Entrepreneur Beginners Guide
“People Don’t Only Work for Money”
Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it
for love of it.
—Henry David Thoreau, author, philosopher
I had it all wrong. I made a rookie mistake, but fortunately was able to correct it quickly.
When I started my third business, a college ‘magazine, I had no knowledge of the publishing industry. I just knew that several major companies were willing to pay me as much as $6,000 for a full-page advertisement. It only cost ‘me about $2,600 to produce the magazine. I planned to allocate about sixteen pages in the first issue to ads. 1 did the math and determined that with profit margins so potentially high, I would learn while on the job.
Neither did I know about the huge amount of work needed to produce a high-quality magazine. Thinking that the magazine could he published rather quickly, I set a launch date for one month after I decided to go into the publishing business and announced the date to the public. The month leading up to the official launch was one of the most stressful times I can remember. My small team and I worked hard.
To make a long story short, the magazine launched on time, and it was a huge success with readers. It was a great feeling to walk around campus and see students reading my magazine by the thousands. However, the huge profits I estimated before launch didn’t materialize immediately. It took a few years for that to happen. The profits were low because my payroll was too high.
When I started the magazine, I thought that paying my staff was the honorable and logical thing to do, as if I were a fully developed enterprise. I didn’t expect the students to work for free. Why should they? I assumed that they would work with me because they would appreciate the extra spending money. I was wrong.
As the magazine grew in popularity, we had more writers inquiring about positions. I had reached my budgetary limit but decided to let some writers work for free. Ironically, the writers who worked for free were often better than those we paid. It didn’t take long for me to make an adjustment. I eventually learned that the student writers didn’t care about money, They had enough spending money from Mom and Dad. Instead, they wanted the experience, college credit, and most importantly, college clout. As writers for the hottest publication on campus, they instantly became influencers. This influence was especially appealing to under-classmen.
Before long, I wasn’t negotiating or even mentioning payment with writers anymore. Instead, I was negotiating perks like back-stage passes to concerts, class credit, a chance to interview Janet Jackson, a trip to MTV’s Spring Break, or a stellar job recommendation. I leveraged the magazine and the many perks that came with it to recruit top talent.
Through this experience I learned that people are willing to work for things other than money. In fact, some people actually work harder when they don’t get paid. If you can find what makes them tick or align your goals with their passions, you place yourself in a perfect position to draft them and keep them on your team. I mistakenly believed that because I was young and inexperienced, there was nothing I could offer them of value other than money. I was dead wrong and literally paid a price for it.
Before determining what you will pay people for their services, stop and think about what you can offer them instead of monetary compensation. Chances are you have something that they want, and you can use that as leverage.