When I taught Health & Wellness Biz 101 last month, one of my students had a great question about when or if you should give your services away for free. Is it an effective marketing tool when you’re starting out or growing your business? This is one of many questions you’ll have when you start your own business, which is a great reason to have other business owners and/or a mentor to discuss it with, as we did in class.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
Opinions may differ, but below are my thoughts on giving your services away for free. I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments.
- Be selective. When you start a business you’ll likely have more time than money, so it’s natural to think that providing free services is a great way to fill your empty calendar and bring in new clients. It is a way to fill your calendar, but it also may take up a lot of your energy, which will leave you with less energy to find paying clients. And people may not value what’s free. I suggest being very selective about how frequently you give your services away, so that you have energy to market yourself in more effective ways.
- Understand your motivation. Ask yourself, why do I want to provide my services for free? You could be receiving something of value in exchange that isn’t money. It may be that you want to volunteer your services for a cause you believe in and that feels rewarding for you. Or possibly you’d like to improve your skills by volunteering at an event, whether it’s your bodywork techniques or the way you interact with people. That’s a means to add value to your paid services. It could also be a way to network; by volunteering your time you can connect with other professionals in your industry who are doing the same.
- It’s not always a deduction. When I began my yoga and massage business, event organizers were often asking for gift certificates to include in silent auctions and the like. They’d tell me it’s a way to market my business and get a deduction. It wasn’t. If you’re donating a service (like a massage or class pass), you are truly giving your time away for free. This is not a tax deduction. If you donate a product, say a basket of spa products, you can claim a tax deduction for the price you would’ve sold it for. Please check with your tax professional to ensure you understand what you can deduct or not before donating your products or services.
If you have any questions about your health & wellness business, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.