What I Already Do
Sometimes I’m fast, and sometimes I’m so slow. Sometimes the answer is sitting right next to me.
I got to wondering why I could negotiate contracts for companies and clients, but didn’t seem to be doing the same for me. It was just the kind of problem my head doesn’t let go of. I knew it had to do with my way of looking at things.
I had too many friends and not enough customers.
Fairly soon, I saw that I needed a set of rules defining who got my work for free. I walked around trying to find where to draw the line. Then it hit me like a brick on my head!
I set limits naturally in my personal life. they’re the ones I need.
I tested the theory.
The Model to Decide Whether I’ll Do Work for Free
If I’m making a rule or model for my work life. It needs to be something that reflects me. What I realized is that in my personal life I already draw lines around circles of who I can do things for. Bet you do something like it too.
So here’s how I extended my personal groups into business groups. Now I know who gets how much for free.
- Some people are casual friends and acquaintances. When they come to town or when I go to theirs, I make an effort to meet with them. I’ll point these folks to where they can find the information they need.
- Some people are friends. When they come to town or I go to theirs I do my best to meet with them. I’ll help these folks when I can, especially when it’s something I can do easily.
- Some people are close friends. When they come to town or I go to theirs, I make time for them. These people will get my help and my time unless pressing projects must be a priority.
- Some people are lifelong friends and family. When they have a need I’ll fly to them anywhere on the planet. They’re most likely to get my help and my time for free. We value each other deeply.
Now that I see I already have a working system, it’s easy to decide who gets how much for free. When people I hardly know asks me to do their homework now, I simply say, “I can tell you where you’ll find what you need. If they push for me to help them, I say, “If you’d like me to do that for you, we’ll need a more formal arrangement to cover my time. I charge $XXX/hour for that sort of work.”
I can’t believe the difference it’s made. How silly of me that I didn’t make this connection before. I wouldn’t fly around the world for just anyone. So what made me think I should give everyone my work for free?
–Me “Liz” Strauss
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