The purpose of business is not to make money for its owners or shareholders. The call to entrepreneurs is to love and serve society, through the products and services they have the privilege of providing. I think we’ve lost sight of that vision and I believe we’ve got business wrong.
A Business needs to learn to love again. What do I mean by love? A business that loves puts people first: from their customers to their team. It’s a love that sets a business head and shoulders above other businesses, and takes their triple bottom line responsibilities of people, profit and planet seriously.
Love is not fluffy, or something that simply belongs in the third sector.
Successful entrepreneurs who are given gifts of vision, energy and determination help create strong businesses. Some are motivated by creating wealth, and as a result their people find the means to live and provide for their families. This is good.
But better is available.
The best long-term reward for entrepreneurs is the incredible impact that their service or product can have on other people. Their customers, staff, suppliers, partners and shareholders can be on the receiving end of something that is transformational. They can be wowed by what they experience.
Sadly, when love is not present, the reverse is true. A lack of care with all its expressions, brings disappointment and anger towards businesses and their people. And over time with our individual and collective experiences, we’ve learnt to expect poor service, products that break and a sense of customer dis-satisfaction. We’re no longer surprised by self-seeking companies.
We used to enjoy small town rules, where the local fishmonger knew our name and how we liked our fish cut each Friday.
For most of us those days are gone. Big business has taken over. And many now believe that business is dirty, corrupt and made up of individuals who have become desensitized to real people. It’s all about the money, money, money; whatever the cost. Customers feel that businesses at worst lie, or at best over promise and under deliver. Businesses expand and contract in the interests of those at the top of the food chain, who make the most cash from these decisions. And often the customers, staff and suppliers are all too quickly forgotten in the decision-making process.
Who give business this bad name?
I did. You did. We all did. We did this when we decided that the primary role of business was not to serve and love others, but to make money. We did this when we stopped expecting wow from business, and rewarded mediocracy if it cost us less and allowed them to cut corners.
We need love back in the board-room. And love starts with us all.
And when we see a business that is different, it catches our breath. It grabs our attention and makes us pause momentarily. We retweet, we like, we subscribe and we open our mouths to tell others all about them. We want them to succeed, and we’re happy to give them our money again and again. Don’t you want to be part of such a business?
And for those who feel it’s not time for flower power to hit the cash-flow forecast, running a business with love at the centre is not weak.
Love is not a pushover. Love is challenging and tough; especially when the needs of all the stake-holders are considered.
And within the context of our changing world, love is not afraid of the tough decisions; even when sadly, the consequences can be painful.
And as someone who loves business, it’s potential, the opportunities, the growth and all the good that can come through it, I believe that love makes good business sense. It helps create longevity, a more productive work-force and a lot of good profit.
In the meantime do you think it’s possible to have love in a business? Or does it by nature stand in contradiction with business?