Do You Cheat Others When You make a Profit?
One impressions I get from many women is that deep in your heart you may have a subconscious belief that you’re cheating others and are somehow bad if you make a profit.
Do you feel guilty when you make a healthy profit on what you do?
Do you charge enough for your products and services or do you undercut yourself at times?
Yesterday I had a meeting with a lovely woman who owns a business but spends all her time promoting others. She doesn’t take any money for doing this. In fact, when she’s tried to charge for helping others in this way – sending out notices for others on her e-newsletter and other promotional strategies – people are actually angry with her and say she should be doing it free.
In the meantime, her dear husband is working his tail off trying to make ends meet and his job is based on earning commissions. Unfortunately over the holidays the commissions were very low and now they’re trying to figure out how to pay all their bills.
I asked some probing questions of this woman and discovered that her Mother was a stay at home mom who only worked part time on an infrequent basis. My client got a lot of deeply negative messages about women who promote themselves and try to be anything but humble and meek. Messages like:
“Don’t get a big head.”
“Don’t be conceited.”
“Don’t be selfish.”
The message she got was that when she is nice and gives everything away and constantly helps others she’s being “a good woman.” When she does something for herself – she’s not a good woman. So, she keeps creating circumstances that reinforce that perception.
The challenge is when it’s time to pay the bills – if you’ve shorted yourself on what you charge, you end up falling short when it comes to your lifestyle and paying your bills. You can’t exactly go to your mortgage company or the grocery store and say, “Um, I’m a really nice person. Would you give me a little extra discount?”
Of course we know that’s silly. Why? Because these real businesses don’t give extra discounts. So if you consider yourself a real business – why are you undercutting yourself?
Here’s where it comes back around: In the real business world people don’t say, “Gee, that’s so nice. She’s only charging me $$ instead of $$$.” Instead they silently think, “She’s charging so much less than market rates – she must not be as good.”
Traditionally women always gave away our work. We have a history as volunteers. And, for centuries we were at the bottom of the totem pole when it came to jobs. Women were praised for being selfless and for constantly giving with no expectation of ever receiving anything in return except the warm fuzzy feelings of knowing we’ve helped. We made our husbands look good in the community while he took care of the messy job of going out and slaying dragons. Additionally, many of us have dealt with boyfriends, husbands and partners who became threatened when the woman they love made significant money or enjoyed a level of success.
We live in a very different world than the world our mothers lived in when they raised us. We were raised to be good wives, moms, sisters, daughters, friends and maybe a good employee. But we certainly weren’t raised to be a good business owners. And, it’s extremely difficult in this day and age for husbands to carry the whole load.
What thoughts, beliefs or attitudes were you raised with regarding the money you earn? Was it different for a girl in your home or your community compared to a boy? How much is enough? Is it fair for you to get a healthy profit? Will those warm, fuzzy feelings pay the rent or the mortgage?
Women are now starting businesses at double the rate of men. This has been true for over five years now. But many women business owners struggle because they’re uncomfortable about what it says about them to be successful when they feel a societal expectation for women to keep give everything away. Is it a good thing to make a profit? Or, does it mean you somehow had to claw over others to gain success? Is your business struggling because you’re new and just getting off the ground? Or are you struggling for other reasons?
All the best,
Author, “Testosterone-Free Marketing”
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