There are many ways to run a business, many ways to develop the direction of that business. The strategy, and the tactics it will take to be successful vary from company to company. They say that the best way to start a business is to find a need and fill it. Obviously, this is true, especially if it is the right “need” and you have the “right” solution. Then, all that you have to do is produce the product, or develop the service, get a list of the people who need it, and then market to them. But remember, no matter how great your product is, if you don’t tell anyone about it, if no one knows about it then you will not succeed. This is all basic business, and no matter how difficult and complicated people try to make it…it isn’t. if you know what you’re doing you will succeed. And as I stated earlier, business and the way they are run as a varied as those who are running them.
But there are some facets of business that are the same throughout the world, basic building blocks on which every business should lay its foundation. These are the basic values of the business. The stronger your values, the better your company will do. This is a hard and true fact no matter how difficult it is to believe sometimes. We have all heard stories of corrupt business, companies that cheat, CEO’s and CFO’s that have cheated to make their profits soar…think Enron. But in the end, just like what happened to Enron, these cheaters go down. It doesn’t matter if the executives are pals with presidents or prime ministers at the end of the day dishonesty will sink a company. And by the same premise, a well-run company with true and sound values will succeed, will just like cream always rise to the top.
I think that today more than any other time in our history with business people and politicians playing games with values, trying to re-define what the truth is, twisting it to their advantage while trying to warp our very reality, it is important that we as company leaders, refuse to follow suit. That we stand tall and go high in all of our business transactions, from the way we treat our customers, our vendors and our partners to the way we treat each other. When all is said and done, to be able to say that you’ve always run a good and honest business, will be its own reward and yes, your cream will raise to the top.
Just as a reminder in these times when people are trying to rewrite everything from the ten commandments to the U.S. Constitution it is more important than ever for us to sit back and think about our companies’ values and what we stand for. Take a moment now and think about these basic human decency values and how well your company is doing in upholding them:
Integrity: Integrity is the most important value a company can have. To be known for always doing the right thing regardless of whether or not it is advantageous to your company. Sometime integrity hurts but in the end, it will always pay off. It always has, and always well.
Honesty: Just because some of our country’s leaders no longer think that honesty is the best policy, it does not give us a pass when it comes to telling the truth. This one is really simple, never tell a lie. It is right there in black and white, never lie to your customers, your vendors, your partners or your associates and most importantly never lie to yourself. If your product is going to be late, admit it, tell your customer in enough time for her to do something about it, and take your lumps. It will benefit you greatly in the end. And yes, your customers will respect you even more.
Generosity: Always be generous, especially when it comes to the people you are in business with. Make sure that each decision you make is fair to everyone concerned. While we live in a new world order that is based on “I got mine, the heck with the rest of you”, mentally, that is not the way to lead your life, and it most certainly is not the way to do business. When a customer comes to you with a problem, before you waste time trying to point blame just solve the problem as quickly as possible, then figure out how it can be prevented in the future. Sure, there will be times when it isn’t your fault but if you have developed a relationship with your customers based on generosity, you will get through it and stay together as vendor-customer partners for life.
Grace: You’ve heard the expression “grace under pressure” and you know that it always applies to the coolest person in the room. Grace is hard to define but the best definition of a person with grace is one who is cool under pressure while everyone is freaking out. As a company leader, always be cool, calm and collected no matter what is going on. That is the sign of true leadership.
In my opinion these are the four basic values for any business leader, or for anyone actually. I know there are others we can name, but I consider these the actually building block values of all businesses and organizations. Always be aware of these values…always follow them and you will not only have a good and profitable business but a life well-lived as well. It’s only common sense.