Monday, June 19, 2006

Turning Free Time into Cash

Got your attention, didn't I?

A similar title caught my attention while reading Entrepreneur magazine this month. Basically, a savvy entrepreneur prices his consulting services on a flat-rate, project basis for his clients. Because of this, he needs to be exceptionally good at estimating the hours needed as he could easily lose money on a job. Conversely, when he doesn't have current work or projects finish early he has excess capacity that represents lost opportunity and revenue. That's when this guy gets creative.

He gives away his free time to local non-profits. Talk about a win-win: the organizations get the help they need and the business reaps the benefits of being a good neighbor and showcasing its talents.

OK, I hear you saying, "Pro bono - that's not a new idea. Mediators are always volunteering!", I agree. ADR professionals do a lot of free work, and that's a really good thing. Here's an idea that puts a unique spin on pro bono.

Why not offer some of your excess capacity to a local business in exchange for being paid with the savings you create?

Envision a non-profit that's struggling with a failing relationship between a supervisor and employee. Saving that relationship and restoring order could potentially save the organization thousands of dollars in recruiting and training costs.

What if you could ask that those savings be earmarked as your "compensation" for resolving other issues that you'd no doubt learn about during the assignment. Or, use the savings as a way to persuade the organization that working with a mediator could be valuable over the long term (paid work, of course). True, you might not get your regular rate, but for those starting out, it's nice to say you're a paid mediator.

Take this idea and use it as a spark for more creative uses of your time. And, for goodness sake, please let me know how you make don't call or write. What's a mensch to do?!

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow.


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