the other party. Focus on serving and adding value, and it won’t feel like bragging.

“What do you love about what you do? What excites you about the work that you do?

“If you connect with that, communicating your value will come naturally.”

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Dinushi Dias

Dinushi Dias is a freelance journalist and a former StartupSmart reporter and multimedia content producer. She is the co-founder of Melbourne-based production house Dinushi & Power.

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