I have a branding company. It is a business just like any other. People pay for our services and in return they get exceptional coaching, expertise, branding, networking connections, and websites. Earlier today, a potential client reached out to me asking for our services for free. I get this a couple of times a week and although I appreciate the gesture, I always treat these offers like a Shark from the show Shark-Tank would. If you haven’t seen shark tank, I highly encourage you to go watch it because it is the best show out there. The premise of the show is that entrepreneurs go to this show seeking funds for their businesses from the ‘sharks’. The sharks are millionaire investors who struck it rich by building their own companies in the past. The show actually teaches a lot of valuable lessons in business and entrepreneurship. It is run by successful entrepreneurs FOR real entrepreneurs.
Anyhow, my dream is to grow my company, Young And CEO, to be a huge success like the sharks. I want it to be Virgin big. I want it to be up there with the likes of Tesla, Apple, or Shark Branding. In order for me to get there, I have to be, act, and breathe like the people running these companies. It’s all in the mindset.
So when I received the e-mail from the potential client, I responded like Mr. Wonderful or Mark Cuban would. I have pasted the e-mail below; Let me know what you think.
“Dear Awesome Entrepreneur,
Thank you for being honest with the team and I. I understand your situation; we actually get approached by many people who tell us the exact same thing as you. You want us to invest our time, money, and expertise with you.
That is essentially what you are asking for, an investment.
I love entrepreneurship and I love what I do! I get to meet exceptional people like yourself and so I want to let you know that the only reason I charge for my services is because I have operational costs of my own in running Young And CEO as a business and because it is exactly that, a business. Do not get me wrong, the team does branding for many non-profits and organizations for free or at cost but they are for 501(c) 3 corporations.
My response to you is simply this.
All successful entrepreneurs know that in order to grow and be successful they must invest in themselves. Whether it is time, with a coach, or in gaining new expertise and experiences.
Commitment to yourself and your goals as an entrepreneur sometimes may be monetary. Many invest in classes, marketing, web designers, or mentors. We at Young And CEO realize this and we are a solution for entrepreneurs and executives out there. We offer coaching, expertise, branding, web design, SEO, marketing, and more because we are good at it. We are the solution for limitless potential. Entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs.
I am not sure if you watch Shark Tank but it is one of my favorite shows. On this show, many entrepreneurs go and pitch their businesses to multi billionaire investors (Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Barbara Corcoran, & Robert Herjavec).
They are looking for a trade. They showcase their company and their achievements and are looking to exchange a portion of their company to not only get an investment but also the expertise from one of the ‘sharks’ on the show. They are willing to part with something they have created or built in order to get an amazing coach on their team and grow it ten or twenty fold.
All of these entrepreneurs are ready for the next level of commitment and realized that they must invest in their company and their vision. These entrepreneurs are serious about going to the next level. Are you? It seems like you might be because you came to us.
When you are ready for the next level of commitment and ready to invest in yourself I encourage you to start the conversation with us once again but we cannot offer our services for free at this time.
We do have free resources available and more available on our site (and if you sign up for our newsletter) at http://www.youngandceo.com.
We are also constantly hosting events in various cities and we would love to invite you to join us. We have a branding class starting soon that we are launching in 2014. Give us a like at http://www.facebook.com/youngandceo for all of these updates.
Let me know if you are willing to continue our conversation and we can work something out.
Just to be clear, I am not asking for money up front or anything of that sort but we do ask that you keep in mind that business is business and all of our branding services require an investment from you (just like Shark Tank). I’d love to help you out when I can but I have many clients I am currently working with and devote my time to.
Keep up the good work.
Wishing you the very best,
Founder & CEO, Young And CEO”
To sum it up, I believe that when asking others for help or for free services, you must have something to offer. I have seen countless people go on Shark Tank and well, TANK, because their business wasn’t fully developed or at the right stage. The investors care about their return on investment (ROI) the most. As a business owner, I also invest in each and every one of my clients (like a shark would). I treat their business like it is my business. I am highly selective with who I work with because I pride myself in doing an amazing job and I can’t do that If I do not like what I am doing.
With that being said, my advice to all entrepreneurs out there seeking investments from Shark Tank, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Angel Investors, or accelerator programs, is the following. Be READY. Do not ask for something when you cannot offer anything in return. It is the same premise as with ‘networking’. The first question you should ask before EVER asking for anything is “How can I help you?” or better yet “How can we help each other?”
Always know what you stand for. Be prepared to defend your business and answer difficult questions that you might not anticipate. People on shark tank spend DAYS memorizing a two or three minute pitch to showcase their business with calculated precision and shine in front of investors. ALWAYS act like you are in the shark tank and you will have no problem when sending an email or calling a potential investor or partner.
This is why I run and operate like a shark. I call it the Shark Tank method of running my company and I apply it when dealing with potential partners and investments. Maybe it will work for you as well. Keep innovating my friends!