Volume 3 Issue 4 Featuring World Trade Day

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No such thing as free lunch

We’ve heard this phrase many times before. It always sounds so good when asked, “Hey, how’s your schedule look next week? I’d like to take you to lunch.” Really? Sweet! Now, I’m just as much a sucker for a great meal, at the right price (free), but what did I really just agree to?

The request seems harmless at first, but let’s take a closer look at what is really happening. If we include travel, conversation, ordering and eating we are giving up 1-2 hours of our day. What does that say about how we are valuing our time? While our lunch may be free, our time certainly is not. Time is the one thing we cannot create more of, although we often catch ourselves saying we wish there were more hours in the day. Would we need those extra hours if we did a better job of placing a higher value on our time and what we use it for?

The other issue is that we’re not placing value on our knowledge. A friend recently told me that when asked for his expertise, he would tell people, “My opinion is free but my advice will cost you.” That statement really makes it clear that he will tell you if he likes or dislikes something, but he won’t specifically tell you what he would do to make it better. By giving away too much free advice, we’re devaluing the knowledge we’ve worked years to build.

So how do we make better use of our time and give away less for free?

One way is to see how flexible people will be around your schedule. Let them know places you will be presenting or networking and see if they will show up at something you will already be at. This will save time and keep the conversation short and to the point. It will also show how committed they are to meeting with you.

Another option is to meet over a morning coffee on the way to your office. This cuts down on travel time, and typically I find meetings over coffee last half as long as a lunch meeting.

It’s great to be able to help out other business owners when you have the opportunity. Just be sure to always keep in mind that giving away too much time or knowledge for free will keep you from focusing on your core business and growing your company.

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