By Bill Fotsch
If you google Business Owners, here are some of the images you see:
What do you notice as you look at these images? People smiling, welcoming, feeling proud. And it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine how they do business. They work hard, take care of customers as well as employees, pay their taxes, and generally make the world a better place.
Celebrated entrepreneurs—Steve Jobs of Apple, Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, Howard Schultz of Starbucks—are like these owners, only on a bigger scale. Their companies reflect a culture of ownership, which is to say a culture of responsibility. I had the privilege of working with Southwest Airlines a few years ago. When you are at the company’s headquarters at Love Field, in Dallas, you walk down halls lined with pictures of employees who have gone the extra mile. A sense of pride and accountability to one another infuses the place.
Isn’t that the goal of any owner? Owners want their company to succeed. To reach that point, they need to do three basic things:
1. understand their customer’s needs, and create products or services that meet those needs
2. attract and engage employees to deliver those products or services in a manner that delights customers
3. do all that at a profit
When an owner falters, it’s usually because he or she has forgotten about one of those basic points. Maybe the company doesn’t understand what its customers really want. Maybe its employees don’t know how to deliver great quality or great service. Maybe its costs are spiraling out of control. But you know what? There are simple things you can do to rectify any such situation.
Here are just two:
1) Interview your customers—now—to see what they really value. If you are not sure how to do this, ask for our free customer interview script. It’s based on a modified version of Fred Reichheld’s The Ultimate Question—a book that has helped many companies transform their relationship with customers.
2) Engage your employees by making the economics of your business transparent. Once they understand how the company makes money and how they contribute to profitability, they’ll begin coming up with ideas about how to make more—particularly if you share the extra profit with them. In effect, you’ll be turning them into owners.
We would like to see you be a successful owner. Customers, employees, your community and your fellow owners will all be better off. Why not become the Southwest Airlines of your industry? If we can help, let us know.