Throughout the last few years, we’ve met so many super-motivated, inspiring women, setting out to live their dreams. However, one question keeps cropping up along the way: how does one pay for the dream? We get it. Diving headfirst into a new career – in a new field – can be daunting for no many reasons, not least of all financially. Luckily, Claire Wasserman, of Ladies Get Paid, has run the numbers to help you come out on top.
Connecting thousand of women worldwide, Ladies Get Paid is a private online network, and incubator of sorts and a rallying cry for female entrepreneurs. Members have access to a vault of resources, webinars, workshops and events that aim to aid empower the modern go-getter. Whether you want to learn how to negotiate rates like a boss, find a mentor in a specific field, or simply meet up with like-minded individuals, Ladies Get Paid is your go-to for real-world advice, financial hacks and plenty of encouragement along the way.
With little savings, Claire abandoned a successful career track in order to pursue her own passion project. The road to realizing her dream was peppered with emotional and financial pitfalls common to many. But Claire followed her instinct and applied what she’d learned working for others to make the difference in her own company. Here, Claire lets us in on her tips for cost-cutting, knowing your worth and tackling personal finance head-on – all to get you paid!
HER JOURNEY: I started my career in independent film producing. I left college early to go to Bosnia and help make a short film there. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and whenever things get tough, I remind myself of what I accomplished with it. After that, I went into non-profit fundraising which led to experiential marketing. I’ve always loved connecting people and had an epiphany that I could make a living out of it. I headed up marketing and fundraising for the Art Directors Club (a nonprofit network that supports people in visual communications), which in turn led to Working Not Working, a curated professional network of creative professionals. I realized I was most passionate about helping women thrive in their careers and felt a ferocious fire to try to help close the wage and leadership gap.
THE RIGHT WAY TO TRANSITION FROM EMPLOYMENT TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP: I’ve always believed that it’s not how much you make but rather how much you spend. I’m also a big risk taker. I hadn’t saved much before I quit my job but I went through my budget and made sure to make adjustments to my lifestyle. I knew how much runway I needed and felt confident that if shit hit the fan, I was extremely hirable and could get a “real” job. I also had paid off my student loans and credit cards, had no kids, health problems, or family to support. I recognized that if I was ever going to take this financial risk, the time to do it was now.
HER MISSION TO CLOSE THE GENDER PAY GAP: Two statistics made me motivated to create Ladies Get Paid. Firstly, 60% of today’s college graduates are women yet 22% make it past middle management. Speaking of women of color, Black women are the fastest growing entrepreneurial segment in America, generating over $44 billion a year in revenue. Sadly (and stupidly) only 2% get VC funding at an average of $36,000. What a missed economic opportunity! Women only really began entering the workforce in the 1960’s. With men historically holding most of the wealth in this country, it’s is taking more time than we’d like to achieve a parity of power. Because men hold the wealth, they are in the position to invest. And perhaps unsurprisingly they invest in men. They’re already starting at such an advantage than women, it’s difficult for us to catch up. It’ll happen though.
WHY BEING HONEST IS THE FIRST STEP TO HEAL OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MONEY: I started Ladies Get Paid because I needed it. Our programming addresses things I wish I’d learned in school. The best way I think to move past the shame around money is to start talking about it. Ask your friends what kind of credit cards they’re using; ask if they have advice about saving. Talk to them about salary negotiation. When you start talking about it, you’ll realize you’re not alone in your shame and even just knowing that, will start to give you the confidence to tackle personal finance head on. I’ve hosted over 30 town halls all around the country for thousands of women to talk about work and self-worth. I encourage them to share their stories and together, we strategize on how we can do better and support one another. The experience is incredibly cathartic – I’m honored to see these women be vulnerable in front of each other. Sometimes they cry because for many of them, it’s the first time they’ve admitted they struggle from things like Imposter Syndrome. I’ve certainly had my own money struggles. This whole experience has been so meta – when I teach workshops and hear these stories, it’s made me confront and contemplate my relationship around money and work. It’s made me examine the values instilled in me growing up and how society has affected the way I see myself.
HOW THE BUSINESS GETS PAID: Where our money comes from is evolving as we’ve grown. While our workshops used to be the major source of revenue, now corporate programming is. We get hired by companies to host programming for their female employees. We’ve also started our conference series which brings in a mix of ticket sales and sponsorship. We’ve developed our own curriculum and have taught it to a number of women across the country, who will in turn teach it in their cities. The goal is to create an army of instructors we can send into companies. In the hopefully near future, we want to present high quality educational video content that will be available for purchase. We’ve made the deliberate choice to not view our members as a revenue source. We want to preserve the community and make sure we’re totally inclusive about who can join. That’s why we rely largely on companies and sponsors to sustain us.
ON MAINTAINING A CONSISTENT BRAND AS THEY GROW: I created a toolkit that provides guidelines and brand assets for anyone who wants to start a Ladies Get Paid chapter. We give our ambassadors a framework within which they can put their local spin on. It’s a constant dialogue with them on how to preserve the LGP brand while allowing them to communicate it in a way that will resonate with their local communities. The biggest challenge is time. We want to give them the support they need but it’s a lot of work to support our 18 committees. Thankfully we just hired someone whose sole job will be to manage them.
SETTING FEES & KNOWING YOUR WORTH: If you price your services or product according to market value, you should stand by that! Remember, if you undercut yourself and charge too little, you’re not only leaving money on the table, you’re depressing the wages for everyone. Don’t do that to your fellow sisters. If you have a body of work that demonstrates your value, have faith in it. I’d suggest “My normal fee is [INSERT HIGH NUMBER], but depending on your needs and goals, I’m happy to work within your budget. Let’s discuss.]. Think about luxury brands and how expensive they are. Don’t we perceive them as being of higher quality because of their price? It’s the same thing for you. People will value you more if you value yourself. And remember, if you price yourself according to market value and you have work that you’re proud of, you can justify your high price! No one is going to advocate for yourself as well as you can.
By Dana Karlson