The perks of working as a bookkeeper for free
Working for free is normally not advisable. This is because sometimes it indicates that you don’t value your services, that you’re overpriced, or that you’re inexperienced. (And if you were a permanent employee on a business’s payroll, it would be illegal.)
But there are times when working for free is a great idea; so long as it’s on your terms, and you’re calling the shots, so to speak.
A way to give back
Donating your time to a cause you’re passionate about is a great way to give back. The best part is, anyone, no matter their profession, can do it. Bookkeepers can provide some bookkeeping work to a local charity, designers can make up flyers, web developers can create a website, and so on.
Besides helping to make a difference, it’s a great way to meet other people (who might be in need of your paid services) and to let your local community know you care about it.
A way to gain business insights
When I ran my training business in Dee Why, I spent so much time promoting, marketing and converting people into customers that I got a bit tired of it! So I started up “Free Fridays,” where I would go to a local business and spend an hour or two doing some free training work. This gave me some excellent insights into how a lot of businesses operated — businesses that I’d been trying to promote and market my own business to.
I learned that a lot of businesses would want to pay for my time, and even though I didn’t let them, they would ask be back — paid this time — to keep learning. Usually, these businesses would become clients.
In many ways, my offer of a “Free Friday” lowered the risk to businesses that were already thinking about hiring someone to provide them with some training — otherwise, they wouldn’t have accepted the training in the first place, free or not.
It demonstrates market need
Sometimes, as business owners who spend a lot of time watching our industry, we forget that we’re often a few steps ahead of the mainstream market — or sometimes, worse: a few steps behind! — but no matter. Doing some free work to gauge what the demand is in the market for your products or services is a good way to re-calibrate, and get back on track.
If you’re trying to sell a service that the market doesn’t need just yet, strip it back a bit; simplify it, and try again. Likewise, if you find you’re out of step with changes to the market, due to new technologies or changing attitudes, look for ways to beef up your service or alter your product to increase your usefulness.
“Try Before You Buy” works
Sometimes called puppy dog selling, this strategy of giving customers a little taster of what you do, before they commit to sign on the so-called dotted line, really does work. Have a quick think of all the services you’ve used on a free trial — like Netflix, say — and continued paying for after the free period has ended. See, it works!
If you treat your “Free Fridays” as if they’re little taste testers or trial periods by structuring them in a way that gets businesses hooked, it’ll make your job of converting them into paying customers a whole lot easier.
Interested in starting a bookkeeping business? You’ll learn how to start a bookkeeping business and operate it on a contract or casual basis from your home office. And you’ll learn how to stay relevant in an ever-changing industry.
Join WorkFace’s Career Academy Program where you’ll receive mentoring and support as you grow your bookkeeping business. Learn more about the WorkFace Career Academy Program at the WorkFace website.