Everyone today seems to have a story. And I’ll admit some of them are good … REALLY good. So much so that you really want to hand over your photography for free in order to help the cause.
But the problem with one is it quickly becomes two. And two becomes four. And so on.
Pretty soon you’re doing all of your work for free, barter, or at a discount, and you barely have enough to survive on your own.
Sometimes generosity can become extremely challenging, and have you start questioning why you’re in business in the first place. But how do you stop it? How do you know what causes to take on, and which one’s to pass by? How can you strike a balance between running a business, and still being generous in the process?
What Is Your Policy?
A few years ago I had a real problem.
I would be approached by dozens of different businesses and non-profits, asking if I would provide my services in exchange for “something”. It could be the opportunity to promote to their group, for charitable reasons, for exposure, and a host of other reasons.
But the problem built around who my clientele were and where they were coming from. Because my “clients” were coming from these groups and businesses where I was offering things for free or at a reduced fee, they came to me expecting the same type of deal.
Essentially I had trained my prospects to expect a ton of great stuff all for the low low price of “nothing”.
That was cool, and I enjoyed what I was doing. But it’s no way to run a business. And it’s no way to survive and actually pay the mortgage and put food on the table at the end of the day.
So I began to think about what my core values are, and what I truly believed in.
I realized I could still be generous, and give to things that truly mattered to me … and run a successful business at the same time.
Define It And Live By It
Very quickly I went through all of my past causes. And I looked deep into myself to find out what I wanted to give. And very quickly things began materializing.
For instance, I’m a firm believer in education and literacy programs. So I found several causes that allow me to stay active in those areas, and give to things I truly believe in.
Then I proceeded to train my prospects and clients that I was a business, and ran my business like a business.
Time has value. My products have value. And my services have value. And if people aren’t comfortable with buying from me eventually, that’s okay. I know I can attract the RIGHT people to my business, and I’ll do just fine.
Continue to offer value. Tell people about the charities you give to, and the causes you believe in. The more set you are in your generosity, the easier it is to tell someone “no” when they come asking.
“I have a few set causes I give to and contribute my time to every year. I know you have a great cause too, but it’s outside my contribution amount for the year.”
And while you may not be spending hours working for every cause that comes your way, just think of the amount of time it will free up to do some true marketing.