How Entrepreneurs Use Altruism to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Let’s Change The World

When Larry and Sergey set out to build Google they saw their mission as helping people. Googles famous moto ‘do no harm’ embodied their hippie rollover rhetoric and unified them in the struggle against ‘the man’. Take a look at any of the big companies today and you will see a similar theme. All founders started with an altruistic belief that their role was to make the world a better place. This is true of the mammoth Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and countless others.

I have no argument for you on whether these companies have retained that mission. My argument is simple: business people who set out to be altruistic create bigger and more successful companies.

To build my argument I first have to expose what I see as the parasite on 21st century thinking: Get rich, thin and successful and you will be happy. This message is coming at you from every direction, every advert, every film, I venture to say, every form of commercial broadcasting. But the people with all of these things are, so often, amongst the least happy people on planet earth. A study of women who all had terminal breast cancer, showed, those with a supportive community outlived those without.  Money, success or their dress size couldn’t help them.

This deep seated myth exposes a similar problem in the way we think about business; business people are combatants, they are out for themselves and everything they can get to achieve the riches and success – that don’t make them happy. This rubs uncomfortably against the message coming out of every marketing, innovation, management, strategy book ‘meet the needs of others to be successful’.

So how to successful entrepreneurs harness altruism to succeed?

They are kind to their teams 

The most successful people treat their people as volunteers. They are kind to their people, reward their efforts and provide for their needs. Acting with an unselfish regard for others doesn’t always come naturally, but the successful companies may it a habit. When we make the effort to give without expectations of reciprocity, we feel fulfilled and energized and that leads to better products and bigger profits.

They are altruistic in their marketing 

Companies are really only too things: innovation and marketing. There is a little known Amazon story which is central to how the company established itself as the retail behemoth it is today. Before Amazon had a lot of suppliers on their platform, they provided customers with information from a competitors site if that competitor had the product the customer wanted cheaper. That’s right, they sent customers on their site to their competitors. Why? This helped establish Amazon as the lowest price retailer on the internet in the eyes of their customers. And the results… well they speak for themselves.

They Give Back 

When I buy a product from Microsoft I like to think about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and imagine that the money I am spending on an Office 365 suite will eventually help kids in developing countries.

The effects of kindness can be so great that you actually don’t have to be directly linked to a giving chain to get in on the act. By simply witnessing generosity you may be inspired to do something generous of your own. Humans often mimic behavior they see, and that includes generosity, which explains why some of these stories of small acts of kindness become bigger news: Even people who simply hear about a giving chain are often inspired to give, starting a chain of positivity all their own.

And when Microsoft annoy me or let me down, I am more forgiving.

They Kill it with Kindness

Too many people equate “helping people” to working at a non-profit, flying across the globe to volunteer their time, or starting a social business.I want to believe — that deep down, at the end of the long and winding tunnel of existence, most of us have an urge to give ourselves to others. We want to pay it forward. We want to help people. We want to give back to humanity in some way.

What have been your happiest moments? The answer, I’m sure ,will be when you helped other people.  Maybe you baked your mum a cake for her birthday, helped your son do his homework, or mentored someone. The feeling you got is the same: a nice warm fuzzy glow that made you happy.

The great news, as business evolves as a tool of co-opperation, rather than combat, is that you don’t have to quit you job to help people. Do it from the inside. I guarantee you will get ahead quicker.


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