STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

As a result of my Blog earlier about 'being in control of your business'

I thought I would start another conversation around something that Alan Stevens and I have started to discuss there... the subject of delegating the things you are not good at.

There is a problem inside networks that I come across a lot and that is the exploitation of kind, generous, giving people!

Reciprocity is a great thing to achieve in life 'the giving and receiving' not just the giving!

I believe in Universal Energy and all that, when I give help randomly and supportively, I don't expect immediate return from that person or anyone, but I do know that it is a value that is good to have and makes the world better.

Sometimes it is taken too far though. I talk about this in a Blog I wrote called 'the more I give the more people take', written in December in 2009 in response to a conversation I had with my daughter.

There are some skills needed when you network that protect you from exploitation. Many find it hard to say no when asked 'can you do me a favour', if this is a problem that you have then I suggest you seriously think about how to say 'NO' sometimes, politely but with a alternative solution offered.

One suggestion I was once given was to offer my help in varying levels

1. say I would be happy to help you, I can give you 30 minutes on Skype, I do this for 8 people a month, I an fit you in on 15th November is that works for you, this provides the solution that you can give, if they want more then....

2. If they want more and you wnat to GIVE more then ask them if there is a skill they have that would be great for you and/or your business. often there is and at this point you can agree your fees to one another and if they are the same then hey presto!

"I will invoice you £500 a month for my time which is for 4 hours of Coaching on Social Media"

" You invoice me £500 for your Graphic Design skills which would be excellent for me"

The excellent thing about this is that at any time you stop wanting their skills or they stop wanting yours then the invoice stops, and the other person can decide if they want to continue to buy or not.


When we are in business we must protect our business and our time and ourselves and remember we are in business, e are not a charity. This does not stop you from kindly sharing your knowledge, kindly giving some time, but it stops you from repeating the same mistakes over and over again of not defining how much someone can get of you

Have you any tips or experiences you can share here please?



warm regards
Penny Power
Founder of Ecademy and Digital Youth Academy
Helping you build social capital in your business and life


Follow @pennypower

I support:
Digital Business Britain Manifesto
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Bridget Hunt

bridgethunt-638689

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Great blog post Penny. I love your suggestion too! I now find in my industry that unless people pay you they don't tend to take the advice that seriously. I chat with prospective clients now, identify if they really DO want to lose weight. If they do then I take them through the best plan of action and I find my referrals are much higher now that I don't give away as many free sessions. I guess it very much depends on what you do. I do a lot of charity work with people on v low incomes who are desperate to lose weight. These clients ALWAYS try and pay even when I know they don't have the money so I charge them a very small fee which I donate to charity. Just paying something makes them feel valued and that they are giving too. Love your blog posts!

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Graham Wilson

drgrahamwilson

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Hmmm... 1) I am uncomfortable with people who feel the need to discuss the extent to which they are prepared to help others - in my experience it is usually a sign that their super-ego is feeling needy. 2) Anyone can find information, it's what you do with it that makes the difference. Which is why, I believe, very few 'internet marketeers' ever make a living - because they are trying to peddle something that should be free. They are no different from snake oil purveyors in the wild west. 3) I am particularly offended by consultants and other 'professionals' who proudly boast that they give so much 'pro bono' work away. (In other words, they don't give a toss for the cause, just for the PR it gets them.) (http://www.the-confidant.info/2006/management-insults-2-pro-bono/) 4) Recent research has shown that one of the principle ways in which we assess someone's trustworthiness is through our perception of their benevolence. Giving help generously is a sign of just that. 5) If you feel you're being taken advantage of, whether by one individual or a group, then that's a very different thing to being generous with your support. 6) Society depends on people who are prepared to selflessly volunteer their time and skills to help others - whether it is an adult running a scout troop, a cricket player coaching youngsters, a special constable putting themselves in the firing line, an ambulance responder calming a distraught patient who just rang 999, the old lady who mans the desk in the local museum, or the young Mum who organises a child-care pool. The key word in there is 'selfless'. 7) I'm concerned about the phrase "helping people randomly and supportively". What is help if it isn't supportive? It's a hindrance! And what do we mean by 'random'? Walking up to a stranger in the street and offering to clean their windows for them? I'm afraid that sounds a little too much like the aid programmes of the 70s and 80s through which rural communities in India had three milk parlours because successive donors thought it was a good idea to have a milk parlour but felt they wouldn't get the recognition they wanted if they just paid for the maintenance of the previous one. 8) I remember a political cartoon in 1968, which portrayed two Biafrans - one was holding an envelope that had been opened in one hand and some bits of bread in the other - they said to the second Biafran; "Oh, how kind of the Mainwarings - they've sent us their crusts!" Too few people are prepared to do something for others, so it falls on the rest to do more. Tough life, in it? Cheers Graham

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Stephen Bailey

stephenbailey-133543

STOP - For the avoidance of doubt ..

