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When does friendship cross the line?

Have you ever had a friend or close acquaintance ask you for product or services from your business for free or at wholesale – whether it be Avon, Tupperware or a manicure? Recently, I was talking to an acquaintance and catching up on the past 6 months. I mentioned that I had published my second book at Christmas (she was aware of the first one). She seemed interested and asked how much it was. I said, “$7.” She replied, “Oh that’s pretty good. I’d like to get a copy for my grandchildren. But you’ll have to sign it” Sounds like a sale, right? I dropped by a week later with the book, signed it in front of her, and handed it over. There was no move towards her wallet. Just a big smile and a Thank you. That had happened to me twice before. Where it felt too awkward to ask for payment, then walked away thinking, “That wasn’t meant to be a gift!” This time I stood my ground. After all, she asked for a signed copy after learning the price. So I politely said, “That would be $7 please.” A look of bewilderment came over her face. “You wanted me to pay?” “Yes, I can’t pay for my printing cost by giving books away for free.” (Never mind my creative work and everything else that goes into a book). She reluctantly handed over the money, and I didn’t feel bad for asking. So if you do have a friend who has a small business, think twice before putting them in a awkward situation by asking them for something for free or at cost. They have a business for a reason.

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