Why should you invest your time for free?
Why money shouldn’t be the direct goal for everything you do.
My monetary success has been hinged off of the things I didn’t do for money.
That might sound counter-intuitive to most people trying to be scrappy and make quick entrepreneurial gains, but honestly you’re limiting your opportunities when you’re looking for monetary compensation.
If you want to be really scrappy, you need to be willing to donate your most precious commodity — your time — to potentially have some sort of reward later down the road.
Not looking for compensation up-front opens up so many opportunities: it makes people more likely to work with you, more likely to enjoy working with you (because there’s no expenditure tied to what you do for them, so it’s all profit in their eyes), which all ties in to a better chance of them referring work and opportunities to you, or just plain helping you with donated guidance later down the road.
Had I not invested early in my career in trying to give value first, before trying to take value, I wouldn’t have any value to my name today.
I freely gave away my expertise to my colleagues in blog posts, through guest blogs, and on social networks. That led to me being recognized as an expert in my industry, it grew my social following because people wanted to know what I had to say, and it led to people pointing to me as an expert when asked who to talk to about the topics I wrote about.
When people reached out to me with problems they were dealing with, if it was something that I could quickly give advice on without having to work 20–40 hours on, I would give them all the guidance I could — then if they wanted to hire me to carry it out, they could, if they wanted to do it on their own, they could — but no matter what, they knew where they got the information from and that meant something.
Eventually that led to me getting new opportunities to write on more prestigious publications which gave me a bigger platform for the promotion of whatever I saw fit — usually just the same expertise that got me where I was though — and basically gave me a megaphone to audiences that had never heard of my work and would come to follow me as well.
The people I had helped passed on referred work that jump-started my freelance career, and ended up giving me the bandwidth to quit my full-time job and pursue my own freelance operation full-time, which eventually turned in to me building my own agency because the amount of clients that were being referred to me were simply too many for me to handle, by friends I had made — out of colleagues I had helped.
Some people say “never work for free” but honestly those people are already successful and don’t have to work for free because their name carries weight and their experience speaks for itself.
If you’re just starting out, or trying to rapidly build a name for yourself, your most precious commodity is your time, and your most sought after product is your knowledge — use it and spread it to create opportunities and wealth in relationships for yourself that will pay dividends later down the road.
It’s not cynical to look at every expenditure of your time as an investment, that is exactly what it is. You have to be comfortable putting it out there knowing that you might never see a return for it, but if 1 time out of 10 you see a return on it, chances are it will be big enough to be worth the 9 times you had nothing in return.
Even to this day, if I notice a lull in work, or a drop in the interaction between me and my friends, colleagues, and the opportunities that bring me business — I start hitting the pavement, not literally, but by giving value wherever I can to whomever I can, hoping that eventually serendipity will swing my way once more and the problems I’m worried about in the moment will suddenly be cast away by the influx of a new trade wind.
This holds true with service-based businesses, software businesses, acting, painting, or whatever your profession is.
If you want to make waves fast for yourself, hustle to give away the equity you have to the people who need it, because chances are they know 5 more people that need what you know — and they will know just who to introduce them to.