Why Working for Free is Killing Your Business

I read an article about Oprah a few years ago on how she had 4 coaches for different areas of her life and that even though SOOOOOO many consultants would offer her their services for FREE, daily, that she instead paid in full for her 4 coaches. 
Because she said that she wanted to “Own that time”.  
Meaning, she wanted the time that they worked with her to be hers and for their focus to be totally on her needs…….
As I flip through my notes and many of your emails, I get the question of either asking me to work for free ( I get very few of these now) or asking how to get people to stop asking you to work for free. 
Now, hear this, I do think that you need to get some strong client examples, testimonials and work in your portfolio- I DO think you should do that strategically, but this blog post is specifically for AFTER you’ve filled your portfolio with credible and good work. 
If you haven’t gotten any work under your belt yet, that should be your #1 priority.
Before you say that quick yes to working for free, or even get pressured or guilted into doing a free project- I want to help you understand why doing this is HIGHLY detrimental to your business. 
Reasons Working for Free is Killing Your Business
You can’t give the BEST service. We’ve all been in a situation where we absolutely knew we weren’t getting the best from someone else- be it a waiter, our stylist, etc. Then think about- if we’ve asked this person to give us the skills that they have to make a living…..for FREE.
When someone asks you to work for them for free- your mind, heart and your BEST work usually isn’t into to the project because some parts of you is 1. Resentful 2. Busy trying to find other work to make up for the work you are giving away for free. When Oprah said that she ” owns that time” that means that this professional has her appointment as a priority on her calendar, she has prepared for it, and she will deliver her best during their allotted time together.
Putting yourself in a position to not get your value, give you more work of finding a paying client to cover this one, and diluting your services to accommodate the few who aren’t truly ready to work with you ( financially) you do your business the BIGGEST disservice. 
You can’t hire help. At some point in your business, it can’t be just you working. You will hit a wall, you will stop growing and your limitations will be tested. This is usually the time that you need to rely on the skills and the help of someone else’s knowledge, expertise, or sometimes- just someone else’s day to run errands for you, help you clean etc. I see and meet many business owners who could make MASSIVE growth improvements if they could just be working on their business instead of cleaning their house 6 hours a week.
Let’s do the math…You are worth $250 an hour working, or $1000 per speaking engagement, or unlimited $$$ if you had the time to meet with a key check writer for BIGGER biz. But you’re at home cleaning the house- doing a $25 an hour job and losing roughly $225 every hour that you clean….. Let that sit with you. With my condo and now my house- it is an AWFUL use of my time to spend it cleaning, and at the end of the day- I would have a clean house and ZERO dollars….
When you let projects or your time go for free- THIS will be your life. Having to do everything, not being able to pay someone to clean your house, get your groceries, pay your coach or consultant, pay someone to run a few errands for you, or pay a virtual assistant to type up your contracts or presentations while you’re at meetings. CEOs, when you don’t charge- you can’t grow. Because you simply can’t afford to pay the people or create the team to help you grow. 
You can’t expand your business. Some of you are a coaching session, a conference or a business course away from experiencing success. So in addition to hiring help to do home or administrative tasks, you also can’t hire a coach to take your profits higher, or a producer to make your videos POP, or a makeup artists to make you look your best at your next engagement. Basically- you can’t invest to take yourself a step HIGHER.  In the beginning it is acceptable, admirable even to be a scrappy DIYer. Do everything yourself.
Then there’s that wall again. How do you get past it and make yourself stand out? How do you go a step higher? Is this the BEST that you can produce? How much does it cost to do your BEST? Finding out that is usually cost money to step it up- helps you to see now, what that one thing is that has been holding you back. It’s your invoice honey. You haven’t been using it enough 🙂 
You can’t help others. I like to say, that how can I help you if I’m broke? Doesn’t this make sense? If you truly want to help the world, give to organizations or causes you believe in or even to the people you love- YOU need to be ok. Your bills need to be paid. Your staff needs to be paid. Your business needs to be able to keep running.
I’m a SUPER give and I used to give to the point that I didn’t have the money to “re-up” or to keep my business going. Now who does this help? I might be able to help someone one time, but I couldn’t even help them in the future because I gave too much. Here is my rule, be it giving money, free speaking engagements, your time etc.
At the beginning of each year- decide how much you have to give….. Money ( put a dollar amount on it) Speaking ( quantify it- 3 free engagements? 4? ) or Time ( 2 hours a month? A quarter? You decide) Then when that allotment is done…. it’s DONE. And you should feel not one single shred of guilt about it. 
You devalue, disrespect and dilute your power. It happens sometimes by accident. But to purposely put yourself in a weaker position….. why do it? When you devalue or let someone else devalue your services…..they don’t respect it. I mean- they have nothing to lose and the only skin in the game is yours. 
A Little Help:
  • Understand your number #1 goal for pursuing this business.  Understand your financial goal and your milestone goal. Knowing, understanding and keeping these goals in front of you will help you to say a needed  “no” when you are asked to do something that goes again them. 
  • Be VERY clear on what you bring to the table AND be able to articulate it. Yep. It’s your job to tell the world not only what you do, but HOW you can help them. HUGE pitfall…..watching entrepreneurs throw out their shingle then wait for business to come. It simply won’t happen. You MUST learn how to consistently and strategically put yourself out there. A little help—> { See this video on how to put together your package }
  • Understand that you are sitting in a sea of other “professional” folks who do what you say you do. Find 2-3 ways to STANDOUT from your competition and put them in place. A little help–> { watch this webinar here for help }
  • Know that you MUST develop an ABOVE Average knowledge of marketing. Nope, you can’t avoid this area of your business. It is mandatory to understand how to get your message out there, on what platform, how to package it for that platform, how often to market, and how to measure and adjust the results. We are covering all of this starting July 6th { here 
With ALL of this said, I know that it can take a minute to get on your feet mentally and business wise, before you starting grabbing those clients that you want and you stop getting the urge to do it for free, or before you stop caving in to the ” exposure ” trap in lieu of payment….
I know this is a difficult place to be in and I can help you. I’ve been jotting down the top needs for months now and adding them in my planner. Now, I’ve taken those lessons and created a 2 week mastermind. The goal for me was to get the BIGGEST impact, in a short amount of time, with the MOST profitable results- so that you can get back to work! 
So Let’s….
Give you the room to do your BEST work by making sure you get paid  you your worth.
Put together a multi-channel marketing plan so that people know what you offer and why it matters.
Make you more money so that you can pay to get the help to grow your business-professionally.
Clearly understand what types of projects, calls and meetings deserve your time and get them on your agenda.
Let guilt and guilt trips roll off your back when you have to say no to a free project that doesn’t allow you to do your best work.
Let’s do all of this together, starting July 6th, from wherever you are in the world. Kicking off { HERE
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