By the end of this post you're either going to think I'm very smart or a horrible business person. Maybe both. Regardless of your thoughts, I'm happy with my choices, TYVM.
Part of the fun of being a consultant - especially one who has been doing this for a while now - is that often I get to talk other people into doing consulting work. Whether its as a side gig or full time, I think consulting is an awesome way to build your confidence, explore your expertise, and understand your own value. It's not for everyone for always, but there are real benefits and I like helping others absorb some of that juice.
That means that relatively often I'm helping folks navigate the fun process that is setting your first rate.
Honestly, everyone seems to be universally bad at this. I'm only mildly calling you out if you too suck at setting your rate. But here's a bit of what I see: previously full time staff member takes salary, divides by working days in year, creates daily rate. Sometimes, if they're really tamped down by self-doubt and (let's face it) a woman crushed by patriarchal self-limiting beliefs, they then lower that number further because they are just "starting out" as a consultant.
That's when I facepalm.
Of course, if you work full time, maybe you're thinking that was perfectly fine logic. But no, no, no, please, no. First off, the reason someone is paying you as a consultant is because of your value - you are not starting out. You have years of experience and knowledge and assets that you're delivering to them at less than the cost of hiring a full time employee. This is huge. And then of course (and I could talk about this for years, tbh), you have added self-employment taxes, no subsidized health care or retirement benefits, and operational expenses to consider.
So why do I think you're going to think I'm a horrible business person? I refuse to take advantage of women who do not know their worth.
Earlier this month, SJ and I signed a service contract with someone to support our peer-to-peer mentoring program. She's awesome - a badass at what she does and in a unique position to offer a quality service. When I asked her to pitch a rate, she did, and I replied that we weren't going to pay her any less than 150% of her suggestion.
I also just reached out to a fantastic human who I've known for years who recently started consulting. She is working in a similar space and I asked for what she was interested in working on and what her rates were, in case I could pass some of my favorite clients her way in the future (again, horrible business woman).
Some of y'all may know that I don't have a great verbal filter when faced with injustice. That probably medium justifies why I responded the way I did. Ergo, title of post...
Girl. Double it. Now.
She's committed to quoting twice what she was. It still puts her rate lower than I'd recommend, but she'll grow it as she grows her client base. That's fine. At least it's in the ballpark now.
I've working in this space for too long to see other people struggling to earn what they are worth. Money is hard. Negotiating is a skill set. That's why these things take practice. But don't cut yourself off at the knees before you even learn to crawl.