You will be presented with many reasons as to why it would serve your best interests to work for nothing:
“I’ll recommend you to all my friends.” Great, more freeloaders.
“Your competition says they’ll do it for free.” Tell them I said hi!
“It’s not something I really want anyway, just an afterthought.” You’re not a client I want anyway, you’re an afterthought.
The short response is: no entrepreneur should have to work for free.
That said, you don’t necessarily have to receive money in exchange for your product or service, if you’re getting something YOU value out of it. Here are a few things to ask yourself if you’re wondering if you should take on a job for free?
How much is it really costing you?
Will the freebie take your time and focus away from more important commitments? If word gets out that you gave someone a freebie, will it come back to haunt you? What if you used that time to network and generate new (paying) leads?
Are you gaining experience?
First ask yourself if you really need the experience. Even if your business is new, you may already have lots of skills and experience that make your product or service worth paying for. Perhaps you’re trying out a new technology or product that you’re hoping to offer as an add-on. If that’s the case, consider offering it as a free bonus to a regular client. Reward someone who has already shown loyalty and has every intention in supporting you and your business. They will love you for it.
Are you gaining credibility?
Depending on the nature of your business, sometimes you need to build a considerable amount of rapport with a prospect before they agree to do business with you. You might consider giving a free consultation session, so that you can evaluate their needs and let them know how you can solve their problems. Limit the time for the free consult (to maybe a half hour or an hour). Use this time to demonstrate your accountability, expertise, approachability, and communication skills. Also use this session to gage if they are an ideal client for you.
Are you building a track record?
If you’re a brand new entrepreneur and you have no paying prospects, you might have to bite the bullet in order to build a reputation. Focus on building a strong portfolio and a long list of testimonials from worthy, well-connected patrons. Make sure everyone you work for is okay with you sharing their projects for recommendation purposes.
Are you contributing?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with helping a charity or cause that you believe in, especially if it raises your profile as a business that cares about its community among an influential network. If it makes you feel good, and you can afford the time and expense, then by all means do it.
Need a hand with your small business branding and marketing? Call Kim Speed at Purple Moon Creative today!