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Better to give than to receive.”
Most children learn the importance of generosity from their parents. As adults, most of us know it’s good to give. But the child inside us may still ask why sometimes. After all, as the owner of a cleaning company startup, you know well that sometimes the resources run thin.
“Because it’s a good thing to do” may not seem like a good enough answer to the question, “Why give?”
So, is there something more to generosity?
It turns out there’s much more. Generosity is part of the hardwiring in our brains. We know it the same way we know honesty is the best policy, or one good turn deserves another. It’s part of our DNA, and it’s even practiced among animals and insects.
Studies have shown that chimpanzees will even help out humans in some circumstances.
Scientists call it “prosocial behavior,” and it’s key to relationships and society.
Generosity applies to business too
For some, it’s not just part of doing business – it’s the way they do business. It’s not just a tax shelter but an adventure in caring.
Dan Norris is an Australian entrepreneur who launched a successful marketing agency by giving away marketing information and advice. There were podcast interviews, special reports, blog posts, or even shout outs for his competitors. You name it, Norris gives it away.
So, by the time he published his first kindle book (free for the first week, of course!), it immediately surged to #2 in the small business category on Amazon. He credits all that generosity he applied early on for creating the groundswell of contacts and business opportunities that has led to his successful career as an entrepreneur.
As Dan puts it, “Generosity is a legitimate strategy. And yes, it does scale.”
Can you afford to give?
We read stories about generous, wealthy people, and it’s easy to think they can afford to give because they have so much. But what about those of us who don’t have so much?
Well, according to an article in Psychology Today, those who have less money or resources give more. A study found that those who consider themselves lower on the socioeconomic scale were more generous. Not only because they care more, but also because they empathize more with those who struggle.
Similarly, among businesses, the smaller players are more generous. According to SCORE* (the Service Corps of Retired Executives), small businesses donate 250% more than larger businesses. Evidently, these small biz owners think they can afford to be generous, so what do they know that the nongivers don’t? Maybe it’s more what they feel than what they know.
It’s that empathy thing again.
“I have always empathized with people who have it tough in life” – Chuck Feeney.
Meet the James Bond of giving
Fortune magazine calls Chuck Feeney the “the James Bond of giving.” For the last four decades, he’s quietly given away billions. And he did it anonymously until a business dispute revealed his identity.
Feeney recently signed the closing documents for Atlantic Philanthropies, a foundation he secretly created over 40 years ago. Since then, he’s traveled the globe, funding projects from Vietnam to New York. If you’d seen him during this time, stepping off a plane (always traveling coach) or train, using a plastic bag for his books and newspapers, you would never have guessed what he was up to.
But this elderly, ordinary-looking man in his worn blazer and cheap Casio watch was in the process of going broke on purpose. He didn’t just give away all of his personal wealth. He gave away much more – over 300,000% more – than his net worth. By applying some business savvy to the cause, he gave away a total of $8 billion.
Feeney says, “…it’s a lot more fun to give while you live than give while you’re dead. Try it. You’ll like it.”
Bill Gates and Warren Buffet started their Giving Pledge after being inspired by Chuck Feeney’s story. As of now, over 200 people have pledged billions.
This kind of inspirational giving causes what’s called the ripple effect. And you don’t need billions to start one.
Create your own ripples
There’s more than one way to give. Odds are, as a cleaning service business owner, you may not have pallets of cash lying around, but you have other opportunities.
Be creative. You don’t have to look far to see ways you can help out.
Your local food bank could use some donations or help with stocking or distributing the food on hand. With the necessary COVID precautions, you could even create a team activity to help out.
Consider sharing some of the cleaning tips and tricks you’ve learned over time. Or even some general business ideas and practices. Consider a regular blog post, short video, or social media post for the sole purpose of being helpful.
Take up a collection (and don’t get caught)
Plenty of people are struggling right now. What’s a unique way you could exert some generous help? Whether it is raising funds or collaborating with others to provide services to someone less fortunate, the opportunities are endless.
If you want to add an element of adventure to the mix, try doing it in secret. See how much anonymous generosity you can get away with! 🙂
A little help
Charity is the kind of thing that’s easy to put off. We know it’s good to give, and we know why, but sometimes we tell ourselves that we’re waiting until we have more to offer. You can combat this tendency in two ways: Start small and start today.
If you’re attentive, you’ll see plenty of little ways you can help. Some of those ways won’t seem small at all to the recipients.
As Chuck Feeney would say, “Try it. You’ll like it!”
p.s. SCORE is a charitable organization worth checking out. Need a mentor? Advice from a seasoned professional? SCORE can hook you up. Right now, they’re offering remote mentoring. And it’s free!