237: Eventual Reciprocity

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Welcome to the Bootstrapped Founder.

My name is Arvid Kahl, and I talk about bootstrapping,

entrepreneurship, and building in public.

Today, we will dive into eventual reciprocity,

the idea that the strongest outcomes

come from long-term investments into your community.

And before we get to that, let me thank the sponsor

of this episode, acquire.com, because that is also,

if you think about it, a long-term investment

in a community.

That's what they've been doing.

Imagine this situation, you're a founder

who's built this amazing software product.

You acquired customers, and you're generating

consistent monthly revenue.

The problem is that you're not growing for whatever reason.

Maybe lack of focus, or lack of skill,

or just lack of interest.

There are many reasons that you might find lacking,

and you feel stuck.

What should you do?

The story that I would like to hear

is that you buckled down and somehow

reignited your inner fire.

You got past yourself and the cliches of business,

and you started working on your business,

rather than just in the business.

You start building this audience you always wanted,

and you move out of your comfort zone

to do sales and marketing.

And in six months, you've tripled your revenue.

The reality is not that simple.

Situations may be different for every founder

facing this particular kind of crossroad,

and too many times, this story ends up

being one of inaction and stagnation,

until the business becomes less valuable,

or even worse, worthless.

If you find yourself here, or your story is likely headed

down a similar road, I offer you a third option.

Consider selling your business on acquire.com.

Capitalizing on the value of your time is a smart move,

and acquire.com is free to list.

They've helped hundreds of founders already.

Why not go to try.acquire.com/ervid

and see for yourself if this is the right option for you.

And now, let's talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The concept of eventual reciprocity

has been incredibly beneficial in my own journey

of building a media business,

and other businesses before, any business, really.

It suggests that if you give

without expecting anything in return,

people will eventually feel compelled

to reciprocate over time.

It draws its power from the fact

that nobody wants to owe someone else

for longer than necessary.

If you constantly provide something valuable to someone,

they will feel compelled to give back, eventually.

Hence the term eventual reciprocity.

And this principle is particularly useful

for those using social media to grow their businesses.

Think about it this way.

If you consistently share valuable information online

and contribute meaningfully to conversations

that people care about,

the individuals involved will eventually feel indebted to you

in some way, subconsciously, but noticeably.

This feeling then prompts them to help you out in some way,

creating an active desire to even things out with you.

Practicing this at scale, by sharing your knowledge freely,

can lead not only the people you interact with,

but also larger groups of observing these interactions,

appreciating your generosity and selflessness.

They may then wish to support you back in various ways,

purchasing your products or services,

introducing potential partners or future collaborators to you,

or promoting your work within their own circles,

or advocating for your brand among their peers.

All of this is great, and it's all based on trust.

And trust is something that is extremely slowly built,

but very quickly lost.

So be careful with how you nudge people to compensate you.

The biggest beginner mistake here

is the premature call to action.

Asking for some kind of return immediately

upon sharing something that was helpful

often will effectively undermine

the reputation building process

that is inherent in this eventual reciprocity idea.

People will not feel obligated if they don't trust you.

Sure, they might get a purchase or a conversion going for you,

but people see this whole thing as a mere transaction,

and there's no relational value in such an exchange.

If you can afford it,

look at serving your community as a long-term bet.

Instead of focusing solely on immediate compensation

for work done today, like most freelancers do,

because exposure doesn't pay the bills,

consider making long-term investments

into community relationships as well.

And I said, if you can afford it,

because you still need to make money.

And this whole concept doesn't mean

that you can't offer your services or products.

It just means that you don't have to pedal them

at every single opportunity

where you do something for people.

In my own experience,

balancing paid and free offerings has worked pretty well.

And while I sell books and courses,

amongst other things which require payment for access,

I also freely share insights through the newsletter

or the podcast like this,

or on social media every single week, every day in fact.

The value that people find

from engaging with my free content

often leads them towards considering my paid offerings

when they're ready.

And that can take weeks and months and years sometimes.

I often get emails or Twitter DMs

from people who've been following for years

and felt that now is the time to pay me back

for all the insights that I have

so freely put into their path.

That often takes a long time,

but the key here isn't immediately chasing returns,

but patiently waiting

until someone really wants to support me

due to all the things that they've received from me previously,

a prime example of eventual reciprocity at play.

This approach becomes increasingly effective

as your audience grows.

More individuals witnessing acts of kindness

means more potential reciprocal actions down the line,

because these people have an audience too,

and that audience will remember that as well.

Finding the balance between giving away valuable knowledge

and revealing everything,

it's pretty two extremes here, is crucial.

Keeping some trade secrets close to your heart

that then can later be monetized,

for those people who recognize how much better they'd be

if you'd implement those ideas for them,

give them professional assistance, that's a good idea.

Take my Twitter dead-ends, for example.

You'll find that I post all kinds of Twitter advice

between my books or courses

and my concert barrage on Twitter

just about optimizing profiles on Twitter.

If you spend a few days digging through all of my prior work,

you will find, or you'd probably find,

all the insights that you need.

Well, that, or you can spend $100 to have me make

a 15-minute video where I apply the most fitting

of these concepts directly to your profile.

It's kind of the service I offer, right?

Everything is free out there,

but here's the service where I look into your thing,

and the knowledge is free,

but my expertise in applying it has a price.

And this is important.

Never completely forego getting paid clients

while practicing this strategy

of hoping for eventual reciprocity,

because eventual reciprocity might take weeks or years

before materializing into meaningful opportunities.

It will happen, but you never know how long it takes,

and you have to make money somehow.

It is a unique balance to strike for every entrepreneur

because we all have different backgrounds

and different financial situations, really.

Avoid thinking transactionally all the time.

That's the best framework to be able to spot

these long-term investment opportunities.

There's a psychology in humans

that makes eventual reciprocity just unavoidable.

We want to get even, we need to get even.

So give lots, and then allow your followers to give back.

They will, eventually.

And that's it for today.

Thank you for listening to The Bootstrap Founder,

and thank you to Acquire.com for sponsoring this.

You can find me on Twitter @AvidKarl, A-V-I-D-K-A-H-L.

You'll find my books and my Twitter course there, too.

If you want to support me and the show,

please subscribe to my YouTube channel,

get the podcast and your player of choice,

and leave a rating and a review

by going to ratethispodcast.com/founder.

Any of this will help the show.

And it doesn't matter if you do it today,

next week, or next month.

You know, I can wait.

Have a wonderful day.


Creators and Guests

Arvid Kahl
Arvid Kahl
Empowering founders with kindness. Building in Public. Sold my SaaS FeedbackPanda for life-changing $ in 2019, now sharing my journey & what I learned.
237: Eventual Reciprocity
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