Tired of having people “pick your brain” and never pay for your services? This happens ALL the time to people that are in service-based businesses who are coaches, consultants, web designers, you name it. And I’m sick of having this happen to you.
This used to happen to me A LOT in the co-working spaces I worked from because everyone knew me there, and loved telling me about their problems. “Oh Lydia, I have this issue about my business, and I’m wondering if I can get your help for just 2 minutes?”
And then this turn into an hour conversation, and I walk out of that conversation super resentful and well, very mad at MYSELF.
I also know how frustrated and de-energizing it is to feel that your intangible skills in your service can be be taken advantage by others wanting a piece of you without paying for it. Because it’s easy. What you do in the value of your work is sometimes not seen.
It’s heard from your advice, your tips, and in your speech. So it’s easy for people to get value from you simply by speaking to you at times.
But you know what? It isn’t their fault. It’s yours.
These “potential clients” do not even know that they are stepping over their boundaries of picking your brain. They get excited about your work, and want to have a conversation. This is a good thing.
But it’s your job to create boundaries around how deal with potential clients, when you don’t know if they will be paid clients or not. Now I’m not saying that you do not give value when you feel like it (because if you’re like me, I love to talk and share), but when you start to notice that you’re giving tons of value speaking to people, but never getting paid, then you may want to consider a different approach.
Watch my video below to find out what I do to still give value to potential clients without losing my time and energy (and not being an asshole about it):
Get people to apply to work with you
If someone is interested in picking your brain, or getting your advice about something, this is not the issue. The issue is letting them pick your brain without qualifying if they are someone you want to work with, or can afford to work with you.
You can gauge if they are serious about working with you by simply setting up a process to apply. You can still offer a free call or consultation, but they must go through a short process to tell you more about who they are, where they are at, and why they want to work with you.
If they go through the process of an application for a free discovery call or consultation, you can consider them a warm lead. No one will apply unless they have some seriousness in working with you.
So when someone asks for you to help them solve something on the spot, or wanting more advice from you, you can say, “Sounds like you need more in depth help in the problem you’re having right now. I’ll be happy to see if my approach would be a good fit for you, if you would like to work together. Would you like to book a discovery call so we can talk about this further?”
And if they say no, they aren’t ready to work with you.
Coolio. You can now move on and focus on activities that help you get in front of clients that are ready.
Gauge how serious they are in needing help by giving them a “task” to complete
You know that guy or girl that says, “Can I just ask you ONE question or ONE piece of advice about…?” You know that person. It’s never ONE question, is it?
And usually you’ll find that this one question is a very BIG question, that is going to require some time and energy to answer it.
And that is your work. Yes, the one you charge for.
Stop giving advice away. You can be kind and give away little tidbits of information, but don’t give away the farm! Your work matters and deserves to be paid.
So when someone asks you to help give them advice on this ONE question, offer them a solution. But a solution that they have to explore to find the answer to.
For example, I always have people asking me “What do I do when I’m multi-passionate and can’t pick what I want to do with my life?” Great question. I can help them by getting them to DO SOMETHING about this.
My default “spiel” now is to send them to do my free course on WTF Am I Meant to Do With My Life on my website. “Start with this, and e-mail me when you have finished so I can see what you discovered”.
80% of them never do it.
Why? Because sometimes people just want a quick fix. The magic pill advice that will help them solve their problems. They don’t want to do any work to get to the results.
Most likely they will not work with you either. So, think up of your default “help spiel”. Use it every time, and see which person actually comes back to you with the completed task you asked them to do. Then they get to have a free consultation or call with you, because you can see they are ready for your help.
I bet you offer lots of free stuff and advice already, just like I do. Your blogs, videos, podcasts, freebie opt-ins, articles, etc. This is where they can get a taste of your work. You’re already giving value here, so your one-to-one time needs to be saved for paying customers.
Your desire to help people stays in tact when you get paid. This keeps your business going SO you can help more people.
Respect your own boundaries so that you can teach others to respect them too
It’s not about not doing what you love just because you’re not paid for it, but it’s about maintaining your energy for the people who are willing to invest in themselves.
When you are drained or de-energized servicing the people who aren’t paying you, you won’t have the motivation and energy to help the ones that need you now.
Respecting your boundaries mean making your work important to you, so that you can help solve more problems in the world by ensuring that you are taken care of as well.
Just like we don’t ask a yoga teacher to start doing her downward dog position and teaching us how lift our legs over our heads right there and then, it’s the same as others not expecting service based professionals like us to give our advice and consultation on the fly.
What do you struggle with when it comes to creating boundaries around paid and unpaid clients as a service based professional? I want to hear it!