Don’t give it away for free

Many years ago, I did income tax returns for a flat fee. It didn’t become the success that I thought it would be, but it was worth a try. I had the ProSeries tax software, which is the professional version of TurboTax. I had a family member who wanted me to do her boyfriend’s tax return for free and I balked. Of course, in my family, I was attacked for it even thought I offered them to use the software, but mark the return as self-prepared. It was one of my stubborn Larry David like Curb Your Enthusiasm moments, but I was adamant that I wouldn’t do it for free because I believe that if you do something for free, the other side assumes what you gave them has no value.

If you work, you deserve to be compensated. Sales pitches and meetings are part of the cost of doing business, but offering services to potential clients for free that you ordinarily charge is a mistake. I do a plan review for plan sponsors called the Retirement Plan Tune-Up for $750. About 5-6 years ago, I had a financial advisor from Pennsylvania who was interested in the review and asked for a sample done for a potential client as a test case for this potential partnership with his firm. Let’s just say that nothing came out of the partnership and this advisor got a free review of their plan. Not everyone will exploit your willingness to do something on the house, but you need to show people that there is a value to the work you do. If people see that you’re giving away something that you would charge for free, then they think the value of what they gave you is zero.

Get compensated at all times for the work you get compensated for because if you let yourself get exploited, you will.

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