Being a solopreneur or micro-nonprofit leader on a tight budget is generally a fact of life. So when someone offers free help for your business, it may seem like the best chance to get a leg up.
However, sometimes that help comes with strings or loyalties that actually harm your business more than it helps. Knowing when to let an opportunity pass is a valuable survival and growth skill.
Here are a few ways to evaluate offers of assistance and know when you need to fire a friend.
You have no access to the materials or say in the content representing your business.
Did they create a website for you that you can’t make changes to without going through them? Are they creating social media posts for you that don’t reflect your brand values?
This is your business, your baby. The buck stops with you. Your reputation is on the line, and if you don’t control the story that’s being told about you, you’ll find your business has gone off and left you behind.
They’re unresponsive or unwilling to make the changes that you need.
Whether it’s a spelling mistake or adding information about new products or services, assistance that doesn’t help is worthless. Beware of being used as a portfolio-builder or class project that’s going to be forgotten once the project is “done.”
The solution they offer isn’t right for your customers.
The offer could be amazing, the support is fantastic – but the product isn’t right for your customers. Consider what’s in it for your buyers. Does this fabulous thing serve them in a way that will make them happier to hear from you? If not, go ahead and politely decline.
Aligning yourself with things that don’t serve you or your clients is more of a waste of time rather than free help for your business.
They just want access to your list.
Your customers’ email inbox is a sacred place that should not be polluted with random crap. Your audience opts into your newsletters to hear from you about what they signed up for – not everything under the sun that you might want to send them.
If your subscribers ever open their email and wonder “who the hell is this?!” you have failed in your role as communicator for your business. This is even more dangerous as email marketing service providers crack down harder on users that are flagged for spam. When you are flagged while using their service, you affect the deliverability of all of their users – and you’re just not important enough to overlook that.
So turn down that offer to send free samples of miracle tea to your subscribers who signed up for marketing tips.
Free help that truly supports your business goals is hard to find, but it does exist. Just be sure to investigate and evaluate offers beyond the price tag. Your business deserves due diligence.