Tuesday, January 21, 2014

There’s Still Hope: "Economically Viable Projects"

Giving your work for free?
Conversations about "how much should I charge for my professional services" has been around us throughout the whole life and happen in almost all professional areas, especially those where the price to pay for someone’s services is at the discretion of the one who offers, and is a discussion that can last for many hours, and even more when you gather representatives from both sides: the "selling cheaper I can get more customers" side and its counterpart, the "I’m not working for free" side.

As for me, I completely identify with Oscar Del Santo’s opinion in his blog post, entitled "‘All in two hours’ or how to discredit internet professionals"(in Spanish) and I identify myself, first as a deep defender of market freedom: each person does with his knowledge what he wants and sells it at the price he wants, and I also put myself completely on the side of those who try to protect and recognize the value of professional knowledge and experience.

And if each person has the right to do whatever it wants with its knowledge, it’s also true that that person has to bear with the consequences of its actions, whether these only affect that person alone or harm others who, on the same token, are also engaged on the same professional activity, thus generating a negative reputation for “the offender”.

What do I mean?

It's time to take on only projects that are "economically viable"

It's a statement I have been very familiar with for most of my professional career but took a very nice turn for me when heard it coming from a beloved friend, Patricia Sánchez Pardo, while we’re having a couple of beers and “tapas” with Pilar Perez Baz and her husband, at Santiago de Compostela.

Listening to an extraordinarily prepared and young professional like Patricia, who is truly a specialist in these issues of digital marketing and so forth, say that she’s not willing to get involved in projects that aren’t “economically viable", at her age, and during times when the things we see more frequently on the market are offers like "All in just two hours" as shown in Oscar’s post, or "All for 50 €" truly lit up my day and filled it with new hopes.

It’s necessary to vindicate the value of your work.

And I'm hopeful because I continuously see that this desire to restore the value of people’s work, professional training, the hours spent on a specific project, the value added to each of your clients after you offer them your expertise and advice as a consultant in the area of ​​your specialty, is becoming increasingly present not only in casual conversations as the one we had in Santiago, but also in specialized blogs like Oscar’s.

And that means a change is on its way.

But what do we mean by "Economically Viable Projects"?

It’s a project that is considered, first economically feasible, one that can be accepted and implemented, therefore can also be considered profitable. In short: the time investment you will make in such project will produce an amount of money that is in accordance with what you expect to receive in exchange for your professional value or, in the case of a company, to the professional value of it’s team.

Does that sound too complicated? Well, it's very simple indeed.

Like all products in the market , you have a tag price.

And it’s true. Like anything else and all products in the market, there is a price you’re expecting to charge for your professional work, which usually translates into an hourly rate , or a fee per project, it’s basically the same. 

If the money you're going to charge for a project, or the salary some company is offering you is well below the one you’re expecting, then the project (or the job offering we’re referring to) is not "economically viable" for you.

All things, all products, including yourself as a service provider, have a price below which they can’t (or shouldn’t) be sold. Give it a try. Go to a car dealership and tell them you want to offer € 5000 for the model they have on display, which is tagged at € 15,000.

It’s not going to happen, believe me. Maybe you can get through and negotiate a rebate or a discount, but you will not get them to accept the price you’re offering simply because such offer is well below the minimum price they can accept for it.

Well, in your professional life, it happens the same way.

Unfortunately, there will always be someone who’ll do it for less money than you.

As there will also be someone who charges more money than you do. And that’s the freedom I was referring to at the beginning of this post. Following the same thought process, on job interviews you will always be told (especially during these hard times) "You know what? There are at least fifty more people behind you who are willing to work for the salary we offer or even less"

Your offer me what you feel like. I accept it because I need it badly.

And it is the sad game we're seeing today out on the street with companies offering ridiculous salaries, clients who want you to do the job for even less money than they would pay for having someone to polish their shoes. 

And unfortunately there are those who are willing to take those offers and give away their work or even work for a miserable salary. That not only harms the industry and the economy as a whole, but also harms themselves.

I understand, I really do, there are thousands of reasons, a lot of them, to lower prices and thereby try to get more customers, especially during the crush we are living, and there are also a number of reasons to accept jobs with salaries so low than in normal circumstances, you would even consider them as a disrespectful action towards you as a professional.

But remember that by accepting such situations, you will not only hurt the industry you’re working on, but will also contribute to get clients (or employers) used to always seek for the cheapest labor regardless of the professional value of each prospect, and also, your projects (or jobs) hardly would end up being "economically viable projects” for you, meaning they will never be profitable, neither allow your company to grow.

And what about the job you accepted for which you are being paid a salary that barely allows you to pay your electric bill and monthly apartment’s rental rate? Would it help you build a better world for you and your family? Will it help to reactivate the economy by increasing purchasing power of ordinary people?

So from this corner of the world, my little space to share and chat, I join my voice to that of those who recommend "to always get involved in projects that are economically viable" and let others fight for scraps. If you come across a client who does not really value what you’re offering, then that is not a client for you.

I recommend you reading Oscar Del Santo’s post (in Spanish):

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