Often, we entrepreneurs are obsessed with accumulating material things -- more traffic, more customers, more money.
The most vocal and fiercest critics of capitalism, Karl Marx, shouldn’t be blamed. He was right when he called our obsessiveness for wealth and profit as “primitive accumulation.” Worse, our obsessiveness over wealth and profit is a never-ending game.
But there is one ritual that can help us get out of this energy-intensive, long, tough, competitive enterprise: Generosity. It’s not just about giving, this act of kindness. It’s about the extraordinary feeling of gratification it brings to the giver.
So, to help you make sense of your business’ mission and vision, I have a short story that I want to share with you. It’s all about three reasons why being generous is critical to your business success. Let’s get right to it.
1. Generosity begets contentment.
Looking at it on the surface, the act of giving doesn’t make much sense.
Why on earth should a business founder give away her company’s products for free to some strangers thousands of miles away? Why should you donate a sizable chunk of your profits to a charity organization?
But when you critically dissect it from the inside, you’ll found out that being generous is not only about losing a sheer of your products. It’s not about being favorable to some folks and doing a disservice to your venture either.
It’s quite the opposite.
If you give your physical product or a share of your profits to someone, you’re actually doing a personal good to both yourself and your beneficiary. The act of giving “doles out several different happiness chemicals,” says Stephen G. Post, director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at New York’s Stony Brook University, “including dopamine, endorphins that give people a sense of euphoria and oxytocin, which is associated with tranquility, serenity or inner peace.”
The act fills your heart with doses of contentment.
- If you sell oranges and give one to a needy, the act fills your heart with joy.
- If you sell design services and offer free service to a charity organization, the act fills your heart with ecstasy.
- If you sell SaaS products and offer free content to your audience, the act fills your heart with happiness.
And the happiness and the ecstasy and the joy will motivate you to do more. For all the wealth and authority he commands in the blogging world, Jon Morrow, the famous blogger and founder of Smart Blogger, derived more joy from the lives he changed than from the millions of dollars he makes.
When a reader emailed him that he was planning to commit suicide but reversed his plan after reading his post, the Smart Blogger founder says, “…I feel better about that than all the money I’ve made in my life.” He continues. “I set out to write a post that would affect people, and it did, maybe in the biggest way possible.”
Why? Because generosity is such a contagious act. The more you give, the more you get.
2. The more you give, the more you get.
When you offer a freemium service to your potential premium subscriber, charge $0.00 for your drop-shipping business, or give out your 300-page ebook for free to your new blog subscriber, you’re not losing a sale. You’re building a strong relationship with your prospective customer. You’re building a solid connection with your audience. The connection will help your buyer to not only get to know you better, but admire you and trust you.
Whatever you sell, whatever you stand for, if you want to stand out and reap more rewards, you have to give more. The receivers of your gift will give you more in return. The return -- or what I called a “giving investment” -- might not come from the person who enjoys your freemium service. It might not come from the lady who benefits from your free delivery offer. It might not come from the community of fans you helped through your ebook. In fact, the remuneration might not even come sooner than you expected.
But it will come. And you’ll reap the reward. All of it.
“When I started out as an entrepreneur several years ago,” Sean Lourdes, entrepreneur and founder of The Lourdes Foundation says, “I sought an effective way to grow my brand as well as increase customer loyalty. But I later realized that giving is the greatest marketing tool. It turned me into a brand; empowers me to change the world.”
And that brings me to my most important point.
3. Giving doesn’t just build your business. It changes your world.
When you give out something for free, you’re not only opening the gates of the word-of-mouth advertisement for your startup. In reality, you’re inspiring your audience. You’re building your community. You’re changing your world for the better. Give out some funds or books to a person or your local community. The items you give out will do much more than put a smile in the person’s face. It will directly contribute to improving their life.
Take the concept of crowdfunding, as an example. Bright people with bright business ideas looking for funds to power their startup. On the one hand, the entrepreneur who puts his dollars into a project is making an impact -- they’re part of the global system of fundraisers changing our world one dollar at a time. On the other, the person at the receiving end will get the chance to build their business and change the world. Sure, that will motivate them to give as well -- when they get their business ideas off the ground -- and the engine of giving back continues to recycle.
The best part?
You don’t have to grow your ecommerce startup to Amazon level before you start to give back to your community. Anyone can give, no matter how little and insignificant your startup is. And if you think you’re not “ripe enough” to give, Dalai Lama has a sarcastic suggestion for you: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”