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C’mon. We’re not in middle school. Entrepreneurs, listen up:

You have a product. You have a service. You have a craft. You need to get it to the people. How can you ensure that free today will become dollars tomorrow?

Think. If you value your work at $0, so will the people. But how can you build a following? How can you secure advocates? How will you hone your product, service or craft? You’ve got to put a little skin in the game.

Sometimes.

When deciding if you’re going to give it away, ask yourself these three questions:

1. Will my offering truly help ME and help MY CLIENT?
If it won’t do both, don’t do it. If you can’t hone your skill, obtain referrals, get concrete and constructive feedback, as well as help a client, don’t waste the time, effort or product.

2. Does the potential client value free ?
However, if you decide to waive your fee, try to identify a reasonable trade. They will take their commitment more seriously and appreciate your work more if they trade value for value.

3. Will I be able to live happily with having given my value for free?
Fair chance the client is a friend or a friend of a friend. If future resentment is a possibility, don’t risk damaging a relationship.

Assuming your answer to all three questions is YES, go ahead and give it away. And in this business relationship, just like any other, draw clear boundaries. Be clear about your offer: what, how much, for how long and at what point and under what circumstances the offer may be modified.

And in this and as in all things, go with your gut. If in doubt, don’t.

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