Your opinion is something you can give away for free in any format you like. The benefit of your opinion is something that you can "contribute" for free in any format you like. For your knowledge, skills and expertise those, the access point is very simple - see the rate card. Is your order book for 2012 already full? Thanks Stephen Follow @Stephen_Bailey

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Richard J Francis

richardfrancis1-363696

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

It's a fine balance Penny I agree. I've gifted a huge chunk of my time and energy in the last two years to help develop a foundation service that's on many occasions badly needed help and encouragement to shape it. It's hard to measure success sometimes - if it's always just on short-lead fiscal terms it can lead to disappointment unless the 'win win' is clearly defined. However - I always play a long game. People can cheat (borrow is maybe a kinder word) you on the short game - but if they make you win on the long game - then for me - it can still be a win-win. If they steal in the short AND long term - then they are bad news - and sooner or later - they will be caught out. Key really is do your collaborators share your long term visions? Are they trustworthy and straight/upfront about the status of what they are providing? Transparency is key in the age we are entering - and many still aren't. Lastly - are they the sort of people who will at least in some way show at least gratitude at the appropriate milestones? If they aren't - then the tell-tale signs may be there that they aren't worth the bother! I think your mutual invoicing idea is sound - the sin of self-employment is failing to provide adequate ongoing self-regulation over your time and contribution value. After all - if you were in a PAYE environment and they failed to pay you for two months - you'd clear out of the job right? Richard J Francis Commercial Tuner www.boardroombreakthrough.com

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Stella Holman "The Connector"

stellaholman_theconnector

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Hi Penny, I have undertaken a lot of commission based work or paid on results which I feel in some ways just exploits my network and the time and money that it has taken to build it. All this win/win basis and we don't want to pay unless we see results drives you mad and actually makes one feel that their service or skill is undermined. I do like the bartering idea as it makes people realise and appreciate the value of the service they are getting. Glad to see you are paid a good rate for your services;-) Best wishes Stella Stella Holman-TheConnector . Social Media Visibility Consultant - Can I show you how to "Get in the Conversation and Create your Niche" DO YOU NEED A HOLIDAY? We offer an entirely new way to TRAVEL. Leave your contact details and I will get back to you,.

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John Amy - Graphic Design

johnamy

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Why? I get real pleasure out of helping people fro free.

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Iain McGuigan

iainmcguigan-350540

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Hi Alan, "I also offer to spend a few hours working with hotel staff on communication skills in return for three or four nights in the hotel (and yes, I do inform the tax man)." If you are ever in Belfast I would be happy to do a deal! Kind regards Iain

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Nick Braak

nickbraak

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

My take: for services give away information and knowledge, but NOT TIME. And for G*d's sake DON'T TRAVEL TO GIVE IT AWAY. That's even more time and out-of-pocket expense. Flip side: free samples are a necessity for many products and retail. A new bakery in town needs to give out samples, health clubs give a free day pass before membership, online services and software have 14 or 30 day trials and so on.

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Jeremy Webb

jeremywebb2-441195

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Hi Penny I do agree and it can be interesting how help that was seen as imperative becomes less so when you talk about a trade. To then get the response along the lines that I cant handle non paying work because of my need to concentrate on cash generation is the last straw! I provide up to 30 minutes free on Skype or their call and publish a number of free articles and downloads- some on Ecademy and individual factsheets at £6 +VAT a time. There is a body of opinion suggesting all info and knowledge should be free but there is also a saying that talk is cheap and free advice is worth what you pay for it! What do others think? Kind regards Jeremy Jeremy Webb Business and Business Finance Consultant Webbery Associates Ltd and SatNav4Business Helping you to help yourself M: +44 7894 128876 E: jeremy.webb@webberyassociates.co.uk / jeremy.webb@SatNav4Business.com W: www.webberyassociates.co.uk / www.SatNav4Business.com

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Andreas Wiedow

andreas_wiedow

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Good headline. But who should pay and who should be asked for paying ? In my book everyone who is asking something from me which I consider being part of my business. So whenever someone approaches me I figure out quickly by asking questions what exactly it is they want from me. Often, if they don't get to the point quickly, I stop the conversation asking them to think and contact me again. Once in a while (1 or 2/year) though it happens to me that an energy vampire gets through my walls as they emerge in more and more disguises. As soon as they unleash their true identity I silence them asap. It seems a sign of the times that with information overload especially young people and newbies in business look more like this . . . . . . And then waste of time becomes pretty obvious.

