The other day on Facebook, someone posted this image, along with her thoughts about how people get what they pay for. She was outspoken about people who want services “on the cheap” and expect that they should 1) get them, and 2) have them be of the highest quality. Let’s just say she’s not a fan.

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Neither am I. And although that ad is for a writer, there’s no shortage of people who want the help of VAs, and all other sorts of knowledge workers, on the cheap.

And I want to talk to you about our industry—and about all the people who call themselves Virtual Assistants, but who know nothing of profitability or running a business, or who might have lower self-esteem and think they have to take whatever money a client offers. You know what I’m talking about—I’m sure you hear about them all the time, whether from clients, prospective clients, or other business-owning people you’re in community with.

If you don’t like it when a client tries to tell you how to run your business, or if you’re tired of hearing how a client’s friend has a VA who only charges $20 (or less)—as if that means your fees are too high, or if you have a client who wants to use you “only for higher-end work” while asking you to find a “cheap(er)” VA to do the other stuff, the single best way I know to make it stop is to refuse to engage in any of it; to have a standard so high as to become a natural boundary against it.

That means saying no to clients who want you to find someone cheaper in our own industry and every other, as well as to saying no to using services like oDesk and Fiverr and myriad others (for clients or for yourself), and to working with anyone you know is undercharging for what he or she does. I also think that at the highest level, it means not working with clients who think it’s ok to take advantage of people—because doing that will leak nasty energy in your direction, too. Taking advantage of people is wrong in every context I’m aware of, and nothing good comes of it, ever.

If you want your own work valued, refuse to be involved in taking advantage of those you know are undervaluing what they do.

We can’t stand up as a profession, claiming our value and worth, if we’re holding other people down and not supporting them in claiming their own, or if we work with people who do that to others; it’s energetically impossible, and socially irresponsible. Also, karma’s a bitch.

Value yourself and your work highly. And do the same for others—even if they don’t or can’t see how to do it for themselves. Invest in the change you want to see. This is the way we stand up. This is the way we right things for ourselves and do good things for many others, as well.