biz ladiesLife & Business

biz ladies: 7 myths that make earning ugly

by Stephanie

Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from previous contributor Tara Gentile. Tara is a business coach and blogger serving passion-driven entrepreneurs and artists of all sorts with fresh ideas about productivity, passion and profit. She is also the author of the digital guide, The Art of Earning. Today she points out 7 myths that many business owners face. Thank you, Tara, for helping us reevaluate these misconceptions about business! — Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump . . .

We have been conditioned to think that loving what you do equals not having much in the bank. We were taught to expect that others would control our wealth (or lack thereof) and that our skill sets had to fit inside a box someone else created.

If you’re a regular Biz Ladies reader, something is shifting (or already has!) inside of you. You’re beginning to wonder if that just isn’t true anymore.


But there are still many, many pervasive money myths that hold you back from claiming the true financial worth of your work. It’s time to bust those myths once and for all. It’s time to claim your spot in the New Economy.

So how can you turn a lifetime of earning-averse conditioning into a passion-driven, profit-filled business?

My business runs on passion, productivity and profit. Each plays a significant part in generating my income. Without understanding how they work together, making money would be pretty ugly: begging for sales, languishing in the middle and living launch to launch. By grounding my business in passion, productivity and profit, my business flows from day to day with elegance.

Passion. Your business is based on the way you and your customers experience the world. Your interests may wax and wane, but your worldview is the sum total of what turns you on, off and all around. Your worldview may evolve — as will your customers’ —but it fuels you and what you do.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
— Simon Sinek, Start with Why

Productivity. Your great work is a process, not an epiphany. Making mistakes is the greatest thing you can do in your business — keep making them. Starting with one idea and moving to another is the key to success — keep producing.

Profit. Making money means using it to change the world. Making money isn’t about consuming or even saving. It means putting it in your own hands to use it for good, to take back the power that’s been taken from you. And if you’re not in business to change the world — with money — you’re in the wrong business.

Below, I’m busting 7 myths based on these pillars that equate making money with an ugly process. Answer the questions under each myth for yourself. Challenge yourself to see how you could adjust your business assumptions to make room for earning money beautifully.

MYTH 1: You sell stuff.

One thing the recession has taught us is that “stuff” is not enough. People want more than another bauble for their neck or a tchotchke for their shelf. They want something with meaning. They want an experience of your art that changes their perception or triggers a feeling or memory.

If you forget for a moment that you sell a product or offer a service and concentrate on the experience you’re creating for your customers, how does the value of your work change? How does this allow you to forget competing on price and instead start competing on passion?

MYTH 2: Mistakes are to be avoided.

Everything I do is a mistake. What I mean is that instead of allowing mistakes to be the exception, I accept them as the rule. I’m currently learning from my actions and decisions and never pretending that I do anything perfectly.

When it comes to making money, that means I’m okay with putting something out there that isn’t perfect if it’s still extremely valuable. I’m a Virgo, and even I can admit there’s no such thing as perfection. So why not embrace imperfection in the name of forward motion?

How can you learn to love “mistakes” as part of your journey toward business growth and making money?

MYTH 3: I do not need to make more money because I love what I do.

We’ve all said it. “I love this so much, I wouldn’t even need to get paid!” What comes easy to us — what is beautiful and fun — is downright ugly to someone else. What comes easy to you often represents the most valuable skill you bring to the world.

Your time, energy and circumstances (hello, work-from-home moms!) do not reduce the value of what you do or produce. Value is value. It’s your job to better understand the value of your work to your customers and clients and then constantly improve on how that value is perceived so that you can truly make (lots of) money beautifully.

What is the return on time or energy that your customers experience because of purchasing your product or services? What tangible results do your customers experience, and what financial worth does that have for them over time?

MYTH 4: It is not okay to talk about money.

You’ve been taught that it’s not okay to talk about money. That it’s not polite to discuss matters of earning or payment.

Unfortunately, “being polite” about money keeps us in the dark and under the thumb of ignorance. We simply don’t know the going rate for our services or understand the amount we could be earning. Only by talking to each other about what we charge, how we calculate rates, how much we earn in a year and what our earning goals are can we level the playing field for those entering the game.

Instead of talking behind the backs of those who are bringing down the market, why not bring the talk into the open? How can we create a community where money isn’t something to be frightened of but instead celebrated?

MYTH 5: Your profit is how much money you bring in through sales.

