Reciprocity for Growth

Scottish distilleries have a long tradition of reciprocity.

It’s a system by which they trade barrels of whisky back and forth between themselves to use in their blends. A cashless exchange of what each business needs based on cooperation.

It’s founded on the idea that what’s good for everybody is good for me too. They’ve leveraged it to much success, creating wonderful whiskies that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

The distilleries win. The consumers win. Happy happy.

I noticed a similar thing in Las Vegas amongst the various hotels and resorts.

You can walk up to any bellhop in any hotel and check your bags, then go and enjoy the amenities. It doesn’t matter if you’re a guest of the hotel or not. They’re happy to serve. And when you’re done, they’ll hail a cab for you as well. All with a smile.

Why would they do that? After all, they’re paying the bellhops and doormen by the hour. Shouldn’t they limit those services to only those guests who are paying to stay in the hotel?

To that I say, what’s good for all the hotels is good for each hotel.

They’re long sighted enough to understand that if everyone chips in to make visitors to their town happy, even if they’re not making the sale today, they’ll win in the long run.

You know where else I’ve seen this?

In the world of successful small business owners.

The good ones, the ones who grow, are the ones who don’t take a zero-sum game approach. The ones who aren’t short-sighted, tight-fisted, small-minded squabblers. They do the right thing on behalf of the customer, even if they’re not making the sale today because they have faith that it’ll come back in the long run.

Successful owners realize that what’s good for everyone is good for them.

Track their arc and you’ll find a long tradition of…let’s call it…reciprocity.

– Zac Smith, VC