One of the reasons many entrepreneurs will not grow their businesses beyond subsistence level is their inability to prioritise their business vision over the interests of family and friends.
If you have been in business for a considerable length of time, you must have had friends and close connections approach you for free service. This is especially true for people in the creative industry and others who seem to offer intangible products and services.
When I started blogging and consulting, my primary purpose was to express myself and enrich the world with my wealth of knowledge. I was also driven by the desire to help people access the help they need even if they can’t afford it. However, I soon realised that if I have to do this in a sustainable way, I have to move from hobby blogging to business blogging.
Every month, I spend almost twice the Federal Government’s minimum wage on my blogging business in form of courses, tools and other resources to make me better equipped to serve my community. That’s apart from basic costs like annual web hosting and associated services. Yet, some wonderful people expect me to do it all for free.
We say that time is money — and that’s true. But time is more valuable than money because you can get more money but you can’t get more time. In essence, time is life. If your project is not important enough to have you invest your money into it, why then do you expect me to donate an irrecoverable portion of my life? One certain way to show that you believe in your project is to put your money where your mouth is.One way to show that you believe in your project is to put your money where your mouth is. Click To Tweet
I have found that it all boils down to our priorities. Someone who does not have 100,000 naira for a ghostwriting project or 120,000 naira for a website will spend 240,000 naira on a birthday party, 36,000 naira on a TV set, 18,000 naira to fix her car and 42,000 naira on local flights when she could as well have traveled by road or even rail which is far cheaper. Isn’t that ridiculous?
When people request for free service without a deliberate intention to give value in return, they are violating a major principle. I’m reminded of an interesting story in the Bible where a young man was saddled with the task of preserving an entire nation through seven years of famine.
One would have expected him to offer “welfare services”. After all, didn’t he know that there was famine in the land and the economy was not favourable? Not Joseph! He insisted on collecting money for every measure of grain.
When the people ran out of money, they began to give their land in exchange. And when they ran out of land, they were made to work for Pharaoh. Do you see the point? Even lack or poverty is no excuse for attempting to receive value without offering value in return.
Truth is, I love doing things for free. As I write this, I am conducting a course which someone else bills at 30,000 naira. But I’m doing it absolutely free of charge. My blog posts are free, just like many of my books. But people are more committed when they pay for something. Besides, I need to place more value on my time too.
The more time I spend preparing courses, teaching, responding to questions and guiding you in building your business and career, the less time I have for other things, for instance basic chores like laundry, planning my meals, etc.
The implication is that I have to pay other people to do those things and even hire a virtual assistant to handle some personal projects in order to free up more time to serve you. Besides, I need to have basic necessities like good accommodation, power and Internet access to enable me give you the quality service that you deserve.You must make money to grow your business, support your family and share with people in need. Click To Tweet
So I have to balance the equation by requesting that you pay for my time, creativity and expertise. I must admit that it felt quite awkward at first, even though I’m convinced that it’s the right thing to do. Then I realised that the likes of Noah Kagan and Michael Hyatt have had to deal with the same issue. Yes, I’m in good company!
In How Not to Feel Guilty about Charging For Your Time, Noah says, “Money is a truth-teller. It’s a trade of your time for things you value. If a person really values what you are doing for them then you should charge them otherwise they’ll value you less.” In a similar piece, Michael says “Making money is not something we should apologize for because of a few freeloaders who feel entitled to get stuff for free. It’s not good for them. It’s certainly not good for us. And it’s not good for the world.”
So, when I insist that you pay for products and services, it’s because I need to grow my business, support my family, share with those in need and pursue the highest good for all of us, especially you. Does that make any sense to you? I hope it does.
Question: How do you handle people putting a lot of demand on you and expecting you to give your time for free? Leave a comment below and I’ll send you the eBook I’m currently reading.