Today, as I sit back in bed and go over business email inquiries my mind does what it ALWAYS do, and start running a mile a minute on how this business inquiry will end up and what hurdles will I have to jump through this year. I made a promise to myself that I will stay confident and strong in my work this year. Last year was a mess and I wanted so much to be able to create a great stream of income but I don't have enough fingers to count how many times I short changed myself to "please" clients. This year has already started off pretty strong with, "No I will not give you a discount, no this is my price, no I will not send you "idea's" before a payment, no you can not pick my brain, no, no, no.
Geez, I didn't realize how much freedom was in the word "NO."
I spend countless hours researching, putting together strategies, testing strategies, creating learning material and more. It's a lot of work that goes into consulting and preparing for a brand. As an African American consultant, it saddens me the way business gets handled. I love working with black brands, I love it, I love it, I love it, but I also hate it, I hate it, I hate it.
I can't tell you how many times these two scenario plays out.
- "Potential client" hits you up about the work they have seen or referred from another client, and ask for vague help with their brand. You respond with the steps they need to take and your consulting prices...1 or 2 things happen, no response (You know the how dare I charge them) or do you just have some information you can send me via email without me paying you. (Really?)
- "Potential client" emails you about your services, asks for your help and ends the email with "I have no capital, I am a new brand owner and cash is limited do you do pro bono."
Do you see the problem?
Then on the other hand, when I talk to my white colleagues that do consulting and PR. They get paid contracts DOUBLE & TRIPLE my income! I reach out to white-owned brands in Nashville....NOTHING! Not a response, a stop emailing me, just NOTHING! Or if I do get a response it's more of an "I see you have over 8 years experience, you have landed press and speaking engagements for you and your clients, you have planned countless of events and you have an awesome resume," wait for it... but I don't think you have enough experience for "us", come work for us Pro Bono and get some more experience.
Those incidents always make me question why I am "consulting while black." I was having a hard time trying to appreciate my own worth until recently I went for a marketing/PR interview and they guy looks at me and say, "I didn't expect you to show up today" after I told you this is entry level, Your resume is so amazing, we can't offer you what you are worth, your work is worth a lot." I'll admit it took that one person to remind me of all the hard work and years I've put behind my career, it took a stranger to say, why are you here, you are worth much more! That's what I am focused on this year, clients who understand how much goes into my work.
Consulting while Black has been a challenge from every direction but I LOVE consulting, it is an absolute passion of mine. The experiences have been a rollercoaster but I am looking forward to this year, knocking down all those barriers.
So ready to kick another year in consulting!
Have you dealt with simiiar issues in your industry? How are you handling it?