Can a business bring greater meaning to your life?
Think about it.
Has there ever been a product, service, or company that has enriched your life and the lives of others?
For us the answer is a resounding Yes!
In fact, as Human-Centered advocates we believe businesses bringing people (both customers and employees, because hey, we’re all people) more fulfillment is not only possible, but it’s their responsibility.
It’s also necessary for business success.
How can businesses deliver on this responsibility and find success?
Easy… they can make meaningful business.
What is a Meaningful Business?
We define a meaningful business as one that considers and embodies the human side of the business ecosystem. A meaningful business puts people before profit, because it realizes that its people are responsible for its profit.
This type of business not only has a purpose for existing, but delivers on that purpose in everything and to everyone it comes into contact with.
How Do You Make a Meaningful Business?
The first step in making your business a meaningful business is determining your reason for being. Some refer to it as their “why”. Some talk about this as the core of their mission statement.
Whatever the semantics, your business’s reason for being has to be clearly defined.
The next step after determining your reason for being is to align with it!
This means taking a long, hard look at your business, then creating an inventory of each facet that makes it up. Record the name of each team, process, procedure, event, communication… you get the point. Write it all down.
Then, for each item ask yourself “does this facet of my business align with our reason for being?” If the answer is yes, well done! If it’s no, then you have work to do.
NOTE: The specific steps your business decides to take for aligning with your reason for being are beyond the scope of this piece, but there are a myriad of resources out there that can help (like this one and this one).
Why is it Important to Create a Meaningful Business?
It’s no secret nowadays that businesses need to create relationships with their customers and employees in order to be successful. Sure there are the behemoths out there who can spend and shout their way to more millions, but even they are running out of steam.
Instead, retaining loyal customers and employees is paramount.
Further, the state of business today is one in which both loyal customers need more than good pricing or flashy features to stay committed to your brand, and loyal employees need more than just a decent salary and healthcare benefits to stick around.
An Example of a Meaningful Business: Patagonia
Founded in 1973, few outdoor enthusiasts, and probably few of you reading this, are unaware of the company Patagonia. What started as a shop for rock climbing gear has ballooned into a $200+ million dollar a year outdoor gear and apparel empire.
However, it’s not just great quality products that are responsible for Patagonia’s success. A large portion is also attributed to its very loyal customers and employees. These people align fully with Patagonia’s reason being: “We’re in business to save our home planet.”
By Patagonia aligning all aspects of their business and products with this statement, they attract as customers and employees like minded individuals who not only support their mission, but who spread the word for them, making the marketing spend much less than you’d think.
We Say This For You, Us, and All
Know that on many levels we share this knowledge with you for you to be successful, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you that our main motivation is selfish. Yes, we want your business to be successful, but not just because we like you (though I’m sure we like you).
Meaningful businesses are businesses that generate profits and keep their doors open. This is important because businesses who keep their doors open directly impact our communities.
It’s All an Ecosystem
How many times have we heard that our communities and small towns are dying? We believe having businesses stay in business in our communities is a direct way to improve the world we live in.
This isn’t just because having businesses in the community creates jobs. There are many other benefits to consider, including decreased commute times, increased community identity and involvement, and less infrastructure and maintenance needed, to name a few.
Your business exists in an ecosystem which means if it fails, a gap in the ecosystem appears. If being a meaningful business increases the chances of your business thriving, that means it also increases the chance that your ecosystem thrives.
Is this just for small businesses?
We know what you’re thinking. “I see why small and medium sized businesses need to become meaningful, create customer/employee relationships, and stay in business to help the community, but what does this have to do with large businesses?”
If you think that large businesses don’t have the same needs (loyal customers and employees) and effects (helping their communities), allow us to be the first to tell you you’re wrong! Of all the businesses out there, large corporations who make meaningful businesses have the most impact.
Every large business or corporation has offices throughout their country, state, or the world. If satellite offices don’t stay open, people lose jobs or commute times increase or community identity decreases… it all hinges on both small and large businesses finding success.
And, as you’ve gathered thus far, that success relies on meaning.
Moving Forward as a Meaningful Business
By considering the meaning or reason for being behind your business then aligning all aspects of your business with that purpose, you become human-centered and step into the human side of your business ecosystem. You also become more meaningful to your employees and customers.
Being a meaningful business means you not only help your customers and employees, but you help your community thrive while coming pretty darn close to “making this world a better place”.
It means all this, because it guarantees business success through customer and employee loyalty.
More meaning? More profitable businesses? More enriching communities?
These are the kind of mores we can get behind.