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Katie-Ellen Hazeldine

katieellenhazeldine-186355

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

I will occasionally do free work. I wish I could afford to do it more. There's the money, then the time and energy, and lastly, the respect question. There is a local animal charity for instance, to which I donate readings as annual gift prizes for their fund raising. Occasionally I have traded my service in exchange with someone else's too. If I do free work, I am happy about it, if I have not been asked, but have offered. The animal charity is once a year, I can afford it. Sometimes also, I will give a little work for free because it's the most meaningful demo I can offer without giving the shop away, and this has brought me some of my best clients. If I am asked for a freebie directly, without trade or any offer of quid pro quo, I won't. I would never think of asking ask for a freebie myself so that I might benefit from someone's professional time and skill. It has to be fair dealings. Besides, there is something in the human psyche that will say, 'if it's free it can't be worth much', rather than saying to itself, 'how lucky was I to be given something of such value, as a gift?' The capacity for gratitude is a reflection of a wit and grace not in the possesssion of everybody. Cads and bounders, what?. Katie-Ellen Hazeldine Intuitive Advisor www.truetarot.co.uk

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Julia McDaid

juliamcdaid-47153

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Excellent advice, and the suggestions are really good. I see a lot of coaches etc who will do a 10 minute call, then after that its chargeable, which i think is a good way to do it Read and join my blog here

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Alan Bowman

alanbowman-330504

Alan@STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Hi Alan That is the way to do it and value for value commercially is a great barter way. All the best. Alan

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Damian Mark Smyth

damianmarksmyth

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

I heard a great comment recently from Leigh Ashton, author of iSell. She said, 'Give information for free, charge for implementation'. I like that! Kind regards Damian Smyth www.3ptraining.biz

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Alan Bowman

alanbowman-330504

Phil @ STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Hi Phil Went through same issues in the past, and my then mentor said that one should tell oneself that personal relationships are separate from professional relationships, albeit they can be with one and the same person. I always say to personal contacts who need a professional service, as opposed to just knowledge/information, that my normal charge is £x but for you I will do it for £y but make sure the £y is not too low so it does not appear of value. Any true personal contact will accept that and the relationship will continue on an even keel, anyone who does not is probably better off at arms length or gone :-))

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Tim O'Donnell

timothyodonnell-178622

It's quite simple for me

I do favours for friends, not for businesses, and not for friends' businesses. Tim O'Donnell www.corsidiingleseininghilterra.it www.corsidiinglesealondra.it www.corsidiingleseinirlanda.it www.englishinengland.it www.englishinitaly.it

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Kathryn Sassall

kathrynsassall-613756

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Hi Penny Just for once, I don't feel like you've been sitting on my shoulder watching and then written a very perceptive blog about a challenge I am having! Glad to say, since our meetings this year I am getting good at saying this is my value please honour me with respecting that. I am using a mix of the great ways others are treading through the mind field of collaboration and polite refusal. I've also got a very clear diagram on my laptop of where my parameters of free are for both of my businesses. This has started to pay dividends, with friends appreciating what I do and how it has cost me to obtain the expertise and experience, seeking to pay for my services, not always in conventional ways, but really giving a great value exchange e.g. expect my driving skills to improve (advanced instruction in exchange for digital help). I agree that giving should not expect anything in return, but to give is the choice of the giver. Where it gets sticky and uncomfortable is where people ask or expect for free rather than me offering. It's that tricky tipping point of taking social to transactional. Enjoying being open and honest which seems to be doing the trick. Thought provoking as always. Kat All the best Kathryn Sassall I support:

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Kapil Kapur

kapilkapur1-336914

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Actually there is another aspect to this. Stop asking people to do things for free. If somebody asks me to it or nothing, I probably won't refer them. The reason is that they will do the same to that person. Hence by asking me to do things for free, you'll miss out on any referals I could have given you. regards Kaps

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Penny Power

penny-power-1001

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Thank you for so many comments all, really interesting to read and it seems as though we have all be burnt! I agree about the speaking Alan, that is a very tough one for people and massively exploited by the conference industry. I have experienced this a great deal and while I love to share my knowledge, it is so exhausting and time consuming and the business has to gain somewhere along the line I wonder who teaches this kind os skill set as it really is important to learn early on, especially while you are building your self worth and self belief bucket of love! warm regards Penny Power Founder of Ecademy and Digital Youth Academy Helping you build social capital in your business and life Follow @pennypower Follow @pennypower I support: ;  

