"The essence of a successful business is really quite simple. It is your ability to offer a product or service that people will pay for at a price sufficiently above your costs, ideally three or four or five times your cost, thereby giving you a profit that enables you to buy and to offer more products and services."
-- Brian Tracy
Brian's quote above is excellent and I think well stated. That is doing business and the basics of what a business does. On this I think there would be wide agreement.
In my lengthy business travels, I have heard a lot of people say things like, "business is business--you don't mix business with pleasure," or "this is business, that's just how it has to be," or "we're not here to make friends, we're here to make a profit," and other such putrid sayings. They disgust me to even hear them.
It's because I'm an idealist in some ways, I suppose, but I just don't see how it makes any sense to live a life one way and do business another. I am a huge fan of mixing business and pleasure and especially pleasure for my customers. I am a huge fan of The Golden Rule as taught me by my grandparents and by James Cash Penney or JC Penney, who would go so far out of his way to provide exceptional value for his customers that many would laugh at today. Not me. His philosophy was simply providing much more value than the money the customer gave him. I think that is a most solid philosophy and as applicable today as any day past, present or future.
Indeed, the focus of the business will be best served by focusing on the customer and the value that the customer will receive. That value should always be high and going higher. There are hundreds of ways to provide value and each one would be worthy of exploration and consideration. This is the focus of a long-term business. Many businesses--even large ones, operate on such short term thinking by providing less value, by cutting services, lowering quality to enhance profits and many other ways. In good times, these businesses survive, but in times of the down market, these businesses have a seriously tough time.
People like doing business with people, and especially people they like and trust. Repeat and referral business is the best business a business could hope for and long term thinking, value increasing businesses reap those rewards easily. And, repeat and referral business is also the highest profits because those sales cost so much less to create.
Business is business. What does that mean to you?