I would like to highlight a problem linked to price discovery. How much is your work worth? It is especially tricky when you start your own business or just graduated because you either don’t have clients that can vouch for you or no experience and the subliminal message that youth equals inexperience and lack of skills. To compensate this situation, most people will reduce drastically their expectations to get the experience/clients to a point where it does not make sense anymore.
I see so many freelancers/business owners dropping their compensation below poverty levels because the worldwide competitions from poorer countries is weighting on the average compensation and fees expected by companies. Sometimes, I see freelancers/business owners or graduates offering their workforce for free through training periods or free work to get this much needed first experience. Unfortunately, in a capitalist economy, the price is also synonymous to a certain level of quality. And if you lower your prices too low, you will also damage your image and the quality expectations which will hinder your potential on the market since employers/companies will associate your low price point with a low work quality and will not hire you. Quality does come with a price tag and your hard work should be rewarded properly.
With this behavior, you will most likely attract low quality clients/companies which will treat you terribly. I have seen so many companies that have zero HR strategy, just expecting employees to do the same thing over and over again without learning any new skills, or providing any fast track career evolution for high potentials. In these kind of companies, you will basically waste your time and your initial motivation will drop fast because there is no incentive, no vision and a culture of mediocrity which will likely lead the company to fail anyway. If you are not challenged in your current work then you are not learning and thus will not progress. The same goes if you are a freelancer, your clients will constantly ask for more tasks to be included without modifying the initial price, so basically asking for free work. Furthermore, they will likely not provide information on time which will delay your work (and you will likely be blamed for their own failure). Payments will be a constant drama with the client trying to delay them regularly and find any pretext to do so.
On top of it, these companies are known (or will be) as not performing and providing low quality services/products, which will in turn impact your own image and prevent you from working with top companies. Ask anyone how difficult it was to find a new job after having worked for Enron, Bernard Madoff or Lehman Brothers. Of course, it is not always obvious at first whether the company or client you will work for/with is a great company. But there are some initial clues, have the initial meetings been well organized, on time and the discussions been proactive, detailed with a precise agenda? Were your interlocutors knowledgeable and demonstrated a real expertise in their sector? I would advise you to browse forums, glassdoor and other online reviews to give yourself a better idea of a specific company. Don’t hesitate to contact current or former employees and discuss directly with them to understand if you would be a good fit or if the company would be a good client.
Strategy to adopt
For fresh graduates, you can show your value by getting great grades in college, speak multiple languages (especially those known as difficult like Mandarin, Arabic, Hindi or Russian, focus on foreign students to improve your skills), and collect as many recommendations as possible on your Linkedin profile from your teachers, clients if you developed a startup on your campus, or trusted figures like a priest, your sport coach or the owner of a charity your worked for. For freelancers or small business owners, you can use your past experience as a proof of your expertise, call back your previous colleagues, clients or suppliers and ask them to provide you with a recommendation. Don’t forget that the people you work with will be your best marketing and will get you new clients. And don’t forget to talk to your friends which can realize that they might need your expertise and could become your first clients. Offline networking is also certainly useful and you should go to an events every week to meet potential clients or partners that will help your business. Finally using carefully crafted SEO for your website and targeted ads on your social media will bring you clients but it is more of a long term strategy.
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Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, I will respond to any question. Also if you are interested by my services or would like to know more, check out my website and/or contact me at [email protected] . I will be genuinely happy to talk to you and help you.