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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Questions?

If you have any questions about your health & wellness business, please contact me at regenoldlaw@gmail.com.

I know you already have a website, or at least a landing page, and you have your social media accounts, and probably have claimed your Google and Yelp listings. You might be wondering, “What’s the next step for my health & wellness business to grow?”

An Idea is Born

Emily Steele, founder of POP UP YOGA DSM

I’m so glad you asked because a few weeks ago I sat down with Emily Steele, entrepreneur, yoga instructor, president of FemCity Des Moines, and many other things to many people. About 4 years ago Emily became passionate about making yoga more accessible to people while displaying the different neighborhoods in the Des Moines metro area. She had worked in neighborhood revitalization, so she was familiar with neighborhoods the rest of us might drive past without noticing, as well as how income disparity prevents some people from attending yoga classes.  POP UP YOGA DSM was born!

POP UP YOGA DSM started small but developed a following. Emily added more instructors, classes, and sponsors. The outdoor summer classes not only showcase different locations around the metro, but also local businesses, as well as exposing students to a variety of instructors, who teach yoga classes in studios around the metro.

Fears Can’t Stand in the Way

Emily had the idea to create a program to educate other instructors about launching their own pop up yoga program but kept putting it off. Then she sat down with a friend who asked what was stopping her. She had all the skills and knowledge. Emily realized she wasn’t afraid of failure, she was afraid of success. That’s when she got over it and created an online, self-guided program on developing your own pop up yoga program, available here.

The Benefits

Why go through the effort of creating an online program like Emily did? Here are a few benefits you might realize:

  1. Gain more exposure for your business. Your health & wellness business is a personal service, which means you can only see so many clients/patients/students in a day. Providing an online service allows you to expand the reach of your business.
  2. Earn passive income. Broadening your audience also means you could increase your income. You do the work once by creating an online offering but continue to receive profits from it over time.
  3. Help others. Emily is a big believer in abundance principles, and rather than keeping the idea to herself, she created a program that allows others to create a similar one. Your unique experience and skills might benefit others as well, so why keep it to yourself?

Ask Your Network

Are you concerned you might not have the skills to take your business online? Talk to your network because I bet you know someone who can help you. And if you haven’t been networking as a business owner, I urge you to read my previous post on networking 101. By the way, networking is how I met Emily, and learned of our mutual love of yoga and entrepreneurship.

Questions?

Keep in mind there might be legal issues related to taking your business online. Please contact me at regenoldlaw@gmail.com if you have any questions about your health & wellness business.

We have a love-hate relationship with email, don’t we?  It’s an incredibly quick and convenient way to reach our loved ones and clients, but it can also feel burdensome when you open your account to see floods of unsolicited emails.

Spam Law

The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act was passed in 2003.  The Federal Trade Commission is charged with regulating commercial emails. You can read the FTC’s guide on commercial emails for business here.  Most businesses use services like MailChimp and Constant Contact, which implement these guidelines.  But what do you, as a small business owner, need to know about the emails you send?

Consent is the Best Practice

Sending unsolicited commercial emails just isn’t good business, even if it doesn’t violate the law.  The best practice is to make sure you have consent to add someone to your business email list.  There are two ways to do this:

  1. Direct consent. You obtain direct consent by asking if they want to be added to your email list. They may subscribe via your website, a list you have at an event, or on an intake form when they visit you at your office.  You can add a simple question, such as: “May I add you to my email list?”  If they decline, honor that.
  2. Implied consent. Agreement to be on your email list is implied if someone uses your services, attends your workshops, etc. While they didn’t directly consent, they have expressed interest in your services.  

The Dreaded Unsubscribe

There can be a lot of reasons people unsubscribe – too many emails or their interests change; however, some of the commercial email services will suspend your account if too many subscribers unsubscribe with the remark that they never subscribed in the first place.  Gaining consent first can alleviate that problem.

Good for Business

We all want to reach out and connect with our clientele.  Just make sure you do it in a way that respects them.  It’s good business to ask first.

Questions?

Do you have any questions about your email campaigns?  Reply to this post or email me at regenoldlaw@gmail.com.