Dave Wood is a life coach who supports marginalised, disadvantaged and troubled people from a diverse range of backgrounds. A finalist in the IPSE Freelancer Awards 2015, he helps people recover from issues such as abuse, addiction and mental health problems, to move forward in life.
I was approached to provide life coaching services to inmates of the prisons owned by a leading UK prison provider, on the basis of working for free.
After meeting the prospect at an event I was hosting, I was contacted about an opportunity to offer life coaching to prisoners in their units. However, it soon transpired that the company was asking me to work for free, claiming that they did not have the budget to pay for my services.
Instead, they suggested I partner with a charitable foundation, to raise funds for the project. This would mean that I could be paid for my services, at no cost to the company. On expressing my surprise at the suggestion, they responded that other service providers regularly agreed to this arrangement.
I informed the prospect that I was not prepared to take money from a charitable organisation, so that a multi-national, profit-making company could avoid paying for the services they intended to use. After all, it would essentially be taking money from the poor to give to the rich, to line the pockets of their shareholders.
The situation was eye-opening, but an important learning curve. It reinforced my beliefs that it’s important to charge for a service of value, and that clients who do not value your services aren’t worth your time.
I was shocked that other freelancers had agreed to the proposition, and it taught me that you should follow your own gut instinct – not what other people believe is right or acceptable.