Photo credit: Frederick Kearney Jr., Unsplash.com
Pro bono; basically, providing a service free of charge, for public good — if we stick to the Latin translation.
I struggled with this act for a long time and decided to share it with you in a post.
To begin with, helping people is what I do. I’ve been raised like that, and it’s part of who I am. Thus, when I started my coaching business, I had to make an effort to understand that there’s nothing wrong with charging for the services that I offer.
You see, when you grow up with the knowledge that helping people is the right thing to do without expecting anything in return, well, asking money for the offer (read: payment) is perceived as an aggression.
This is where I started from: I love people. I hear people. I try to understand what they’re seeking and for what reason — it’s actually easy and natural for me to do that, like, almost effortless. I feel when things aren’t going well with people around me, even complete strangers, I jump in to help every time someone asks me to. You get my point.
And to be honest, even before I knew that what I do is called coaching, I was already doing it with no question being asked. Seeing people growing, getting better, coming back to thank me, for instance, saying, “What you asked or said really boosted me…” all that’s priceless.
Yet, while dealing with my own personal conviction of charging money for a service that I’ve provided was one thing, the big thing that made me switch was the impact that I had on others: how many can I support, how fast are the results, and how serious are people taking me?
Well, here are my five key takeaways to move you forward in your business… and get paid for your worth, talents, and acts of social good.
To Make a Living
Coaching, consulting, and personal development — even when offered free of charge and done with all your heart — is still a service, a very high-level service.
For most coaches, it’s what provides them a living. Keep in mind that you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first. Money’s a form of payment. Even if it’s not the only or the most important benefit for you, it’s still what gets your daily bread on the table. If this isn’t the case, some other activity will do. And, in the end, that means you’ll spend less time coaching, consulting, and living your passion.
People tend to get more involved when it’s something they have to pay for. There’s a tendency to take things for granted, and therefore to appreciate less what you receive without any effort and cost.
While a first session or product offering might be marketed for free, or “on the house” (as I like to joke about it), undertaking full coaching or consulting responsibilities to reach a specific goal demands lots of time, energy, and work, from both the coach and/or business owner and the client.
The bottom-line question for any client should be: how much do you want this goal? In one way or another, we always find resources for what we really want and value.
When you work with someone you need a real program: you define a goal, an action plan, and a systematic approach. It’s not just a phone call you get every now and then; your business needs consistency, implication, commitment, and responsibility.
Now, when all this is coming “free of charge” it may not seem like a big deal if you miss a class, or if you schedule something else at that time. Not everyone operates in this manner, but to be honest, it may be easier to cancel a free appointment than one that has been paid for already.
Meanwhile, you can’t support other people in the spare time left by an absent client. I understand that circumstances may happen… that the clients who have paid upfront cancel the course… but in that case, as a coach, I’ve been paid already. The extra time, therefore, becomes an opportunity to work on a pro bono file.
Like it or not, if your goal is to help/influence as many people as you can, it doesn’t work in your favor to actually have a “free of charge” practice. If you don’t charge, people may think that it’s not worth it, right?
Maybe you may believe that you’re not a “good enough coach” to charge, and this is the impression potential clients may get of you.
Getting Quick Results
When you pay for something you want results, and for some reason, people are more committed to work and do their assignments when there’s a financial commitment. Quick results mean helping more clients, but also more credibility and more publicity.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll continue to provide free support. I’ll continue to give punctual support, including coaching. I’ll continue to have my pro bono hours. I’ll continue to be me. But what I’m no longer offering is completely free coaching. Developing my strategy around voluntary work, how I choose where to invest my time and energy, and what amount of it — this is what’s changed.
When you think about it, how many people are doing their job for free? So, why should coaches, consultants, and small business owners?
You’re unique… own that belief. And you’re abundant… invite that mindset. Do it today.