Can we meet up for lunch? I’d like to pick your brain.
Let’s do coffee! I’d love to talk to you about something I’m working on.
I’d love for you to come speak at our event, oh, but we don’t have the money to pay you. But don’t worry, you’ll get tons of great (free) exposure.
The Problem With Free:
- I don’t respect you,
- I don’t value your time,
- I don’t value your opinion (at least not enough to pay for it),
- I don’t see the value (though you’re probably not communicating it well)
When you do things for free you do two things to your business:
- Little by little you devalue yourself and your business. You subsconsciouly set the expectation with yourself that it’s “Ok” to do this.
- You take time away that you could otherwise be spending on revenue producing activities (you know, those tasks that actually make you money).
Now, I’m not saying you should say “No” to that non-profit. I’m not saying you should say “No” to speaking at that REALTOR luncheon for free. I’m not saying you shouldn’t help out a friend.
When you’re starting out, Free gets you exposure. The more you give (in terms of being helpful), the more you get. Free is good. But also, business is business.
What I’m saying is, at some point, you have to hold yourself to a higher standard and respect yourself and your business enough to say no and acknowledge that your time is worth something.
So the next time someone asks you out to lunch to “pick your brain,” you can reply with:
Are you asking to hire me?
Spot on. I struggle with this issue, as I think many passionate people do. What I have to offer is worth more than just coffee and it’s important for me to recognize that first before I can expect anyone else to.
@Schmittastic Trust me, it’s something I’ve struggled with to. When you’re first starting out, that’s especially the case. You want to get noticed. You want to gain traction. So often, you seek to be helpful and at times, go out of your way to do things (even for free).
But there comes a point where you have to value yourself enough to put your foot down and say no. Especially if you want to grow.
@RicardoBueno @Schmittastic Yeah well… the time to grow was yesterday. So I will not be dilly dallying around this subject anymore. Thanks for the great post! Hope to see you soon.
@Schmittastic Heh, I like your attitude (re: the time to grow was yesterday). Also, I’m speaking at a conference today, I think I’ll use the phrase “dilly dallying” somewhere in my presentation 🙂
@RicardoBueno Haha only if I get the credit! 🙂
“Are you asking to hire me?” Freaking love it. Said this just the other day, and got a sponsor for my vlog for the work I’m doing for them.
@chaseth Nice! I need to learn from that. I’m a vlogger too… will have to check out your stuff.
@Schmittastic Don’t judge too harshly. =) But would love some feedback from you.
@chaseth Actually I love it! I sense a little inspiration from Think Big Work Small. I have had a couple real estate clients and my BF is in mortgage finance. I intend to share your content with them!
@chaseth Ha, awesome! Congrats!
I think it’s a subtle way of calling someone out. And in your case, it’s proved effective 🙂
@Schmittastic Actual I took more inspiration from Revision3 programing, but yea those guys are a great example as well. Not that I’d have you work for free (Ha!), but what do you thing we can do better?
@RicardoBueno Yea it did. They’re starting next month in fact, our first sponsor.
@chaseth Well congratulations once again! All it takes is one to start building some good momentum 🙂
Well said Ricardo. I think most people get so caught up in the free zone that when they try to flip the switch it becomes painful to them and their “tribe.” Where do you draw the “Free Line?”
@Real_TechGuy This is very, very true. The problem is, when you discount your prices, it almost always ends up being more work. Not always, but almost always. Then, if you get stuck doing favors or freebies, you find you have more work than you can handle and less time to do the work people paid for. Never a good thing.
The balance is a tricky one. I think it revolves around not being afraid to charge your worth and sticking to it when a request is made. Learn to say no and don’t feel guilty about it. At the end of the day, it’s just business.
@RicardoBueno @Real_TechGuy No doubt, I declared a war on FREE around December of last year.
@Real_TechGuy And how have you felt since? Less guilty and more productive right? 😛
@RicardoBueno I just sent you a Tweet with the post where I declared war on Free 😉 It all goes back to selling. What are you trying to sell – if you give it away for free, why would someone ever pay for it?
You said it, brotha! I used that phrase just recently, telling the person that I know their company has a budget for consultants. People will try to get away with whatever you let them get away with.
Wow, lots to digest. Thanks for generously sharing this useful info. Especially appreciate the acknowledgment that for some businesses, the goal may not be tens of thousands of fans but a few hundred solid ones.
@WordsDoneWrite Ah, oh so very true. They will try and get away with what you permit them to.
I might be the loner here, but I actually think that the more you give, the more you get. Relationships are very valuable and if everyone’s afraid to chat with you because you will make them uncomfortable (“are you asking to hire me” talk), then I think that’s where the end begins.
