Why a significant business is more than a successful business

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Powerful business - Signficant

In life, success without significance is possible, but significance without success is nearly impossible.   In most cases long term success in business follows a very similar path.  The question then is which path is your business on?

Recently, Kansas City area author, Dan Stalp was a guest speaker at an Aspire Book Review.   He used “The Reunion”, a book he co-authored, as the framework to challenge his audience on this subject.   His book tells the story of a High School Reunion with a cast of 4 main characters.  Each of them has led a very different life since their High School graduation day.   Ultimately, the story will challenge the reader to look in the mirror and reflect on their own life.   It is a great short read.

The fact that 76 million baby boomers have been moving through the different stages of life at an avg. rate of 10,000/per day over the last several decades probably has something to do with the increase in this type of personal reflection. Regardless of the reason, it is also fair to say there has been a significant shift in the awareness or desire of companies to “make a difference” instead of just “making money”.    And even if they aren’t doing it at their core, there certainly are a lot of companies at least trying to portray that image publically.

It is critical for any for-profit business to actually make a profit, without that there is no growth, no hiring of additional employees, no goods or services, and no profits to pay taxes on (which in turn fund things like schools, gov’t agencies, and our infrastructure).   There has to be a profit.   But if making money is the only thing you focus on, will that produce a long term successful business?

“Successful Businesses may make Money…Significant Businesses also make a Difference”        –  Aspire Business Development

Let’s agree that  there are examples of companies and entire industries that have made (and still make) a lot of money from what would not be viewed as significant businesses, at least not in a positive context, that’s part of the free enterprise system.

Significant Businesses possess qualities and traits that tend to go a little deeper than the dollar sign.  Financially they tend to be very sound and profitable businesses, but the revenue is more of a by-product of the way the entire company operates. Below is a starter list of some qualities Significant Business exhibit.

  1. Strong ethical leadership that believes in accountability, honesty, and integrity.
  2. The business has a defined core value system that is reflective of who they are.
  3. Customers and Customer experience are a high priority.
  4. Positively impact the lives of their employees, the employees enjoy working there, and the company has a desire to give back.
  5. Provide products or services that have a place, fill a need, and they constantly strive to get better.

Does this sound like your business?   Would you want to do business with this kind of company?

A quick side note on this topic of significance…. Which city and fan base do you think the world viewed as being more significant the morning after Game 7 of the World Series?  The news of burning cars and arrests in San Francisco or the news of Kansas City fans that generated an unsolicited letter to the editor by a San Franciscan billionaire that went viral?

Focus on Significance; chances are pretty good it will improve your business and the world around you will be a better place because of it.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.   If you have any traits or qualities to add to the list above please feel free to share them.

Chris Steinlage  Kansas City Business Coach

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