A little insight to the human being that is me. I am that person – the one that you have heard about. I believe in things – in magic, in the goodness that lives in a person’s heart, in a better future and that hard work will be rewarded. I believe. So, when I approach a situation, personal or professional, I am always approaching from the perspective of those beliefs. How can I help? How can I provide value to this situation, person, circumstance? How can I make the life of those around me better in some way? How can I support you?

What I never, ever seem to ask is how do I get value in return?

Now don’t get me wrong – there is some satisfaction in being the often unnoticed pillar of support for another person or another person’s vision of themselves. I want to help, if I can. It’s my default setting. But, I am learning, as an entrepreneur, as a mother to teenagers and as a wife to a spouse with significant health problems, that mere quiet satisfaction is not enough. It has never been enough – but, I am only just beginning to realize it.

As an entrepreneur, the whole premise behind your business idea is proving that you are providing value to your customers. Everything that you do or build or share must support that premise. To succeed, the value must be clearly defined and proven through use. It sounds easy enough, but there are degrees to value that must be considered based on the acuteness of the problem you are solving. If you are solving a mosquito bite problem – something that is a minor annoyance from time to time – your value proposition may be quite different than if you are solving a shark bite problem – something that is seriously painful and requires immediate attention. From time to time, even a mosquito bite can feel urgent (especially when you have not experienced a shark bite). The value that you offer to provide relief from the problem needs to be clear.

As a parent, the whole purpose of my role is to provide valuable guidance and support to transition my children into thoughtful, caring, aware and productive members of the human race. Everything I do must support that goal. The same thing applies to my marriage and my friendships. And though it is expected that I will be compensated by my customers for providing value, often it is not expected to be rewarded or sometimes even acknowledged in any way, for providing a significant amount of value to my children, or my spouse, or my friends.

But, it should be.

There must be a balance. For my business, there is no question that the balance of value is in place in my business model. I provide my customers with a valuable services that solves an important problem and creates opportunity for them, and they pay me for that service. Not only do they pay me, but they pay me enough to make my business nicely profitable. That is a clear exchange of value that is adaptable and measurable.

In my personal life, it is not so cut and dry – the exchange is often a little less tangible and a lot more simplified and there are, of course, those pesky emotions that go along with everything. Yes, there will be times when I will be selfless to advance the needs of my family. But, it can not be every time. And, especially as my children approach adulthood at what seems like lightening speed, there is nothing wrong with setting expectations around the value exchange that is the core of any good relationship. If I am going to pay for a new Playstation, then they can keep their rooms tidy and shovel snow and just help out from time to time.

What I am learning is that I need to add a few more questions to my approach. Not just about how I can provide value, but just like with my business model, how can I get value in return. And they must be in balance before I expend the time and energy asked of me or perceived by me. And if there is something I want or need to exact the balance, then I have to learn to ask for it – to clearly set the expectation, just as I will do with my customers.

I don’t know why it has taken so long to see this – to appreciate the value of what I offer – to understand my worth and importance. Perhaps it is a side effect of maturity. Whatever it is, it seems clear now. Value it never a one way street – to truly be real, it must always be an exchange. In all areas of your life. Don’t settle with mere satisfaction – give them everything they are willing to give back, and maybe a little more from time to time, but not so much that your value is diluted into the background – just enough to keep them motivated to stick with the exchange.

About the Author:  This is me!  My passion lies in leveraging today’s technology to create, support and engage communities and drive measurable economic growth.  Like many, I yearn for a time when fear won’t dominate actions, where local shops thrive and people understand the value and power of local investment, in all it’s forms.

~ Lisa Denis, Founder