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We’re excited for June 1! That’s when our latest collaboration project with Modmacro CEO Matthew Smith will be hitting Amazon and the other major online retailers. Titled Simple Business Advice, this book is a little different than any of the ones we’ve worked on in the past. Instead of diving deep into a topic like in Smith’s other two books, Kill the Noise and Startup, this one covers many different topics and gives readers practical, actionable advice for a variety of situations that come up for small business owners.

One of the best parts about collaborating with business owners to write books is the fact that we get to have great discussions, and sometimes we find that we have completely different perspectives on a topic. We don’t need to agree to write a great book, and while I wouldn’t say I disagree with Smith’s viewpoint in this book (in fact, I frequently turn to him for business advice myself and find him to be an excellent resource for working through sticky problems), there are a few chapters that got me thinking.

One of those chapters is titled “Get Involved with Your Community, But Don’t ‘Give Back.’” At first, I was confused by Smith’s resistance to “giving back” because I know him to be generous. Just like he says in the chapter in the book, I know he works with San Diego charities and Christian organizations, and Modmacro has done a significant amount of pro bono work.

He told me I was missing the point. His resistance isn’t to the action of helping those who need it. It’s to the language used to describe it. “First of all,” he told me, “if you’re giving a portion of your profit to a charity, you’re not giving money to the people [your customers] who gave it to you in the first place. So it’s not really giving back at all.”

I hadn’t thought of it that way.

More importantly, Smith said his choice of words makes a difference. He explains it in this excerpt from Simple Business Advice:

“I much prefer talking about ‘supporting the community’ or ‘partnering with organizations.’ To me, that type of language is stronger, sounds more deliberate, and is free of a guilt-oriented vibe. It’s active. You’re choosing to intentionally do these things. It sounds a lot better when you communicate them that way, and it changes the way the team approaches it, too.”

Personally, I’ve never had a problem using the phrase “giving back” to describe a donation or any kind of community service. I also frequently do business with companies that “give back,” and the semantics have never bothered me. However, after seeing this chapter in the book, I see where the sentiment comes from. I agree that the idea of partnering with an organization or cause sounds stronger and more intentional, and that’s a piece of advice I’ll carry forward.

We’re looking forward to hearing readers’ reactions to this book. Smith doesn’t expect everyone to like or agree with each piece of advice he breaks down (after all, there are over four dozen topics covered—that would be a lot of opinions to completely agree with!), but he’s looking forward to getting feedback and questions from business owners who encounter the situations and subjects he discusses in the book.

Stay tuned for official release announcements for Simple Business Advice! We love working with business owners in San Diego and all over the country, so contact us today to talk to us about your business book idea. Unsure of where to begin? We’re happy to answer your questions, and if you want to get a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to create a book from start to finish, check out our article series in Businessing Magazine.

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