This article will be about one of the most important business lessons which I ever learned.

“I wouldn’t do that even if someone paid me” — there are a few things which I say that about. In my opinion, writing boring contracts, calculating how much tax to pay and mowing the lawn are all forms of work. And I don’t won’t do any of these types of work because they a form of torture for me. Therefore I’m more than willing to pay someone else to do this kind of work for me.

On the other hand, I adore doing what I do for a living. I love writing strategies for my clients, thinking up new things and working with people at my workshops. But I know some people who are paralysed at the thought of speaking in public, and they would do anything to avoid it. And that includes hiring someone to take their place.

“I never did a day’s work in my life.
Everything that I did was a pleasure for me”
Thomas A. Edison.

We would all like to have the kind of work where we could do what we love doing. This is one of the most important influences when it comes to looking for work. If I like writing and creating new things, I’ll become a copywriter. If I like having contact with people, I’ll be a barman. And this is ok right up until that moment when you say to yourself: not only do I like writing, but I’m also good at it. So I’ll set up my own company and I’ll sell my services to others. For money. But this is a trap! Don’t go there!

And why? The value to you of doing something which you like doing is actually lower than the value of you doing the same thing for someone who doesn’t like doing whatever it is. So what does that mean? It means that, for example, an estimate which you give your client for your product or services is, more often than not, lower than it should be. Of course, you can always check out the market value and match your estimate accordingly, but there’s a trap here too. You know only too well what your weak points are. It’s too easy to say to yourself (for example): “But all those other architects are more experienced than I am and have done more projects than I have, so I need to be cheaper than they are in order to get the job”. Usually your client doesn’t think like that – he (or she) is only aware that one architect is more expensive whilst a different architect is less expensive, and wonders why there is a difference as he (or she) can’t see any differences.

That form of thinking leads to the next trap: you end up negotiating with yourself. Imagine that a potential client has asked you to provide an estimate for a new web-site. You come up with an estimate of 500 pounds. But remember that this figure is already less than the first figure you thought of! Then you go and look at the current web-site of that potential client, but you see a site which is sad and pathetic and so you think to yourself: ” It’s a small company and they don’t know anything about the Internet, they haven’t even got their own domain name and they obviously don’t think their web-site is important, so they won’t pay as much as 500 pounds. I’ll just ask for 350 pounds”. In a flash you’ve just lost 150 pounds as a result of negotiating with yourself. And that’s even before you sent them your email!

“If you’re good at something,
never every do it for free”.

Find someone else who will do that work

What’s the solution? The solution is simple and is in the title above. If you really like doing what you do, don’t sell your services… yourself.

Find someone who can look at the value of what you do from an outside perspective, but taking into account the current market and… get that person to come up with the estimate. Write down those estimates and never offer your products or services for less money (regardless of how tempting this may be). And, even better, send your business rep to your potential client to do the negotiations. As a result your business will really profit.

When I’m speaking in public and I introduce myself to the audience, I usually say: “I earn a living by telling stories”. And this is true. I love telling stories, but I didn’t always make money that way. And do you know when that changed? It changed at that moment when I stopped being the one who estimated the value of my services.