[Stephanie Ward is a fellow Oklahoman, who happens to now reside in The Netherlands. She’s been a good friend and coach, and I’m proud to offer this guest post from her. – Becky]
Recently at a networking event I was talking with two friends and the subject of doing work for free versus paid came up. We all had strong opinions about it.
|When is it time to “ring up” business?
It can be hard to draw the line.
It seems this is an issue that all business owners face and one that needs a lot of attention.
I mentioned that I would send them this fabulous article, No, You Can’t Pick My Brain, It Costs Too Much.
They both encouraged me to write about this topic myself. I felt like I already had but realized that I although I have covered several aspects of this issue in separate posts, I had not tied it all together, which is my aim here.
You spend time and money to market your business and attract potential clients. Don’t throw your hard work out the window by giving away your time, your expertise, and your money.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being generous and giving loads of helpful information away. I do it all the time with my free special report, ezines, blog posts, how-to videos, and tips on social media.
But you have to draw the line somewhere. And if you don’t set the limit, others will set it for you. It’s your business, it’s up to you to set the rules and decide how it works.
Furthermore in my experience, people who want things for free aren’t that serious or motivated to take action. People who are willing to invest are much more committed to the process.
Here are three reasons why you need to stop giving away your time, your expertise, and your money.
1. Your Time
Time is money as a business owner. Just because someone else wants your time doesn’t mean it’s always a fit for you. Before you agree to meet up with someone in person make sure that it’s even necessary.
Sometimes if you first ask for more information via email, that will tell you everything you need to know to make a decision about how to move forward.
And if you determine you would like to talk with the person, go for a phone call or video Skype first. You can always meet later if things progress.
For more on setting boundaries and saying no, check out my posts: Grow Your Business By Saying No and Do You Have a “To Don’t” List?
2. Your Expertise
I hope it goes without saying that you should not give away your expertise for free. It is valuable and if you don’t value it why would your clients?
Awareness is the first step to changing any habit so when you’re clear about the things you do not want to do, it will be easier to make that happen.
This is about being proactive and setting boundaries in advance about what you are willing, and not willing, to do for free.
That way you will be prepared when someone asks you for your help. You will be able to confidently direct them to your paid products and services.
3. Your Money
Stop discounting in your business. Don’t fool yourself; although it’s only a portion of the total, discounting is still just another form of giving your knowledge away for free.
Here are five reasons not to discount your prices:
1. It’s no fun
2. It requires a time and energy you can use elsewhere
3. It creates a standard for other clients
4. You’re not getting paid what you’re worth
5. It can lower confidence in your business
I also think it’s a smart move to post your prices on your website. It’s transparent and it saves you time and energy on people who are not willing to invest. Plus it provides a concrete structure that does not invite negotiation.
For more about discounting read my post: Why Discounting is Hazardous to Your Business.
You can also spell out the way you work in your Frequently Asked Questions, have a look at my FAQ’s as an example.
Now having said all that, be sure you exceed expectations and provide remarkable experiences for your clients. That way they are satisfied with their investment and they will be enthusiastic about recommending you to others.
Experiment to find the right balance between free and paid that works for you. Then clearly communicate the expectations and boundaries so people know how you work and what they can expect from you.
If you take action on this you will be happier, more confident, and more profitable. Now who doesn’t want more of all that? Make the decision today to be courageous and take a stand to value what you offer.
© Stephanie Ward, used by permission.
Stephanie Ward is the Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs who want to create meaningful and prosperous businesses. Grab your FREE copy of the special report ’7 Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time’ plus business building tips, at: http://www.fireflycoaching.com.
Becky’s Toolkit for How to Draw the Line Between Free and Paid
Like Stephanie, I think about this subject quite often. It’s an ongoing theme for many of us. Especially when you’re in a small town, and everyone thinks that because they know you, you ought to do things for them for free. That’s no way to run a railroad.
After writing about it often enough, I put together the system that works for me. Not just words and phrases, but an actual system. I put it in a toolkit: an ebook, worksheets, webinar and audio.
- In the ebook, you get the process of building your business foundation.
- Then in the worksheets, you actually do the pen-to-paper work of making that happen for you.
- Then Sheila Scarborough and I did a webinar to walk you through some of the advantages and disadvantages of working for free, and how to decide where to draw the line. Sheila explains how to tell the difference between friendly questions and predatory brain picking. You’ll also hear why social media and the “culture of free” tends to cause us to be overly casual about the value of our work.
- And we also did a short audio, so you can hear the examples of how to actually do this in a business conversation.
- The 12 page ebook (PDF) with 6 steps to draw the line, worksheet for the key points, and a summary of the audio.
- A 4 minute audio (MP3) of how to make this work in business.
- A one-hour video webinar of advantages and disadvantages, telling what’s friend and what is predatory, and overcoming the “culture of free”
If it doesn’t help you turn around at least one “can I pick your brain?” moment, then I’ll give you your money back.
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[…] Why you should stop giving things away for free. […]