Help People First… Make Money Second
When you travel in Peru, there comes a time when you need to ask for assistance. Maybe you need to find your way to a local business? Maybe you’re simply looking for a new pair of socks? Or maybe you simply need to catch the night bus so you can arrive in Cuzco the following morning.
Whatever the case may be, these moments usually require you to reach out and ask another individual for assistance.
What I’ve discovered by traveling through Peru for the past 4 months is that, more often than not, the person you reach out to for help won’t agree to help you unless them helping you is of direct benefit to them… and them alone.
For example: If you ask a shoe salesman where you can get some socks… and he doesn’t carry socks in his store, he’ll tell you there are no socks to buy anywhere in the city.
Or if you want to catch the night bus and the company you are asking about tickets has already sold out their evening bus ride, they won’t direct you to a competing bus company with plenty of open seats. Instead, they’ll lie to your face and tell you that the only way to get to Cuzco is to wait until morning when they do have a bus with open seats available.
If it isn’t any direct benefit to them, they won’t help you. No matter what! And frankly, that’s a pretty shitty business model.
What I learned this week (and continue to learn over and over again) is that the main goal of your business should be to help other people – whether or not helping that person benefits you in some way.
On my bicycle touring website, for example, I get hundreds and hundreds of emails each and every week. And most of those emails are unnecessary because the person emailing could easily find the answer if they did a quick search on the website… or even better, if they bought my book on the subject of bicycle travel.
But I get the emails anyway… and even though I’m tempted to write back to these people and say “Buy my book and you’ll get your answer”, I take the time to write back to each of these people individually. I give them the answer they are looking for… or at least point them in the right direction… and then if it seems appropriate, I let them know that I talk about this subject a whole lot more inside my book and that if my email answer back to them was not sufficient, maybe the information inside the book would be worth checking out.
This approach seems to work… and I get a lot of positive comments because of how I handle the emails that I receive. People thank me for taking the time to respond to them personally. They remember that I went out of my way to help them. And many of those people do eventually go on to purchase one of my products, or (at the very least) tell their friends about my website and products/services that I offer.
Do you see how taking a little time and doing the right thing (helping others) can actually work to improve your business – if not in the short term, then in the long term at the very least?
These positive consequence don’t come about when your motive is money first and helping people last. When you turn away potential customers and refuse to help them find the information that they need, you leave a lasting negative impression with that individual. They aren’t going to come back and do business with you ever again (not if they can help it). They aren’t going to tell their friends anything postive about you. In fact, they’ll do quite the opposite, they’ll move on to a better business and quickly spread the word of just how aweful you and your business really are.
I could go on and on with examples here, but I think you get the point.
If your business is suffereing right now, maybe you need to take a step back and reevaluate what it is that you are REALLY doing with your business. Is your first and most important goal to help other people? Or is your first and only aim to make as much money as possible?
When your only goal is money, the business suffers. Plain and simple. But when you concentrate on heping people with their problems, the results may not be immediate, but the long-term affects bring about the money and joy that you initially dreamed of when you set out on day one and started your business in the first place.
Give it a try. Help someone today. Or a lot of people. And let me know what happens… how it makes you feel… and how it affects your bottom line!