Sacrifice for Important Things
Over the short time that I have been running my own business, I have learnt the value of investing in it. It helps to observe what other successful entrepreneurs have done to move their ventures from start-up to sustainability.
Often times small business owners shy against spending on the development of their dreams. A case in point; just recently I was with fellow entrepreneurs and the topic of discussion was 'how service providers EXPECT small businesses to actually PAY for services rendered!' It might come as a surprise to some that people can actually debate whether it is fair for service providers to charge 'struggling' businesses.
I understand that when you are in the early stages (hell, you may have been around for 5 years and cash flow is a daily challenge) of your business you always seek the best price, either through negotiating a downward adjustment, or shopping around for better value elsewhere. However, not paying at all is a no no for me. I don't have cash flow streaming down my ears. Quite the contrary. What I do have is a dream that I believe needs serious investment from me. How can I expect a similar minded individual to give me their service for free? One thing I've grown to learn about freebies is that the appreciation of them diminishes over time (make that a very short time). It's difficult to appreciate and value something you did not go through some 'pain' to acquire.
I have firsthand experience of this phenomenon. I've had budding entrepreneurs wanting my services for free because of cash flow challenges in their own ventures. I am thus expected to invest my time and energy preparing for interventions that may not be honoured should a last minute meeting come up. This is not unique to me. I know of professional entrepreneurs who constantly receive requests for them to render their business services for free. Back to the non-payers, when I ask them if they would be willing to give away their services/products for free for the same reasons they advance when asking the same of me, I always get a resounding NO!! This tells me that some entrepreneurs want to receive without paying, knowing very well that they themselves would not be able to do that for others. There is an expectation that strangers should care more about their success and invest their time and resources in their businesses, which creates a bit of a situation if you think about it. Why should a stranger invest in you if you do not invest in yourself? I can only come along for your journey. I will not define, navigate it, nor guide it. You and only you can do that. If you care enough, you will resource your business and invest in yourself.
I took a decision early on in my business that I will invest both my time and my limited finances into my dream. And what does that investment look like?
- I attend networking functions to meet like-minded people from whom I continuously learn from;
- I pay for all services I require for growing my business (I do negotiate on the rate though and thus far I have not come across anyone who has said no);
- I invest in my personal development and that of my business by receiving regular support from a professional coach (a coach also needs a coach!);
- I do ask peers for favors when I required, especially for those non-paying gigs that need many heads!
Let us treat our dreams with the respect they deserve. Let us sacrifice for that social media campaign that might just bring those feet to your door. Sacrifice for those sessions with a professional coach, it will make the world of difference to your journey!