The Thing About Free

The thing about free stuff is that, well, it’s free.  In the spirit of “you get what you pay for” and “you don’t value what you don’t pay for,” free is not always the best price to pay.

One of my clients – before he was a client – once said to me, “I’d like to hire you to do some consulting for my company.”  When he described the project, I sort of laughed it off and responded, “Hey, you don’t have to pay me for that; I’ll just give you some free advice.”  With that, he looked me dead in the eye, pointed a finger at me and said, “I’m not looking for free advice.  I’m looking for a quality consultant!”  Point made!

He went on to share a story with me.  He said, “You know, my wife, she works out three mornings a week with a personal trainer.  She gets up at 5am for a 5:30am workout.  She doesn’t really like to go, but she does anyway.  Believe me, she knows how to work out, but unless she has a coach to hold her accountable, she’s not going to work out.  Her high quality coach keeps her motivated, on track and in shape.”  Aha!

It was a great lesson to me and now, that same fellow is a dear friend, loyal client and, in many ways, a mentor to me!

Bottom line:  Free is not really free.  Free often comes with a cost.  When you discover something of value, invest!

2 thoughts on “The Thing About Free

  1. I agree that (in general) services shouldn’t be rendered for free, but there’s actually something worse than free: charging too little. A free service will *sometimes* be seen as a one-time favor. An extremely low price will *always* be seen as a mark of inferior quality that will forever overshadow the relationship and anchor your prices low.

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