As an entrepreneur, sticking up for yourself is one of the most important parts of your job. Otherwise, you will find yourself giving away your time and services for free.


This weekend, I read an article in my Penn alumni magazine about givers, takers and matchers.

According to the article, givers “help whenever the benefits to others exceed the personal cost,” sometimes doing so without expecting anything in return.

Takers, on the other hand, “like to get more than they give.”

I like to think of myself as a giver – helping people just because it brings me pleasure and creates good karma in the universe.

That said, as a new business owner, I am learning that there has to be a balance and that standing up for myself (and my worth) is truly critical.

As many of you already know, I recently had some issues with my trademark lawyer.

I have since written to their senior management and recently received copies of all of my files.

Thankfully, my registration was accepted and completed earlier this month and the lawyer will be informing the USPTO that they are no longer representing me as I had initially requested.

It is questionable as to whether any of this would have happened, had I not defended myself.

Lately, I find myself speaking up in all kinds of situations from questioning when someone tries to cut the line at a trade show to battling it out over parking spots in town.

I look at it all as good practice for growing my business.

As a consultant without a steady, corporate paycheck and a big legal department behind me, it is really important for me to be able to stand my ground.

After six months in business, I am fortunate that I am starting to receive requests for service from a number of different sources. And as much as I want to do everything for everyone, I have to be very clear that I can’t work for free.

I just don’t have the bandwidth.

That said, it is extremely difficult for me to say no to someone that I like or to an exciting (but unfunded) project, so all of the practice is truly productive.

And sometimes being able to say no, leads to a “maybe down the road” that is even more beneficial for both parties.

The point I am trying to make is that while it is great to be a giver, it is also imperative to know when it’s time to stop blindly giving and ensure that you are being fairly compensated for what you are providing.

Tell us about a time that you were able to assert yourself in the Comments below…