“When you learn how much you’re worth, you’ll stop giving people discounts.”
If you’re in business, you’ve probably heard this one before. And it’s got its merit, but I don’t think it’s so black and white. I mean, I get it. Giving discounts can make people question your worth. And when your business is your livelihood, casting doubt on your value can be the difference between keeping your bills paid and being as broke as a joke. Seeing as I don’t find being broke particularly funny, I’m usually pretty unwavering about my rates myself.
However, I’ve also learned that, in business, making money and being generous don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, an act of generosity landed me one of my biggest clients. About a year ago, an acquaintance of mine started a business. It’s an amazing business and I know that because I’ve used her services and they were life-changing for me. So when she approached me about writing the copy for her site, I was on board. Without hesitation, I offered to do it, and at a massive discount. I felt that the story of a brand that could save someone’s life needed to be told, and told well. I knew that would be worth the money.
What I didn’t know was how much good that one act of generosity would do for me. My acquaintance gave the copy I wrote to her graphic designer and he loved it. Less than a week later, he took me on board as what he called his “word ninja.” Since then, I’ve had the chance to work with awesome clients helping bring dope businesses to life. And the money, well, that doesn’t hurt either.
Here’s the problem with that quote. Discounts aren’t always about compromising on your value. Sometimes, it really is about being generous and recognizing that money isn’t the only currency. Generosity reminds people that at the core of your business is a person who genuinely wants to do good. And like karma, what goes around comes around. Businesses that practice generosity usually generate customer loyalty which often leads to referrals too.
So how do you decide, when you’re faced with an opportunity to offer a discount, throw in a freebie, or waive a fee if you should do it or not? I usually ask myself three questions:
1. Can I afford this?
Generosity is an act of kindness, not a martyrdom. At the end of the day, you’re running a business, not a charity. So, if you’ve got bills to pay, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to your rates.
2. Does it do good?
I offered the discount I did because I believed the client I was helping could literally save lives with her business. Sometimes, the value of the work you do goes far beyond the money you’ll earn for it. If it falls on your heart to be generous, you should.
3. What will I lose?
Being generous shouldn’t be done with the intention of gaining anything back, but don’t allow generosity to cost you. And I’m not just talking about money. While some people might reward your kindness with loyalty and referrals, others may try to exploit it. Trust your intuition.
Generosity in business doesn’t have to be a bad word. It’s just a matter of knowing when, how and who you can do it for. If the urge to offer a discount or freebie comes up, and you can answer all three of those questions in ways that make you feel confident your business or reputation won’t be at risk, go for it! In the end, it pays to be kind.