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The Line for Free Business Advice

For years I have found that giving advice away for free is a means to “woo” prospect clients.  However, what worked 10 years ago doesn’t work today.  Free advice is everywhere and, while the inclination may be to give it, where does it cross the line?
  1. If you feel you should be paid, then you should. We all know when we reach this point.  It might be just one more question or one more conversation where we feel uncomfortable answering.  This is because the requestor has moved into the category where he/she should be paying for advice.  Unfortunately, if you have not established quidelines for what free information includes and what it doesn’t, you’ll be out of luck trying to get money out of this person.
  2. If you are offered something in exchange.  This is called bartering and I rarely do this.  In fact, I will only do it if I am 100% sure that my return on investment is going to more than worthwhile.  Generally, this is going to be based upon the revenue I can potentially generate.  If you aren’t going to get back as much as you give, or you don’t have a defined bartering agreement in place, don’t operate your business in this manner.
    Affordable Words - The Line for Free Advice

    ARGH!

  3. If you don’t value what you do, no one else will either. This is a very common theme right now with solopreneurs.  (Again, shiny ring syndrome.)  Men are very good at not doing this.  They stick to their guns.  Woman, on the other hand, will give away the farm instead of just selling the pig.  In other words, you diminish your value when you give away too much.  You enable the recipient to request more and more and the result is you get more and more pissed at yourself.  You are the loser in this scenario.
  4. If you have a flat fee you can charge, tell the world. For a long time, I avoided telling anyone what I charged.  Why? Because I was too afraid the competition would find out.  Then I realized that the more I charged that was in keeping with my experience, knowledge, etc., the higher quality of clients of I found.  My gut instinct really does know what’s fair; it’s my brain that takes over and screws all that up.  If I undercharge, I’m the one who pays the price (bad pun).
  5. If you offer a solution other than yourself, you can avoid the awkwardness. With there being so much free information available via search engines, direct others to take advantage of that resource.   How often to you have to search for an answer because you understand the boundaries? Probably a lot…and you have no issue doing this.  You are not the only person on the planet that has the answers: remember that!
  6. If you ask for money upfront, you’ll weed out the wanted vs. unwanted clients. This relates to item #1, above.  Why are you afraid to tell others about a consulting fee and what that includes?  When I was doing primarily technical writing projects, I provided a small sample (because the potential ROI was huge), then I gave a detailed quote where I factored in consulting/project management time.  My time is valuable and, honestly, I’m at the point in my solo business career where my time is even more precious.  So, if you ask, be prepared to pay for an answer.
How can I help you be successful today?

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