How to Stop Giving Away Your Time and Working for Free

Stop Working for FreeA friend of mine recently spent an entire day volunteering her services as a retail consultant for a small shop owner who couldn’t afford to pay her. She sorted inventory, rearranged displays and even helped with pricing strategies. As I sat listening to her talk about the job, I wondered why we agree to such things. Why do intelligent, successful women give away their time and work for free?

We like to believe it’s because we are generous. We have a heart for service and we know God calls on us to care for others. So we are ready and willing to take on whatever task is asked of us. I’m guilty of it, too – I’ve agreed to far too many lunch requests with someone who wants to “pick my brain.” And I’ve offered my writing and marketing services pro-bono for dozens of organizations – each of which has a noble cause. Why? Partly because I want to. But often because I feel I have to.

When someone is in need, we help them. That’s what we do, right? That’s just the way it works.

Not exactly. I want to remind you that it doesn’t have to work that way for you. YOU don’t have to be the one to step up Every Single Time something needs to be done. And you certainly don’t need to say yes when you’re asked to give away your time and professional expertise.

Trust me – I know you have valid reasons for saying yes:

“It may lead to something bigger.”

“They can’t pay me now, but if I do a good job, I’ll be the first one they call when there is money in the budget.”

“It will look good on my resume/portfolio.”

“It’s my duty to help others in need – I’ve been blessed and I want to give back.”

“If I don’t do it, nobody will.”

There may be an element of truth to your reasons but I’m going to challenge you to say no anyway. I want to encourage you to keep your priorities (rather than the needs of others) at the forefront of your decision-making. I know that sounds selfish but it’s really more a matter of staying focused.

Giving away your time and talent is a wonderful way to serve others – as long as it doesn’t derail us from God’s plan. If you are constantly putting your own business or ministry (or worse – your family!) on the back burner while you help others, then you’re not really living your purpose.

Sometimes our desire to help others is a distraction or procrastination technique. It prevents us from doing what God is calling us to do. Because it’s easier to be in charge of the silent auction for the third year in a row than it is to write that memoir about finding Jesus and healing from addiction.

If you really want to be a good steward of all your gifts, then be wise in the way you share your time and talent. You just might discover you have more time to do the things that matter most. And – you may even improve your bottom line!

Five Ways to Stop Giving Away Your Time and Working for Free:

1. Run the Numbers. Decide on a percentage of your product or service you will provide pro-bono and don’t go above that number. For example, if you are a portrait photographer you may decide to offer one day of your time per month to a local non-profit.  If you teach a course or workshop then you may offer a certain number of scholarships for every 10 paying students. Once you choose a reasonable number and start tracking your time, you’ll feel better about saying no to additional requests because you’ll be able to quantify the pro-bono work you are already doing. [Read more...]

Do You Belong Here? A Peek Inside the Sisterhood of Christian Mompreneurs

Survey Results IGOne of the things I love most about what I do is getting to know some pretty fabulous women. When I stepped out in faith to create the International Christian Mompreneur Network, I was placing a call for help. I was reaching out to other moms just like me who were feeling overwhelmed and isolated as they juggled the challenges and joys of running a business while raising a family. These ladies answered my call for help and formed an extraordinary circle of support and encouragement for me and for one another. They’ve developed friendships as they’ve grown their businesses.

But lots of women wonder if they will fit in. They send me emails saying:

“My children are all grown and out of the house. Am I too old to join?”

Or…

“I don’t really have a business…it’s more of an idea right now. Can I still belong?”

Or…

“I’ve got a J-O-B but I hope to start my business soon. Is this the place for me?”

My answer is YES! Of course, you belong here! But sometimes it’s good to see the data – so you can really learn about the women God has placed in our lives. So, here’s a peek inside our circle.

The ladies in the Sisterhood of Christian Mompreneurs:

  • Live in 21 different states in the United States and one Canadian city.
  • Are older than you might think, with 57% of us in our 40s.
  • Have 2 or 3 children living at home – some more, some less.
  • Want to learn about a variety of different topics to help grow their business or ministry.
  • Take advantage of our private Facebook group for networking and support as well as our monthly group calls, opportunities to promote their businesses, training webinars and more.

(Keep in mind, these are just the ladies in our Sisterhood group. The full membership of the International Christian Mompreneur Network is even more diverse – with members from all over the world including Australia, United Kingdom, India, Philippines, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Nigeria and more!) [Read more...]

Five Scripture-Based Gifts of Encouragement for the Mompreneur

God created youIf I could give a gift to the mom who is launching her first business…to the woman who is writing that first blog post…to the mother who is ready to make a change in her life and career…I would give her this: the ability to see herself through the eyes of Christ. With all the expert advice that’s so easily uncovered via Google and Amazon, I think perhaps the best business tip I’ve learned is to see what God sees in you.

Call it a lack of confidence or fear of the unknown, but too many of us mompreneurs are not living up to our potential because we’re simply not seeing it. I know this because I’ve lived it. I’ve watched opportunities come and go because I didn’t believe in my ability to succeed. Because I defined myself by the success standards of the world – and not by the natural gifts I took for granted. I can find myself feeling this way again, if I’m not careful.

And I know this to be true of other moms because they share their stories with me. I hear from women all over the globe who are excited about building a business or launching a ministry. Faith-filled moms who are ready to step out and do what they are called to do. But they’re feeling less than qualified. They’re feeling discouraged by their lack of credentials or experience. They’re feeling ill-equipped for the task at hand.

If any of this sounds familiar, I want you to know I understand, because I’ve been in your shoes and I’ve lived with your doubts. I want to share with you a few words of encouragement I’ve come to rely on when I’m feeling less than confident. [Read more...]