Since I'm just starting out in the self-employment world, I don't feel that I can charge
as much for my services as my competitors do. How long should I keep my fees low,
and how do I go about raising them later on?
A: Who says you're not worth as much as someone who's been in
business longer than you? Your fresh perspective, recent training,
extra caution and enthusiasm more than compensate for your rookie
addition, raising prices is always difficult. Your clients will have
been conditioned to paying low rates and might balk at a substantial
increase just because you've started to feel undervalued.
Under-pricing just because you're starting out communicates your
novice status to prospective customers. This type of negative
marketing and should be avoided at all cost.
And never forget that other people will only value your services as much
as you do. Some may feel that your business provides them with a
bargain, but others may believe the adage that you get what you pay
for. Low prices could communicate to them that you're not very good
at what you do, or not very confident about it, which is just as
When I first began speaking in public about home business, I did it
for free - although I inevitably received a mug and a free lunch.
Nobody ever offered to pay me in those days. Once I finally figured
out that I should be charging - and convinced myself that I was
worth the money - I was asked to speak more often, at better quality
I eventually doubled my rates a couple of times and continued to
get more work. The message? If I'm priced in the big leagues, I must
be a player!
If you still want to charge less than the going
rate, be sure you're doing it to attract new business and not
because you feel you're worth less than your competitors. Then
find a way to communicate that to your customers. Invoice at the
going rate, then give a
discount. That's always a good marketing ploy, and it will be easier
in the future to stop offering a discount than it will be to raise