‘But it’s so hard for me to tell people what I do and what it costs’. I hear this a lot from people starting in business. And I want to say ‘OF COURSE IT IS!!’.
In my experience that’s hard for most people. Me. Other art therapists starting out. Most of the coaches I trained with. Artists. New graphic designers. Basically most humans find it hard to say ‘hey do you want to buy my thing?’ or ‘yes I can help you, at my hourly rate’ – at least when they start out in business.
And I should know – I spent two whole decades of my working life as an employee. You do the work and you get paid. You don’t have to every day say ‘oh do you want me to go get that paper off the photocopier? That will be five bucks thanks. You want me to write this report? Ok well my hourly rate is X.’
Most of us just negotiate our salary ONCE – when we accept the position, and maybe make a pitch for a pay rise or bonus at performance review time. And even if we sell things as an employee (this project, this widget, this package) it’s not US that we are selling, or its us with a whole organisation and brand behind us.
So here’s what I have to share: of course it’s hard, you’ve never done it before, it’s unfamiliar, feels risky and you don’t know how to do it. THAT’S EXACTLY LIKE ANY IMPORTANT SKILL YOU HAVEN’T LEARNT YET.
If you wanted to learn piano you would go and get lessons, not beat yourself up because you haven’t magically woken up this morning being able to play Bach. You would work with someone who knows how to play and you would get them to show you how. You would adjust your expectations and be prepared to learn some foundational skills and practice them and build on them. You would expect to go back again and again to your classes and share what’s hard and get tips on how to make things easier.
Business skills are just the same.
Just because you don’t know how to do something yet doesn’t make you defective or somehow uniquely flawed.
It means you need to learn. You need to find someone you trust and feel safe with, who is patient and knows more than you do and is willing to teach what they know. Ideally someone who will watch and listen and teach you just what you don’t already know yet, and build on what you DO know. You need to practice. You need find a way to be forgiving and to be ok with your fumbling and bumbling and making mistakes. You need to be ok with the off notes and playing ‘beginners tunes’ and still wishing you could play something more complex. You need to celebrate the little wins and remember that last week you couldn’t even play a note.
What’s one business skill on your to-learn list?