June 2017 Motivate

What is Your Business Philosophy?


Written By: John Spence, international speaker and business consultant

There are two questions I am asked all the time when teaching business seminars: “What do I do if I’m trying to foster a strong family-like culture within my organization, but I have a long-term employee who everybody loves yet is incompetent and not adding any value to the business?” and “I want my company to be the best in the world, is it possible to accomplish this?” My answer to both of these questions is, “It depends on your business philosophy.”

If you want to have a company that treats employees like family, takes great care of them, supports them, and wants them to feel safe — and you value that over maximizing profits — then you will likely have to tolerate some level of mediocrity. I especially see this in family-owned businesses where relatives who work in the company are clearly not competent for the jobs they are doing but remain in the business, which often upsets the other employees. Again, what is more important to you in your business philosophy: people or profits? Yes, it is possible to have both, but when it is not working out, how will you make the difficult decision of whether to retain or terminate a low-performing employee? It all depends on your philosophy of business.

On the other side of the coin, I am also approached by people who want their businesses to be the best in the world and ask me if I can help them achieve that goal. My answer is: It depends on your business philosophy. If you are willing to pay the price of what it truly takes to be the best in the world, hire only top talent, pay at the higher end of salary ranges, demand excellence and be completely intolerant of mediocrity, then there is a chance your business might become among the best in the world. However, I have found very few companies that are willing to do the hard work of distinguishing themselves as the undisputed leader in their industries. It requires a sustained level of discipline, intensity and obsession that is beyond what most people can muster.

So, here are a few areas where the decisions you make will be based on the philosophy of your business:

• People first or profits first

• Value loyalty or value competence

• Employees first or customers first

• Focus on giving or focus on getting

• Do what is best for the customer or do what it takes to make the sale

• Be generous with salaries or pay as little as you possibly can

• Be fair and reasonable or drive for results at all costs

• Transparency or need to know only

The truth is that there are no right or wrong answers for the questions above; it all depends on your philosophy of business. What I can tell you is that the way you answer these questions will determine the long-term trajectory of your business, the kind of employees you attract, the kind of customers you retain, and the amount of revenues and profits you earn. As a business owner or leader, what you tolerate is what you’ll get more of — likewise, what you punish is what you will get less of.

So, I encourage you to sit down and take the time to think through your vision, mission, and core business values and then carefully create a clear philosophy for the following: How do you plan to run your organization going forward? What do you stand for? What do you refuse to do? How do you want your employees, customers and community to think about your company?

I have a favorite Walt Disney saying: “When values are clear, decisions are easy.” I believe it is the same for your company. When you are not clear about your values and philosophy, even the most trivial decisions can be overwhelming. But, with a clear mission, vision, core values and strong philosophy for how you will run your organization, even the most difficult decisions will become obvious. 

John Spence has been recognized as one of the top 100 business thought leaders and as one of the top 500 leadership development experts in the world. He is an international keynote speaker and management consultant and has written five books on business and life success. www.johnspence.com

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