Q19: Couldn’t I Just Help People for Free?

“Asking people for money is all a bit icky, and it would be much better all round if I could just help people for free.”

Oh, I think this is my favourite one of yours so far!

And I believe it comes from most of us having begun life in the world of work by having a job. There you don’t have to ask people for money. The unmentionable reason we are all there, toiling away at our workstations, is that we will be paid at the end of the week or month. We don’t ask for it, it is directly credited to our bank account.

You did ask for it, but in oblique polite ways like applying for a job, attending an interview, getting the job, and turning up clean and tidy and on time for 9-5.30 five days a week throughout the month. And in return for that “asking”, you were paid money.

When you employ yourself for money, you do have to ask other people for money, yes. But there are gazillions of ways of doing this subtly, and elegantly and even in-yer-face ways and they are perfectly normal and we see them going on around us all day long and we don’t turn a hair.

We know what lots of things cost and how we are expected to pay for them, and we are totally cool with that as a purchaser. We are invited to buy something, a product or a service, for money. And we make up our minds whether or not we want it and how much we want it and how much we are prepared to pay for it, and we whip out a credit card or cash.

So far so normal.

Why then is it any different the other way around? How can you take all your icky feelings out of it? Nobody on the purchasing ends feels this, by the way, it’s you injecting all the ick into it.

You have to take the anxiety and desperation out of the whole thang.

Get advice from someone like me about how to price what you offer. Do not make the mistake of starting too low as that is icky and impossible to rectify. Do charge what you are worth and be abundant about it – lay out your stall, offer your potential client or customer a range of what you offer, create desire and offer them easy ways to pay, both online and off, but preferably on or at least digital.

Be equally happy if they say either no, or no not now, or no not ever.

If they do say no, you are then available to someone who will say yes, just like you in a shoe shop. Just because you say no today doesn’t mean you won’t buy shoes tomorrow, that there’s anything wrong with the shoes or that the vendor has outrageous chutzpah in asking for money for his shoes.

It just means you are not ready to open up your wallet today. But you might be back.

And if the shoes are lovely and you need or want shoes and they’ve stolen your heart, one day soon you will be ready and the vendor will still be there, ready and willing to accept your money although you might not get those particular shoes unless you make up your mind to purchase while they are still in the shop. Always a risk with shoes, innit? And so it is too with whatever you are selling. We small biz owners do not have infinite capacity.

And yet there need be no scarce here, on either side of this transaction. The world is full of stuff (and shoes) and people offering a full panoply of treats and essentials to us. The choice is always ours about what we want to buy, when we need it and what we are willing to pay for it.

This is how the world goes around.

Look at the things you buy, how you shop and how you like spending money and what things you like to buy with it. Is that icky on this side of the exchange? No! So why does it suddenly become so when things are reversed?

You buy what you want easily and the same applies when it comes to people paying you for your stuff. No biggie. Chillax (used ironically, obvs).

In terms of it being much better all round if you could just help people for free, trust me that’s wrong too. It is a generally accepted principle that people do not value what they either get for free or which is too cheap. I for one don’t want much for free, am not interested in bargains or discounts or cheapness. I am not saying that’s the way to be, it is the way I am and mostly that’s a choice. I have occasionally bagged the odd bargain and been chuffed for that, but I don’t go out of my way to hunt them down. And I am by no means alone in this. Cheap or free is not attractive to me. I am more than happy to pay whatever a commodity is worth to me, almost always the going rate.

If you can be persuaded to align yourself with charging properly for your glorious talents then you will have loads of money and you will be able to make donations, be a philanthropist, and give away whatever you like.

Put your oxygen mask on first. Make yourself strong. Then look after those, if any, who need your charity, donations and philanthropy.


Read the Huffpo explanation for why we must put on our own oxygen mask first.

Your Biz Your Way

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