When a prospective client works hard to convince me to take them on, and then asks me to work for free ‘while they get things off the ground’ – alarm bells go off.
A few years back I had a property developer approach me about doing their marketing. He told me a big story about where they were going, how much money they were going to make and how big an opportunity this was for me.
Then came the clincher.
He explained why I should do all of their work for free for the first six months to help them get off the ground.
My spider senses had gone off early in the conversation simply because he was trying too hard to convince me of how smart it would be for me to do business with them. And they proved to be spot on.
Luckily for me, I’d been in that exact same spot before (where I’d done work for clients based on future opportunity) and I’d already learnt my lesson.
It’s easy to get caught up in someone else’s dream.
Do freebies pay off?
If the potential client has great credibility, comes highly recommended and they have a proven track record of successful outcomes, it might be worth taking a risk. But these situations are rare.
Here’s what I advise most people to do instead: why not get caught up in your own dream and make your business the success it should be by getting paid for the work you do today.
The bottom line for me is this – get nervous whenever a potential client tries too hard to sell you about how great their business will be tomorrow. If they’re not prepared to pay you for the work you do today, it’s unlikely they will value the work you do tomorrow.
Don’t buy into their dreams, buy into your own.