Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Balancing Act


Any great business needs to balance 2 key goals:
1. Do great things for people
2. Turn a profit

If there is no intrinsic worth to the work, it's hard to attract great people.
If there's no extrinsic impact on the bottom line, there will be no platform for people to pursue their passion and apply their talents.

The great challenge then, for a great business, is...

How do we get the most out of our teams (work capacity, creativity, and a high level of commitment and buy-in) while managing fiscal responsibility and reserving a portion of the revenue for profit back to the shareholder(s)?

People need to be incentivized to work.
This can come in the form of compliments, the work itself, the ability to work with like-minded people, or through personal and professional development they receive. And money. People do need to be paid for their time in some way, shape, or form.

A business (especially a new business for a shareholder with limited capital resources) needs to develop and maintain a revenue surplus scenario in order to survive.

The two aims can be detrimental to one another, unless there is a clear vision.
A clear vision of the target market. A clear vision on your strategy to different yourselves amongst the competition within that target market. A clear vision of what the right kind of teammate looks like to grow said business. Vision creates the dream, and the planning that must accompany that dream creates the alignment whereby potential conflicting goals can actually coexist if not become complementary.

A great example lies in "green" industries. They outpace "non-green" industries in their growth, and in many cases, also in profitability. You can combine 2 very separate ideals and have them be achieved simultaneously with great vision, great planning, and Herculean effort.

The how-to is as varied as the business this question applies to; as well as the particular philanthropic ideals. Not to mention - there are many possible 'hows'. Today's entry was not meant to answer the how - simply to keep people aware of the questions we need to ask in business.

If we don't ask these questions while we're still in the position to, the inevitable question to answer will become, "how did I work myself out of business?"

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