Okay, so you know intellectually that this isn’t true. Your profit is sales minus overhead, materials and labor. But is this really how you operate in your business? Or are you accepting all of your income as profit?

Beginning to understand just how much of the income I was generating was actually profit empowered me to make better decisions with my money: what goes to taxes, what goes to commissions, what goes to contractors, what goes to travel. I use Outright.com to better understand where my income is coming and going — and to always know the bottom line on my profit.

What shapes your understanding of what is profit and what’s not? How do you make sense of the gap between expenses and sales? How can you focus on the money that’s actually available to you?

MYTH 6: People cannot afford what I need to charge.

The customer you’re targeting may not understand why she should pay what’s on your price tag. She may not prioritize it enough to justify the cost. Or she may not actually be your ideal customer.

It’s not your job to sell to the rich or artificially lower your prices to sell to the “masses.” It’s your job to match your product with the people who need it. Those who prioritize it. Those who most acutely desire it. That’s the heart of marketing.

Those people find a way to afford what you do. They save, they ration, they splurge. Just as you afford handmade clothes or organic food, they afford your work.

What assumptions are you making about your customer that prove untrue? How can you reassess whom you target with your product?

MYTH 7: Cheap sells.

It’s time to stop competing on price and start banking on passion. No one except megabox retailers can compete on price. The type of businesses that compete on price can’t compete on anything else.

And trust me, if you’re reading this, you have something else to compete on.

Your unique insight. Your unique process. Your unique purpose. Your unique design. Your ability to differentiate yourself (and demand more for your work, not less) is only limited by your imagination. So let it run wild.

What’s holding you back from thinking of yourself as high-end? What competition makes you feel like you’re in a race to the bottom? How can you reverse that race? How can you set yourself apart?

As the forever recession pushes us deeper and deeper into change (whether we like it or not!), it’s important to change our own internal monologues about the art of making money.

Beyond this list, what internal scripts are you following with regards to money?

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  • Yet another great Biz Ladies article! So, when will there be a Biz Ladies book to compile all this wonderful information?!

  • I’m so glad you brought up this issue. It’s definitely a concern I have, especially working in the virtual world. As a blogger, I certainly struggle with trying to figure out how to earn a living and hold onto my values and be fair to myself.

  • Great article.
    Thanks for reminding me:
    “Your unique insight. Your unique process. Your unique purpose. Your unique design. Your ability to differentiate yourself (and demand more for your work, not less) is only limited by your imagination. ”
    I will return to this many times!

  • I agree with Jennifer! When are you going to compile this into a book for us all? Even an ebook with live links would be SO useful.

  • Fabulous article….. I too often try and figure it all out myself but this reminded me to see it from my customers’ perspective (which is the reason/passion I’m doing it after all!) and lightbulbs started pinging!!!

  • Fabulous article….as a creative person it is hard for me to imagine people wanting to pay big duckets for my work since it comes so freely and naturally for me. Your article forced me to reconsider and has me raising my ridiculously low design fees as we speak! Rock on Tara and Stephanie!

  • Oh this is exactly what I needed….in this very moment! I definitely have some internal monologuing to change! Thanks so much…I’m going to sit down with pen and paper and answer some of these tough questions!

  • As always, so well said Tara! #7 really resonates with me and I practice that one as much as possible….I cannot make my goods as inexpensive as the bog guys, but I can sell my passion and my story.

  • This is a fantastic article!!! I think these issues are something we struggle with as creative people and also as women. It is so important that we appreciate our own worth and then others will do so as well!

  • great post! i love the part about mistakes, i make hair accessories and it seems that my best creations come out of just playing around with scraps or making a mistake. also, the part about pricing and valueing yourself, your time and your work is so true! the whole biz ladies series is so helpful, thank you!

  • Great post – thank you! The price issue especially strikes a chord, as I often compare my work to mass-produced products and despair that no one will ever want to pay what I’m asking (even though I have at least some evidence to the contrary). It’s good to remember that it’s about what makes you unique, and maybe reevaluating your market.

  • I feel like this is EXACTLY what I needed to read right now. I’m on the brink of beginning to sell my work and attempting to make a profit from my blog…thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Thank You!! My husband and I have had a brick-n-mortar retail business for three and a half years and I get so stuck in my own little world buying, designing, creating displays, profit and loss charts, helping customers etc, etc, that I have been slowly devaluing my own work and forgetting what we ‘really’ sell, which is so much more than stuff. Thank you!!

