Giving It Away

Updated: 14/08/14

Recently, we’ve encountered several “opportunities”:

  • Deliver a one hour seminar for no financial renumeration, just “a great PR opportunity” and “padding for your CV” (despite the fact we rarely use CVs, not having been in the job market for some time!)
  • Deliver a 40 minute seminar for 20% less than the agreed price (the request came the night before the seminar)
  • Write an eBook at 80% less than the going rate, based on length of time it would take to complete
  • Deliver a one hour workshop, where no attempt was made to outline any perceived benefit, much less pay for it

On too many occasions, we’ve been asked to either complete work for nothing or reduce our price, by up to an eye-watering 94% in one case.

Try walking into any supermarket in the land and asking the cashier to take 94% less than the ticket price for a loaf of Sunblest Veda

It’s Unprofessional

As a request from one business to another, it’s unprofessional to ask someone to deliver something for free without offering any financial, or other, reward. Especially more so if what you’re asking is something on which they base a large part of their business.

By mutual agreement, this may be more acceptable if someone is part of a network, or business support organisation, where all participants are contributing equally to the benefit of the group. Though, as those who’ve experienced death-by-committee will know, committee members rarely contribute equally. If the tables were turned, would you offer your service or product for free to that same person?

It’s Not Fair

It’s not fair. In particular, it’s not fair to ask new entrepreneurs, or those launching a very new product line, or service, to provide something for free. They need to eat, just like the rest of us. They have bills, staff and other overheads. They may feel under pressure to do it because you’re an impressive client, one they’d love to have on the books.

But, how much do you actually respect someone who gives stuff away for free? How much do you value the item? Do you take out insurance on it? Do you put it in the safe when you leave the office? Do you keep it out of sight of windows in your home? Do you care for it and pass it along to the next generation? Of course not. In the same way, you devalue the person and their product or service, and business, when you ask for it for free.

It’s Embarrassing

It’s embarrassing. Many entrepreneurs are generous souls. Or, at least helpful souls. They want to be useful and impactful. New entrepreneurs are often embarrassed and awkward when refusing to do stuff for free. And, will often comply. This. This you know. Which is why you ask.

It Wastes Time

We’ve encountered enquirers who simply fail to response to voicemails or emails once the proposal or quote is sent. When we follow up, they’re unavailable. We often hear much later in the year that it was not what they were expecting, and they’ve “decided to take it in-house” (because the price we quoted was comparable with others, and they simply couldn’t “wear it”). Good luck with that.

I Didn’t Realise It’d Be That Expensive!

It’s within your power to go with that other supplier who can do it cheaper, if cheaper is at the top of your list of priorities (and we get that, really). In our experience, when faced with, “Oh, I didn’t realise it’d be that expensive!”, our natural response is to ask what other prices you’ve been quoted. Sheepishly, the reply is that you’ve not asked for other quotes. And, so, you’ve nothing to compare our price with. The figure we quote simply isn’t what you wanted to pay.

What can you do if you need or want, but can’t pay for, something?

  1. Increase your prices or sales, and save up for it.
  2. Take out a loan, assuming you can pay it off reasonably quickly.
  3. Trade. Much has been made of the wisdom, or otherwise, of this. Our experience of trading has been mostly positive. Choose a trading partner who you know well. Avoid beginning a trade with someone whose motivation, integrity and truthfulness is unproven.

Which Enquirer Type Are You?

  1. You have a reasonable budget, have purchased or benefited from training, coaching or writing services before, and therefore know their value
  2. You’re strapped for cash
  3. You’re a schmuck looking for another schmuck

In instance number 1, we can probably accommodate you without too much gnashing of teeth on either side. In instance number 2, we can usually work within your budget, train or coach only key staff, or make key recommendations on your internal documentation, rather than writing it all for you, for example. In instance number 3, refer to What can you do if you need or want, but can’t pay for, something? above.

Everyone wants to pay a little or alot less for everything they buy. Except millionaires, maybe. Just don’t insult the business community in Northern Ireland by continually asking us to work for nothing, or less than the minimum wage.

Business types: what are your horror stories?