How Service-Based Entrepreneurs Can Give Back Without Going Broke

“You can’t make a change if you can’t stay in business.” – Daymond John, Founder of FUBU and SharkTank panel member.

Have you ever had line, just a snippet of conversation, that wedges itself in your subconscious like a splinter? This is exactly what happened as I was watching Shark Tank last week.

The entrepreneurs pitching the sharks were well intentioned with a brilliant idea. Their business model incorporated a way to make money and give back. By the questions you could tell that the sharks were interested. The problem: The entrepreneurs weren’t charging enough.

Now of course this is Shark Tank. So you might be ready to defend the purpose-driven entrepreneurs who didn’t want to raise their pricing to satisfy the demands of capitalistic greed.

But this wasn’t about greed.This was about building a sustainable business model.

The sharks could all see what the entrepreneurs were unwilling to look at: there was no way they would be able to sustain their business over time with their current pricing model. Their unwillingness to invest in the business wasn’t about greed, it was about survival.

As the wishful entrepreneurs exited the room, you could overhear Daymond John saying: “You can’t make a change if you can’t stay in business.”

I immediately began to think of many of the brilliant women that want to make a change, but don’t stay in business long enough to make the impact they desire. Another line from Daymond John, hints at where the problem may lie:

Shark Tank business

There’s a way to give back without going broke

OPTION #1: Go back to your day job and give back through volunteering.

If you are not interested in making money consistently, this is the perfect option. You can feel safe because you have steady income from your job while giving back on the side – all without the pressure of having to step into the role of entrepreneur.

OPTION #2: Give back by investing your time.

Stop discounting you rates and undercharging because you think your prospective clients can’t afford you. Why? People find money to invest in what’s important to them. And by constantly offering a discount you are teaching them to expect they will never have to pay full price. Focus on attracting clients who are able and willing to pay you. Then set aside a specific number of pro-bono hours each month or quarter that you will offer to those who can’t afford to invest in you. No more than 2-3 hours.

OPTION 3#: Incorporate giving back into your business goals.

I have a list of clients who really wanted to work with me, but had no way to make the investment. If they are someone I really want to help – I add them to my Pay It Forward List. Every time I book five clients, paying at my full rate – I offer 1 hour of coaching to someone on my pay it forward list. The request is that they pay it forward to someone in their network.

It would be awful to spend so much time focusing on making a difference that you had to go back to working a nine-to-five because your business couldn’t support your lifestyle. If you could have made the same impact in your day job, there would have been no need for you to step out as an entrepreneur.

Any of the three options listed above will allow you to reach more people, change more lives, and grow your wealth. I encourage you to really look at your calling and decide which option will empower you to give back with out going broke.

Tai Goodwin

My name is Tai and I am a recovering Christian, truth seeker, and storyteller. I write about education, spirituality, culture, mental health, and womanhood from the perspective of a black-american woman. I struggle with depression; most days I win, some I lose. I also collect books and occasionally read them. And I believe that our words have power.

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