The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away” has a couple of lyrics that make me think about the way I live my life and do business. I’m pretty lucky to be doing what I am doing and make a living at it. Still looking to spend more time on the dancin’ part of it, and better do that soon before my agility runs out.

“Lucky me swimmin’ in my ability. Dancin’ down on life with agility.”

At least I am interpreting these lyrics in this way. Not being the type of person who plans, but someone who has a bit of common sense and intuition, I ended up being able to carve out a living doing something that I enjoy. In fact, enjoy to the point where I don’t really consider it work. This gets to be an issue when I don’t take the time to dance.

Later on in the song, we come to this line…

“I can’t tell if I’m a Kingpin or a pauper.”

And there are days when I think I am flush – and other days when I wonder about when the next job is going to come in. But Kingpin or pauper, someone some time is going to ask us to do something for free, or for much less than our normal rate.

And every time this happens I don’t know what to say. When do we give something away? USA Today had an article recently by Rhonda Abrams, that has some thoughtful strategies on how to limit these business freebies and how to determine which to tackle.

Strategies: How to limit your business freebies

Giving things away isn’t really a bad thing and in fact, should be part of our overall business strategy. Although when I say the words “business strategy,” I start to wonder about my motivations. I have struggled with the idea that I need to be more altruistic in my giving, and not worry about how it might benefit my business.

But we DO get asked to work for free or for less than our rate, so we need to be able to respond to these requests in a thoughtful way. Especially when the request is coming from a “friend.”

In this article, she discusses some common questions and some possible responses. Questions such as:

“I can’t pay you, but you’ll get great exposure.”

“I don’t have budget for this project.”

“We’re a start-up and don’t have any money.”

“I’ll trade you.”

“We’re friends.”

“There are lots of other people who will do it for free.”

Check it out! This is one article I will be bookmarking.

And please excuse me now, I am going into the booth to do a little freebie – recording the pre-show announcement for a local community theater.