I’m asking the same question Tina became famous for. But this time, we’re talking about success in business. Read most any textbook on growing a business and you won’t see much about “love.” On the contrary, even marketing terms such as “target market,” “shotgun approach,” and “clickbait” treat the customer as less than human, someone to be manipulated into buying whatever is being sold.
You also won’t read that the first customers of any business are the people working for that business.
Business success doesn’t come from manipulating these two important groups of people. Having helped literally hundreds of business owners increase their revenue, I can state with full confidence that real, long-lasting, dependable revenue comes from taking good care of these two groups of people.
If this idea repulses you, or you’re just in it for the money, you may as well stop reading now. Nothing I say here will change what you think you should do.
If, on the other hand, you are a person who wants to make the world a better place, and started a business partly for that reason, this article is for you.
What do your workers have to do with business success?
One of the first lessons we learn, as infants, is who cares about us enough to take care of us, and who we can’t trust to do that. There may be apparent admirers, such as “Aunt Mabel,” who enthusiastically pinches our chubby infant cheeks (ouch!) and exclaims to all how “adorable” we are, but when it comes time for real care—giving us food and changing our diapers—she’s nowhere to be found.
Even this early in our lives, we start to be wary of anyone who appears to be only faking their concern for our welfare. Years later, when we start to work in an organization, our radar is scanning the environment for those we can trust and those “Aunt Mabels” who talk a good game but who really don’t care for us at all.
Honestly, this is why there are unions. Enough workers looked around and observed that the Aunt Mabels outnumbered those who actually cared. Worse, often it was the people at the very top who were the real Aunt Mabels, in spite of their public proclamations to the contrary.
On the other hand, when the person at the top really does care about their people, their people are more than happy to work there, and will tell others how much they love it. We have a client, a husband/wife team who own a food product company. The husband was a professor teaching business at MIT, and he was surprised, once he started running this company, how much the workers cared about the success of the company. “I realized that if the house was suffering, the people in the house will suffer,” he said recently.
This is what I would call a “reality of humanity,” just as obvious as babies realizing that Aunt Mabels are to be avoided and caring people are to be trusted and cherished.
If you really don’t care about your workers as humans, people who respond positively to genuine concern for their welfare, then hiring and retaining good workers will always be tough for you. They will speak negatively about you when you’re not in the room, and will always be on the lookout for a better place to work.
Personally, I believe in this reality of humanity so much that my first goal as the owner of my company is to make this a “safe place for nice people to work.” I do everything I can to help them do their best work, to feel cared for and protected. I will, and I have, dropped any clients who don’t treat our team with respect. Our nice people take care of each other every day and help each other gladly.
What’s the point of even having a company if the people in the company are miserable? How does that contribute to “making the world a better place”? How can they possibly care about our clients if they are not being taken care of themselves?
What is love, anyway? It’s simple: caring. Finding out what people need and then giving it to them. In business, as far as your workers are concerned, that means working with them to create a place that they want to spend time in and give energy to.
What does caring for your customers have to do with business success?
What I just typed seems like a ridiculous question to even ask. I mean, when we’re not running a business, we are customers, just like the people we sell to. And we know perfectly well how quickly we will leave a business that doesn’t care for us. In a nanosecond. Without regret. We’ll never look back, and we’ll be sure to warn others away.
The companies that are run by people who don’t care for their customers think they are competing with other companies in their space. Yes, there’s no question that their customers are leaving their company for the other companies. But the real competition—the force that is working against all of their marketing efforts and expenditures—is what happens when those customers realize that no one really cares. They see Aunt Mabel, plain as day, and they leave.
Without customers, there is no success. In fact, there is no business. One of the dangers of getting outside financing is the business managers feel like they have money to spend even though they haven’t gotten that revenue from real, paying, satisfied customers. They are acting like they are successful, but they’re not. Until the business sustains itself exclusively with customer-gained revenue, success is a delusion.
If you have a product or service that actually solves real needs, and you are constantly listening to and responding to your customers, making improvements based on their feedback, you are exercising the power of love—caring—and you will be rewarded.
People work so they can buy. They want to be able to spend their money, and they want that expenditure to be free of regrets. They want to be delighted, and if they are, they will be more than happy to buy from you again and refer others to you.
One last note: Loving what you do.
Most people who start a business set out to do what they love, and be the best they can be at it. This is the seed from which a company grows. If you love what you do, your passion will be infectious, and you will attract others who want to join you to share and bask in your enthusiasm. They will be pleased to be part of something “bigger than themselves.”
If you started a business because you were forced into it by family expectations, or it just seemed like a way to make money but you really hate going to work every day, that lack of love for what you’re doing will drag everyone down. Customers and workers won’t want to be part of something that feels unhappy and passionless.
What does love have to do with business success? Everything.