Photo by Tim Kothlow

Being Nice is the Second Most Important Thing You Can Do When Starting a Business

by Mikhail Alfon

I got a lot of really good — and horrifying — advice when 7twelve was still in it’s ‘just an idea’ phase. I was incredibly lucky to be surrounded with wise, caring, people who had done it themselves, (shout out to my uncle, Erik, Dean, Cameron, and Zach) and more than willing to give me their time and two cents before I made the jump.

Get a good accountant.
Don’t go full time right away.
Get a business partner. 
File an LLC instead of INC to start.
Don’t get a business partner.

Get a good lawyer (little did we know we’d be forced into getting in one).

I can honestly say that the second most important thing I did (don’t worry, I’ll get to the first in another post)to get through a hellacious, yet relatively prosperous first year as an entrepreneur, was simply being nice to everyone. Here’s why.

You never know who someone is.

I distinctly remember being in a crazy funk at my mother’s birthday BBQ, not really wanting to chat with anyone, and at the last moment I decided to say “hi” to a stranger eating by himself.

That guy turned out to be the owner of Hilo Motion Pictures, and got me set up with one of our biggest and raddest clients. We’ve since partnered up, and are working together as I’m writing this post.

You never know who someone knows.

You’d be surprised how not-obvious this point actually is. Depending on where you are in your business, there’s a good chance that you’re going to get some clients or customers out of your friends and family.

Here’s the thing — the friends that you blocked on Instagram for annoying posts, and the family you haven’t visited in like 7 years definitely know someone who would be the ideal candidate for your product or service.

Time to make some phone calls.

Remember that how you treat people and how you make people feel is one of the biggest aspects of your brand, whether it’s your personal one or your company’s.

When you’re a business owner, your words and actions are a direct reflection of your entire company and every single person you work with.

Disclaimer: In no way do I think that the only reason to call your second uncle or long lost high school friend is for business. You should be doing that anyway.

People operate better with friendly people.

You know, I was really into the Steve Jobs movie (the ashton kutcher one), and what Steve did worked for Steve and Apple. I actually STRONGLY disagree with being a dick to people to get the best results out of them.

I really hope my mom doesn’t read that last sentence.

Whether I was managing a sales team, the 7twelve Team, or a group of free lancers that have never met — being genuinely nice, caring and accommodating to all of them really brought out their full potential as individuals and professionals, and I’m all about that.

You should seriously just be nice anyway.

Look, it takes far more energy to be a jerk than it does to say to hello to someone, and really, there’s a good chance that the only reason you’re acting like a jerk is because you a) need to work on how you let other’s actions affect you or b) need to work on how you let circumstances affect you. That’s more of an emotional intelligence thing, which I’ll get into another time.

My point is, try projecting rainbows and butterflies instead of frustrations and insecurities for a day at a time then a week at a time, until it becomes your religion. Then check back with me and let me know how it’s impacted your business and your relationships.