Let’s Talk About Money!
(and How to Discuss It at Work)

Picture of Nicole Crowder

All Images by Nicole Crowder Upholstery

4  min read

This week, we hear from founder and upholsterer Nicole Crowder, of her eponymous company,about how she learned to talk confidently to clients about money. After Nicole’s reflection, I have included a similar approach that can be applied to salary negotiation for those who aren’t on the entrepreneur’s path. 

Years ago, when I first started my business, I took any project I could get at any rate clients wanted to pay, no matter how large the project was. That was a huge learning lesson. I knew I was working from a place of financial desperation, and that work overtaxed me in terms of time, labor, and finances because I was not in a position to say no. When I re-launched my business some five years later, I set an intention that I was going to thrive in business and be able to financially sustain myself in one of the most expensive cities in the country: D.C.

I did this in part by building confidence to charge more for my projects, which took some time to cultivate, to be quite honest. I practiced that confidence slowly. Whenever someone would call for a price quote, I would tell them the price over the phone without using language like “If that price works for you,” or “I’m open to negotiate that.” Or, if I e-mailed a quote and someone pushed back saying, “It’s out of my budget,” my knee jerk reaction was not to say, “Oh, well let’s find a price that suits your budget.” Everyone is not going to be your client, and your business model cannot accommodate everyone’s budget, and both of those are OK.

Now when I provide an estimate to a client, I don’t base my pricing off what I think a client is willing to pay; I base it off the value I offer. I give a thorough breakdown of costs (time, labor, skill, customer service, and overhead) because I believe in transparency. This also helps me to discern which clients I actually want to work with. I am sensitive to budgets because as a consumer I also have one. But when it comes to handmade or custom work, I don’t like to haggle over rates because I understand the value I offer.

Looking for an approach on how to talk to future employers about salary or your current boss about a raise? Keep reading. Yes, it all has to do with knowing your value and stating it firmly. Because when you are dealing with money, the tone in which you speak and your mannerisms have a huge effect on the outcome—a lot more than the words you actually say. 

Try this approach

The next time you are talking to a future or current employer about compensation:

1) Start by pointing out what you are good at or what you did exceptionally well. Use confident language, like “I managed this, I developed this,” and avoid using “if,” like Nicole mentioned. 

2) Maintain eye contact when talking about money to show you’re serious, which you are, and that you aren’t nervous to be having this conversation, even if you are! (This takes practice; try testing it out on friends first, especially if they owe you $$.)

3) Ask questions during salary negotiations. (This is another way to show you are serious and that you spent time thinking about your pay.)

4) Always end on a happy note. Say something simple like this, ” Thank you for listening. I hope you’ll take my achievements into consideration when deliberating over my salary or raise.” Positivity always wins.

When you don’t waiver in your “ask” and talk with ease and confidence, you usually get what you ask for.

All Images by Nicole Crowder Upholstery