Using Three Laptops at the Same Time

It’s inevitable. Whenever you go into business for yourself, whether it be opening up a floral shop or trying your hand at some freelance writing, you will encounter someone in your life who expects to get a discount because they already know you. Also called the “friends and family” discount, they fully expect that you won’t charge your regular rate. Why would you? We’re friends, right?

On some level, this can be perceived as true. Whenever family came to visit the restaurant that my family owned, it was understood that they wouldn’t have to pay for their meals. We are close and it is a part of the mutual generosity, assuming that we would be provided with the same courtesy should the tables be turned.

For instance, I didn’t pay for the portraits that my cousin took of me. There is one very critical distinction here though: my cousin extended the offer to me and I accepted. This is vastly different from a random family member or friend approaching the service provider, whether it be me as the freelance writer or my cousin as the professional photographer, and fully assuming to get a discount. Or even not pay at all.

I’m willing to do some small things for close family members and friends for free, but I expect the same courtesy to be extended back to me in kind. The challenge, then, lies in determining who should get the “friends and family” discount and who shouldn’t. This can be a very touchy subject.

Friends who I have known for years, having grown up with them in school and hung out with them after school, can ask for favors from me, just as I can ask favors from them. On the flip side, a casual acquaintance that I met one time at a trade show two years ago likely will not get the same treatment. I think that’s fair. At the same time, I reserve the right to pick and choose the projects I take.

For all the freelancers, consultants, and other self-employed individuals in the audience, how do you handle the friends and family discount? Do you offer “a deal” to just about anyone? Are you steadfast with your standard rates?