I love my hairdresser. I've been going to her since right after Catherine was born, which means I've spent nine-plus years allowing the same woman to cut and color my hair. We've gone through different stages (there was my unfortunate brunette stage and my REALLY unfortunate pixie-cut stage), but most of my hair life during this period has been pretty great. And anytime it wasn't, it was because I got some crazy idea and she couldn't talk me out of it.
About a year ago, after she'd spent 2.5 hours coloring, cutting and styling my hair, she told me my total bill. I was stunned. I could not believe that she was still charging me so little. This woman, who had spent years perfecting her craft, who was running her own operation, and who does incredible work, was charging less than $30 per hour BEFORE she took out any expenses. She was basically saying that after she paid for supplies and rent and other overheads, that she was worth less than $50,000 a year.
Now, I could have just delighted in my good luck, paid the bill and hoped she never raised her prices. But anyone who knows me knows that's not how I roll. At that visit (and on every visit since) I've been on a campaign to get her to raise her prices. Each visit, we talk about her value and how much people should be willing to pay for her continuous training and improvement, the clean and lovely salon she keeps, and now, with Covid, how she's working hard to keep her clients safe and healthy. There's no way she's a $50,000 a year value. She's easily twice that. (Although I didn't recommend doubling her prices in one fell swoop.) Every time, though, she says she's worried about losing clients or offending them with increased prices.
The trap that Kirsten has fallen into is one that many entrepreneurs fall into, but especially women. We are afraid to ask for what we are worth because we don't know if anyone will pay it. Or that people will think we are greedy, or asking too much. But we're not. We're just asking what we are worth. This came into laser focus for me last week, when I attended a virtual seminar on pricing by Casey Brown, President of Boost Pricing. In the three hours she was with us, she taught us a great many things, but my favorite was a story she told about Picasso. The story goes that a woman saw Picasso on the street, painting, recognized him and asked him to sketch her. He obliged, and in five minutes, had created a sketch that she felt portrayed her perfectly (plus, it was a Picasso.) She asked him if she could buy it, but when he quoted her a price of $5,000 francs (an enormous sum at the time), she was aghast. "But it only took you five minutes!" she said.
"No, madame," Picasso replied. "It took me a lifetime."
You see, this is the thing. Yes, when we get good at something, it seems easy. For Kirsten to cut my hair and color it well is like falling off a log for her because she's spent thousands of hours perfecting her craft. For me to help someone do a strategic plan or design a sales team doesn't feel like work because I've been doing it for 20 years. But people aren't just paying for your time. They are paying for your expertise, your education, the hours and hours you've spent getting good at your craft. You can't just charge them for the time you've spent now. You have to get paid for the time it's taken you to get here, just as Picasso did when he drew that sketch.
Or, in the words of Casey Brown - You're Picasso, baby. Get paid.