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When you’re first starting out on your entrepreneurial journey, it can be easy to get caught up in your own challenges. After all, you need to find financing, put the right team in place and convince your target audience that you have a worthwhile idea if you want to sell anything.
But this shouldn’t be an excuse for becoming totally self-absorbed. As New York Times bestselling author Chris Brogan says, “[Entrepreneurship] is 100 percent about reaching out and helping other people. Entrepreneurship is actually the action of giving to others and serving others and then extracting some value back from it.”
In reality, helping others should be one of your top goals as an entrepreneur. Not only is this something every good person should try to do, but more often than not, it will also come back to help you grow your business.
Here are seven simple ways you can help others as you undergo your entrepreneurial journey.
1) Serve as Mentor
As a young entrepreneur, you might think that you’re in need of a mentor, rather than being in a place where you can provide mentoring. After all, mentors can teach you everything from mental resilience to how to analyze industry trends.
But you also have knowledge and experiences that could provide value to others.
When I spoke to my friend Jason Bliss, co-founder of Healthy Living Network, he explained, “All of us have knowledge and skills that others lack. No matter what your current position, there’s someone out there — likely within your own circle of influence — who could benefit from your unique insights. Serving as a teacher or mentor is the best way to lift those around you.”
2) Pass Along Opportunities
Not every opportunity will be a great fit for your growing startup. A potential client may ask for work that doesn’t fit with your business’s service offerings, or you just might not have the capacity for a particular project.
Rather than tell these people “good luck with your search,” you can help other entrepreneurs by passing along referrals. Your web design company may not provide blog writing services, but maybe you know someone who does. Giving referrals such as these will help others build their brand, and will likely help you land reciprocal support in the future.
3) Show Your Brand Support
No company exists in a vacuum. From management software to the local pizza restaurant you use for Friday lunches, there are undoubtedly several products and services that help your business operate effectively.
You know how much you’d appreciate positive reviews or social media shoutouts for your own startup — so why not do the same for the brands you use and love?
Your positive word of mouth could help them land new business opportunities, but it can also serve as the foundation for a new professional relationship. Showing brand support is a great way to earn new partnerships and referrals.
4) Say ‘No’
Saying “no” may not seem particularly helpful at first glance. As an entrepreneur, it’s never easy to get “no” for an answer — especially when potential clients or investors are involved. It’s understandable that you could feel guilty when you give someone else a negative response.
But as Jason Feifer explains, “If you tell someone ‘no’ and explain why, you’re helping them course-correct for the next time.” Whether you’re turning down a business partnership or explaining to a friend why their idea doesn’t work, offering an explanation alongside your “no” can lead to valuable learning opportunities.
5) Create a Blog
Believe it or not, blogging can actually be a great way to help others.
When you’re crunched for time, it isn’t always easy to set up a meeting where you can provide in-person mentorship. There are also a lot of people from around the world who could likely benefit from your insights, but aren’t ever going to be available for a face-to-face meeting.
With blogging, you have a way to reach them.
You can offer knowledge, offer tips or even share relevant personal anecdotes. When you share useful information, you’ll give others the insights they need on their own personal or business journey. Of course, sharing this information on your own site is also a great way to improve your SEO rankings and even capture potential sales leads.
6) Take on a Charitable Role
For many startups, helping others is more than just a nice goal — it is a central part of their business. From fighting homelessness to helping individuals with autism get jobs, countless entrepreneurs have directly infused a socially conscious element into their business.
There are countless ways you can give back in your own community.
Whether that be providing free work to local nonprofits or donating time and money to a cause, involving your entire company with socially conscious actions will shape your brand for years to come. You’ll build team loyalty and unity, feel a greater sense of purpose in your work and make a positive impact in your area.
7) Invest In Yourself
This may sound a bit counterintuitive, but in order to make a lasting impact for good with your startup, you need to invest in yourself. While you can use the previously mentioned tips at any stage of your business journey, you’ll only be able to expand your reach and continue providing this assistance if you keep your finances in the black.
While you should always set aside time for helping others, you should also be actively involved in finding new ways to market your business and increase your profitability.
You should seek out your own mentors who can help you avoid the roadblocks to success. Most of all, you must always look for new growth opportunities. By ensuring your business’s long-term sustainability, you’ll be able to help others for years to come.
Offering a Helping Hand
When you’re willing to help others — even without the promise of an immediate reward — you lay the foundation for lasting success. You don’t have to wait until you’ve become a multimillion dollar business to help others.
Even if you don’t land a big sale by being kind, your kindness will make a lasting difference — both for those you help and for your own brand.