In business, many are called, but few are chosen. Those the market choose, are those who matter!
Recently, in continuing our business mastery series, I wrote an unusual article about the most important business question ever; what is your business?
The response was massive as it helped a lot of entrepreneurs realize that they had been focusing on the wrong things. They had been asking the wrong questions first. They had been putting the cart before the horse.
Well, here’s the second most important business question for entrepreneurs; does your business matter? For better clarity, here’s another way to frame the question;
what will the world miss when your business no longer exist?
Every time I ask this question at seminars or coaching sessions with entrepreneurs, I get the same response; SURPRISE!
Rarely do entrepreneurs think in this direction. Rarely do they start with the end from the beginning. Every time, I see the same look of bewilderment on their face.
So I will ask you again; what will the world miss when your business no longer exist?
Does Your Business Matter?
On December 31st 2011, we finally shut the door of one of our businesses – Lighthouse Cybercafe. The business was no longer profitable. We had a large customer base that no longer required our services as often as they used to because a much convenient solution (Smartphones) had emerged.
You can read the full account of this story here; knowing when to pull the plug on a dying business.
The funny thing about shutting down the business was the responses we got from our customers. They didn’t want us to shut down despite the obvious facts that their patronage had reduced.
What were their arguments?
What other cybercafe can they go to browse when their browsing needs go beyond the capacity of smartphones? What other cybercafe can take care of them the way we do? What other cybercafe exposes them to global opportunities online as we do?
Many recounted the memories of our impact on their lives through our unusual approach to business. They talked about our customer service, membership strategy, monthly SMS, birthday greetings, monthly promos, daily free browsing, loyalty rewards, friendship etc. I wrote about how you can apply all these in your business in this unusual article; what’s the best response against intense business competition?
As they talked, it dawned on us that we were leaving not because we were under-performing, but because of a disruptive market change. We couldn’t help it, neither could they. We didn’t pay them to say all these; they talked because what we did mattered. They talked because we made an impact. It was this impact that they didn’t want to miss!
For the third time, let me ask again; does your business matter? What will the world miss when your business no longer exist?
Are you doing what MATTERS?
You are in business for a couple of years now, so what?
Your business puts food on your table, so what?
Your business pays your bills, who cares?
Your business generates ‘x’ amount annually, so what?
Your business is located in ‘x’ number of branches, who cares?
Your business employs ‘x’ number of workers, so what?
Your business sells ‘x’ number of products/services annually, who cares?
Are these the only metrics that matter?
Are these really true indicators of greatness?
Let me help you refine your thoughts a little bit. Here’s how these metrics play out when related to we humans.
Is greatness on earth a function of the number of years lived? (How long you’ve been in business).
Is greatness a function of the number of children you have? (How much your business generates).
Is greatness a function of the number of places you have lived? Or the number of people you’ve come in contact with? (The number of branches your business has).
When the greatness of your business is measured only by internal gains, then your definition of greatness is flawed.
Here’s the bitter truth; to whom much is given, much is expected. Business is far more than just generating constant revenues; business is a service to humanity!
The TRUE Measure of GREATNESS
Greatness in life as well as in business is never a function of size, but a function of impact. The greatest amongst us are rarely so because they are the biggest.
They are great because they are the FIRST at something.
They are great because they are the BEST at something.
They are great because they are the FASTEST at something.
They are great because they are the CHEAPEST at something.
Size is irrelevant when it comes to greatness.
No one cares how big you are if your bigness is not making a difference. No one cares about the balance of your balance sheet, if you have a negative influence in people’s lives. To matter in business as well as in life is a function of how much positive impact your existence makes.
To matter is a function of impact, not size!
Look at your industry, which company makes the most impact? You will notice they are the most talked about. The most preferred and the most patronized. People don’t flock around giants who don’t use their size to make an impact.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not in any way against size. There is absolutely nothing wrong in expansion or growth. This is about growth, expansion and profitability without compromising service and impact.
Don’t be BIG for nothing. Be BIG for something.
Don’t pursue recognition without making a contribution.
Businesses that matter change the world and profit from purpose. They make their profits by making a difference. They use their bigness in the service of humanity. For service to many leads to greatness.
They are BIG for something; to serve!
How To Build A Business That MATTER
1. Clearly Define Why You Exist
The first step to building a business that matters is to define why your business exists in the first place. This brings us back to the most important business question ever for entrepreneurs; what is your business?
If you want to build a business that matters, start with a clear definition of what your business is. Start with the change you want to make happen; the difference you want to make; the value you want to add.
Businesses that matter know why they exist. They have a reason beyond survival for being. They are purpose-driven. It is hard to matter if you don’t clearly define how you want to matter.
Here are some examples of how companies that matter define why they exist.
Our company exists to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected – Facebook.
Our company exists to create a strong business that builds great products that contribute to a better world – Ford.
Our company exists to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful – Google.
Our company exists to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential – Microsoft.
Our company exists to help ordinary folks buy the same things as the rich folks everyday – WalMart.
Our company exists to bring happiness to many – Disney.
Our company exists to develop people, businesses and lives to be SIGNIFICANT [different and making a difference] – MADphilips.
2. Focus on the customer
Businesses that matter put the customer first. In the end the only true indicator of business success is not how much profit you make, but how many customers your business serves. Profits as I have always been frankly emphasizing, is not automatic. You don’t make profits just because you are in business.
You make profits ONLY when you satisfy people’s needs. You make profits ONLY when you solve people’s problems. You make profits ONLY when your business adds value to people’s lives through the products/services it provides.
In business, this is the order to follow if you must succeed;
Purpose first, profit second.
People first, money second.
Value first, reward second.
Giving first, getting second.
Don’t be deceived, in business, just like life, the golden rule applies. People matter above things.
These people are your customers. They are the only metric that matter!
Revenue comes from the customer. The customer determines how many branches your company has. The customer determines the number of employees. The customer determines what you produce. The customer puts food on your table. The customer pays your bills. The customer is your boss. The customer indeed is king.
If you are not putting them first, all other things will fall apart. Without customers, there is no business. So, create a love affair with your customers.
3. Challenge the status quo
You cannot matter unless you do something that matters. Take a look at your industry, what does your business STAND for? Are you redefining the rules of the game? Are you a force to reckon with? Are you leading the change? To matter in business, you cannot be a follower.
You must be a trailblazer, a pacesetter, a change maker. In the naijapreneur way, you have to do business NOT as usual.
The businesses that matter define the trend in the niche or industry or market they serve. They don’t play the game of business on the same level as everyone else. They don’t do the usual stuff everyone else does. They are not a ‘me too’ company. They are the kings of their niche.
So, what are you going to be the first at? What are you going to be the best at? What are you going to be the fastest at? What are you going to be the cheapest at?
If there isn’t any specific change your company brought into the market you serve, then you don’t matter. If there isn’t any competition imitating what your company does, then you don’t matter.
If you are not a point of reference in your industry, niche or market, then you don’t matter. If no one else other than your employees is talking about your company, then you don’t matter.
To matter, whether in life or in business, you can’t afford to be normal. You can’t afford to be like others. You can’t afford to be ordinary. To matter, you’ve got to be abnormal [above normal]. You’ve got to be unusual. You’ve got to be extra-ordinary. You’ve got to challenge the existing standards. You’ve got to rethink how you do business!
Make a difference.
Go build a business that MATTERS!
Personally, at the end of my life, I want to look back and see that I have spent my life building a business that matter. Do you? Share with us in the comment section below how you intend to build a business that matters by clearly defining why your company exists like the examples above.
ONE LAST THING!
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Thank you for your time! Now over to the comments ….