In my earlier article, An economy grows when everyone earns an income, I laid a basic foundation for some of the things that I had burning in my mind for years. I had vocalised some of these things before. Not many people listened.
However, the repercussions have begun to hit us and now stare us in the face. Hopefully, more people will pay attention this time.
I will not blow my trumpet here, but suffice it to say that I have been in the tech scene since 2002. Some of you who are reading this were in Secondary school then. Bear that in mind.
For a while, I did not see the problem either and I was a part of it. However, it soon became clear that the freeway was leading nowhere. Nowhere good.
Years ago, a craving for freebies hit the young people of our nation, Nigeria. Whether it was due to years of suffering or feelings of being defrauded or simply the base human selfish tendency, we began to want things for free.
We wanted free mobile internet, free PC software, free mobile apps, free calls, free websites – free everything, if possible. I warned about that craze. I preached. But no-one listened. It was fashionable to get freebies, and we dove into it.
What we did not know was that someday, it was going to backfire and blow up in our faces.
Consider the following:
- How many software developers in Nigeria today are making significant sales?
- How many mobile app developers are making a living off their apps?
- Have you noticed the aversion for paid seminars and conferences – except when employers sponsor their staff for such? Free events are in, especially in the tech sector.
Nodding your head? Yes; all these are products of our years of developing and/or fanning an appetite for free.
Somehow, we must execute a U-turn and begin to develop a culture of paying for services again, even if its a small fee. Then, we must progress back to the point where we are willing to pay a premium fee for better quality of service.
The state of our startUps and SMEs
Shoot me all you want, but the consequences of our love for free are staring us in the face. StartUps and SMEs that can’t generate sustainable income litter the landscape. Why? People are not willing to pay for services. They want free.
But don’t forget that it is only when each individual is paid for services rendered that our economy grows. For now, the Nigerian economy is on a backward roll.
Young people are flocking out of our higher institutions with great zeal and great ideas. But who will they sell to? A population that is addicted to free?
I will pursue this crusade passionately, for I daresay that the future of this nation rests on this paradigm change. We cannot thrive on free!
Taking a Stand
I encourage you to take a stand. Put a price on your skills, services and products. Make the price affordable, if you will. But do put a price. Say no to “free” services (at least until you can afford to give out the occasional freebie).
Take a stand. Let that stand say something like the following:
- I will not speak at your seminar for free
- I am not available to anchor your event for free
- My expertise is not available for free
- My time is not available for free
Yes; we can work out convenient fees and all, but if you are not paying, don’t call me.
I have nothing against free services, but if you are giving out free services, you must have a strong, sustainable alternative source of income. If that alternative source does not exist, a freebie/freeware model is an exercise in futility.
Like I said to Jesse Oguntimehin today at “Mobility Towers”, simply getting more people to use your service and/or product doesn’t mean much if they use it for free. More people paying zero for your services equals zero returns.
When we all take that stand, then we ALL begin to earn, and then this struggling economy can begin to truly grow.