Guest post provided by, Joshua Fadley.
Benevolent business practices. Giving back. Charitable contribution. All of these are modern vernacular for a simple, yet critical concept – incorporating the helping of others as a core principle in your strategy and the foundation of your business!
It’s sad that so many people never have the opportunity to learn how important this is. What’s worse still is that there are very few models out in today’s business world demonstrating this from whom we can learn this on our own!
In this era of corporate dysfunction, irresponsible leadership, and government bailouts, the focus is far too often placed on the bottom line. Now, don’t get me wrong, without adequate revenue generation and expense management a company cannot continue to exist. That being said, however, far too often companies attempt to guard their bottom line at the expense of their stakeholders (i.e. their employees, the community members of their markets, etc.
The great thing is that you don’t have to sacrifice any part of your bottom line by focusing on giving back. In fact, it can actually help you!
So how does this help business leaders and entrepreneurs trying to step out and make it in this world?
1. It takes something to get something
All religious beliefs aside, it seems to be a universal concept that you get back what you give away. Whether it’s tithing or any other principle, anyone who’s tried it can see that when you are willing to part with something rather than hoarding it (especially money!) and you give it away freely to others, it comes back to you in larger and more effective quantities.
2. It grows your character and skill
When things are tight, it’s often most difficult and less natural to be generous. And let’s face it, most of us don’t have much money when we’re young, and even less if we’re trying to start our own business. This is when we should be most generous! If we can make giving (time, money, resources) a habit in the lean times, it will most certainly be a habit when we are amply situated. Being generous improves your character.
It also builds skill – it makes us more resourceful. If we know that we need to get by on less, then we become much more creative in accomplishing goals and tasks. It develops our self-confidence and ability to get things completed regardless of the situation, and these are useful skills throughout our personal and professional life!
3. It’s a great way to test new products and services
Whether trying out new wording/content to determine its effectiveness, trying out a new technique with customers, or attempting to implement a brand new product, working with people outside of the target market gives us the ability to be creative and get general feedback on the change, without as high of a risk of disrupting your regular customer base.
4. It’s a great way to differentiate from the competition!
We have to look no further than Tom’s Shoes. I know some people are madly in love with them and they’ve done a great job of moving their product from a simple Argentinean regional shoe to now having many more styles and looks, but for the first few years of their existence they weren’t exactly the most fashionable pair of shoes in the world. What played a large role in their boom? People knew that by buying a pair of shoes they were, in turn, giving a pair of shoes to someone who really needed them. I personally know many people who have bought a pair of Tom’s and have never worn them, but they liked the idea that they could support a company that was also supporting people in need.
You may be saying, that’s great, but how do I do it? It’s actually relatively easy and the payoff is tremendous! Next week we’ll look at practical steps to effectively implementing a “giving strategy.”