A few years back in college one of my professors held a business class around the statement “I’m either expensive, or free”. She explained that aside from being a college professor she was an accomplished business woman who had been running a very successful business consulting company for many years. And while working really hard at making a living through her company she remained actively involved in her community. It took a few years for her to finally realize that she was either going to be expensive or free in her endeavors. While being really skilled and ethical in her area of expertise she charged her clients high fees for an equally high quality service, refusing to compromise by selling herself short either on price or quality. To offer her services at half the price just to appease her competition would have meant a compromise in the quality of her services. Offering half the quality that she could have otherwise delivered felt like cheating and she refused to listen to those who said her business would tank unless she became more competitive. But were these competitors truly her competitors? Were they really offering the same quality of service? She decided they were not. And so she maintained her quality and fees and today she is still a top earner in her market segment. On the other hand, she continues to give away the same high quality services at no cost at all when they benefit her community.
So her bottom line message was “cheating your customer means cheating yourself”.
I am reminded of my professor’s teachings pretty much every day now while running my own business. My ties are of high quality and I handcraft them to last. It is the craft that I have chosen and that I am passionate about and so my promise to myself is that I will not sell out my craft. Much like my professor said, I am either going to be expensive or free. And every day I am happy to see my ties go towards fundraisers, nonprofit organizations, friends and family. And to my customers I say thank you for trusting my craft!