Sunday, December 7, 2014

Entrepreneurs Who Give More, Get More

There’s nothing wrong with being a little selfish.

When you own your own business, you have complete responsibility for all of its operations. You have to look after their own best interest first and foremost.

But the more generous you are with your time, energy, and expertise the easier it will be to accomplish your personal goals. The more you give, the more you get.

Don’t believe me? Keep reading and I’ll explain.


Helping People is the Key to Success

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s a common misconception that in order to get ahead in business, you have to lie, cheat, steal, and otherwise step on a lot of other people on the way up.

That may be true in the corporate world, but the opposite is true with most businesses. The more people a company helps, the more people will patronize that company and share it with their friends and colleagues.

“The easiest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want.”

Deepak Chopra

The more value you provide, the more you’re worth. So focus your business effort on helping other people and businesses succeed.

People Tend to Return Favors

There are certain rules that we all follow.

In Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini discusses something that he calls the rule of reciprocation. According to Cialdini, “The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us.”

I’m sure you’ve felt that powerful sense of obligation when someone goes out of their way to do something nice for you. You feel instinctively compelled to balance the scale with a return favor of your own.

This feeling of indebtedness goes back to the earliest stages of human society, when people began sharing resources and skills in order to thrive. Today, there’s not a single human society that doesn’t follow the rule of reciprocation (according to the research of sociologist Alvin Gouldner).

How can you apply this in your business? Go above and beyond when working with other companies. Provide a service for free or promote them without asking for anything in return. When the time is right, those businesses will do whatever they can to return the favor.

Giving opens up your Network

Nothing has contributed more to the growth of my personal business than my network. Almost all of our clients have come from personal connections or referrals.

The larger and more powerful your network, the easier it will be for you to achieve success. But how do begin making meaningful connections – especially with people who are higher-up on the food chain than you?

One way is to make an introduction to somebody in the form of a generous gift.

I can tell you a story about this method of networking that illustrates how it can be effective:

A couple of years ago, the website of an influential technology blogger was taken down by a hacker. The top-tier blogger was lamenting his site’s crash on Twitter when he received a message from one of his followers.

The follower was a young programmer and he had decided to look at the website to see how it had been hacked. He presented the blogger with exact instructions for how to prevent another hacker from taking the site down in the future.

That advice was worth thousands of dollars to the blogger, but the programmer didn’t ask for anything in return. Instead, he earned himself a high-profile connection. You can try the same thing to establish valuable new business relationships in your field.

Word Spreads Fast

Doing business is commonplace. It happens every day.

Being given something is a little bit more exceptional. The exchange becomes a story that we’re more likely to share with friends and colleagues.

Just last week, I was given a stick of Bruce Spruce’s “man balm.” A few hours later, I found that I was telling my friend about receiving the lip balm. Without even realizing it, I was doing word of mouth marketing for this company.

A good story is also at the core of journalism. As you read this, thousands of magazine and newspaper writers are frantically searching for a story to meet tomorrow’s deadline.

Every business would like that next article to be written about them. Periodicals have huge readerships, so being featured in one generates new leads and a burst of traffic to your website.

But offering a product or a service for a price isn’t much of a story. Giving away that product or service to a worthy cause, on the other hand, is much more newsworthy. When your business takes part in a charitable deed, you increase your chances of being featured in the press.

So if you’re looking to raise your profile, try giving back to your local community. Not only will word spread about your business, the story will be about making it a positive impact.

Karma

“No man who continues to add something to the material, intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives is left long without proper reward.

Booker T. Washington

Karma is an ancient Indian concept that links a person’s actions to their destiny. In western culture, it’s often understood as “what goes around comes around” or “you reap what you sow.”

Some people seem to think of karma as a spiritual scoreboard that keeps track of our every deed. Everything we do, good or bad, is perfectly accounted for and dealt back to us in time. If this were true, then we could just give, give, give and then sit back and wait for karma to come calling with a heap of great stuff in return.

You may not believe in karma as an all-knowing spiritual force, but you have to recognize that events are not isolated. When something good happens, it tends to cause more good things to happen, which in turn cause even more good things to happen… and on and on and on. Unfortunately, the same is true of negative events.

When you realize that events are interlinked, you begin to realize how important it is to be kind and compassionate in your daily life. If you’re always doing good actions, then your whole life will be surrounded by patterns of positive events. Even though you may not always see the benefit of your good actions, you will have good karma overall.

Giving Makes You Happy

When we’re happy, we’re more productive. As entrepreneurs, we’re the engine of our businesses, so it’s especially important that we stay happy and productive.

One measurement of happiness is the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Natural methods of raising serotonin involve exercising regularly, eating certain foods (e.g. almonds), and performing acts of kindness.

That’s right: making other people happier makes us happier.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

Dalai Lama

Next time you’re feeling down on your business, try giving a little bit of time and energy to do something nice for somebody else.

It Makes the World a Better Place

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Anne Frank

Up to this point, all my reasons have gone back to personal benefit. I’ve tried to explain how acting in the interest of others is really acting in self-interest. In other words, I’ve been appealing to that always-loud voice in our heads that asks, “What’s in it for me?”

But the best reason to be a more giving entrepreneur isn’t selfish at all.

As entrepreneurs, we have a great deal of power. We have the resources of our businesses, our online platform, and we have our personal skillset. Together, that means the capability to bring big ideas together and turn them into realities.

The world needs entrepreneurs – and the more of us who are actively giving our time and expertise, the better place the world will be for everyone.

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