I have always been a giver. A nurturer. A big believer in the whole, "sharing is caring" mentality. So when I decided I wanted to be my own boss, start my own business, and make my own money, the first area in which I struggled was with having to focus on myself, and myself alone, in order to get ahead in business.
Being a natural-born people-pleaser and always avoiding coming across as selfish or self-serving, were qualities I prided myself on, and ones I did not want to lose sight of as I set off on my quest to make a name for myself in the writing and business world. I quickly learned that keeping the focus on myself as I grew my business was not going to be my winning strategy. I learned how important it would be to stay true to that inner desire of helping others and bringing those I care about into my mix as I set off on my way to the top.
And boy, did paying it forward pay me back, BIG time!
"Paying it forward", a term you've likely heard before, means to pay your dues up front, in order to expect good in return. Completely karmic in nature and well-meaning through and through, "paying it forward" is something that doesn't necessarily have to come naturally to you to take on as a practice. I began to realize my own natural ability, however, to support others and celebrate their success, well before I had my own. I found that the more I celebrated others wins, even my own competitors and even on my toughest of days, the more confident I became, and the more people were open to collaborating with me. The more they were willing to help me out on my own journey. The more I lifted others up, even when I felt I could really use the lifting, the more I found myself getting ahead, and this brought me success both professionally AND personally.
So what does "paying it forward" entail for me? Well, a number of things to be honest. On a personal note, paying it forward means to do for others without anyone having asked anything of you. It means to buy the coffee for the person who held the door open for you at Starbucks. It means to do a favor for someone who you know would benefit from the help, without expecting anything in return. It means picking up your neighbor's newspaper when they're out of town.
But on a professional level, where paying it forward has become a surprisingly successful "power move" in its own right, "paying it forward," entails a few other things.
Here's how YOU can pay it forward as your entrepreneurial dreams take flight, and put the best energy out into the world to help you get ahead in business.
3. Do some work for a potential client free of charge.
Now before you pass me off as crazy, hear me out. If a potential client approaches you for help, and they're in desperate need of it, but you know they can't afford your services - roll up your sleeves, take the hit, and pay it forward. The last time I did this, I may have pushed my $500 price tag for a certain project down to zero, but it resulted in this client suggesting me for a role that has now landed me my own radio show. "Paying it forward" to the tenth degree.
2. Refer a competitor.
And not in a, "I hate this competitor so I'll refer them my neediest and most vile client to ruin their life," sort of way. If you're faced with a potential client whom you know would be a great fit for a competitor, maybe because this person is asking for a service you do not specialize in, give the project away. Do not take a project for yourself just to keep it from your competition. This is certainly bad business karma. Pay it forward, give it to your competitor, and I promise it won't be long before they refer you someone in return.
1. Share the wealth.
No, not necessarily the monetary wealth, unless it's for a charitable cause. I mean that you should share the wealth by sharing the names of your friends, competitors, co-workers, and staff, whether on social media, or by introducing them to great connections at a networking event, or aligning them with other like-minded people to help them on their business path. Not a day goes by where I don't pass along the name of my go-to contacts for resume writing, chiropractic care, or even the children's clothing store I buy my daughter's clothing from. Not a networking event goes by that I'm not giving out my friends business cards in place of my own if I feel the time is right. I share the wealth because the stage is big enough for all of us, and sharing truly is caring - paying it forward benefits everyone, yourself included.
Need more advice on great business karma or just want to connect? Feel free to reach out, I'd love to hear from you!