On Saturday morning, I woke up with a lengthy Facebook message from the lovely @Cara19. While it had absolutely nothing to do with something requiring an ointment, it inspired me to hash-out this post about the “free clinic” approach to business.
Last I checked, you run a business. I run a business. While some of you run a non-profit business, that doesn’t mean all of us don’t run businesses with a few goals in mind:
- Pursuing our passions
- Earning a living
- Helping others
If you want to run a free clinic, I suggest you head to medical or nursing school. Quit doing it with your business.
You don’t have to be Facebook friends with everyone who’s a fan of your blog or who once bought something from your store. Better yet, if the guy wanting to be your friend is a friend of a once-removed friend, you don’t have to accept his friend request because you see that he’s in a wheelchair.
You don’t have to accept every bit of work that comes floating into your inbox or though the phone line. Stop acting as if you’re lucky to have the work and start looking at the work as if you earned it. If you’re booked and can’t take it, hire a subcontractor or push the start date. Better yet, explain that you’re sorry you can’t help out this time because you’re SLAMMED but to please keep you in mind for future projects.
And you certainly don’t have to accept work that’s below your normal rate because the economy sucks. Seriously? Screw the economy. If a client wants to haggle over price, there are two options to pursue:
- If you truly want to work on the project, offer a Project Discount. 10% is more than fair and 15% if you’re working with a non-profit organization.
- Explain that these are your rates. I’m fortunate that I rarely have to defend my pricing, yet when I do, I say one thing and one thing only: “I’m not the least expensive professional you will find, but you can get work that’s a whole lot crappier for a lot more money.”
The “state of the economy” is no reason to discount what you do for a living. Taxes don’t get any cheaper, gas and groceries cost the same. You can’t haggle with the gas company because the economy is in the shitter.
You. Are. A. Service.
You. Have. Value.
You have no obligation to do anything in your business except treat each and every person who approaches you with respect and professionalism.
You are not in the business of treating a raging case of the clap or bandaging-up victims of a bar room brawl. Pay attention to the fact that you opened a business for a reason and invest your energy there. It’s so easy for us to want to open a conversation and help everyone who shows up on our doorstep. God knows, I have 2 dogs and 2 cats, all from shelters. One more damn animal and I’m going to have to build an ark the next time it rains! My charity has limits, but that doesn’t mean I’m a cold-hearted and uncaring bitch.
It means that I understand I have limits and while I would like to help everyone:
- Not everyone can afford me
- Not everything fits into my production schedule
- There are clients who pay my full rate for my time and energy
- If I delude myself into thinking that clients who pay less for my services will rate the same as those who pay full rate, I’m simply a fool and over time, I’ll under serve those clients.
- If I give away my expertise for free, I devalue myself and what I bring to the table.
So today, step back and take a good hard look at your table. There’s nothing wrong with lending a hand and giving advice, but reassess your milk-and-cow scenario. Mama was right that if you give away one, you’ll never sell the other.
Stop being a free clinic. Be a business. You’re worth it.
You’ve been slapped.
Do you like getting slapped? Check out The Bitch Slap collection – blunt advice, delivered.