As an owner of a small business in difficult economic times, it is tempting to take anything and everything that offered in terms of work. After all, the bills have got to be paid! But stop! Wait. Think. What you do NOW sets a precedent for the future.
I know of trainers who have more than halved their usual daily rate to secure work and pay the bills. They think they are doing this as a ‘one-off’, but is that how the person purchasing their services sees it? Probably not – in their eyes a price for services has been set, and it will be very hard for that trainer to suddenly go back to their ‘normal’ fees. They have shot themselves in the foot.
On a similar note, I was recently asked to do something that I was not keen to do i.e. put in a lot of time and effort on a project for free on the vague hope that something worthwhile would come out of it in the future. I have successfully run my own business for 6 years, so am very familiar with the need to speculate to accumulate, and know that you DO have to put work in before you get anything back, but something with this particular case didn’t feel right.
So, I screwed up my courage and was honest with the person asking me to help about my reservations. My refusal to help under their terms did not go down too well. However, I was willing to help under MY terms (i.e. if I’m working for free, I’ll do it when it suits me, not you and fits around my paying clients), and explained why. This was reluctantly accepted, and we both went away accepting the situation.
Had I just agreed, I know that I would have felt resentful the whole time AND the other person would have felt it was perfectly acceptable to ask me to do something for nothing whenever it suited them. As it is, I have done what was asked, for free, at a time when it suited me. The other person is grateful (I’ve got them out of a big hole). I feel OK (I helped them without commercial damage) and perhaps, most importantly, the air is clear between us, and our relationship is in tact. …And relationships are what keep businesses in business.
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