The Next Business Shift
Women Entrepreneurs Need to Reach Up, Not Down
I recently did a workshop on women and entrepreneurship. One common concern was that women professionals aren’t taken seriously. They’ll invest hours of coaching and advice into a lead, only to have the lead say they won’t buy from them. I provided some suggestions on how women entrepreneurs can close the sale. Much of the advice centred around pre-qualifying buyers to ensure they had a budget, a pressing need, and the entrepreneur was speaking with someone who had the authority to buy.
The conversation turned to bids and what rates to charge. I noted men stood firm on their rates. Men cite many years of experience, education and professional development and demonstrated their portfolios. If their hourly rate was $150, they wouldn’t accept anything for less. They might negotiate for longer-term projects and bring that number down, but usually, men stood firm on their rate.
Women, on the other hand, women were a different story. Many women with whom I spoke (during the workshop and at other events) cited the need to come in low. Very low. So low it was laughable. There were women with 20+ years’ experience bidding minimum wage. If you were the recipient of the bid, would you consider the bid serious? No. I wouldn’t either. Too low of a bid makes them appear amateurish and unprofessional.
This brings me to the point of this blog post. Men reach up. They apply to jobs when they have fifty per cent of the experience or qualifications for the job. They bid on projects that are at or slightly above their current work level. Women, on the other hand, reach down. They apply to jobs and bid on work for which they are overqualified. The net result is they short sell their hourly rates.
Women lose opportunities for advancement and lose contracts because they are seen as too qualified for the bid. If someone perceives you as too qualified, they are worried you will get bored and not do the job well.
The question is, how do women entrepreneurs dare? There are plenty of ways to be bold. The first is to know your worth. You have X years of experience with Y number of projects under your belt. Own those projects with pride. Write blog posts and other social media content to showcase your expertise. When going to networking events, be prepared with stories to showcase your past clients and experience. Own what you’ve accomplished, and don’t dismiss your hard work as ‘luck’ or ‘coincidence’. When you dismiss yourself, no one will take you seriously.
People take you as seriously as you take yourself. Show off your worth by keeping an updated portfolio, learning to qualify leads better, and walking away from those who have no interest in buying. When qualifying a lead, ask them how long they’ve had this problem, how much of a priority is it, and what kind of budget they have. If they say it’s a significant problem, but haven’t assigned any money to address it, then it’s not much of a priority.
Reach out to me on Twitter @vitaedynamics and let me know how you’ll qualify your leads.
In my next blog post, I’ll detail how women are better positioned for the Next Business Shift.