Do you work for free when starting a business?

Should you work for free

I get asked this question often, should I work for free?

When starting out in business have you worked for free and want to start charging?

I’m sure there are many circumstance that pop up where you feel giving away some of your talents to help others while building your experience seems like a great idea.

Working for free may start with a friend, or family member, a non-profit and even the kids dance teacher who gave your child an award. Ummm not a beneficial idea!

Firstly though, everyone should be invested and usually for this to occur there need to be some form of exchange. It’s not simply giving your expertise or talents away for free.

Importantly, I also believe in agreements and specifying everything, even if the work is for free.

If someone wants you to work without payment, you can take charge of the situation and turn it into cash (or something else of value). At the very least, you should know how to say ‘no thanks’ with your greatness intact and influence favourable.

Here are common scenarios you can turn ‘work for free' into something more powerful:

1. Non-profits, I should work for free right?
Consider how passionate are you about the cause and would you normally donate? Many non-profits will always ask for free contributions as a donation of your ‘time’ – do not go into it believing it will raise your authority.

Do it for free if you love it, or it’s your way of giving back. Please know it’s okay to ask to cover costs as a minimum, as they will be paying for most things that make the event possible, they might just get a non-profit discount of some kind.

2. If it’s a super cool gig, can I work for free?
You may have a dream of presenting on stage some day or working with a top influencer. Here you have your greatest opportunity staring right in front of your face, and you know it’s going to shine you in lights to build your profile.

So what would your answer be. A Hell Yes! I mean you cannot trade awesomeness for cash right – so yes do it if it feels right.

I also suggest to you do research first by asking a few more Q’s before you say ‘yes yes yes'. I mean you may have to fly at your own expense and cover costs that you are not aware of.



3. Everything is up for discussion and negotiation
Many people want something for nothing. That’s not how the world works on a deeper level.

Let’s consider this a trade or barter exchange instead, so we are moving the flow of giving and receiving. So you can put more good energy into it from both sides.

If someone is asking for something for free, ask them what they have in mind. It’s always helpful to extend insight into a recent negotiation you had the month before.

The conversation could start something like this:  ‘I ran a complimentary seminar the other week, and they offered me their holiday house for a night in return, which worked out great for both of us.’

Get the gist here?

4. Do not feel obligated
Have you ever taken on a project, or a favour to help someone out which felt more like a miserable chore? I’m not talking about helping your best friend move house. I’m talking business.

You have goals, talents and expertise that also helps someone else look or feel irresistible as well right?

Make sure what you take on, and when – that it excites you, rather than turning into a heavy burden. No one will benefit if you are grumpy and the other person is not getting the results they hoped for either. So talk it through and be clear on expectations upfront.

Importantly before you step into any negotiation or opportunity make sure to do your research and check out the details, this will give you a sign if it feels good, or it’s a good idea to pass.

Want more? Join me here. 


About The Author


Jaime-Lee, builds profitable businesses. Her first enterprise she co-founded creating a multi-million dollar empire in fours years and awards for innovation and growth. Today she continues to disrupt and scale as an entrepreneur and investor. Jaime-Lee also privately joins forces with selective business owners & leaders to help them perform to greater results.

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