Yes, you read it right. Generosity in business when done right can lead to significantly sustainable growth and profitability. Stay with me and I guarantee you that it will make sense by the time I am done.
Let’s get a few things out of the way first though:
- Generosity in business is not altruism.
- Generosity in business is not discounts, free consultations or special offers.
- Generosity in business is not only about corporate generosity i.e. social and philanthropic activities.
Two years ago, I read the book ‘The Go-Giver’ by bestselling authors and successful businessmen Bob Burg and David Mann. It was one of those very good decisions that become pivotal moments in life. Read it if you haven’t or read it again if you have. My best part of the book is how it opens up with this paragraph – ‘Most people just laugh when they hear that the secret to success is giving… Then again, most people are nowhere near as successful as they wish they were’.
Semi-Spoiler Alert! The book tells the story of ambitious Joe who yearns for success. He is a true go-getter, though sometimes he feels as if the harder and faster he works, the further away his goals seem to be. And so one day, desperate to land a key sale at the end of a bad quarter, he seeks advice from the enigmatic Pindar, a legendary consultant referred to by his many devotees simply as the ‘Chairman’.
Over the next week, Pindar introduces Joe to a series of go-givers‘: a restauranteur, a CEO, a financial adviser, a real estate broker, and the Connector‘, who brought them all together. Joe quickly learns that changing his focus from getting to giving – putting the interests of others first and continually adding value to their lives – ultimately leads to unexpected results.
Now let’s talk about some of the results that are possible and the actions that can be taken to achieve these results:
- Helping Others Sets off a Chain Reaction of Service & Loyalty – Research shows that the desire to be generous is often a result of having been the recipient of generosity oneself. Give, give, give and then do really good work. Think about ways you can infuse giving into your business operations. One of my personal favourites and used in my business is having one or two line items on a customer invoice for which there is no cost attached. I promise you that your client even though they might not acknowledge it, will never forget it.
Bonus Tip: This must be done after the act has been done and not before, as that
- Be Positive, Passionate and Energetic in All of Your Interactions – Asides from the fact that nobody loves a Debbie Downer, and in a world where there is always something trying to steal your joy or give you stress – wouldn’t it be great to be the source of someone’s good mood? My team knows better than to go into an internal meeting or a client call sounding or acting like their cat just died. I do not care what business you are in but learn to suck it up and approach all interactions (internal and external) with gusto!
Bonus Tip: Make this a part of your organization’s fundamental philosophy and culture. Get external help even, if you can’t manage it on your own.
- Always Share Your Ideas and How-To Strategies in Conversations with People Who Might Benefit from Your Expertise – At owned or third party events as well as in every networking opportunity where you find yourself in conversation with others, please don’t be a hoarder. I am amazed at how at high profile events, I meet people who clearly want to get business out of the event but say things like ‘can I call you sometime within the next week to tell you more of how we can be of service? when asked clear questions about their work’. Errr!!! When I hear it, in my head I press one of those large buzzers that game shows use when an answer is wrong. Don’t do that! Deep dive into the conversation and give of your skill and expertise. Chances are if people see the value in what you are saying and they want to hear more; they would request the meeting and even pay for your time.Bonus Tip: This is not just an exercise for the C-Suite executive or business owner, make it a regular exercise that is practiced by all client interfacing team members.There are so many other things like not going into a client meeting with your phone so you are listening intently, completely focused on the words coming out of people’s mouths. It tells the customer that they are important and have all of your attention, as you don’t exude ‘busyness’ which makes them clam up and not share all their pain points, as they get the sense that you are very busy and are only taking the meeting because you want the business. The more a client opens up, the more business you can get out of the interaction.
One last thing, try not to approach all of this as a chore but a way of life, it might be tough at first but it definitely gets easier.
Do you already practice some of the afore-mentioned? Are you generous? How generous are you?
About Bella Ikeme
Bella Ikeme is a multipreneur, business growth and profitability enabler, a partner and catalyst for African businesses and entrepreneurs. She is the Founder & CEO of Caizen Business Development Company & Host of Business Banter with Bella. It is her unwavering belief that Africans have the ability to build successful legacy businesses that not only impact lives, but the socio-economic development of the continent. When she is not working, she is spending time with family and friends, reading, journaling or obsessively studying the Japanese.