Money vs. meaning

Fred Koury, President and CEO, Smart Business Network Inc.

Guy Kawasaki, the one-time chief evangelist for Apple, will tell you that if you are in business to make money, you probably won’t be successful. But if you are in business for a greater meaning, you will probably not only be successful but you will also make money.

The concept is actually pretty simple. If our goals are centered on solving problems or creating a greater good, then there will be value associated with what we are doing, we’ll attract top people and customers will be happy. If our goals are focused on money, we are more than likely to just end up chasing our tail. It doesn’t mean we won’t make a little profit along the way, but the odds of becoming something special are against us.

Creating a business built on a higher purpose requires several steps:

  • Having a common vision. Everyone has to know what our higher purpose is and how we plan on getting there.
  • Working toward that vision. We have to show progress toward our goals and explain to people how they will help get the organization there.
  • Building the excitement. We need to celebrate the wins as we move toward our goals and showcase the people that are doing things right.
  • Rewarding people. We need a combination of recognition and compensation to help keep the momentum going. Highlight the top performers and reward those that are helping drive the success.

Our higher purpose doesn’t have to be anything complicated. In fact, the simpler the better. Take The Coca-Cola Co. for example. The company has a three-part mission statement:

  • To refresh the world
  • To inspire moments of optimism and happiness
  • To create value and make a difference

Note that the company is not explicitly focused on making money. It’s focused on refreshing the world with great products that make people happy while making a difference along the way. If Coke does those things, people will naturally gravitate toward its products and it will make money. But its mission is not focused on the monetary aspect directly.

Its vision is broken down into six P’s: people, portfolio, partners, planet, profit and productivity. Each one is further defined to illustrate how it fits into the overall mission. The end result is a simple plan that establishes clear guidelines that everyone in the organization can refer back to. If you work at Coke, you should probably have a pretty good idea of what the plan is and what is expected of you.

The company defines its cultures and even lists expected behaviors. In the area of rewarding people, the company highlights some top performers on its website, with each person touting what a difference he or she is making. It’s not about hitting a sales goal; it’s about making the world a better place in some small way.

We all need to look at whether our companies have a higher purpose other than making money. If our company doesn’t, it’s time to look at what we are doing. If a company that sells various beverages can identify and embrace a higher purpose and build a wildly successful company around that ideal, then it shouldn’t be too difficult for us to find a similar role for our companies. When we move beyond getting the next sale and focus on a greater purpose, everything will start to fall into place on its own.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or [email protected]