Working for Free – The Win-Win Proposition
Exploitation of the free economy is prevalent. Service based industries are often targeted by well-meaning organisations hoping to secure services for free or at low cost.
Owners of service based businesses are typically empathetic and have a natural desire to help people and organisations achieve particular outcomes. That’s often why those who own or run these businesses choose the service industry.
How can small business owners negotiate deals that offer a mutual value proposition that doesn’t necessarily include cash.
When what you do on a professional level meets the needs of an organisation, requests for your involvement are common. And because service providers have an empathetic nature about them, they generally do what they can to help. As a result, service providers can sometimes find themselves spending more time on altruistic and philanthropic pursuits instead of generating revenue for their business.
But how do you, as a services business, say NO to the many requests for your expertise that are unlikely to generate revenue, and in fact, draw you away from revenue generating activity?
YOU DON’T, you look for the win-win.
There are at least three commodities available in a negotiation situation. Time, money and knowledge. If you don’t have the money to pay someone, then you need to have the time learn how to do it yourself. If you don’t have the time to learn or do it yourself, then you must fnd the money to pay someone to do it for you. And if you don’t have the money or the time, and you still don’t want to spend the money, you better hope to have the knowledge and time to impart on a willing intern or similar.
The point is, cash isn’t necessarily king, but a value proposition is.
Next time you’re approached, remember this is a value proposition negotiation, and should be treated no different to any other negotiation you engage in with your business. When the proposer asks you to work for FREE, ask what they can offer in return. You might be surprised by what they come up with.
Next, know what value exchange you might consider. Think about your needs and whether there is some alignment with the project. Some examples include; learning new skills, adding to your portfolio, or working with someone or on something you have always wanted to do.
Of course, you could also add things such as generating new business, building stronger connections in a particular industry, using the exercise for a case study or chapters in your latest book. The opportunities are endless, but you do need to know what asset exchange you are looking for, and then make sure you get it.
But sometimes, you’re asked to work on projects where you really can’t find a mutual benefit and in these cases all is not lost. You may need to help them understand the value of what it is they are asking. For example, when someone asks you to volunteer on a project, before you do or say anything, work out how much it is worth in time at the very least, what you’re being asked to do and how that translates to your hourly rate.
For example, 24 hours of your time that you normally bill out at $150 per hour, and a lifetime of your learning and experience. This may be where finding something of value to provide in return can be a challenge for some. In these cases, where it is high value, consider negotiating a formal sonsorship agreement.
Next time you hear “but we don’t have any budget”, simply say that you would be happy to consider their request but to ensure an equeal value exhcnagne, suggest they present a value proposition that will remunerate you by way of something other than money. Feel free to give them ideas about what you consider valuable but where possible….
Avoid the often touted phrase “for the publicity” unless there is a tangible publicity outcome that you or your business needs.
And if you’re the one considering asking someone to do something for free, be a trailblazer and consider the value proposition before making the request. As you can see, it doesn’t have to be money, but it must have value. The value should be aligned to the person to whom you are asking, not your own perception of value. If you’re not sure what they value, ask. And if you can’t find something of value to exchange, it may be time to reconsider your project and consider its overall value.
A value proposition forces one to realise what they are asking for, and what they are willing to part with in exchange. It also outlines for you the real value of what you were about to give away for free.
We run workshops on all kinds of event related issues, challenges and benefits. Sponsorship Design is an excellent workshop that will help you come up with either an outgoing or incoming sponsorship strategy, ensuring you get or give value for money, time or knowledge. Workshops are delivered face to face and online.
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