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Do You Give Away Too Much Free Information?


Most accounting professionals genuinely want to help others. Because of that, some people freely pick their brain for advice without any intention of paying for the information. How can you make sure you don't give everything away for free?

Apr 6th 2020
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Most of the accounting professionals I meet genuinely want to help others. Since they’re client-centered, they openly share information. Because of that, some people freely pick their brain for advice without any intention of paying for the information. 

If that’s been your experience, then you know this creates a dilemma. A part of you wants to help. On the other hand, some people take advantage of your generous nature. When that occurs, you wonder how to deal with this.

Well, let’s put a new spin on this. Go ahead and give away the store. Just don’t give away the entire mall.

Boundaries solve your dilemma.

Then there’s something for everyone, from free to fee. You establishe a guideline, defining the information you freely share and under what circumstances.

People will continue to seek your free advice. Now, you simply direct them to a resource.

Share Free Information

Does your generous nature hurt or help your business?

The answer is both. You gain visibility and build trust by educating others. Some of those people will want to hire you. It’s a fantastic marketing strategy.

On the other hand, generously giving away too much, and without boundaries, limits your income. 

Over the years, I developed parameters.

I’m happy to share information.  However, I don’t offer “pick my brain” sessions. Since my expertise is my highest value, I choose when and how to freely share what I know.

My content-sharing strategy includes:

  • Blog posts
  • Ebooks
  • Contributing to articles on specific sites like AccountingWEB
  • Videos
  • Interviews
  • Webinars
  • Speaking, in person and virtually
  • Strategy sessions

I intentionally share high value information, including actionable tips and strategies. 

Aside from the strategy sessions, these resources optimize my time. Either it’s leveraged, like speaking at conferences, or my content is passive. I create the video or article. Then, you can access it at your convenience. 

Three types of people seek out your free information:

  1. Do It Yourself (DIY): After learning what she needs, she fix her own things.
  2. Wannabe DIY: She starts out doing the work herself. Eventually, she gets stuck or loses interest. Be patient. Eventually she contacts you to finish what she started.
  3. Done for You: This client values time over money. She wants your solution, but doesn’t want to do it herself. It’s her nature to hire others. Because of that, she’s ready to pay for your services.

The DIY’s become clients, too, especially when she doesn’t have enough spare time to do it herself. Or, she can now afford to hire you.

The People-Pleaser Problem

Deciding how to freely share your knowledge differs from doing work without any payment.

During conversations I’ll hear, “Loren, I give away some work for free because I don’t know how to charge for it.”

What’s been your experience?

  1. Your income suffers when you consistently do work for free.
    1. You’re unsure about how to charge for some tasks.
    2. You don’t want to nickel and dime your clients.
    3. When clients ask you for things outside of your work agreement you forget to discuss a change order.
  2. Your frustration and resentment rises. Ever do work for free before she became a client, then found out she hired someone else?  Or, you sympathized with her current situation. And later you saw photos on Facebook from her recent trip to Hawaii.
  3. Self critical. Some clients take advantage of your services and don’t really appreciate your help. Because there’s no boundary, they take advantage of your generosity.
  4. Overwhelm and burnout exhausts you. You naturally share and give. Lately you started to question your generosity.

Fortunately, a solution exists. Go ahead and continue to share your expertise. Simply modify how to share your content.  Create guidelines regarding where and how.

When you strategically educate others, then everyone benefits.

You gain:

  • Visibility: Content, especially online, makes it easier for people to find you.  
  • Credibility: Freely sharing resources and information builds trust and authority, even before someone reaches out to you.
  • Profitability: Because of the internet, people often research their options first. With that in mind, create content which discusses the specific problems your clients experience and shares the solution. Some of those people who read your free information will eventually hire your accounting firm.

Yes, continue to generously give your information away. Along the way, educate people about your firm’s services.

Your Highest Value

Personal value influences all the decisions regarding your business. Others are more likely to recognize your full value, when you value yourself first. As a result, your self-worth directly affects your accounting pratice.

Even if you’re not as confident as you would like to be, it’s possible to develop confidence over time. Then as you connect with your value, you attract clients who appreciate and respect you.

  • Start with Awareness: Your expertise includes the insights and shortcuts you developed over time. What you know, and you’re process, is your most valuable asset. Your clients benefit from your expertise. Take a moment to list the five most valuable benefits your clients receive when they hire you. 
  • Create Your Boundaries: Decide how to freely share your information. Did you ever meet with someone for coffee and have them pick your brain without even bothering to pay for your latte? Or, reviewed a business owners books without charging? If these things irritate you, then set some guidelines to resolve this.
  • Define Your System: This advanced move, which I teach my clients, solves your issue. When meeting with potential clients, ask great questions. This transforms your consult into a value conversation. Think about the 2-year-old child who’s curious, persistently asking “why?” Your questions offer insight into her current challenge. By asking these specific questions, she’ll naturally ask how to work with you. With this approach, you enroll new clients without ever being salesy.
  • Talk Less and Listen More: Sharing too much information causes overwhelm. As a result, she postpones the decision to hire your firm. Instead of telling, start asking. Turn your consultations into value conversations where you ask great questions, then listen to her answers.

Give the value conversation a test run. Then, notice how they transform your consults. You learn so much from asking great questions. If you don’t like the sales part, then this is your ideal solution.

Remember: Don’t allow potential clients to pick your brain during strategy sessions. It’s not the time or place. Lead the conversation with specific questions regarding her circumstances.

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