We were discussing the “employee mindset” during one of the networking meetings I go to, and it struck me as something many of us struggle with at various points in our entrepreneur development. It’s a real struggle for service professionals.
Here’s the podcast episode:
Or if you’d rather watch the video:
Today’s topic is how the “employee mindset” is bringing down your business. I know you’re probably thinking, “Ruthie, wait. I’m not an employee. I’m an entrepreneur. What are you talking about?”
Well, I was meeting with a group of creatives the other day for a meeting we call world domination. We ended up talking about the employee mindset, and how it impacts us even as entrepreneurs.
What Is the Employee Mindset?
Most entrepreneurs have spent at least some time as an employee, and many of us don’t have entrepreneurship in our families. Some people are the first business owners in generations.
That being said, your time and your experiences as an employee impact the way you conduct business.
This is particularly serious for businesses that have variable rates, typically service professionals. As a content writer, I make an assessment of a project based on what the client tells me they want, and then I give them a project fee.
When you sell a product, as opposed to a service, it’s different. For example, this cup is $5. It doesn’t matter whether you buy it. It’s a $5 cup and we have to decide whether or not we’re going to pay $5 for that cup. When you’re shopping online, you don’t send a message to the seller and say, “Hey, I’ll give you $3 for it.” You buy the $5 cup, or you go find a $3 cup.
However, with service professionals, there’s often a lot of negotiation. People may also negotiate on products, depending on your country and culture, but with eCommerce and online, you’re not sending messages to negotiate on price.
So a service professional could be a professional content marketer or writer, a web designer, graphic designer, a digital marketer, a consultant of any kind, a business/lifestyle coach, a Google ad professional, etc. These are all people who provide services, not tangible products.
The Bad Manifestations of the Employee Mindset.
Settling for Much Less Than We’re Worth
The biggest bad manifestation I see, especially among writers, is that we let clients dictate rates. I’m not saying you shouldn’t work with people to come to a happy medium.
However, what typically happens is that you give them a rate, and then they tell you they can’t afford it. And then you ask them, “Okay, well what can you afford?” They tell you a very unsatisfactory number, and you spend a lot of time trying to make things work for your client.
This is something a lot of new consultants and freelancers puzzle over; How do I make this work for them?
But you’re forgetting a key part of the equation here. How do you also make it work for you?
Sometimes the gap is just too big. If you’re a writer or any service professional, and you charge $500 for a blog post, and the client says they can only pay you $100, the gap is definitely too big.
If they come back and say, “Hey, we could do $400 for that.” Maybe I could puzzle over it, but even then, I’m not just going to give them $100 off for nothing. You have to make it work for yourself too.
If they can afford $400, maybe you can lower the length of the blog post. That way, you’re making it work for both of you. You’re not supposed to lower your rate for anything. You should get something for lowering it, even if it’s not something monetary.
Oftentimes, we don’t do that. We just take what’s given to us. You might do that the first time, but you’re not going to continue to enjoy doing it for such a low rate.
That’s the employee mindset. When you interview for a job as an employee, you have already told them what your ideal pay is, and they tell you if they can match it.
Most of the time we end up accepting it because we feel compelled to take jobs because we’re scared we might not get another opportunity. As an entrepreneur, you have the power to say no and walk away.
Obviously, you have to make your own assessments. Sometimes, with a difference of $100, you may be less inclined to walk away because you’ve got bills. Though, a huge difference in rates is just not worth it for you. You’re better off taking that time and finding clients who will pay you the rates that you’re asking for.
I spend somewhere between $300 -$400 every two weeks on groceries because we’ve got 4 kids. For me, that’s the difference of a grocery shopping trip.
But you can say no and walk away. That’s your powers and entrepreneur. A lot of entrepreneurs give up their power. Just because a client has engaged with you, doesn’t mean you have to continue engaging with them if the business relationship is not beneficial to you both.
Not Taking Any Risks
Another thing is that you might not take risks, especially on your business goals or dreams. Many companies’ cultures are about maintaining the status quo.
You don’t rock the boat. You don’t do anything crazy. You don’t take risks.
Now that we’re entrepreneurs, we carry that over into our businesses. So we consider things and we’re like, “Oh, that’s too risky. That’s never going to work.”
Arguably, I’m sure many of you had naysayers when you first started your business. Your business wasn’t supposed to work. So what do you have to lose? You have to get into the habit of taking risks.
Prioritizing Pleasing Your Client Above All Else
Sometimes, you feel pressured to do what a client tells you to do, versus what needs to be done.
I actually broke off my relationship with a client last year because they wanted things to be done in a certain way. I tried to tell them that it shouldn’t be done that way, and they initially agreed. I did things my way, and they made me revert it back to the way that they wanted it done. I told them, “Hey, that’s not gonna work and Google isn’t going to like you for that.” And they said, “Well, this is the way we want it done. “ After that, I told them I didn’t think we were a good fit, and that I wasn’t going to do any more writing for them.
That was how the relationship ended. It was within my power because I was going to be unhappy doing that work. So I walked away.
Remember Who You Are
You have to understand that you shouldn’t give up your power when you engage with clients. It’s really important that you hold onto that power and understand your position.
You are not an order taker. You are not an employee. They can tell you what they want, but you always have to factor in what you want.
Nobody else is factoring in what you want, so if you don’t do it, no one will.