Last week I coached a client who is a marriage and family therapist toward a new program to help moms who are suddenly working from home AND locked up homeschooling their kids. I suggested this because everywhere I looked, I saw moms struggling. I heard them asking for guidance, support, tools, tips, and information. And I knew this client had each and every one of those things to offer… in massive abundance.
So I told her to create a program.
She told me she felt she should do it for free. She felt guilty charging for her services—she worried that people would say she was “opportunistic.” She runs a single-person business. Without sales, she has no business.
I urged her to price fairly and give incredible value. But NOT to give her services away for free.
Yet still, when she developed the program and offered it to her colleagues to share with their lists (all of whom are serving women who would benefit from exactly this kind of service) she had the very push-back she’d hoped not to hear. The push-back was filled with moral judgment about what she “should” do in “times like these.” About what was an appropriate time to wait before selling. And about how she shouldn’t “take advantage.” (She also got some enthusiastic “YES” responses.)
And for a moment… she wavered. But I told her what I KNOW to be true. And I want to invite you to the same truth—in this moment—if you’re even HAVING A HINT OF A THOUGHT that it’s immoral to run a business in a crisis.
I’m gonna go right ahead and call bullshit:
I have seen multiple posts on Facebook and in groups suggesting to entrepreneurs that we stop pitching or selling during Coronavirus. Or that we should “put a pause on asking” for any arbitrary amount of time.
IF YOU OWN A BUSINESS, FEEL FREE TO IGNORE THESE POSTS.
We work to survive. We are not the Red Cross. We do not have donors or grants or government support. It is not a moral edict that we should turn our businesses into charities.
Be useful. Be kind. Be of service. Be fair.
Selling your services during a time of crisis is not opportunistic. Buying 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and re-selling them for $20 each is. Raising your prices for essential items is.
Selling your services during a time of crisis may be more difficult. There’s noise. There’s sorrow. There’s sensitivity. There are giant swaths of people who have taken financial knocks.
There are also new challenges for people to face. New opportunities to serve. New problems to solve. New holes to fill.
We provide strength, support, information, products, guidance and strategy that are vital during times just like this. When you “put a pause” on your business “because you can,” you send a signal to your clients that they should do the same. And you must realize they may not have the same privilege.
Instead, MODEL the selling behavior that the world needs right now.
Sell your products and services ethically.
Be mindful. Be kind. Be strong. Be compassionate.
Be a leader.
And tune out the noise and the messages that provide arbitrary moral codes and judgment. Do your thing. So you can come out on the other side still having a thing to do.
More to come on all of this.
With so much love,
P.S. Nike is not giving away running shoes. Netflix is not streaming for free. The bookstore isn’t handing out free copies. The idea that folks think small business should operate for free—or take a time out—is a pretty entitled idea. Ignore that judgment. We don’t have time for that.