If you would have asked me one month ago whether or not I should charge for my very first few clients I would have told you no, I shouldn’t.
First, who would want to pay for an “untried” catalyst agent? When you’re first starting out you HAVE to have your first client. And my thought pattern was the first client would be mentally unwilling to pay for the services I have to offer.
Second, even though I did not intend on charging a monetary fee, I was going to be paid in other ways. Mainly by 1) gaining experience and 2) requesting a testimonial. Both of these have value to me and will also be of value to future clients, even if not directly thought about.
Enter a discussion I had with Chris Sutton, a good friend of mine who also happens to run 212 kick (link below).
Chris and I were on Skype discussing what I’ve been doing at A Better Way of Business and he asked, “What are you charging your first clients?”
I paused for a second and told him, “I’m not. I’m working with the first few clients for free so I can get testimonials and experience.”
Chris followed up by saying, “It’s hard to get people to take you seriously if they don’t have skin in the game.”
It’s like a million-candle-power light went off in my head!
In general, people tend to not value highly things they have received for free. Since whatever it is didn’t cost them anything they have no reservations, no hesitation, no remorse in ignoring it or throwing it out whenever. Often, without even taking full advantage of the free item.
So in the case of A Better Way of Business, what’s a person’s incentive to actually LISTEN to advice I’ve given them for free? What is the motivation to value the time we have spent together?
The answer might be the incentive is to get his or her business up and running or their existing business running more efficiently and effectively.
Or it could also be that they have no incentive to listen to me because they haven’t invested anything more than an hour or two of time with me, so what does it matter if what I say is ignored?
After speaking with Chris I’m a firm believer of having a pricing structure in place BEFORE you start working with clients. You don’t have to try to make your first million on your first client, but you also shouldn’t give away everything you know for free. By charging SOMETHING you are working with clients who have “skin in the game” and are more likely to listen to what you have to say and then ACT on it (and we all know I’m ALL ABOUT ACTION).
And please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should start charging to respond to an email, phone call, or simple question someone asks you the next time you’re out. But I am saying you should plan to charge your clients when the two of you agree to work with each other.
212 kick – Chris Sutton