People have asked me how I have grown my business as quickly as I have. I think it’s because I’ve built my business on my values. Two of these predominant values are community and service. I think the reason I’ve been able to gain traction in my business this time around (I used to own a wedding planning business) is because I’ve been intentional about leading with heart and supporting others instead of pulling for just the bottom line.
But let me get this out-of-the-way. If you’re a business owner, YES, you’re going to worry about the bottom line. You’re in business to make a profit – you’re not running a non-profit. However, you can make a living while providing a service, or creating a product that is driven by your community and putting them first.
What Does Service Have to Do With My Business?
We’re not talking about volunteering, although that’s a noble thing to do. The service I’m talking about it being helpful, informative, and supportive to others in your network. Some of these individuals might be clients, some might be “competitors”, and some might be newcomers in your industry.
You can support and cheer on others as you build your business. In fact, I highly encourage it! When you build your business, you might find yourself thinking, “how do I climb up to the next rung on the ladder?” You might look to others above you to see how they can help you along – that’s what leaders should do, right? So you might reach out to them and ask “can I pick your brain?” STOP RIGHT THERE. Not so fast.
The leaders, especially ones who have influence and are effective at their jobs have extra limited availability to sit down with you to let you pick their brain. Most likely, they’ll feel like you’re just another one of the crowd trying to get a piece of them.
What You Should Do!
My FIRST rule of service is: Never ASK for anything without OFFERING something first.
If you’re interested in somebody enough that you think you can learn something from them then do your homework! A quick google research can yield some interesting things about a person. Don’t be creepy but definitely know about what they do, what programs, courses, products, services, etc, they offer. Take a guess on a pain point they might have (something that they might want solved) and see you could help them resolve it. This could be either by you helping them directly, or by connecting them with somebody who you know can.
My point is, don’t ask them to pick their brain, ask them to provide you with content, or think about helping you without making it clear to them that you’re part of their tribe and that you want to help them in some capacity.
Give to your peers. These people KNOW how you feel in business. They’re at the same level as you. But here’s the thing. You have different skills, talents, and experiences as your peers. Be supportive, offer advice, lend a compassionate hand, offer a perspective that might be different.
I do this with my accountability buddy. We support each other through the great times as well as the tough ones. We’re honest and open. We cheer each other on. We also give freely on what we have to each other. She helps my through technology crises and social media meltdowns. I help her with thinking through options and by strategizing around different challenges. Let it be a win-win relationship!
With people who are newer than you are:
Because you know how hard it is when you’re starting out, be the person who you wanted to have when you were starting.
When you have an opportunity, share your knowledge freely. Create content and be available to others. Don’t hoard knowledge and keep it to yourself so that they can’t “catch up to you” quickly.
I suggest giving back to communities that have given to you. This allows you to be known as a generous, kind, and understanding leader in your community. People are more likely going to come to you for your services and expertise when they see that you’re kind and the type of person that one would want to do business with.
Why Serving Others Makes Sense in Business
No matter where you are in your business, you’ve got the power to be helpful to others. Encouragement, support, connections and your unique wisdom are tools you should use to help up-level other people’s game. If you use this mindset, people will notice your actions that ultimately will result in sales or in a reputation that result in conversions down the line. It’s not always immediate but it’s sure rewarding. It’s like getting paid for being a good person.
Yes, it takes time to nurture and serve a community, but if you’re not getting traction or if you’re struggling to make a name for yourself, or if you’re feeling lonely at the top, what’s stopping you from leaning into other people?
HOMEWORK: What will you do to be of service to others? Who will you help and encourage today?