Amongst all of the broader social conversations happening recently around worth and wealth and access and fairness, what has galled me the most is that too many of us are still having to ask for permission to access the illusory “level playing field” and “equal protection” others enjoy implicitly.
For women, pay gaps, VC funding patterns, systemic biases, and a whole matrix of external structures keep us persistently under-represented in positions of power and keep us poorer than men. The statistics are depressing and universal, and all of the unpaid work we do robs us further of our potential wealth and influence.
But we can, and have to, do something about this. From demanding what we are worth to paying ourselves properly, the work starts with each of us. We need to get better at getting actual cash, and we need to stop telling ourselves we can’t afford to invest in ourselves or our businesses.
There are a few simple things we can do right now to give ourselves more money and therefore more options and more of a say:
- We can negotiate new contracts for EVERYTHING (mobile phones, utilities, subscriptions, broadband services, etc) and then put those savings into our personal savings accounts or into our businesses
- We can chase up unpaid invoices
- We can cash those checks collecting dust on our desks
- We can finally increase our prices
- We can do less free work and charge for more of it
- We can sell parts of our businesses
- We can sell items in our homes and offices that we no longer need or use
- We can negotiate payment terms and interest rates on everything from mortgages to business loans
- We can ask for discounts
- We can pay ourselves from our businesses (even if only a little bit each month) with a plan for increasing our salaries as our revenues increase
- We can start paying ourselves for some of the unpaid work we do or get our life or business partners to share the load (use Amy Westervelt’s Unpaid Labor Calculator for a shocking wake up call… my unpaid work totaled more than $70,000 a year)
We can do all of these things and then use the time, money, and energy saved to invest in our businesses, invest in our training, invest in a coach, invest in a mastermind, invest in a new hire, or simply invest in a much-needed break.
My dear Entreprenoras, the world already de-prioritizes us and minimizes our worth, but we shouldn’t do that to ourselves. Let’s have those difficult money conversations with co-founders or partners or suppliers, let’s plan for our financial futures, let’s learn what we need to learn, and let’s start building our financial fortresses so that no one can ever, ever pull us down.
Money isn’t the answer to everything, but having more control over more of it gives us the freedom to do more of the good we want to do in the world and in our lives.
So let’s stop with the status quo and start paying ourselves and owning our worth. Cha. Ching.