I don’t charge for anything that isn’t my core business or that I have time for, and it has meant sacrificing some short term gains. That might not be the strategy for everyone.
Thanks for the thought provoking post. Good discussion.
@Biebert Nah, you’re not the loner here. Trust me, I fully believe that too (to an extent) the more you give, the more you get. My philosophy has always been (and continues to be) seek to be helpful, first. Sales come later.
But… Someone almost always inevitably takes advantage. Someone almost always inevitably feels entitled to more and more. For free. And that’s the dangerous zone that I’m referring to. Those are the circumstances I’m cautioning against.
In your case, I like what you said and how you approach things: “I don’t charge for anything that isn’t my core business or that I have time for.” someone in this thread asked me “where do you find the right balance?” I’d refer them to your comment here, because that to me sounds like a totally reasonable and appropriate balance.
Anyway, I hope my stance make sense. I appreciate your insight and agree with what you’ve said. In my opinion, you’ve found a great balance.
@Real_TechGuy True. Though in some cases, I think free makes sense. Well, it depends on the objective and desired outcome.
Here’s what I mean. Say you’ve written an awesome ebook. Is it ok to give it away for free but I’d argue that you have people opt-in to download it. In other words, there has to be something earned for that exchange. In this case your attention by surrendering your email. Makes sense?
Whew, I am catching up with my reading this weekend and just got through this article. I was taken by the title as I thought you were going to discuss the alternative angle to Chris Anderson’s book of a few years ago which was titled “Free” I found that to be highly engaging and on point. I would recommend it to anyone who likes to view ideas from the outside looking in. Regarding your premise of free, I totally agree. I am finding myself being called upon to “help” people out who are in a real estate jam, but because they are in a jam they can’t pay me. I have started unbundling some services and bartering for their expertise when I might need some “free” help. Sounds corny, but I have established some good will AND a growing trove of IOU’s. (ranging from catering services, wine and auto repair)
@TheProgressiveBroker Hmm… I’m not familiar with Chris Anderson’s book, but I love to read so you’ve piqued my curiosity and I’ll have to check it out.
As for your position, I totally get it and see that happening a lot. My brother’s a Loan Officer (and I have a background in lending as well many, many years ago). The types of things we got was, can we lower our commission to better manage closing costs. To me, that equated to doing things for free.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with helping people out. I’m the most helpful, kindest person I know (lol, I’m biased). But sometimes, there is such a thing as too much. So I think that setting some boundaries for yourself is important. I like @Biebert response in this regard. There’s a list of things that he’ll do for free but he also has a list of paid services that he won’t stray from. I think that’s the sorta balance that people should strive to achieve.
Thanks for the comment Paul. Glad you stopped by on a Sunday afternoon! Enjoy the rest of your day 🙂
@Ribeezie *laugh* great read. I had a friend who always replies “Sure, but lunch is going to cost you $500”
@cc_chapman ha, love that.
@RicardoBueno NOTHING is free. I write an article and post it on Facebook so that you’ll click on it – cost 1 click – When you visit my site I hit you up with multiple offers until you pick the one you like – cost “12 page report” – I give you my newsletter – cost attention – I offer you my products – cost $$$.
@chaseth Mine was a little more crass, but I like this one much better (and it might not piss as many people off.)
@Real_TechGuy @chaseth Someone else commented in regards to the lunch invitation: “Sure but it’ll cost you $500!” 🙂
@Real_TechGuy Gotcha. And yes, time is money too.
Gonna have to try that next time. Ha!
@JohnFalchetto So, do I need to worry about our upcoming yet unscheduled lunch, or the other way around ? 😉
@crapougnax Lol! Lundi midi, Avignon?
@JohnFalchetto OK, une cantine préférée ?
@crapougnax Aucune, je te laisse le choix
Agree- to a degree. When a relationship is mutually beneficial, both people get something out of it. Last week I spoke at an event for “free” however it was my target audience, elevated my brand AND I brought a videographer who filmed it and made a promo video to add to my speaker page on my website. When you come from a place of adding value first, sometimes for free, dividends pay off in spades later. It’s not WHY you do it, it just does. My company Impact People Practices has been built to date 100% on referrals from a tight and ever expanding network. HOWEVER i also believe on the flip side when it comes time to price yourself, or ask for the sale, not only do you want to do it confidently, but you don’t want to sell yourself SHORT. When you add tons of value, you can price yourself HIGHER even than others. You WILL get the business. don’t Discount. I have two prices. My regular rate, and FREE. It’s the stuff in between that gets in the way. By confidently charging my regular rate, it allows me the luxury to pick and choose the times I give away my time for FREE. 🙂 Best regards, Christine McLeod, Founder of Impact People Practices.com