According to Jeff Klein, CEO of Working for Good and author of the award-winning book, Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living, business is a form of human social organization: people getting together for a purpose; to do something together; to deliver value to themselves and others. Business is an outlet for creative expression, a structure and process for turning ideas into products and services; and a vehicle for creating wealth – financial, material, intellectual, technological, social, even spiritual wealth – for individuals and society. In the most simple sense, “good business” = making money by delivering products and services that people want, that create value for others.
Jeff’s life’s work is focused on Conscious Capitalism where making money requires more than focusing on making money.
Yet today, the newsfeeds are fed daily with stories of businesses doing just that – focusing ONLY on making money. On March 14, The New York Times gave op-ed space to high level Goldman executive Greg Smith for views worth sharing. Headlining, “Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs,” he said: After almost 12 years with the firm, today was his last day. He worked there “long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.”
In “simplest terms,” he said client interests are sidelined. Goldman thinks only about making money. “The firm has veered so far from the place I joined right out of college that I can no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.” He called for them to “Weed out the morally bankrupt people, no matter how much money they make for the firm.” Make “people want to work here for the right reasons. People who care only about making money will not sustain this firm — or the trust of its clients — for very much longer.”
It is quite clear given the two views that making money is a lot more than just MAKING MONEY. The following five things should help you keep on track or help you not veer so wildly off course that you can’t course-correct.
1. Make Time – My boss at Scrip J used to always say “Never enough time to do it right, always enough time to do it over.” If you don’t take the time to pay attention to details – to double check everything before it leaves your shop/office/store/place of business – you are going to miss errors that could prove costly in the long run. One zero changes $7500 to $75,000. In your business this may be USD we’re talking about. You are not going to feel happy that you now have to tell your customer that your billing clerk made an error now would you? Make time to do the things that are important but not urgent. Sure fire-fighting makes you feel in control and on top of things but prevention is ALWAYS better than cure. Stop operating in reactive mode. Work on developing the systems you need to so that you can raise the bar on performance in your company. Take time to notice when your employees are doing a good job and tell them. All things big and small work together to make a huge difference.
2. Make Do – How we look at things is so important. The sedative of choice for most business owners is to say that their business would be performing much better if only they had better employees, more capital, a larger safety net, more technology, more hours in the day. In others words – the focus is on lack – what they don’t have. But what do you have? Sometimes we’re so focused on what’s missing that we miss the bounty that we’re sitting on. My grandmother washed and ironed clothes for a living. She knew one thing for sure – that my mother was going to attend Naparima Girls High School. It would cost her $12 for the year – a huge sum of money back then in the 1940s. But that’s exactly where my mother went. I’m sure that it was hard, and would have been a lot easier if she was doing some other line of work but she found a way to make do in other areas so that her one and only child could receive a solid education. As granny herself taught me – necessity is the mother of invention.
3. Make Sense – Unless we are clear about the direction we wish our businesses to grow in, how are we going to lead the rest who look to us for direction? If it doesn’t make sense to you now – regarding what you’re doing and why – STOP! Get clear first because if it doesn’t make sense to you, it’s not going to make sense to anyone else and all you’re going to get is a workplace fraught with chaos.
4. Make Room – This one could relate to many different areas. The first is in your head. Make room for new ideas. What brought you to where you are now may not be enough to take you to where you wish to go. De-clutter your environment as much as possible. Most people talk about “feeling so light” once they’ve cleared up their work area and filed the necessary paperwork. Don’t leave things to do later. Do it as quickly as possible. Make room for new talent by getting rid of employees who are toxic and negative in their thinking. They do far more damage than you think. Think about all the people they render unproductive and calculate $’s wasted.
5. And finally Make Believe – This is not just for children. We lose our ability to imagine once we become adults. Adults need to be serious, no nonsense folk because business is serious ting! Creative imagination is not exclusively for those who produce innovative products. We need imagination for service delivery too. Our imagination gives us wings and allows us to transcend obstacles by asking “what if it were possible to…” Don’t cheat yourself out of a profitable surfacing by stifling your imagination.
Roy Spence, co-author of It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For says “When the ashes clear from the economic Armageddon, the only organizations and leaders left standing will be the ones that actually stand for something.” If you practice the 5 “makes” then you will be one of those businesses still around and still interestingly enough – making money.