Tuesday, June 22, 2010

OIJDIM isn’t the answer

I’m taking a break from the end-of-year-class-project-teacher-gift, a book of photos and quotes of my daughter's 2nd grade class. Nice idea (not mine!), waaaaay too much work. This “little” project has got me thinking about my inability to negotiate my fees well. This is a freebie of course, but I could have said no or asked for help. Why not?

Three times recently I’ve low-balled my fees. In one case I’ve done additional work without charging. In another, I gave so much information away in the initial--free--meeting the client hardly needs me. The interesting part is these clients are all women, 2 are moms. At the same time, I held my ground with a male client, aimed high and got more than I thought I would. Why am I so resistant to asking another mom for what I’m worth? For payment for my skills and knowledge?

Last week I had a networking coffee with another mom from school—a real go-getter with a new business. Repeatedly, I offered to help her--gratis--with her website photos (“It’s what I do! Really, it’s no problem!”) Repeatedly she refused. She finally said: “You have to stop thinking like a designer and start thinking like a business person.”

She’s right. That kind of “I’ll take care of it. Let me help you” attitude is so ingrained in me I can’t stop myself from offering help. Isn’t this is what we mothers do: we pick up each others kids from school, edit each other’s resume, design the bloody class project? We raise our hands. We’re volunteers. It’s called sisterhood.

How many times do we say “Oh, I’ll just do it myself ” instead of asking for help or, in my case, asking for more money? (After I write this post I’ll likely pick up the TV room rather than try and get my kids to help.) Since the days of having an assistant are over, there’s a certain amount of “Oh, I’ll just do it myself ” inherent in business (as in motherhood). Like folding laundry, sometimes it’s just faster to do it. And often there isn’t anybody else raising their hand.

But, to paraphrase my coffee date, I have to stop thinking like a mom and start thinking like a CEO. “OIJDIM” isn’t always the answer and doesn’t necessarily mean free.


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