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How do you balance taking care of your clients whilst nourishing your own soul by giving back?

by Kerry Martin on 03/07/2012 · 2 comments

in Best Practices for Women Entrepreneurs,Cause Marketing,Corporate Social Responsibility,Social Enterprise

I had to put on my big girl panties today, suck it up and make a very difficult decision. I was asked to be a business coach for a nonprofit participating in the Social Enterprise Venture Competition hosted by Academies for Social Entrepreneurship. As a mentor, you are asked to coach one organization in the preparation required to deliver an Angel-style screening presentation.

Being a competitive Martin — one has to be most competitive when one of 6 successful children — I was convinced that the lucky nonprofit that I would mentor would of course take the big prize and get the $50K in seed money to start their social enterprise. Yip, I was excited!

My challenge today was that I had clients who needed to be taken care of before I darted off tomorrow to visit with other clients in Maui and New York – you see, my personal philosophy is, to be a blazingly successful marketing consultant, you must always exceed client expectations – and I knew that if I went to the 3 hour orientation this afternoon in the OC, I would not be putting them first. So with a very heavy heart, I informed the wonderful lady, Betsy Densmore, who founded the Academies for Social Entrepreneurship, that I would not be able to take part in her amazing program. The timing simply wasn’t right.

I’m a huge believer in giving back and indeed am starting my own nonprofit, Hope Xchange, to do just that. Like a couple of other like-minded gals at Cause Communications and Conscious Capital, I am now donating part of my consulting profits to get Hope Xchange up and running because I want to do something with my life that outlasts it. Don’t we all?

I did feel a wee bit better about this decision, albeit not much, when I decided to post front and center on my home page this morning the following:

Before we get down to business, first things first. Let’s take a moment to focus on making notorious war criminal, Joseph Kony, famous before we switch gears and make ourselves and our businesses famous. Please consider joining me and hundreds (and, hopefully soon, millions) of other people around the world to make him more famous than Angelina Jolie in 2012, specifically on April 20.

If you believe as I do that young children should not be kidnapped, given a gun, forced to murder their own families and to mutiliate their own people, please join me at Kony 2012 and do what you can to help bring justice for our invisible children. And, if you haven’t already done so, please take 30 minutes out and watch the Kony 2012 Youtube Video. I know we are all busy but after watching this video I think you will understand why I feel so passionately that addressing this global crisis must simply be our first priority and must simply come first.

Ok, let’s now switch gears and get back to the matter at hand and why you are visiting my website: let’s talk about your business, best practices for building a sound and sustainable online marketing foundation to elevate your brand and to increase your revenue by relevance (which is also relevant to me because the more we make, the more we can give back).

Here’s the conflict – how do you balance your desire to give back with your desire to be a successful consultant? When you find yourselves in pickles like this, what do you do?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tami Smith March 8, 2012 at 2:31 AM

I don’t think there is an entrepreneur on the planet that hasn’t found themselves in the pickle of wanting to give back, wanting to be a part of something special, wanting to make a difference in the lives of others. Heck, isn’t that one of the biggest draws for starting your own business? It was for me. I made the classic mistake of giving before I had the means to give. I found myself bartering in very unproductive situations, giving the “friends and family” discount (which often meant free) and I even tried donating a website build a quarter, for people who couldn’t afford one. I failed. Big time.

I don’t have a “need” to give back anymore. I know that makes me sound terrible and selfish but it isn’t that. I don’t “need” it. I give. I am continually able to give more and more. But it isn’t coming from a place of needing approval or appreciation, so it just happens when it happens.

I think the first and most difficult lesson entrepreneurial types have to learn is how to value their time and resources. To give from a full cup. We can’t give what we don’t have, and depleting ourselves before we are sustainable doesn’t make any sense.

If I found myself over-extended because of my need to give, I would ask myself what I had hoped “to get” from giving. I’d be honest with myself about that and then if I still wanted to give, and could, I would.

PS
I believe in awareness and change. We do need to pay attention and extend help for the invisible children. Donate to Invisible Children: https://www.stayclassy.org/checkout/set-donation?eid=14711

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Kerry Martin March 8, 2012 at 2:48 AM

Well that was quite a mouthful Ms Smith! I agree & I concur albeit I don’t care much for pickles unless on a real juicy hamburger. Thanks much for bringing up Kony 2012. Cheers.

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