Maggie Rants [and Raves]

Starting Too High

by Maggie Franklin | August 15, 2014

Common thought used to be that when you started out, you started at the bottom. New techs would scrounge for the money they needed for booth rent and supplies, while working their butts off doing their own marketing to build their business.

Lots of handshaking and, “Hi, my name is ____. I do nails and was wondering if I could leave a flier with you?” Begging everyone you knew to hand out your cards and say great things about you.

All the while, setting prices at below the local average and offering special promotional discounts and referral incentives.

The idea was that once you got them in your chair, you’d wow them with your amazing skillz and build a loyal clientele. And, once you built a loyal clientele, you could raise prices a little at a time.

You started at the bottom and worked your way up.

There’s lots of talk these days about “this generation” and whatnot — new employees entering the workforce who’ve been sold a bill of goods about how a college degree would ensure them an opportunity to skip all that “paying your dues” nonsense and allow them to enter their career field at the top.

Here in our business, I’m starting to see the same mindset. New techs entering the industry setting their prices at an ideal, intending on starting at a higher level than experience dictates.

All too often, I see these optimistic techs slowly lower their prices, offering special discounts and promotions, and ultimately finding themselves dealing with the challenges of being a beginner.

Sometimes they rethink their approach and arise victorious; all too often they simply throw up their hands in surrender.

I can’t help but feel that part of this falls on the shoulders of veterans who have spent the last 10 to 15 years talking up the importance of “setting your prices where you want them to be,” “don’t sell yourself short,” “charge what you’re worth,” “make sure you value yourself”....

All good advice. All truth. Except when it overlooks the importance of starting humble. By all means, charge what you’re worth, but understand what you’re really worth. Certainly you should stand up for yourself and not allow anyone to take advantage of you because you’re new at the game.

But not only is it unrealistic to expect to start at the same level as a veteran tech who has been established for several years, it doesn’t give you any room for growth.

It’s OK to start at the beginning. You’ll understand the whole story better that way.

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