I’ve had an amazing year so far. I launched Zero to Sold a year go to great success, and in May, I launched The Embedded Entrepreneur to even greater success. I can’t adequately express how incredibly grateful I am for the support and encouragement I have received. Whenever I see someone talking about my work, a smile jumps onto my face. It’s the most wonderful feeling.
And it’s a feeling you can give to other people — by saying “thank you.” By being kind. Unprompted, without any expectation. Just reaching out and showing your gratitude.
The effects of this are surprisingly strong. When we’re praised or receive kindness, we show both physical and psychological reactions: the mind and the body react positively, we feel healthier and more energetic. Serotonin gets produced in our bodies, and we feel elated.
Now that is something that you’ll want people to feel when they think of you.
So consider how you can show some kindness to the people that matter most on your entrepreneurial journey: your customers, your audience, your collaborators, and — most importantly — yourself.
And before we get to the specifics, I would like to announce that I have released the Zero to Sold Audiobook — Anniversary Edition yesterday. It’s the first time the audiobook is available as a DRM-free download, and it contains a 15-minute preface read by… me! You won’t find that on Audible. This Anniversary Edition is available on Gumroad only.
If you want to support The Bootstrapped Founder blog and Newsletter, please consider checking out the audiobook. Thank you!
Thanking your Customers
If you are fortunate to already run a business that has paying customers, you might want to take some time every now and then to see how you can surprise and delight the people who pay for the lights to stay on in your business.
Generally, you can frame it as a value-nurturing act: showing your customers how enjoyable and valuable it is to use your service or product will keep them retained for longer. If they didn’t expect to be delighted, there is also a chance they will spread the word about your kindness.
A good relationship with your customer will also mean that they’ll be faster to reach out to you when they need something — and more forgiving when things go wrong.
At FeedbackPanda, the SaaS that I founded with my partner Danielle and sold in 2019, we often reached out to particularly active customers, thanking them for being with us, and asking — personally, through live chat, without any automation — if there is anything we can do for them. They certainly didn’t expect to be taken this seriously, and we got incredibly useful information from those conversations that started with our expression of gratitude. A lot of those wonderful customers quickly poured out their joy into social media, further creating goodwill for our business.
We also did a few things that didn’t scale. We wrote a hundred hand-written postcards to our first hundred customers, just saying thanks for trusting a new product. People loved it — they had never received a thank you note from a professional tool they used.
It made an incredible difference. It also set the tone for all our customer interactions in the future. Leading with kindness creates strong and enjoyable relationships.
Thanking your Audience
Being kind and grateful is also a wonderful thing to do within your community. It’s a catalyst for more kindness, both towards you and towards everyone else in the community. If you’re grateful and supportive, you will attract grateful and supportive people. At the same time, if you’re kind at all time, the cynics who are constantly looking for something to fuel their rage will select themselves out.
If you’re on Twitter, consider shouting out someone who consistently creates valuable stuff. Share their latest work or create a thread with a few gems that inspired you. Thanking them in public for their work exposes more people to it and allows people who already like it to see your work as well.
You can also reach out in a direct message. Direct feedback like this is always appreciated: I often receive emails or Twitter DM from readers who just wanted to say hello and thank me for having written the book. It usually is a direct result of them learning something valuable that triggers those messages. Do the same: whenever you see something cool or instructive, tell the person who created it. It makes a huge difference and can be the start of a long and wonderful relationship with that creator.
It also works as a reaction to someone sharing your work. Thank the people who amplify your message. You’re essentially rewarding a behavior, which will result in repeat behavior — both by the person who shared your work and by any onlookers who see your expression of gratitude.
Thanking people in public makes others curious about the strong relationship between you and the person you’re thanking. From there, new relationships will emerge, as people start following you and interacting with you. Gratitude inspires connection.
The most important person in your life is yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will. If you’re not grateful with yourself, external gratitude will feel hollow and dishonest.
Find the time to celebrate yourself. Thank yourself for showing up every day. And when you don’t show up for a day because you need a break, thank yourself for recognizing that your mental health is important to your entrepreneurial success.
This gratitude starts from the inside. Being at ease with yourself is something many people struggle with every single day of their lives, so I’m not saying this is an easy switch to flip. It’s a practice — a practice of reflection and observation.
If you struggle to find this thankfulness in yourself, you can use externalities to help find it internally. Keep a “wall of gratitude:” take screenshots of kind messages from your customers, your audience, or your collaborators and keep them in an easily accessed folder. Whenever you feel down or stressed, replenish your energy levels by looking at how many people have expressed their support and joy for you and the impact you have on their lives.
If you are need something in front of you at all times, consider creating a real-world artifact like a tweet etched into a wooden board. Print out the most enjoyable screenshots and stick them to the wall behind your screen. Frame the nicest ones and put them into the locations where your day-to-day work happens.
Establish a gratitude habit. Every morning, note down what you’re grateful for in a gratitude journey. Or just say it loudly while you’re taking a shower. It doesn’t need to be permanent, it just needs to be real. It needs to happen, you need to speak or write it. Thinking may not be enough.
Gratitude starts within you. Only when you are thankful to yourself can you say thank you to others in a genuine way.
Thank you for reading this. I truly and deeply appreciate you.