Thursday, December 30, 2010

What Discounts, Freebies and "Picking Your Brain" does for Business

It's just a fact - you "do someone a favor" by discounting or giving your services away - they never respect your time, energy or talent and often have a deadline of next week or "by Thursday if you can squeeze me in."

This lack of respect and unrealistic expectations create an impossible situation of resentment for both parties. Especially when you don't say no.

Here are 5 reasons NOT to do that job for FREE.

I have had many business mentors tell me this and I now firmly believe it : People only appreciate what they earn or pay for, and even then it's iffy.

Now, I am not saying that ALL discounts, freebies and "picking your brain" sessions are bad. But in my experience, unless what you are giving away has a relatively low impact on the overhead of your company or your family time, it's not worth the headache and lost revenue when you have to pass on paying projects to keep your "freebie" promises.

The people asking you for these favors often don't care that you have a car payment due, or that little Billy needs braces. They only want to know why you haven't given them that 5th set of revisions on that "little" project, or finished adding the 7 extra mock-ups above what they paid for and you planned for . . . . and next time some one want's to pick your brain, use these 23 answers and take it from there.

Let's be clear - There are many deserving charity cases that truly need your time and talent. And when you discover one that resonates with you - then go for it! But when what you have been asked to give takes you away from your paying clients, keeps you at your desk long after you are frazzled and leaves your family scratching their heads on your decisions . . . it's not worth it. I understand that there are pros and cons to this debate, and moving forward I will be more judicious with my time.

Biggest lesson I will take from 2010 into 2011. Learning to say no more often.

My husband has been a HUGE help with this process over the last two years. Creating and protecting our own boundaries (among other things) has been key to keeping the lights on.

I will be the first to admit that we've made poor judgements. Even given discounts in services in exchange for "credit" via social networks that never materialized and ended up costing our family company money.

Learning to say no, even to people you care for, is part of keeping those boundaries protected and living a well rounded and healthy life.

Regardless if it is a family member who wants a "free" website for their business because times are tough- then takes off to Tahiti for a week, or the old friend who needs a "little logo work" that snowballs and ends up costing your company thousands of dollars in man hours and then you never hear from them again . . . bottom line: don't be guilted into a project. Though I understand that there are two sides to website "favors".

Also, don't let someone give you the line of BS that "oh, I will get you SO much exposure" or "this would mean so much to me", or what I affectionately call the 'carrot' of "oh, I've been talking to BIG COMPANY XYZ and will bring you in as soon as I get the go ahead" right after they get you for a quote for services and a free copy of your non-disclosure :: Best one yet - the "it's just a button" cry when asking you about adding e-commerce to their website by Friday. NO, NO, NO and NO!

What does discounts, freebies and "picking your brain" do for business : In moderation it can help you grow like never before, teach you new things and build strong relationships in your community - but left unchecked, you won't make room in your schedule for the people who want to pay you what you are worth, appreciate your brilliant ideas and who respect your time.

One last bit on the "pick your brain sessions" . . . take some advice from Stever Robbins "your ideas are worth MORE than just a cup of coffee."

Damn straight they are Stever! Damn straight.

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What have you learned from 2010?

Will you be more protective of your time and talent? How?

Who is the worst offender of asking for "freebies" from you & your company?

Share your experience of giving away/discounting services . . .