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Business Coaching Personal growth Random Thoughts

Why professionals don’t do free or cheap

I got a call from an HR head of a local non-profit organisation the other day. She requested if I can take out time and deliver a half-day workshop over the weekend. I said, “sure, I’ll send you a quote.” To which she said she doesn’t have a budget and was hoping that I can do this one on a pro-bono basis.

I asked if I can come over and deliver a 60-90 minute keynote. She said that’s too little a time compared to an immersive half-a-day workshop. And she was right. Considering the requirement, getting the senior management onboard with the new leadership vision, I had to politely decline. Not because I was too big to take out time one Saturday with a bunch of talented leaders. But the ask itself was a too big to fit into a four-work workshop that’s free. And from my experience, as much as free is appreciated, it’s not as respected as for that what’s bought particularly when we’re looking at a potential transformation.

I encouraged the lady to check out my blog and podcast for all the free resources she would ever need for leadership-related content. I could sense she wasn’t happy with the alternative but was kind enough to thank me for my suggestion before hanging up. And I got back to work with no hard feelings or guilt for missing out a great opportunity.

I know that might sound strange given that I’ve been talking about giving and being generous all along. But you need to understand this — you’ll starve to death if all you do is being generous. People love free and they would love to keep it coming until the end of time. But there’s a line you need to draw beyond which people start to appreciate and value your time and compensate accordingly.

Of late, I’ve come to believe that the worst any professional can do for themselves is by rendering their services for cheap or free. Technically, I don’t do either. Emphasis on technically because I do share 10% of my time on pro-bono coaching and speaking as you can tell from my pretty straightforward business model below:

  1. Blog + Podcast (free) [there are no marketing funnels here and that’s deliberate and I do this because I’m passionate about what I do… so, I just show up. ]
  2. Speaking (free)
  3. Coaching — for executives, teams and groups (pricey)
  4. Mastermind groups and study — (pricey)

I’ll be honest, 90% of what I share is out in the open is through my blog, podcast and speaking. It’s free for anyone and everyone to access. But if you would like me to be actively, physically and emotionally involved to lead a transformation, that costs a lot of money. Because that’s what professionals do.

Sure, it wouldn’t work for everyone and that is okay. Why? Because I don’t want to work with everyone. Just the few who’re driven enough to get to the next level and value the importance of investing in themselves.