Pricing, entrepreneurs and imposter syndrome

Who’s fault is it when we don’t get the compensation we deserve?


I saw a post on LinkedIn last week bemoaning the pay gap for self-employed women. One respondent suggested that this may be down to an assumption on the part of buyers, that women are doing it for “pin money” while men would be doing it to actually earn a living.

I have certainly come across those sorts of attitudes in the past. However, I would really like to think that this stance is reducing amongst buyers. An area of interest for me though, is whether those of us who feel we are not getting the pay we deserve, are actually asking for what we deserve?

It strikes me that, as a self-employed person, one would set their own prices. So, as long as I have done my research into typical pricing (and considered the uniqueness of my specific offering), I can charge the correct rate for my service – right?

Or is the issue that we second guess ourselves? Perhaps we overthink what response we might get to our well-considered pricing? Maybe we start to worry about what the buyer might think? Or we get concerned about whether they can afford us? Perhaps we are suffering from imposter syndrome?

What is imposter syndrome and why would anyone suffer from it?

Definition of imposter syndrome: 'The persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills.'

Growing up, many of us were exposed to very skewed portrayals of the roles and contributions of girls/women in the world around us. Some of us were actively encouraged to focus on “feminine” pursuits (e.g. the arts, teaching, assisting, nursing…) whilst others of us were discouraged when we showed an interest in so-called ”masculine” endeavours e.g. STEM subjects.

This matters, because growing up, the only guidance we have on what to do is by watching what is going on around us. In fact, we are conditioned to conform, because the only way we can survive the growing up process, is by ensuring we can rely on the people around us to keep us safe and protect us.

We realise early on that a good way to keep the people around us happy, (and therefore committed to protecting us), is to agree with them by reflecting back their feelings and imitating their actions. Most of us, therefore, end up with a set of beliefs that actually don’t belong to us but have been accepted because these are what we grew up with.

So, if you wonder and worry whether it’s OK to charge a premium price for coaching – it might be because you grew up in a society that respected a “stiff upper lip” and people fending for themselves…

Or, if you are embarrassed about asking to be paid to deliver your training – it might be because deep down you believe you should just be kind and supportive to everyone around you, (i.e. asking for payment sullies the good you are trying to do…).

All of these are examples of imposter syndrome manifesting barriers against feeling comfortable asking for the compensation we deserve.

So, what to do?

The first step is understanding what might be driving your thinking about how much you should charge, or, how you feel when asking to be paid. Just recognising why you are reacting the way you are, gives you a chance to reconsider your response and experiment with new approaches.

Having read this article to this point, you are already in a position to stop and think.

The next time you are feeling uneasy about your pricing, or about talking to your client about money – do just that – stop and think. What is really behind that feeling of uneasiness and how valid is that thinking really? What evidence do you have for your current belief and what evidence might there be to the contrary?

Working with a coach to understand what might be going on and how to react differently could pay significant dividends, as a good coach will push you to dig a little deeper and will challenge your assumptions around your beliefs.

Also, for those who prefer, a good book to read is Own Your Greatness: Overcome Impostor Syndrome, Beat Self-Doubt, and Succeed in Life by Lisa Orbe-Austin.

Finally, it is worth realising that imposter syndrome is actually extremely common; and the buyer you are worrying about is possibly also worrying about how they might be able to secure your service because they realise how wonderful you are!

So go out there and really believe in yourself. We can all get over ourselves and earn what we deserve – once we free ourselves from negative or limiting beliefs holding us back.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SW1Y & NW9
Written by Ola Molade, Business Coach MBA, MICF
London SW1Y & NW9

Ola works with female founders to help them create the life and business they want without compromise.
She combines her: previous experience as a business consultant, her life experience of running her own business, and her enjoyment of coaching, into a deep passion for seeing female business owners thrive and succeed.

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