The Reason Your Company is In Business

by Sharlyn Lauby on February 24, 2011

. . .to make money.  There, I said it.

I saw a recent comment from someone who said that the reason businesses exist is to do good things for their employees.  Um, nope.  Sorry.  That’s an important thing for them to do, but not the reason for their existence. Big difference.  Huge.  Again…the reason businesses exist is to make money.  Make no mistake.

Now, that being said, there are two things to remember about your business:

1)       How you make that money defines you

2)      How you spend that money defines you

It reminds me of a favorite quote from Reverend Run – “You can’t help the poor if you’re one of them.”  A business can have all of the best intentions in the world.  It can want nothing but the very best for its employees.  It can be a good community citizen and supporter.  But if it doesn’t make money, it won’t be in business very long.  And it won’t be able to do all of the wonderful things it wants to do for its employees and the community.

Harvard Business Review published a series on rethinking capitalism recently.  You can check it out here, here and here.  While I don’t think it changes the fact that businesses need to make money in order to survive, the series does delve into what people are looking for in the companies they do business with.

They want to do business with honorable, credible, ethical organizations. (i.e. how you make money)

They want to support companies that give back to the communities that support them. (i.e. how you spend money)

Businesses need to realize that customer loyalty and capitalism are not mutually exclusive terms.  Companies that build a reputation (or dare I use the word brand?!) that demonstrates they have positive core values will perpetuate the whole reason their business exists.

Another way to say it is…when companies run a respectful business, treat their employees and customers right and support the community that supports them…they build loyalty.  And loyalty translates into more money, allowing the company to continue to run a respectful business, etc. etc.

Making money is nothing to be ashamed of.  In fact, it’s the thing that allows you to give back.

Image courtesy of @boetter

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