The Problem With Free…

Good Morning All! As we move closer to the weekend and the end of the “work week” [I say that loosely since most of us work all 7 days. LOL], I want to write a brief post on the “problem with free.”

It seems in these days and times, many people want to be given product or receive valuable services for free. When it comes to nonprofit service delivery, the premise for many outside recipients is that they should get the service or product for no cost since a nonprofit is delivering the service. Or, many people want help with their ideas or request consultation with the fine print request that they can’t pay or want the deepest discount you can afford [which is usually free.]. Well, I have a problem with that. And here’s the problem with free..

Free constitutes that one person will be working or delivering under the guise they won’t receive any financial compensation. Now, if there is a deal in the works or agreement that goods/services will be swapped out, then that’s considered a form of payment or bargaining. But if there is no such deal and only one person benefits, than you are basically doing the work for free.  In this day/age of declining budgets and rising expenses, nonprofits or startups cannot afford to do anything for free. In order to build coffers or expand budget lines, you will need capital. You cannot gain capital if you charge the enormous fee of “nothing.”

Also, you will be doing a lot of work for a client that isn’t paying you. They will make demands on your time, request added services and use what you given them to advance all the while you get…[wait for it]…[wait for it]…NOTHING. Simply because you didn’t charge anything. A lot of times, nonprofits or new businesses are reluctant to charge or ask for service fees in fear of losing or not inking a client. Sometimes they see it as resume building or reference building. While I can agree at times with the latter, there is only so much reference or character building you can do before people either trust the business or they don’t.

The bottom line, is the bottom line. If it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense [cents]. See what I did there? You must be brave enough to charge clients and you must be open to moving along when clients can no longer pay or afford your services. Think about it…if a client cannot afford to pay you or its bills, how long do you think they will be in business? Conversely, if you don’t get paid from your clients, how long do you expect to be in business? That’s the problem with free…

Have an awesome day!


Keith Cradle



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