In the two years I have worked with GlobalWrites, the owner of the company has really helped me understand the ins and outs of creating and maintaining a small business. It's been a fascinating learning process, and SO helpful to me as I work with other small-business owners.
I started B-School yesterday, and already I have been able to take in and process a ton of information about creating a business and pricing your services. One of the things I learned is that you are not doing yourself any favors by pricing your products or services low. If you produce a quality service or product, you attract a better type of customer (easier to deal with, more repeat business) by pricing your work higher rather than lower. Quality customers will pay for quality work.
Gathering all of this information together with my industry experience, I have come to realize how rare quality work really is. There are talented people all over the world -- but talent doesn't produce overall quality unless you're also reliable, responsive and have great customer service.
One of the exercises I had to do for B-School was to write down what three traits people often commented on about me. That was easy, because I hear these things all the time: responsive, tenacious and detail-oriented. My employers love these traits, my freelance clients rave about them, and this is what customers will pay top-dollar for.
I've been in quite a few situations where companies have had to weed out employees or contractors. I'm happy to say I've never been weeded out, simply because of these enduring traits -- not just because I'm a great writer or project manager. Not to say it'll never happen -- but these traits, along with my skills and talents, have kept me on the right track during my whole career. If I were just a great writer, but I was slow to respond to emails, or skipped sections of a project, or missed deadlines, well I wouldn't have gotten very far.
So don't count out those traits of yours that people love, just because they're not directly related to your base skill or talent. If you're a teacher, your creativity and organization may have just as much to do with your success as your skill at writing exciting syllabuses. My father-in-law is in the tire recycling and resale business, but he is most known for his friendliness with customers. The owner of GlobalWrites is an amazing writer and businesswoman -- but she is also widely known for her ability to network with tech industry professionals, and her creative cooking!
And conversely, if your raw skill or talent is all you are offering to employers/clients/customers -- you're going to lose that business fast. Raw skill isn't enough to meet the needs of people willing to give you their money for your service or product.
So think outside the box. What do people comment on about you? You can use those traits to boost your business or take your career to the next level.