Successful Businesses Put Service First

I arrived on Saturday night on the South Coast of Turkey. I'm spending the week in a little coastal village practising yoga. Almost exactly four years ago, I was here for the very first time, the start of a six week trip along the coast. I'd quit my job less than a month before and started my first ever blog which was filled in those first weeks with stories about my time in Turkey. Every day was an adventure. 

Yesterday I went for lunch at the place over the road from the hotel. It wasn't here last time I came. Ilyas, the owner, who I'd met and spoken to in previous years, has opened up a little cafe/restaurant next to his home.

I ordered a spinach gözleme - a traditional Turkish pancake, for a grand total of 6 TL, around 1.50 GBP.

Ilyas went off with my order whilst I sat and admired the mountains, with the turquoise blue sea peeking out somewhere in the distance. When he returned, he came laden down with plates. Fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, pickled chillies, a big bowl of green and black olives, a bottle of water and finally, my pancake. 

Later, when I'd finished, he came to collect the plates and came back with a big plate of juicy watermelon. And once that was gone, he came with a little glass cup of traditional Turkish tea. Then, and only then, as I gushed with thanks and appreciation for his hospitality did he ask, in the universal language of social media...

"Facebook? Instagram?"

Yes, yes, I nodded. And, with the help of his mobile phone, a few hand gestures and lots of smiles, I understood he was asking if I'd him leave a review.

Ilyas is a perfect example of service first in business. In business, you will need to ask. And it's totally ok to ask too. You'll need to ask for reviews, for the sale, for support etc., but what not many people seem to understand is that your success is only as good as the relationships you build and what you're willing to give first. 

I've been fortunate over the years to have trained and come into contact with those who are deeply committed to service and, when service is at the forefront of what you do, asking is a natural extension of the relationships you build. 

A previous member of one of my online programmes and friend, Lucy Lucas, who's a mindfulness and yoga teacher, recently shared a story of a new yoga class she'd been invited to start teaching. She'd been building a relationship with the studio for almost a year! 

A friend recently designed a beautiful logo for my website. She offered it to me as a gift because of the time I'd spent helping her through conversation and emails the year before. 

The thing about success is that it's not all that complicated, but it does require a willingness to play a long term game. Short cuts might work in the short term, but long term relationships produce long term success. And the thing about building long-term relationships is you can't fake it. The desire to serve in this moment whilst potentially receiving nothing obvious in return for periods of time filters out those who are committed to genuine service and those who are after a quick buck.

It's a lesson I've learned repeatedly myself over the last several years. I give a great deal of my time for free, in service, because that's my work in the world. I do that through content and conversations, as well as in my daily interactions with the people I meet. Sooner or later, in some way or another, what you put out will be returned to you. Often not in the way you imagined, but it will always be returned.

And so today a question:

How can you be of service to someone, whilst totally detaching from the need or expectation to receive anything in return?

Love and courage,