“Give to gain.”
I’ve heard this phrase used many times in business as a means of encouraging people to give, so they can get back.
I hate it.
I hate it because it’s inherently self-focused.
Yes, the more you give away the more it is likely you receive in return. But if that’s your goal – if your every thought is bent on what you’re going to receive and how much – then your giving will let you down in the end.
At the Profitable Firm, one of our pillars is generosity – because it’s the right thing to do.
Because we love giving, and helping, and because it’s inherent to true service.
We’re here to serve accountants, not simply “provide a service” to them.
Generosity is core to our marketing
Giving, and giving things away, is core to our marketing.
We give a lot away for free – webinars, training sessions, education, content, ideas, guides, videos – because our primary goal is to help you: even if you never become a client. I’ve spoken with accountants who love what we do, but decided that they preferred to work with someone who is round the corner from them, or a client, or a personal contact they have. That’s absolutely no problem.
Part of generosity means not holding tightly to any prospect on our database: we’ll explore doing work with you, but if after those conversations and discussions you decide that you want to go elsewhere, we’ll wish you well. We might even help you find the right person.
Generosity doesn’t only include giving money
Individually and as a team, we make a particular point of giving to charitable organisations we are involved in. Sometimes it’s money, sometimes it’s services, and sometimes it’s my personal time. I’ll meet up with a friend to discuss business ideas or concepts or problems they have. I’ll reply to comments in online forums and slack communities and give my expertise to the best of my ability. I’ve started running “PF Business Model” webinars to explain how we run things at the Profitable Firm – simply because I’m asked about it so much and by so many people.
Generosity means going a little above and beyond in paid services
We still charge fees for our services at the Profitable Firm – and I won’t kid you. Our prices aren’t cheap. We’ve invested massively in our team, our skills, our systems, and the work we deliver – and we believe that “the worker is worthy of his hire”. Naturally if you feel the same way about the work we do, you’ll be glad to pay it. And if you don’t, that’s no problem – there are loads of free things you can take and use and ask about and be involved in.
But for our clients, generosity means that from time to time we throw in a little extra. Maybe we quoted you for 3 revisions and you needed 5. Maybe you had a really hard day and you need some cake. Maybe you’ve invested a lot and it’s time for something beyond what you’ve paid for. We do our best to stretch ourselves as needed to go beyond if you need it.
The key with this generosity is that there’s no rhyme or reason to it. We don’t have a list of free things we give away on birthdays and that’s it. It’s about knowing who you are as a person, and what matters to you, and connecting with you in that part of your life.
Our clients are generous, too
The firms and people who work with us tend to be generous, too, because like attracts like.
I’ve seen this often especially with accountants. It encourages me greatly to know that most accounting firms are excellent at giving: they really care about their clients, family, charitable causes, and more than simply ‘doing business’.
Those are the kinds of people and businesses we get on with, and so we have a lot to talk about – beyond social media and websites and marketing and new leads.
You can’t fake true generosity
We’re living and working in an age where everything is visible and observed. Aspiring employees know that what they’re posting on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter is bound to be discovered by their potential employer, and it’s hard to hide on social media who you really are. The words you use, the places you frequent (or don’t), the attitudes you have towards the people around you – all are apparent and tell us a story about who we are.
This principle of visibility applies to your giving, too. Not only what you share or give away, but how you do it, is made evident to those around you. And those around you are more than you think.
Recently I had the opportunity to see the northern lights on a late night drive near Perth in Scotland. I posted a few photos on Instagram and Facebook. For the next three or four days, almost every personal email I received or online meeting I held started with, “Ohhh, you got to see the northern lights! That’s so amazing! What was it like?” and then we had a conversation about it.
The interwebs are full of ‘lurkers’. People who read what you say and see what you share and pay attention to what you’re doing, without telling you at the time that they’re doing it. Recognise that if your giving is constructed in order for you to gain, to get back, to win, to be impressive, the world will pick up on that.
If your giving is simply to give, they’ll see that too. And the right people will love it.