Handy career advice: You are worth at least as much as a fancy cookie

These cookies know their worth. So should you.

I’ve been thinking a lot about cookies today.

And not just any cookies – dreamy, colorful macarons, the Sophia Loren of sandwich cookies, that I met yesterday in a shiny glass case in a neighborhood bakery so fancy they call it a pastry studio. I went in to buy a special treat for my mother’s birthday but wound up buying a six pack of macarons for the family, two for each of us. And when I checked the price, which came out to about $2.30 a cookie, I didn’t blink.

Because that’s what the cookie costs.

Sure, they seem expensive when compared to, say, the familiar and budget-friend Oreo, which you can get 39 of for about $4, which gets you about a macaron and a half. But the fancy treat’s worth is supported by several factors – the price of the ingredients; the reputation of the type of cookie as compared to an Oreo; the taste and quality of the cookie, and the confidence that the bakers have that you’ll pay that much for them. I like Oreos. They’re classic. Amazing. But these macarons are better. And they cost more.

So $2.30 is what those macarons cost. That’s what they’re worth. And their worth does not change whether or not I can afford them. If I had walked into that shop -sorry….studio – and decided that I didn’t want to pay $2.30 for cookie, I would have been a jerk to yell “How dare you charge this much! I really wanted one – I’ve been dreaming of one – and it’s not fair that you won’t give me 40 of them for the same amount I’d pay for a pack of Oreos! You’re not that cute anyway!” No. I’d just respectfully give the pretty cookies one last look and then head down the street to the Royal Farms store and get me some Oreos. And some milk. Because that’s my budget, and it’s not the macarons’ fault that they weren’t in mine.

So…imagine that you and your business are that macaron. You have priced yourself and the services at a certain point, based on their worth, on your experience and reputation. You know that other people on your level – even some who aren’t – have similar prices. You are in the big leagues and you deserve to be paid for it. So if a potential customer says “I want your services, but I can’t afford them, so you should charge me less and also feel bad about ever charging more,” that person is not your customer. They are also possibly a jerk, and you don’t have to deal with jerks. They’re welcome to politely say “No thanks” and either go somewhere else, or save up until they can afford you.

Your worth doesn’t change because some people can’t afford you. If enough people can, and are willing to pay what you’re charging, then you’re on the right track. And you don’t have to apologize for it.

Because I guarantee you that those beautiful cookies wouldn’t.

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