In the immortal words of Rihanna, “B**** better have my money.”There are not that many entrepreneurial lessons one cannot turn to the renowned songstress and fashion mogul for, but this - a veritable commandment on the importance of paying one’s literal financial dues - is one that seems most apt for the creative and consulting space today.We’re living in what Dickens would have easily dubbed the “worst of times,” with socio-economic bad news dropping faster than our favourite artists’ singles – inflation is up, the cost of living going berserk, businesses folding and of course retrenchments perpetually threatening to rear their ugly heads. Our economies are near crippled, and while there are some proverbial silver linings few and far between, we’ve got burgeoning side hustles every which way from Sunday and people striving to find new (multiple) income streams. Creatives being creatives, we’re quick to raise our hands as being amongst the hardest hit – or at least certainly to be in the dedicated WhatsApp group for it. Marketing budgets have been slashed; events indefinitely postponed on transitioned into online streams that bring in yet a fraction of the revenue in-person events would. Up and down the value chain, the struggle is real. It is a predicament if ever there was one, for even when we ride out this pandemic, how different will things be on the other side? “Hello rock”; meet “hard place”..We are forced to be more creative, more innovative and more inventive; and that is not a bad thing at all. We are being reminded to up our game at all times, exploring new technologies, new approaches and new ways to engage and communicate. Remove job security fears and industry survival worry, and it is in fact a communicator’s dream assignment: hotwire communication to be just as (if not more) effective at a time when people are less engaged, less accessible and less included, particularly those without the benefit of access to digital. But then (there’s always a but), Rihanna’s words come to mind: “B**** better have my money.”Being more creative, more relevant and more impactful surely demands due recognition? Thank yous are nice, but the value of the work has gone up and so too, one would imagine, is the compensation thereof. But, no. We’re immediately transported back to the cushy little spot between our rock and our hard place (different now only because there’s a wee bit of light and warmth). More work, better work and likely by fewer resources, and yet those pesky budgets are being held tighter than my granny with her purse in a dodgy neighbourhood. If we don’t assign real value to good work, and if we don’t pay for good work, then are we really doing justice to any of it at all? This is not a rant for charging clients more, but a suggestion that we reframe the very value we assign to work. Perhaps the onus may be on us the creatives and the communicators to think again about what it is we bring to the table, and its potential worth as well as, significantly, the impact it helps a brand or organisation create.What does this mean? Rationales and really selling; outcomes over outputs; build in impact measurement to demonstrate return on investment; believe in what you are proposing (or don’t propose it); and above all, ensure a genuine value creation proposition that feeds into a client’s long-term strategy. They say one should know their audience, but surely it goes beyond that; establish relevance, know your audience, find a solution that truly makes a dent in the right way and make sure it’s a damn good one. Estimate how your “gamechanger” will really change the game, as well as the labour and know-how it takes to deliver it and deliver it well, and assign a fair value based on that. Don’t be apologetic for your pricing if you’re charging for true value - just explain it better; sell it better. Professional work costs professional money..Even the most difficult client cannot deny when a true solution has legs of steel that carries its own weight. And when we promise results, and they can see without any shades of great the truly relevant and bountiful impact, getting your invoice (the correct, well priced, true to the calibre of work one) paid will likely be that much easier. You’ll likely get many more requests for future work stemming from it too.There’ll always be one or two people blind to the value of good work, or hung up on nothing but costs, but more often than not, people genuinely aren’t averse to paying what something is worth when they truly see its value. It’s up to us to create, assign and articulate that value. After all, we’re the experts, right?And maybe then we can retire Rihanna as our debt collector, as she’s got better things to do, and we’ll have infinitely less awkward conversations on the cards. *Alex, play me ‘Got Your Money’ by Ol’ Dirty B****** featuring Kelis.* Originally published by Marklives.