The connection between our actions and compensation is becoming increasingly unclear. How does freely sharing your hard-earned secrets and methods translate into bigger opportunities? How does open-sourcing the software you’ve spent countless hours agonizing over get you ahead? How does giving things away for free put food on the table?
Making the Leap
When you leap from one stepping stone to another you are taking a risk. You are leaving the ground and hoping that you come down safely on the other side. Giving things away for free is a lot like this – you are taking a leap, and often the other side is obscured. It’s not clear where you will land or what it will look like.
This gap between giving value away for free and experiencing some sort of reward can be scary for the fledgling business or entrepreneur. Much has been made of how “Free” is a hallmark of doing business in the digital age. Not enough has been said, though, about how to live in the mysterious space between giving things away and experiencing a reward.
When you are building your business through giving value away for free, it’s important to do a couple of things:
1. Check Your Motives
When you give something away you may be hoping that in the future you will get some sort of return, but you can’t let that desire cloud the giving of a gift. This creates a paradoxical tension. You ultimately want and expect to receive a benefit from gift-giving, but you must also give freely and not obligating any one recipient to reward you – otherwise it’s not a gift, is it?
2. Be Patient
Establishing yourself through the giving of gifts takes time. It is not a quick win, but a long-term investment. If your strategy for growth centers around giving things away, you need to make certain you can be committed over the long run. The best opportunities often take years of incubating to bear fruit.
The Generous Win
Zig Ziglar famously said:
[quote]“You can have anything you want in life if you will help enough other people get what they want”[/quote]
If you focus on serving other people, fixing their problems, and delighting them, you will be a smashing success.