1 comments

Phil Shepherd

philshepherd-99964

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

I arrived here in Ecademy almost six year ago and brought with me a lifetime of experience of building businesses from scratch from manufacturing to marketing, advertising, and PR (in the old pre-internet world - but from what I've seen, very similar principles apply). I've been a (not always successful) serial entrepreneur for over thirty years and have accumulated a wealth of valuable knowledge during this time. Knowledge that amongst other things can and has helped would-be entrepreneurs create short-cuts to success. In this last six years I have been more than happy to give advice freely when asked and to mentor people and have really enjoyed doing so as my main focus during this time has been on using my experience to help third sector organisations such as the Community Interest Company, Mindful Policy Group. and charities Work Stress Solutions, and the Wave Trust. Any form of ROI hasn't been important to me... but... having decided a couple of years ago that I needed to get back into business, I've been working away at a fairly substantial business start-up which is an entirely commercial proposition (although it is a PPP business) and have been trying, with great difficulty, to adjust from an entirely altruistic mindset to a more commercial one. Increasingly finding that people are seeking me out for advice, I am flattered and pleasantly surprised that this is happening - it massages and pampers my ego wonderfully! I am intrigued and curious about any comments that might appear on this fascinating blog Penny. You have touched an an aspect of life on Ecademy that is particularly pertinent to me at the moment. Having chosen to not charge anyone for help or advice for all this time, I'm not at all sure how to start doing so, how much to charge, when, etc. - oh and will it affect my relationships with people I have become friends with I wonder? Phil Shepherd GOOISOFT Great minds think differently

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Andrew Weaver

andrewweaver1-670354

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Penny Interesting issue raised. Business owners - particularly with smaller businesses - often under value their own time and knowledge so it's important to develop an antennae about what could or should be given away. Giving is good but payment is better. Andrew Weaver Sell My Business Online The Low Cost Business Sales Service W: www.sellmybusinessonline.co.uk

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Mark 'Spud' Russell

markrussell6-331279

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

G'day Penny Hey ditto mate, as they say time is money & especially when growing your business it's great to do people a favour but we still have to make a living to earn the money as we have bills to pay just like everyone else! Like people do try & get a mates rate off me but I tell them sorry as the company controls all pricing worldwide for my services that I offer as it's all done online in each country. For example I show people my direct shopfront for customers: http://cmonaussie.acndirect.com So there for that's my free favour to them & then if they choose to view my services/products then become a customer of mine, the favour is returned to me etc. Cheers & catch ya later Penny, awesome blog as always. Spud!

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Sadie Murray

sadiemurray-275058

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Thanks Penny! I love your examples for starting the conversation and setting the expectations! As Nic said, "Complex and thought provoking" and one definitely needs to find that balance or they will become resentful. A wise person told me many years ago .."no one can be a doormat unless they lay down". So perhaps the challenge is finding the balance between "paying it forward" and being a doormat. Thanks Nic and Penny...you've provided some food for thought. Sadie Murray 847-302-1379 Freelife - Healthy Solutions Lose Weight - Feel Great

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Martin Shepherdly

shepherdly

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Penny I have learnt this lesson to my cost some years back. My advice is that if you are prepared to 'give away' or even just discount, then always make sure the recipient is aware of the true commercial value of the services or time you are giving. These days I would always produce a formal quote at proper commercial rates. Even if you do end up 'giving it away' for whatever reason you might have, at least there is a chance the recipient will consciously asign a value to that gift and look for ways to repay the generosity. What goes around... Martin Shepherdly BeThere Global Broadcast your conference to the world without costing the earth

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Alan Bowman

alanbowman-330504

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Hi Penny Have always believed in giving away knowledge/information without any thought of return, it works well on occasions, bit like being ORS, one never knows which ones will prove to work beneficially, but one should never do it expecting a return. However, when it comes to applying the knowledge or doing work then I always charge for that which in my book is fair. A bit like any message left on my mobile I always reply to even if only to say sorry cannot help and as I have had the same number since 1985 that is 26 years of returned calls and cost a few bob, which, being a Scot, I try not to count. :-))

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Alan Stevens

stevensa-38366

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Penny, Well done for adding a blog so quickly on this important issue. The principle of giving without expectation of return is a splendid principle, but reciprocity can help a business to really get going. In our early days, we bartered services with several different skilled people. Nowadays we pay for what we need. You've probably read my blogs about people not being willing to pay for professional speakers at events. The same principle applies to all sorts of professional services. If you (or we) can encourage small companies to realise their worth, and deal with each other accordingly, it will be a great service to the small business community. Best wishes Alan Alan Stevens, Past President, Global Speakers Federation, 2010-2011 Communication, PR and Reputation Management Author of Ping! Presenter of Media Coach Radio Show Follow me on Twitter

0 comments

Alexander Knox

alexanderknox-580520

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Penny, Love the idea of barter, agree an exchange for an invoiceable amount. for those that always want the favours, if you do for them and they don't do for you it's their reputation that eventually suffers, not yours. Dennis (Alexander) Knox

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Nic Oliver

nicoliver

STOP doing things for free for people who should pay you

Penny I find it tough sometimes to know where to draw the line: Yes I've been suckered by people who have said "If you can just do this for me as a favour there Will be a lot of paid work later" and nothing has emerged. However, I've also got work that way. Complex and thought provoking - like the writer! ;-) Kind Regards Nic Connect - Engage - Share

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