Monday, September 27, 2010

A Price On Your Head

Being a mom really rewires your head somehow. For the survival of the species, I suppose, parenthood produces organic mind-altering drugs and suddenly makes the synapses in your brain fire differently from what you thought was already your hard-wiring.

I always thought along the lines of, 'I'm an artist, math is not my friend and I have no head for business.' Not so now, because of the kids.

In the first place, being an artist is never a reason or an excuse not to know your rights and your own commercial value. It's part of protecting oneself and ensuring that you have resources to maintain a quality of life comfortable enough to enable you to keep on doing what you enjoy.

Knowing your rights protects you from greedy and unscrupulous people out to make money from your honest sweat. EDUCATE YOURSELF. Read up on Intellectual Property Rights, that's a start! What's a few hours spent on reading compared to a lifetime of regret? Find out how to register your work, be it an idea, invention, process, tangible or intangible. Watch out for seminars on the subject and talk to people, especially lawyers. Hire a lawyer if your stature demands it or you can well afford it.

Philippine Intellectual Property Office
Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines
Intellectual Property Protection in the Philippines

When you're aware of your rights, it will be easier to determine your correct commercial value. I know it sounds like you're a piece of meat. Well, make no bones about it, YOU ARE. And it's a competitive market out there. You are selling yourself, your service, your product.

Under or overvaluing yourself are huge problems for any artist. Market value stems from studying your rights, your product or service AND your competition. Slash current market trends.

What the heck do I mean?

When you undervalue yourself or your product, and you sell cheaper than you should, you only send the message that you're insecure about your skills. Especially when people see how incredibly talented you are. That's sad in itself, really. You open yourself to being taken advantage of, being arm-twisted into lowering your prices because you seem desperate for the job. It's putting them in control of the situation wherein there should be a mutual respect and balance in the first place. There would be doubt as well that even if your portfolio looks impressive, you may not be giving it your all since you're throwing it away for peanuts. You also bring the floor price of the entire industry down. The thought that someone managed a huge job on a few pesos causes a lot of problematic questions. Most of the time, quality suffers and people are forced to bring their prices down even if overhead expenses stay the same. Loss or lugi. And beware your personal safety and reputation when people find out you're the juggernaut that started the crash.

Of course if it's discounts and personal favors for a job we're talking about, that's a different story. But beware of that too. People love to haggle or assume that you would automatically give a discount or even do it for free especially when you're friends or when you're just starting. Treat discounts and freebies as you would a secret super power. It's a power you would only use when the occasion merits it and with utmost discretion. You're running a business, not a charity. Spot the free loaders and sic some good verbal kung-fu on them. Don't forget your manners, okay? Be polite, firm but gracious as you need to maintain a good image and you don't need the bad juju :) Don't give in to the pressure or fear that they won't buy from you. You are not begging for patronage. The world is a huge place, someone ought to like or need what you have. It also makes people feel special when you do give freebies and discounts. They're more likely to come back for more and bring others with them because you were able to make a special connection with them. I hope that made sense!

Overvaluing or overpricing on the other hand could drive customers and clients away. Of course there's the off chance that you could single-handedly drive up industry prices but unless you're God's gift to your particular job description, don't bet on it. You can be easily replaced by a dozen with the same skill set and cheaper demands. Besides, there's the bigger pressure for performance according to how much you're being paid. If you really deserve it, props to you! But if you don't, the resulting fall can reverberate through the next few jobs. You don't want that, right?

So how do we put a price on our heads?

Read. Research. Talk to people. Use the net. Find out how much others are charging. Look up the highest and lowest asking price and hit an average. Compare your folio with these people and see what pricing bracket you could fall under. If you're starting but think you can compete with the ones asking for higher pay-out, go for it! :)

Attend business seminars to find out how MONEY WORKS FOR YOU. You'll be amazed at so many simple solutions rooted in common sense out there remain unused. Break out of the mentality that you have to work for your money and turn it around to work for you.

Always price right!

Mathematics isn't even a problem. That's what calculators are for! Lolz. And accountants too, by the way. Aside from lawyers, talking to accountants reveal a lot you can do to augment the income you generate on a monthly basis. Any bank would be happy to accomodate your questions if you don't personally know an accountant. And those paycheck deductions that go to your housing, social security and health insurance funds? Ah! You DO have so much, you just don't know it.

So in a nutshell, I thought I wouldn't ever have a head for business until my kids showed me otherwise. When you're a mom, you want to ensure your kids have what they need for a good future. And let's face it, you need money to do that.

Educate yourself. Know your rights. Know your value. Empower yourself.

Philippine Intellectual Property Office
Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines
Intellectual Property Protection in the Philippines

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