The Business of Generosity

Gift

Can you build a business on being generous? Can you commit to delighting your customers every time, and how would that affect your bottom line? Can you always deliver extra value and a pleasant experience for your clients?

While you ponder that thought, let’s take a look at the opposite side of the spectrum. Consider a company that manufactures something and decides to cut corners and reduce costs. Perhaps the product still works well – almost as well – as it originally did, and a few pennies are saved. Is this kind of cost-cutting a solid business decision?

Possibly, but the answer might not be quite so simple. In the scenario where the product works slightly less well with a few pennies saved, then what happens the next time costs are cut? And the next? Many times there will be a gradual degrading of quality to the point where people start to notice and question their purchasing decisions.

We all know how much easier and more cost-effective it is to keep current customers instead as opposed to seeking out new ones, which means that losing a customer is an expensive proposition – probably a lot more expensive than the pennies saved in production.

But let’s take the idea of adding value, going the extra mile for your customers. Your bean counters may not be happy at first, but what’s the real value of a delighted customer – one who tells their friends about the extraordinary service that he or she has received? It may be hard to quantify but that doesn’t mean it’s not extremely valuable. Companies like Zappos understand this concept and have built their entire culture around it.

How can you embrace excellent service within your organization and encourage your employees to be generous with their time and skills? You may find the way that your customers decide to thank you to be both delightful and profitable, as well.

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: How to Turn Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released in the Fall of 2017.

Adapt and Grow

If you’re not always changing and adapting as a business, then your business is dying.

You have probably heard that idea before, but if you’re running a small business are you so caught up in the day to day that you’re forgetting to ask yourself how you can continue to do better, be better, and adapt to and ever-changing and often fickle marketplace?

Part of the solution to this issue is a commitment to education for leadership and employees of any organization. And the other part is a willingness to grow and change, to try new things and to let go of that which is no longer serving you.

In order to do this effectively you have to ask a lot of questions, which means listening to your customers, your employees and to peers and leaders in your field. And, when you do start getting feedback, you have to be willing to do something about it.

If you start hearing that your pricing is too high, for example, that could mean one of two things. Either you need to come up with a product or service that is more affordable to your customer base, or you need to court a different demographic because you’re probably not working with your ideal clients.

Obviously no business should want to jump on every trend that pops up, but being savvy enough to balance what your customers need and want with new advances and best practices in your business are a winning combination and one which we all should be striving for.

And even if achieving the perfect balance of innovation and consistency is tough, you don’t have to be perfect to be effective. In fact, any steps you can take towards intentionally creating an innovative and forward thinking company are going to serve you well and move your closer to your goals.

Perfect Place, Perfect Time?

At times running a business can be scary. You could lose a big client, make a costly mistake or have issues with an employee. Your office space could flood as we’ve seen happen recently down in Texas, or you could get sick and have to step back from the company for a while.

I recently spoke with business owners who have experienced all of the above, and one of the similarities that I found among them was this.  While no one enjoyed actually going through the unpleasantness of a major setback, every one of the people I spoke to was convinced that their lives and their businesses are better off now than before they experienced their life-changing event.

One friend, for example, had extreme challenges in her business when she lost a major client. She was forced to dramatically cut back on her staff, and then shortly after that she became seriously ill, which meant that working 70 or 80 hour weeks was no longer an option for her.

What ended up transpiring was that she cut her work hours back dramatically and actually found that without her previous overhead, that her profit was actually significantly higher, even with the shorter hours. She also started working on a book that she had been meaning to write for years but which she had to keep putting off due to other obligations.

It’s not hard to see how this friend’s life and business were better after the unwelcome shake-up happened, and interestingly, I found the same thing to be the case with everyone I talked to about this. Each of the business owners had had a significant setback that turned out to be a blessing. And that’s the part that I started getting very, very interested in.

So often we resist change, especially when it’s something that is perceived as negative, but in the cases of the people that I spoke to, the changes they had endured all had incredible blessings attached to them.

There is a school of thought that says the Universe is always conspiring for our highest good, for our best interest – even when it’s difficult or impossible to see it at the moment you’re going through something challenging. I for one am going to work on actively remembering this the next time things don’t go my way in life and in business. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to relax and allow, and lean into our faith in happy endings and positive outcomes.