Remember that “underearning” is the pattern of earning below YOUR potential. It’s about underselling yourself, even though you don’t want to. But you can’t overcome this pattern if you don’t see it. You must identify your pattern- your behaviors– in the first place. Women tend to see each situation in isolation—it is time to connect the dots.
I want you to take a step back and look back through your career. Look at the last 10 or 20 years. Do you see a pattern of earning less money than you need? If you have made “enough” money, do you think you’ve been earning at your true potential? Have you been thriving?
Here are 7 common ways that self-employed women undersell themselves. Do you identify with any of these? Remember, you have to identify your pattern before you can step into great prosperity.
7 Common symptoms of underearning
- You set your original fees too low (lower than a man would have!)—often because you felt you were too new or inexperienced…
- You struggle telling your clients you are going to raise your fees (you fear you’ll lose your clients or you worry they will feel that you think money is more important than people.)
- When you do raise your fees, you don’t raise them by enough money, and hence always feel behind.
- You did not negotiate your commission structure/ contract —or didn’t push it as much as a man would have
- You discount your services in a variety of ways and often times don’t bill for all of your time
- You often give a lot away for free—free advice, free consultations, free help
- While working hard, you don’t market yourself enough. You don’t spend enough time making sure you are highly visible
Do any of these ring a bell?
As you can see, there are countless ways that women “underearn” though often times it is about what they don’t do. Did you notice that a lot of underearning is passive, as opposed to active? We just never say anything….
Women work hard and value their relationships with their colleagues and their clients. Underearning can slip in, silently, by simply not doing what needs to be done. You don’t have the negotiation conversation, or the fee conversation. You just don’t ask for what you need and want. Hence, a lot of underearning quietly saps your energy and strength over time.
Take heart! It is possible to earn more. But step number one to conquering underearning is naming it. (In order to break a pattern you must identify the pattern.) Yes, it can be overwhelming to get in touch with this. Grief commonly comes up. And we can get mad at ourselves when we look at this. But please know that you are not alone. This is a very common, though often hidden, phenomena. It’s time to break the isolation around this issue. You are an amazing woman doing great work, and I believe it is possible to make more money.
Be gentle with yourself as you continue to look at this. Trust that this is the perfect time to address this issue. How wonderful to look at this now and not in another five or ten years. Earning your worth is a process. Give yourself credit for stepping into this process.
Start talking about underearning with your women friends and colleagues. Do they undersell themselves? (Somehow it is easier to see in other people! We just tend to stew in our own growing resentment.) Start writing about this. Keep reading about this.
Be willing to be uncomfortable. Author Barbara Stanny wrote that the number one prerequisite to making more money is the willingness to be uncomfortable. I agree with her. If you wait until you are perfectly comfortable telling people what you charge, for example, you will wait too long. Be willing to stretch. It gets easier. And then you move to the next level.
For now, start noticing your own pattern.