I have recently been approached by a local charity that wishes me to work for them for a number of hours per week, but they cannot get away from the number of hours and are offering a very low hourly rate on the grounds that they are a charity and don’t have budget for more. No matter what I do or say they are stuck on hours/hourly rate. Should I walk away? Normally I would, but because it’s a charity I want to work with, it feels different. —Name Withheld by Request
I’m going to give you some straight talking tough love today, okay?
Do you want a business or do you want a hobby/charity?
If it’s a business you want, then you’ve got to stop wasting your time.
Not all business is good business—or business at all.
You, your family and the ones you love are your “charity.” They deserve for you to be smart in business—which includes being paid properly for your time, energy and expertise.
And by “properly” I mean at whatever business rate you (not clients) determine is profitable.
People in our industry have got to get off of this bleeding heart kick. It’s one thing to be charitable when you are doing well financially and can afford to give back. But most people in our industry are barely scraping by in their businesses themselves.
(And it’s not because they can’t do better; it’s just that they aren’t taking the time or making the investment to learn what it takes to be a financially viable, solvent, sustainable and humanly manageable business operation).
You’ve got to have a pot to pee in yourself before you can start sharing the wealth, know what I mean?
If you want a real business making real money, you need to start talking to real prospects.
Anyone who can’t pay your fees is not a prospect. Period.
First of all, clients don’t dictate or “offer” you anything. YOU set your fees. They have only to accept them or stop wasting your time.
Second, the reason they can’t get off the hours/hourly rate is because you don’t know how to reframe that conversation and what to talk about instead. And that simply takes investing in the proper learning in how to do that.
You’re trying to talk yourself into accepting this and I’m not going to help you. You’ve come to the wrong place for that.
Here’s what you need to do next to start talking to real prospects:
- Stop calling yourself an assistant. You’re running a business now and when you are a business owner, for both legal and practical reasons, you are not anyone’s assistant. Calling yourself an “assistant” is the very first reason that people are approaching you in a non business-like manner and think it’s their place to “offer” you “positions” and “low hourly rates.” That’s because “assistant” is a term of employment, not business, and people only understand the word “assistant” one way: employee. When you call yourself an assistant, you predispose people to balk at your fees because they are expecting to pay employee wages, not professional business fees. You see? You are creating the wrong expectations and understanding in clients right from the start.
- Download my free Income & Pricing Calculator so you can get clear and conscious about what you really need to be charging for your business to be sustainable and profitable.
- Get a target market. You need a direction for your efforts and to improve your offers. That only comes by focusing on a very specific industry/field/profession and catering your support to that market.
- Fix your website so there is an actual prequalifying, conversion process in place. This will help ensure you talk to real prospects who are more likely to be ideal client candidates.
- Learn how to conduct a proper consultation. My consultation process shows you what to do before you ever speak to anyone, what to ask and talk about during the conversation, and exactly how to follow-up after, as well as how to prequalify prospects so you can weed out the poor broke duds who waste your time, and filter in the ideal client candidates worthy of your time and attention.
- Separate business and charity. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with helping those you think are doing good work in the world. Just don’t mix your charity work up with your business. Instead of taking on a discount client indefinitely (which impacts not only your profitability and administration, but your other clients who are paying full fee for your quality time and attention), volunteer some hours here and there as you see fit when you have them to spare. And by the way, the more financially successful you are in your business, the longer you’ll actually be around in business and the more time and money you will have to give and help others outside your business. But if you make people who can’t pay your proper fees your clients, your business won’t be around long enough to do anything for anyone. You giving yourself away to those who can’t afford you doesn’t serve anyone.
- Alternatively, if you insist on putting yourself on sale, at least do it in a way that will actually benefit your business. Charge them full rate with your normal invoice, and once they pay, you can turn around and write a check back to them for the discounted amount. That is the legal way to actually write that money off as a charitable donation. And in the process, that charity client never takes for granted what you really charge and the fact that they are getting a generous gift, not an entitlement to your time and service at a discount.
- Likewise, use your normal and customary contract and go through all your usual processes that you would with any other client. I would also advise that you set a time limit/end date for any discounted charity rate at which time it would go back up to your full fee.