As is evident from the increasing number of companies that are claiming its application, business ethics – which promotes sustainable market dynamics that are more respectful of the environment and of society – seems to be the panacea to uplift the destinies of companies and build a future of prosperity. Many, however, use the word ethics (or other terms such as sustainability, wellness,…) to create eye-catching advertisements, which amount to nothing as they are contradicted by actions aimed at achieving immediate results at all costs. What should entrepreneurs, managers and professionals do in order to design their business models consistently, moving from words to deeds? Our answer to this question is in the pages of our book Engaging the Heart in Business which describes how to build an authentic and successful market approach, no longer based on the war metaphor – where you hit the target-clients, defeat your competitors and exploit your employees – but literally guided by the love for what you do, for the people involved and the environment in which you operate.
In this article we would like to provide you with a step-by-step guide to keep in mind when developing a business model that goes in this direction.
- Remember that economy is ruled by the law of reciprocity: “first you give and then you receive”. In order to be able to give, however, first you need to be aware of what you can offer: therefore it is advisable to define the identity and values that guide your actions before taking any step on the market.
- Keep in mind that the best way to serve the interests of shareholders and investors is to keep clients and employees happy, respect the environment, the society and the culture in which you are immersed (stakeholders). Those who behave differently are unlikely to survive in the market as their reputation will plummet, victim of negative word of mouth.
- Make the clients fall in love with you, attracting them with positive emotions and feelings, and not only with affordable prices. The law of attraction, that binds clients, sellers and companies through values and emotions, has a very similar origin to that of love. To talk about love, however, you can’t have a military-inspired business model; forget about pseudo-military hierarchies and warmongering jargon, and create an environment that promotes a healthy debate and a constant exchange instead.
- Note that not all results can be described by numbers and econometric calculations. You need to learn to define also intangible and value goals. The goals we set for ourselves give meaning to our lives and motivate us to act. Whether we are entrepreneurs, managers, employees or clients, everything we do has to make sense.
Profits are a tool, not an end, and they can’t be the only reason to do business.
- Remember that if things work in the long term, they will work in the short term too, because today’s results are the fruit of yesterday’s work. Especially in economics there are no money machines that can generate profits without investments; “looking at the short term”, ignoring the “long term”, is like saying that you can harvest without sowing.
- Take into account the social, environmental and cultural dynamics of the context in order to cooperate with all the actors included. Clients, employees, competitors and anyone crossing your path – if bearers of values – should be integrated in your business model.
The more people you have who support your presence on the market, the higher your chances of success.
- Get people involved in something bigger than just manufacturing, selling and purchasing products and services. Give yourself and your business a higher mission, something exciting that makes people want to help you achieve.
Build your offer including meanings, emotions, values and dreams. These will convince your clients to buy, your managers and employees to work for you, competitors and businesses to respect you.
- Don’t hide your flaws and only make promises you can keep. The key word of modern business is “real not perfect”, this means you will have to be transparent and consistent to maintain credibility.
Your uniqueness and your talent are the most precious and original “merchandise” you can offer the market.
- Remember that having happy customers is the secret of every successful organization.
Before investing in other forms of communication, invest your money and time in authentic relationships. Relationships are the scarce resource you should protect and “accumulate” in modern markets.
- Be aware that quality, not quantity, generates efficiency. There’s no point in blaming yourself if you don’t reach the goal despite the hard work: you might be pushing in the wrong direction. How can you figure out which is the right direction? By asking how you’re doing as you go along, by observing the happiness you sow along the way, the welcome and the answers you receive.
- Give things the time to grow, grit your teeth and widen your gaze. Even when your results will be lower than expected, keep in mind that for everything there is a season: a time to plant and a time to harvest. If you give, you create and exchange value for you and others. You are already a successful person and – believe us – you will never have survival problems.
Since 2011, the year it was founded, our firm has provided courses and consultancies to over 200 organizations, involving a total of about 5000 people. We have seen the birth of businesses perfect on paper, which have in fact disappeared quite rapidly, but we have also witnessed the success of seemingly utopian business projects. Beyond the numbers and how it went, the explanation we have found lies in one or more of the points listed above!
| partem claram semper aspice |