Five Ways to Make Working for FREE, Work for YOU!
Everyone wants advice and I’ve heard a lot of business coaches recommend that you never give out free advice. To some extent – I agree. Your time is valuable and you shouldn’t spend hours and hours sitting down with people who will never pay you. They want to pick your brain and then go off and try to replicate doing your job on their own. Doesn’t seem like much value for anyone, if you ask me. There are, however, a few ways I think you can help these friends, family members, new/potential clients.
Especially in the cases of nonprofit organizations that you are truly passionate about, I think offering your time for free is a great thing! While you don’t want to set the precedent that your work is meaningless, I think there are many situations where it does make sense to donate your time. In these cases – you need to make sure that you evaluate the time commitment, are very clear about what you will and will not help with, and you decide whether you can commit the time at that point in your business. Sometimes – we have great intentions of helping an organization, but it ends up jeopardizing our own businesses because we are giving too much time or having to give up other business to accommodate our volunteer work. But if you can make it work with your schedule, I encourage you to do it!
The “possible opportunity”.
This is one that comes up a lot – an organization is small and they want to try to host an event (with a very small budget), but they insist that they will grow and use your services over time. This becomes a gamble, but not always one that is not worth your time. In this case, you want to look at the organization and make a determination on how successful you think they will be. This will play out in things like how well they stay in communication with you, how clear their vision is, and what their audience looks like. If you evaluate the company and you really feel like the opportunity is there, I think it’s a great opportunity to help the organization test out their idea and build rapport with them. Here are a few tips on ways to make sure it works for you though and does not leave you assuming all the risk.
- First of all, I always recommend putting your full proposal together with the actual ticket price for your services. People need to see all the services you’re providing and the cost of that. If you decide that you want to discount this client by 50% or whatever other number you decide, they need to be aware of what the initial price would have been – and what that price will be for the next time. Then – be clear about the discount you are offering, how long that discount is extended to them and what changes in service they may be able to expect for paying a smaller amount. For example – let’s say the conference that I am planning would typically be a $20,000 conference. I write up the proposal for $20,000, then maybe I’ll write that there is a 40% discount for the first time event and so I will show that number. Then – I add a line in the contract that specifies that this discount is only for the first time event. I may even outline the fact that their team will have to be more involved in sponsorship outreach or speaker coordination or something else that limits my scope to account for the smaller amount of money.
- When you discount your services, look for ways to supplement value to make up for the discount you’re offering. For example – you might require them to write a testimonial or give you access to photos and videos that you can use in your portfolio. Perhaps they will be introducing you to potential connections that could also use your services. Think of a few things that would be of value to you and then make sure you are doing whatever you can to make up the value of any monetary discounts you are offering.