If you’re an interior design professional, only one person will prevent you from setting and getting much higher fees and markups in the year ahead.

That person isn’t a competitor, critic, or customer. That person is you.

You’re the one who will convince yourself that you can’t charge more.

You’re the one who will tell yourself that clients would never pay more for your design services. And that your local market won’t “bear” higher fees. And that you simply don’t have the experience or expertise to substantially raise your fees.

That’s baloney.

There are interior design pros with less experience that you have, in smaller markets than yours, who get paid much more than you for the same services.

I know, because I’ve worked with them over the years. Unlike most others in the design industry, they don’t get in their own way when it comes to pricing. They simply attach a value to who they are and what they do, and charge for that value.

You should follow their lead. You should consider significantly raising your rates now.

Can’t do it, you say. You lack the credentials. Or you’ll lose all your clients to competitors who charge less. Or designers in your area just can’t get those kind of fees. Or you already get price objections.

You probably can come up with lots of other reasons why you can’t charge much more. But rather than focus on why a rate hike won’t work, focus on why it will.

Getting much higher fees will work if you remember who you are, and what you do.

Who you are is a gifted, talented, uniquely qualified, one-of-a-kind design professional. What you do is improve the quality of people’s lives by updating and upgrading their home and workspace.

What you do is save clients time, money and stress, and help them avoid ruinous mistakes. What you do is help them overcome their biggest challenges with their interiors. What you do is transform their space.

And you should be compensated accordingly.

You may be the biggest obstacle blocking you from getting higher design fees. There are no written regulations preventing you from raising your rates. Nor are there concrete industry standards that spell out what you can and can’t charge.

Fact is, fees are one of the most arbitrary aspects of the interior design industry. Ask 300 designers, or kitchen and bath professionals or window fashion specialist or home stagers how they charge, and you’re likely to get 300 different fee formulas.

Will you absolutely, automatically and immediately get the higher fees that you set? Not necessarily, which is why it’s vital to be aware of some vital pricing principals.

For starters, it’s important to qualify each prospect, and make sure he or she has the need, budget, commitment, and authority to hire you.

Then, too, you’ll want to address the issue of lower-priced competitors. Differentiate yourself: explain what only you do and prospects will work only with you. And make sure that those prospects make an apples-to-apples comparison of what you and the cheaper competitors offer.

In addition, you’ll want to probe for your prospects’ pain. It will remind them that they face interior design problems far more pressing than the fee you charge to correct them.

Finally, you’ll want to ask the right closing questions, such as: “How committed are you to deal with those issues?” and “What would it cost you if we don’t move ahead?”

Address those principals and you’ll be ready to do something you could have done and should have done a long time ago: give yourself a raise.

Chances are you’ve been charging too little for too long. Now it’s time to get the fees you want and deserve.