How often do you have someone who sends you an email with, “I have a couple of quick questions.”

As you read their questions you quickly realize it will require a fair amount of time to respond to all of them.

Wanting to be polite, the temptation is for you to respond. It’s not that you shouldn’t respond, but you need to know where to draw the line.

One or two questions is fine, but beyond that, you are giving away your services.

If you’re serious about building your business and having people value your time, you have to be able to say no to many of the inquiries that come your way.

This morning a client of mine asked me what she should do with an email someone sent with over ten questions they wanted her to respond to. I suggested she let this person know what her consulting fees are and offer to set up an appointment.

The more of an expert you are viewed as the more likely you will receive these types of emails.

Years ago I received an email from a gentleman with one simple question. I was happy to respond to his question as it took less than a minute to do so.

Then came another question. I responded to that. By the third question I wrote, “We are now moving into consulting. I would be happy to set up an appointment for you.”

He wrote a scathing message that went something like this, “I can’t believe you won’t take time to respond to my questions. You said you help people, but you’re not much help to me. You’re full of crap and you say one thing and do another.”

I had to laugh at this. For him to assume that I would continue to answer his stream of questions with no compensation is not at all realistic.

He obviously had no intention of ever paying me for my services. Based on his angry response I took him off my list. I didn’t need his anger, energy or unwillingness to respect my time.

Have you ever received these type of emails or phone calls? How have you responded? Did you give free consulting so as not to appear unfriendly?

Fact is, you will upset some people when you tell them no. Fact also is, if you want to grow your business you must set boundaries. Sure, it’s okay to answer one or two questions, but then you also have to be willing to say no.

If this happens to you, here’s a very simple response you can send:

Thank you for your inquiry. You have outstanding questions.

These are the types of questions I work on with my private clients.

I would be happy to set up a consulting call with you.

My fee is $____ for this.

Here are my available times for a session.

Here’s what will likely happen. The person will never respond to you. They will respond with a message saying they were not trying to get free consulting, but then you will not hear back. They will set an appointment.

A couple weeks ago I got a message from someone wanting to know about marketing his book. The way his message was worded indicated he wanted free consulting.

I told him that I charged for this kind of service. He responded by saying he wasn’t asking for free consulting.

We set a time to talk and one of the first things he said was, “I don’t have much money and would like you to work with me for a percentage of what I will sell.”

Folks, in most cases, this IS free consulting. For someone to have not made any money up to this point and want you to give your time, efforts and energy to their project with no financial investment on their part is not realistic.

When you get these types of requests you have to set boundaries. You have to be willing to say no. You have to state your fees.

The reason many emerging entrepreneurs fear doing this is they don’t want to appear not being nice.

Let me ask you this, “Would you rather be nice or broke?”

I’m not saying to be mean to people, but as with the man who got upset when I said we were moving into consulting, he certainly didn’t think I was nice. Personally, I don’t care.

What I care about is helping my clients get results. When they do, I go from them liking me to them loving what I was able to help them accomplish.

Author's Bio: 

Kathleen Gage: Receive Power Profits 101: Must-Dos in Marketing
to Make More Money This Month Than Your Entire Last Year! FREE video

Kathleen works with consciously focused speakers, authors, coaches and consultants helping them to build six figure businesses by packaging their knowledge so they can reach more of their market, impact positive change and create multiple streams of revenue.