Some really Sage advice. When I first started my business many years ago was I heard somebody say, create a 10 commandments for your own company. What does that mean? That's a list of thou shouts and thou shout knots for your business. I have 10 commandments for my own business, and I actually have a whole lot more than just 10, but when I first started out, I listed 10 things that I will do in my business and will not.
The shouts and the shout knots. This is a good exercise for you to do as well. I don't know what your business is or how it works or how it should work or shouldn't work. The point is only, you know, that and you get to set the rules. And so at a minimum, it's a great exercise to create at least 10 things, list them out.
Literally write them down, even write 10 commandments of insert company name here. Good for the client. And it's good for you to know what the rules are. So I'll share my original list of 10 commandments for my company. Hopefully that's helpful to you, but again, don't copy mine. Come up with whatever makes sense for you.
Here are my 10 commandments number one, thou shall not offer discounts. Number two thou shall not offer refunds. Number three. Thou shall not compete on price. Number four thou shall not work for free. Or for exposure. Number five thou shall get everything in writing. Number six, thou sht not apologize or say I'm sorry.
Number seven thou shall be polite. But firm number eight. Thou shall not deliver the project until final payment is received. Number nine, thou shall not accrue business debt. Number 10, thou sht only work with clients that thou knowest like and trust if. As you can see, this is kind of a silly exercise, but the point is really important.
You have to know what you are willing to deal with and put up with and what you are not willing to, if you're going to be in business because people are going to push your boundaries. And let me tell you. You can have all the internal will that you want, but when you're in front of a boardroom of tough looking, people puling you about your pricing being high, you will will like a flower.
Freelancers are notorious for undervaluing their services. And for just feeling like we don't even deserve to be in the room at the same time. We're so down on ourselves. So if you get into a situation where somebody says, well, can you do this? Even if you don't want to, you're going to tend to want to please the client and say, yes, I can do that because it just feels better to say yes than it does to say no.
So stealing yourself with the ability to tell yourself. Nope. Nope. I have that's commandment number seven. I don't do that. Well, give you, I think at least it has, for me the, the intestinal fortitude to be able to say no I don't or no, I can't. One thing I've learned over the years, being a freelancer is that potential clients really like to compare me with other people, meaning potential clients will usually say something like, well, our last guy did it this way, or that's not what our last, you know, creative professional said, or our webmaster used to used to used to, they're talking about the past.
They're hoping that they can get me to do something just because somebody else did it. There is beauty in diversity, even amongst freelancers, just because I do a particular business or service does not mean that somebody who is just like me has to do it the same way clients will oftentimes expect you to be exactly like the person that they worked with in the past.
Because that's all, they know you can't fault them for it, but it's your job to be upfront with them and tell them what you are willing to do and are not willing to do, regardless of what happened in the past. Here's a great example. When I first started one of the very first sales pitches I ever went on was for a non-profit and I had to meet with the board in a boardroom and they asked us, what is your nonprofit.
Guess what I had just written out my 10 commandments and commandment number one is thou shall not offer discounts in that moment. I thought to myself, Hmm. I don't offer nonprofit discounts. And there are reasons for that, which I can explain later. But because I had said to myself, I don't offer discounts to anybody.
It made that conversation so much easier. There, I was blinded by the lights of these professional business. People looking me in the eye and saying, you know, what kind of a discount are you going to give us? Just because we're a nonprofit, but that meant nothing to me. I was young and I was trying to build my business.
I, I wasn't going to discount my rate just because they asked me to. So, you know what I did, I told them. I don't have a nonprofit discount and I realized I may have just lost this sale, but you know what they said? They said, okay, whoa. Wow. That was mine to lose. If I had offered a discount to that potential client, just because they asked me to, I would've lost out on a whole bunch of revenue.
But because I stuck to my guns because I had written out ahead of time that I don't offer discounts. It was so easy for me to just say that I didn't and they accepted it. They weren't offended. They weren't insulted. They didn't even think it was weird. They just moved on to the next thing. That's why it's good to write down what you're willing to do and not willing to do on that note.
In that particular instance, where I was asked what my nonprofit discount was, and I said, I don't have one. I was tempted to apologize. But I can't because my sixth commandment says, thou shall not apologize. Freelancers are notorious for, as I said, beating themselves up and. Getting down on themselves and kind of feeling sorry for existing.
And there's a tendency to want to show your price to potential clients and to be really shy and embarrassed. Like here's how much it's going to cost. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Don't hit me please. Don't hit me. This is, this is terrible, right? We have got to get over this as freelancers. We've got to start saying this is my price and I stand by it and fill ourselves with confidence.
And not apologize. Now there's a caveat here. Obviously, if I do something wrong, I'm going to apologize. I'm going to apologize. I'm going to say, I'm sorry, I'm going to make it right. But you've gotta know the difference between things that are wrong, that you should apologize for and things that are not wrong, that maybe you feel like you're delivering bad news, but it's not worth saying you're sorry for, so I show people my price and I don't say I'm sorry.
And I don't act like I'm sorry. I, this is such a mind game. I constantly have to do this with myself and here comes Stuart Smalley again. I'm good enough. I'm smart enough and dog on it. People like me. Right. I need to hype myself up a little bit sometimes before I go through a sales pitch. that's a good, helpful exercise because you want, when you present a proposal to a client, you want them to perceive you as confident, professional, calm a bit.
You have the ability to get the work done. So don't apologize.