The Favor Economy

April 26, 2020

By Kendra Lock

Small business owners sometimes forget to utilize the original currency - trade and barter.  This is how businesses operated years ago and there's certainly nothing wrong with it now.  It amazes me how we've all become accustomed to not asking for help - free help at that.  Over the past couple of decades, it seems we've been brainwashed into thinking the only way, is to  - pay, pay, pay!  And to then pay again - and be polite about it - thank you very much ma'am!


It's time to hit the delete button in our brain and re-frame our thinking.  Contemplate past years when you went out of your way to assist friends, family and colleagues.  Who may return the favor now?  Re-train your brain to begin making mental lists.  Who can build your website?  Who can do your marketing?  Who's uncle manages the corner bank?  Always have a mental list of projects that you need help with - and a companion list of who knows whom - that can help or who owes favors!


If you want to take this exercise to the next level then grab a pen & paper or open your notes app on your device.  Here are some prompts to get you started.


1.  Make a list of people you've helped in the past year.  Your list may look something like this:


_  Helped a family member move

_  Taught a business associate QuickBooks

_  Collected mail for the neighbors while they vacationed


Don't forget to consider the less obvious assists like:


_ Took the ubiquitous calls from the friend who has romance drama

_ Wrote the stellar 5-star review, as requested - by your primary care physician

_ Recommended the plumber to your sister


Wow - see how easy this is?  These are all folks that you helped out and they can now be tapped to assist you!  It's clearly amazing to see how helpful all human beings are in their day to day lives.  We all under-estimate how kind and caring we are!   


When you go in for the ask - it's not always easy.  You're gonna flat out scare some folks off that aren't used to being asked anything that resembles a favor.  And, in general, a lot of people quickly forget who helped them out over the years.  A very subtle reminder is due.  There are appropriate methods to accomplish your goal here. 

Most importantly - you don't want to hover over folks to the point they end up trying to avoid you.  And that will happen.  Here's some tips:


1.  Make occasional announcements at parties, dinners and on Facebook & LinkedIn that you are really enjoying running your own business.


2.  Remind them what you do and how you would love to help them if they ever could use your services.  Keep it very, very brief and casual.


3.  When you are with someone face to face that you want to inquire about helping you - remember to be direct.  It doesn't hurt to broach the topic and while you do - please don't hint around and beat around the bush.  Best to be clear and direct.


4.  Preface the ask by telling them that you have a question for them but you don't need an immediate answer.  Tell them you want to give them time to digest.


5.  When you are ready - just come out with it!  Be prepared to deliver the Big Ask on a silver platter.  Prep yourself beforehand by making a mental note of what you want to ask for and be prepared to let the person know what's in it for them.  Dangle your carrots or they will rot.


6.  Let this individual know that your business will grow if you can get this urgent task accomplished.  Inform them that the more successful you become the more services and products you'll be purchasing and sometimes that means from them!  See how this works now?  


7.  You get shot down - now what?  Easy.  Be humble.  Never make a fuss about who owes who a favor, etc.  You don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable plus they honestly need time to mull-over the ask.  For those who are obviously obstinate - back off immediately and for good.  Some folks resent being asked favors.  Best not to spend time with a grumpy cat.  


8.  End the conversation by politely telling them you understand.  Keep it open by letting them know that you will be more than gracious when and if they are ready to help you in the future.


9.  Relax and wait for the phone to ring!  

10.  Most important tip!  When someone in your circle comes through for you - announce it to the world.  Rave about how much so-and-so helped your business.  Really raise them up and spotlight their generosity.  What this does for them is amazing.  A lot of times they begin to receive inquiries and business referrals all from your public validation.  Awesome system to say the least!  


If you follow the above guidelines of the Favor Economy - this should reframe your business positioning.  This truly is a win-win for all so use this concept and interject it into your everyday thinking.  


The most important thing to remember about favors given and favors received - is that we all should stop paying for everything and start asking for help.  It does not hurt to ask, right?.  Try not to be embarrassed or fearful that you may look needy or vulnerable.  A lot of times people are proud to be asked to champion you.  It's a sign of respect for sure.   


For those of you who are financially blessed -  and by all means - if you are financially set - then definitely pay for services and products ALWAYS plus leave a good tip.  Share, share, share and it will come back to you in droves.  Never miss an opportunity to heighten your karmic street cred.  

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Thanks for reading!  Share a smile, do a good deed and have a cookie.  

Kendra Lock - Signing Off