In Star Trek, the Ferengi are a commerce governed race of aliens. Rather than laws, they live by the Rules of Acquisition, many of which are good sound business advice such as rule number 59 – FREE ADVICE IS SELDOM CHEAP.
It seems that anything free is going to cost you more in the long run than you would have paid to have it done in the first place. We have all found free software, free legal advice, free anything is eventually going to cost you a pretty penny, usually in time and frustration. Free can often be completely wrong for the situation you are in.
There are some exceptions to this, such as on-line collaboration software. One of my favorite websites is www.freecycle.org – it allows you to find a Yahoo group in your area of people who do not want to go through the hassle of having a garage sale and have good items that someone can use or you can post a request for something you need. We got our dog on Freecycle because her owner’s kids were allergic to her. She is the most expensive yet rewarding free thing we’ve ever acquired.
Remember that giving something away that is of use to them is also a good way to start a business or personal relationship. However, you need to be careful that if you are offering a free product for your business it is truly free and is of value. If you are seeking these free products such as ideas on marketing or tax ideas you must be aware and check that the source really is accurate. These free products are often a good way to evaluate if the paid services being offered will be of value to you and your business.
Free is never without a price, be that time, energy, money, or research to make sure it is accurate but free can lead you to the people you really do need to help in your business, or to that special dog you will pay anything to keep safe.