Can sharing your time for ‘free’ help you build a more sustainable business?

Recently I received an email asking me if I wanted to help out on a new eco project, to which I replied, no problem, here are my fees. A normal response you might think.

So I was surprised when I followed up the email to be met with a rather cold shoulder and a lack of enthusiasm to share details about the project. It seems they had a problem with me asking a fee for my time and expertise which they were expecting me to give for free!

Now I don’t have a problem with sharing my time for free, in fact I already do for a number of projects. However what I do in fact have is the right to choose who I work with for ‘free’ and ensure that the ‘free’ time I share is sustainable for me and my business.

So why free?

Well ‘free’ can actually bring many benefits to your business beyond those that are financial.

The reality is that ‘free’ time is likely not actually free, its just time that you don’t charge a monetary fee for. It’s time that you share in exchange for something else that can benefit your life or business.

Maybe that is a new skill, an opportunity to meet new contacts, a chance to work on projects you can use to promote your brand, or even just the joy of being involved in a project you’re passionate about.

You just need to figure out what activities are right for you.

When & how much?

When offering your time for free remember this is your choice and you need to make a business, or personal decision how much free time is sustainable for your business.

For me this means allocating enough fee based time to pay my bills, and free time to activities that allow me to gain new skills and expand my business networks, both of which can benefit my business.

It also means choosing to charge for my time if I so wish! Afterall this is my work and I do have expertise, it’s only natural that I charge for this time if I choose to do so!

In it for the longterm…

Sharing my time for free has often resulted in some of the most surprising and long term benefits way beyond just paying my bills.

This has included capital gains from shares in a business, expanding my networks to heads of international organisations I never thought I could get access to, and finding a new partner with whom I am now launching a new business.

So ultimately, it’s up to you to decide. What amount of ‘free time’ is sustainable for you and your business?

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