17 Sep 2017

Insult Professionals by Asking them to Work for Free

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Do you want to insult a professional? Do you like telling businesses and people that their services have no value?

Professionals need to be paid for their work.

Every time you ask someone to work without compensation (with some exceptions), you are doing exactly that. You are saying, “I don’t value your time or your services”.

Let’s start with the exceptions.

  1. Volunteer work – The most obvious exception is volunteer work for charities, churches or helping the community in some way. Everyone should help their fellow human being occasionally, and in these instances the very act of giving is the compensation.
  2. Friendship – Sometimes it’s great to give out of friendship to someone you know and like. Helping a friend or family member move, clean their house, or improve their website can e very fulfilling in and of itself. Of course, you have to be careful that your friendship is not being abused or that your friend is not taking advantage of you.
  3. Help – Sometimes people need help, such as after a hurricane or a major business failure. Giving some time to help someone on a short term basis is good, as long as it doesn’t become a permanent solution.

There are, of course, other exceptions, and each professional has to judge for yourself if working for free is appropriate or not.

Exceptions aside, if you are an entrepreneur running a business, then it is important that you compensate those who work for you, consultants – freelancers, contractors and employees -fairly for the value they provide.

To be clear, compensation is not necessarily in monetary form. For example, I often write guest posts for other website and blogs without payment. My “compensation” is a backlink to my website, which helps being in traffic over the long term.

But what’s wrong with getting people to work for you for free? Isn’t that a good use of resources? Isn’t anything that saves money a good thing?

By paying good rates to professionals, you gain the following.

  1. Training – Professionals have been trained, sometimes at great expense, and have learned through experience.
  2. Experience – Professionals have learned through experience, sometimes years or even decades, about what is the right and wrong way to do things.
  3. Certifications – Professionals have taken the time to acquire certifications in their field, where applicable.
  4. Treat customers with respect – Professionals have learned how tot treat their customers with respect, meaning they understand how to communicate and acknowledge, run meetings, and not waste time. They know your time is valuable and won’t waste your money.
  5. Understanding of business – There is more to running a business than doing the work and collecting money. Professionals understand the need for insurances, regular communication, and other things that, if lacking, could get you in trouble or result in low quality of service.

When you ask a professional to work for free, you are basically saying, “I don’t value you”. You don’t recognize that the professional needed to spend years and thousands of dollars getting trained and certified. You don’t care about the experience they have gotten over the years. You don’t care about anything but yourself and your needs.

I can hear you protesting now. “But I have a startup and there’s no money”. You are running a business, startup or not, and by doing so, you need to learn to treat others as valuable. They need to make a living, and by asking them to work for free, you are denying them that living. You don’t have the money? if you really need the service, you can get the money by getting a business loan, a grant, venture capital or other methods. If you can’t get the money, then you don’t really need the service.

Or maybe you’re thinking, “I’m just a small business and can’t afford their rates!” Learn how to make more money so you can afford professional rates. The benefits of hiring real professionals will highly outweigh the costs.

It really doesn’t matter what excuse you come up with. It you want to use the services of a professional in any business, be ready and willing to pay them good and honest wages. To insist on getting work from professionals without fair compensation is a major insult to their intelligence. Worse still, by doing so you directly show your own lack of respect, and it makes you and your business seem small and petty.

Do the right thing. Pay professionals a fair wage for the work they do. When you do so, you’ll feel better about the work you receive, you’ll be supporting another business, and you’ll demonstrate that your business is making income and is real and valid.

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