NEVER. WORK. FOR. FREE.
It doesn’t pay the mortgage or the health insurance or the college tuition. As soon as you become a consultant, smart people with good ideas will come out of the woodwork looking for your free expert help. Make a rule now that you will never work for free. That doesn’t mean you can’t review a business plan for a buddy or bounce around ideas over a glass of wine. But never do real work for free. Make that a rule and stick to it. I promise you will thank me.
This doesn’t mean you don’t give. It doesn’t mean you aren’t generous. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t focused on building good relationships where both parties contribute. I’m talking about real work, that in your gut, you know you should be paid for. Work that you convinced yourself should be free because, FEAR.
During the recession, my biggest competition was all the executives who had lost their jobs. They were easily sucked into start-ups, working all day, every day for free. Some of their families didn’t even know they weren’t getting a pay check.
It’s pretty easy to get a job that doesn’t pay. But here’s the thing, if you’re not getting paid, it’s not a real gig. If you are working for free the client should be a 501c3. That is the IRS designation for a non-profit organization. And in that case, it’s called volunteering. The fact that an entity isn’t making a profit does not mean they are a non-profit organization. All the more reason to stay clear.
I see people working at start-ups thinking the pay will start once the funding comes in. Only 9 times out of 10, they call me when the funding comes in and the free guy is out of luck. Didn’t your Grandma teach you that they won’t buy the cow if you give away the milk for free?
I see people fill their calendar with unpaid work. In fact, they become so busy that it’s impossible to look for paid projects. Well now, that’s convenient, isn’t it? Too busy to put yourself out there to face the FEAR of rejection? Now go back to the top. It doesn’t pay the mortgage or the health insurance or the college tuition. You can’t eat it, drink it or drive it. NEVER. WORK. FOR. FREE.
You are smart, experienced and you’re good at what you do. Companies need your help to be more successful. You owe it to them to get out there. Be deliberate about setting your rate. Do some benchmarking. Be confident. Clients are much more likely to implement your recommendations if they pay you. You can have more impact on your clients as a consultant than you could as a full-time employee and you can make more money.
STOP right now and repeat after me:
I earned it.
I deserve it.
I am worth it.
Your only finite resource is your time. It’s precious, you can’t warehouse it and you can’t make more of it. Start charging what you are worth and do it now!
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