As soon as I typed up this title to this post, I have become aware that there is a chance that some might get offended. But I am going to write it up anyway.
I have a really savvy, super successful, colleague turned dear friend who’s business grows EVERY DAY. It’s only been about a year since we met, but this girl, let’s name her Autumn (which is such a transparent code name), is someone I admire for her tenacity, fire, and go-getter attitude to building her business. She.is.the.bees.knees.
The other thing that I really appreciate about Autumn, is her respect for fellow entrepreneurs. Her and I have collaborated on projects. We refer respective clients to each other. We promote each other. It’s a win-win love-love kinda relationship. In addition, Autumn repeatedly turns to my team whenever she needs to glam up. Repeatedly. It’s important to me that Autumn gets the best treatment, the best artists, and of course, the best deal in getting her hair and makeup done. Now, if I am available to work with her, I will try to give her everything free … because she deserves it. (Autumn, if you are reading this … you’re due for a free micro appt!). And even then she is always trying to thrust money into my hands. And if I need to send other members of my team, I will give her the best rate possible, only because my artists are separate of me and need to be paid. And she always emails a quick reply with “Are you sure that is all I need to pay?”. That is the sign of a respectful entrepreneur. She respects my craft as much as I respect hers. She understands that while we are friends, there is also a business to be run. And to make money from. I still wouldn’t charge her more though.
**note: i may only be referring to one friend/colleague above, but i would like to point out that i have several on my list who are also great like Autumn … i just can’t write out all the stories and come up with clever “not so code” code names … you know like DJ Green, Jennie Girl Gray, Batasha Narrett Design, GetCaught Lures, A Paper Sitcom, Apple Martinez Photography, SomeChicks Cooking Thing, and all the other photographers who use personal names that I cannot come up with something funny for …
So where am I going with this anecdote?
Well, not all entrepreneurs-slash-colleagues are like this. In fact, from time to time, you will work with an “up-and-coming” something or other who wants everything from you on a “I’ll promote you if you do this for me for free” basis. Or, will find ways to squeeze more out of you even after you’ve already given them a kick-butt, as low as you can go, quote for the services requested. And then there are demands on timing, dates, changing your schedule, accommodating them, adding in something for free and who knows what else … all because they are a fellow entrepreneur and since they have a whopping 200 followers on Twitter and Facebook combined – they are going to promote you …
Promoting you is a nice gesture … but when do you say enough is enough?
It’s hard. It’s hard to put your foot down, especially when you don’t want to offend anyone. But think of it this way, isn’t not getting paid what you’re worth (or at the deeply discounted rate you provided) offensive to you?
When a fellow entrepreneur keeps asking you for freebies, discounts or a handout, but you are well aware you are not getting a good ROI (return on investment), my rule is: once is good faith, twice is super nice, and three times is pushing it.
What determines good ROI? Well, I look at it as: how often does a potential client come to me and drop said entrepreneurs name as a referral? how often does said entrepreneur “shout out” to you on Facebook or Twitter? do they share your posts and tweets? send you kudos on achievements? do they mention you on their webpage or blog? or hey, how about this … do they offer YOU anything for free or super discounted in return?
If your answer is “no” … start to think hard about whether or not this is a respectful two-way street … or a one-way free for all.
If your answer is “yes” … then this is a relationship worth fostering, building, and working together on with an “i’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” attitude.
I always try to make accommodations for those who I know support my business 110%. For some, the best I can do is recommend everyone and anyone looking for their expertise their way, post and share all their marketing materials and efforts on my social media profiles, and when possible do my best to help grow their business through anything I can possibly do for them. I also try to link them to other colleagues with whom they can collaborate with. And if they actually need any of my services, I will try to do it for free or for the lowest amount possible.
To my artists, my freelancers, my friends: it is as they say, you gotta love yourself first if you want others to love you. Replace the word love with respect. Your business will only grow if you remove the all obstacles, big and small. Low-balling entrepreneurs are small .. . as obstacles and in many other ways … (i’m totally gonna get punched in the face for that comment)
The point after this long drawn out post? Well, as entrepreneurs, we all need to respect and understand the struggles we go through to build business and put food on the table. If you aren’t willing to give up your services for free … then you shouldn’t be asking for free services.
Get it? Got it? Good.
That’s the biz shiz!