Having a healthy sense of self esteem and self value is important in all areas of life, and your workplace, whether you are working for someone else or running your own business, is no exception.
So what does valuing yourself in business mean? Well, it’s helpful to break it down:
One of the most important ways we can value ourselves in business is financially. Whether this is fighting for the payrise we deserve or ensuring that we are charging enough for our services, time and products, it’s absolutely essential. In today’s economic climate it’s easy to go into fear, overcommit ourselves financially and timewise, but if you can’t afford it then it’s counterproductive. When running your own business sloppiness around financial details will undermine you faster than anything else, whilst we don’t always have time to do all of this ourselves at the very least it’s important to keep a close eye on the details, or have someone you trust taking care of this.
The same goes for time. Time is, of course, money and if you’re continually giving away your time for free, or undercharging for projects it will ultimately lead to underearning. If you’re starting up it’s often helpful to take on pro-bono projects in order to make contacts, build your reputation and hone your skills, but it’s important to set boundaries around it. Of course pro-bono projects can be highly enjoyable, especially if for a worthy cause, however it’s essential to ensure that you plan accordingly, and allow paying projects to fully support these. The same applies when you are an employee, it’s easy to get caught in a ‘people-pleasing’ loop in a desire to get ahead, but it creates what I call the ‘domino’ effect in that you are continually playing catch up, struggling to get out of bed due to the late nights at work and, again, ultimately it is counter-productive as you under-resourced and simply cannot perform to your best ability.
It’s worth mentioning that unlike money time is something you can never get back (think about that one!) and if you’re spending every weekend crunching numbers or catching up on business admin while your partner, friends and family are out having a wonderful time without you / or feeling highly neglected then it’s a time for a re-think! Being indispensable in the workplace can make you popular yet completely exhausted! Likewise one of the problems small business owners and start-ups often face is that they are working every aspect of their business themselves, in my experience running your own business, requires a lot of discipline not to start working but to know when to stop!
It’s also about allowing yourself time out to reflect on what is working, what needs to change and what needs to be done differently. Leadership coaches Mick Ukleja and Robert Lorber write, “Reflection is looking in so you can look out with a broader, bigger, and more accurate perspective.”
It’s also about setting clear boundaries both for yourself, your work colleagues and clients, knowing what you can expect from, and want for, yourself in terms of time, energy and remuneration will make it an enormous amount easier to let others know what to expect of you too.
It’s not just about valuing yourself in business it’s also about bringing your values to business! I firmly believe that knowing yourself and your values is invaluable in business and don’t be afraid to bring those qualities into the work you do. When you start to live your whole life based on your values, for example freedom, adventure, wealth, compassion etc, you will more naturally attract like-minded people who’ll want to do business with you.
I feel this is summed up perfectly below by Judy Wicks, founder and CEO of White Dog Cafe:
“Everyone is always trying to find out, ‘How can my business be different from someone else’s? How can my business be unusual? Well, don’t look too far, because the way that your business can be unusual is by having it reflect yourself. Everybody is different, and if your business actually reflects you as an individual, it’s going to be different. My business expresses who I am.”
Take some time today to think of the areas of your career that you could bring value to, both in terms of valuing yourself and expressing your values. Not only will this bring energy and focus to your work-life but you’ll also be giving yourself that valuable edge over the competition!