If I could call this post a manifesto, I would. And, perhaps it is just that. This mini manifesto is written for all business owners and at-heart entrepreneurs. This past weekend, I attended a dinner hosted by good friend and colleague Suzanne Falter Barns. Tim Kelley spoke at the dinner about the old vs. new paradigm of business, and the thirty of us present chimed in. The main message:
Greed is Out. Purpose is In.
The businesses of the past focused solely on growth. But, today’s landscape is different. Growth is a small percent of what makes a company truly great. A small company can rule supreme (in terms of profits and brand loyalty). Bigger is no longer better. Better is.
Umair Haque, blogger for the Harvard Business Review (and my recent professional crush!) wrote this:
“Hypercompetition — and hypercollaboration — is accelerating. The people formerly known as consumers are now your peers. Regulators have a keener eye and a longer arm. Stakeholders went from being hippie pacifists to shark-toothed activists. In this world, mere innovation and “strategy” are commodities. Globally, naked consumption must transition into durable investment. Meaning is the new cornerstone of advantage: Does what you produce actually make anyone meaningfully better off?”
This is what I believe Seth Godin often tries to convey. We used to be peddlers. Now, we have to be purveyors of an experience.
So, Money is Out?
Not at all. In fact, money has never been so “in.” It is no longer an “either or” game. It is an “and” game. No pun intended. Make profit AND do good. Not OR. Look, everyone can sell what you sell. Innovation is no longer a differentiator. Empathy is.
Humty Dumpty Took a Great Fall
Look around. Wall Street. Main Street. The Economy. We pushed too hard to keep going from good to great. So hard, in fact, that we ended up forgoing the good completely.
Can a business be just about profit? Yes. Can it do it indefinitely? No. The people are demanding more. They are demanding accountability and plain old fashioned goodness.
How Will You Create Meaning For Your Customers?
This isn’t a question I pose to you alone. This isn’t a one-time question we answer and move on. This is a question I ask myself every day. How do we add meaning to the world?