  • Great advice and so timely for me….I am about to launch a shop on etsy.com and it’s more work than I thought…..and while I’m finishing products, taking pictures, pricing, etc. I have found myself buying into some of these myths. Thanks for steering my focus back to why I’m doing it in the first place! As for internal scripts, I am using “think, pray, do”….I have so many ideas it’s hard to know which ones to implement but prayer goes a long way toward narrowing them down and giving me confidence to proceed. ;)

  • Thanks for all the positive input! Ya know, another myth that I should probably add to the list (but deserves it’s own post…) is how insular the artist/designer/creative community can be when it comes to business.

    When all you see is creative people doing amazing things, you devalue yourself. When I see you, I see extreme value… unique skills… unmatched talent.

    Don’t forget to get outside the bubble and test your own assumptions about value & art!

  • the fear of making a mistake is probably one of the hardest hurdles to overcome.. thanks for this reminders on how to get past that. and thanks for the whole article, def must-read!

  • I particularly like the “start with why”…. and the fact that what you do triggers meaning. I think that this is golden advice – many thanks Tara! Claudine

  • Oh! Smart! And true – every designer I admire, I admire because of the whole package – and I love them and buy from them regardless of price, it really is down to the overall experience and loving the idea/lifestyle/whatever.

  • Your mythbreakers simply pounded home all the issues I have with making money/sales and setting prices/value, though I had not recognized them enough to put them into words. I believe once we recognize what the problems are, we can correct them. Thank you for your insight and expertise.

  • Biz ladies just gets better and better! This was such a great article, she is so knowledgeable! I loved all of the challenging questions that really get us thinking about applying this information into our businesses. I also appreciate that she includes points about the reality of our economy right now. Thanks! xo

  • Tara, this is so inspiring, and so spot on! This is exactly what I’ve been working on with my new line. Thanks for this- it’s so helpful to be reminded of the big picture when bogged down by details. The reminder about the customer experience is helping me so much.

  • I love this series – so many helpful suggestions and tips. I agree with other comments – we need a Biz Ladies Book!

  • Totally agree on Myth 6 and 7, here in Australia discounting and sales is just an everyday practice now. Your post is a reminder to hold on to your own values with your business and don’t be swayed by the masses. Thanks again Biz Ladies :)

    PS – I love this quote….

    “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
    — Simon Sinek, Start with Why

  • I like the, “it’s not okay to talk about money” segment. The”it’s not okay to talk about ____(fill in the blank) attitude leaves us in the dark about many things. We can apply this to many aspects of life. Thanks.

  • Yes! Exactly what I needed today. Thank you Tara!

    I learn SO MUCH from you all out there in blog-land and I appreciate it all. I’m almost 61 but ‘I ain’t done yet.’ I expect to be making creative contributions to society for many years to come and I can always use good advice that helps push my small business forward.

  • Wow, such inspiration! My favorite part: “No one except megabox retailers can compete on price.” EXACTLY!!!

  • Tara, great article!! Thanks for all your advice. Quick question about Outright–do you use that instead of QuickBooks? Trying to decide which accounting software to dive into, but there are so many options. Outright sounds too good t be true. Your thoughts on it?

  • My biggest problem is committing to spending money on employees, I know that I CAN do all the things I do myself, but I have to keep telling myself that there are really not enough hours in the day to get it all done. I’m a Virgo too…delagating is my biggest challenge!

    RE accounting systems: I’m currently using Freshbooks and love their invoicing system…

  • LOVE this. And Jennifer (1st comment) has it right: when is the Biz Ladies book coming out?! I want to read that book.

  • This is such a great post!! Wow. As I’m about to finally launch my own business and realistically decide about pricing, this is fantastic advice!! Thank you!!

  • Really important to also belong to a defined network of people or community to learn , not just about how to improve your skills but to meet and connect with all kinds of people. To find their passion buttons and see if it coincides with yours for a respectful relationship.

    It takes time, several months. But if you enjoy belonging to the communities, then it’s not a chore.

  • Thanks, this is sooo interesting! Working on it with a personal coach at the moment, and this is exactly in the subject of what I’m dealing with. Brilliant!

  • I cannot thank you enough for this post!! It is EXACTLY what I needed to read right now as I sit contemplating my product, price, finding my ideal customers and so on. Thank you for this perspective!!!