We live in a society obsessed with bigness, especially when it comes to business. (Bigness in business: try saying that five times fast.)
Each day we're bombarded with mantras, mottos and maxims imploring us to be a big cheese that thinks big, sees the bigger picture, earns big bucks and makes big waves. Everyone should aspire to be a big shot and a big name, hit the big-time and make it big in the big leagues; a big deal with bigger fish to fry. Whilst this is true to an extent, I believe it's important to give rightful focus to small business too. This is when you set aside a little time to work on client projects that don't make you much cash, but which you believe are worthwhile. For a short time each week, you get to say "bugger bigness!"
I have a couple of clients that pay me for one hour each month, so I'm charging them for just 60 minutes' work every 43,200 minutes. When you put it like that it hardly comes across as effective, but that's only if you're judging it by time spent and money earned. If instead you judge it by service delivered, it becomes a different story entirely. See, we're talking small, independent businesses that are passionate about what they do, have a limited budget and need a helping hand in areas that they find challenging. What takes me an hour could take them far longer or, more likely, is something they'd never get round to doing, which could have a detrimental effect on their brand. Suddenly that hour's charge no longer seems paltry, and its necessity becomes as clear and tangible as monthly services that are charged in the hundreds.
This next part may sound contradictory as it revolves around financial benefit, but it also helps to put a material value on small business over a longer term. Whilst an hour per month isn't much in itself, over the course of a year it pays for my accountant to do my tax return. And that's just one client; another paying me the same amount will cover the costs of a print run of business cards, Dropbox Pro membership and my subscription to Death to the Stock Photo. Very handy indeed.
So the next time a client offers you work with a tiny budget, I suggest you look beyond the immediate invoice and take into account other merits. You may well find yourself appreciating every piece of business that little bit more, which can make a very big difference.
Author: Rich Sutherland, @beardybiscuits