A friend of mine, Erica Peskin, recently asked me to look at the language of a webinar she was preparing for her life-coaching business because I’m a freelance writer and editor. A few text exchanges soon turned into a long phone call. Midway through the conversation, Erica asked, “Should I pay you for this?”
I stopped. “Maybe,” I said, laughing. But I did not press the issue. After hanging up, I replayed the conversation. I hired Erica, who is 49, for her coaching four years ago, so we had previously exchanged money for services. And if I want to be successful as a freelancer, I can’t always provide free work. Yet when Erica suggested the possibility that we move from a friendly perspective to negotiating payment, I resisted. Why?
“If you’re a freelancer, and you’re good at what you do, your friends will want to ask you for help,” said Blair Glaser, 54, an executive leadership coach in Los Angeles. “And then if you’re a generous person, and giving comes natural to you, you’ll want to give it to them. “So what happens in pro bono work is that the roles start to get confused.”
Somewhere in my conversation with Erica, we transitioned from a friendly collaboration to a more formal editing of her work. But I was not ready to talk about money.
I enjoy working with friends and want to learn how to cross the boundaries between doing work as a favor and charging a fee. I talked to various people who have worked with Friends — personal trainers, graphic designers, real estate agents, and consultants — as well as some of their client friends. Overall, they agreed that working together can be beneficial to both sides as long as the parameters are clear.
The bottom line, “There should be a healthy reciprocity,” Ms. Glaser said. “Otherwise, there will be some kind of resentment that will sour things at work or in friendships.”
when to talk
“The biggest takeaway from this conversation is that when an issue comes up, there is a moment of panic,” said Kavita Pandit, 66, an executive trainer in Athens, Ghaziabad. Something to do with friends this year after retiring from Georgia State University and founding my own business.
When a friend calls for career advice, Ms. Pandit explains that she offers structured sessions at a fixed minimum rate and is willing to negotiate pricing. “It’s important to have that language in your pocket to start that conversation,” he said.
Pausing and restarting the conversation is one of the most powerful tools we have when discussing the topic of money with a friend, said Nafasi Farrell, founder and principal advisor of Narratives Unbound, an education and consulting company. As the instructor of the Trauma of Money course, an online financial literacy program, Ms. Ferrell, 32, approaches money from a trauma-informed perspective, which includes recognizing when topics like money evoke deep physical and emotional reactions.
“Just spend a moment with yourself,” she said.
Many of the entrepreneurs I spoke to said that if they found themselves asking the kind of questions or giving advice in client sessions, they would stop to relish an informal, friendly conversation between friends. For example, Ms. Glaser will tell friends that she’s happy to explore a topic in more depth in a coaching relationship, but otherwise she’ll just listen. If she and a friend decide to work together, whenever she feels the need to say something outside of a scheduled session, she’ll use language like, “I’m talking to you right now as your coach.” Will use.
what to charge
Almost everyone I talked to charges less for friends and family. Ms. Glaser offers a 20 percent discount. Others interact on a case-by-case basis, depending on things like the closeness of the friendship and the financial situation of the friend.
Ms. Pandit has also given coaching sessions as gifts to friends, or asked them to donate them to a charity of their choice instead of paying her. “It’s not like you have to exchange money to make it official,” she said.
My friend Erica talks with every potential client, including friends. She advises people to come up with “an amount that is significant enough that you can take your investment seriously, while not making it impractical.”
Sometimes, friends insist on paying full price, which is what happened to Justin Miller, 42, a nutrition and lifestyle coach at Nerd Fitness, which also offers personal training. When he asks friends to choose between a full-price 12-week coaching contract or a looser verbal agreement, they choose the contract because they want more accountability in the relationship.
Ms. Farrell usually charges her friends full price for her financial coaching, but she may give them a discount if she knows their financial situation is tight. However, she pointed out that women of color like her often need to resist the urge to discount their services.
“One thing I hear all the time is that I can’t charge more because I’m stealing from my community,” she said. “Women of color, we give all the time. That practice of receiving is what we really have to practice.”
Amy Weitzman, a real estate agent in Massachusetts, always asks herself why a friend wants the discount before giving it to them. “I really try not to give anything from a position of zero,” she said.
She has often struggled with the perception that she is just handing out brochures and hosting open houses – not, as she explained, researching the markets and negotiating deals.
“I deserve financial stability,” Ms. Weitzman, 47, said. “So I don’t want to make a choice that would dilute it, even if someone likes me because they know me as a friend.”
Barter is a popular method among many entrepreneurs, especially if they are just starting out and have low disposable income. However, many people I spoke to found that in-kind payments can be far more complex and prone to situations that breed resentment. A graphic designer who charged $30 an hour decided not to barter because a masseuse who charged $90 an hour told him she would charge three hours for a 60-minute massage. Design work has to be done.
how to deal with conflict
Ricardo Tejeda, owner and operator of Show & Tell Creative, a creative agency in Asheville, N.C., used to make informal verbal agreements, but not anymore. “Everything is a contract now,” he said.
As a former musician, he has helped many friends in the industry with their promotional material. “I was a broke artist who had to do all the work and didn’t have a budget. So I understand it,” he said.
Still, he was willing to stop and chat with a good friend who had received “highest discount” when he noticed scope creep, a term used when work on a project begins to exceed agreed upon parameters. . “I had to remind them of the agreement,” Mr. Tejada, 39, said.
Communication and conflict navigation coach and consultant Alyssa Berkowitz recently had to chase a friend down for payment. Ms. Berkowitz, 40, initially felt the contract was not necessary, but then several months passed without payment. Given his line of work, he had a knack for picking up topics.
“They didn’t feel like if they made me wait until I was like, ‘Yes, there will be consequences, there will be consequences. And that would be that I would never work with you again, and that would be our Could affect the relationship,” Ms. Berkowitz said. The friend agreed to pay by credit card.
Ms. Berkowitz is also waiting for payment from her friend Kaitlyn Lynch for coaching her through a conflict with a mutual friend, but she’s not as worried. For one, Ms. Lynch, who is 39, has asked several times what payment method to use — something they had not previously agreed on because there was no contract involved. Ms. Lynch’s baby is 9 months old, so “I can only handle two phases at most,” she said.
enjoy working with friends
There’s a saying that friends and money don’t mix, but the reality is that money touches all of our relationships, and working with friends can be beneficial.
First, trust and shared experiences between friends can make collaboration more fruitful. For Ms. Lynch, working with Ms. Berkowitz on a dispute between a mutual friend was an easy decision, partly because Ms. Berkowitz understood how to appeal to her friend to maintain the relationship. Additionally, working around Ms. Lynch’s unpredictable schedule as the mother of a newborn, Ms. Berkowitz could be flexible about when the sessions would take place and their length.
I chose to work with Erica because, as friends, we had already had conversations about many of the issues that came up in our coaching sessions.
For Mr. Tejeda, working with friends whose values and viewpoints he respects gives him confidence. “Morally, you’re going to be united,” he said. They also noted how important friends can be for referrals.
Plus, there’s a joy in helping a friend. Erica contacted me because she respected my talents, a recognition I appreciate. Why wouldn’t I want to share my gifts with my friends? And if I can figure out a way to “invite the money question into the space in a nurturing, loving, and caring way,” as Ms. Farrell encourages, why not get paid for it?
“We are all weaving new dreams in the world. So who do you want to be a part of that dream?” Ms. Farrell asked. “It is not necessary for him to be a stranger; He can be your best friend.”