The Secret Ingredient of Business Success
Column by Dan Rodriguez
Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's Corp., often said, "None of us is as good as all of us." That axiom has been a success ingredient of the hamburger giant for over a half century and it can serve your business, too. What Mr. Kroc was referring to is the synergy that is created by partnering with others.
The concept of "None of us is as good as all of us" is as relevant today as are power-partners, meetups and masterminds. In business, the concept of partnering is extensive and includes the relationships between business owners, employees, suppliers, vendors, organizations and customers. The quantity of partnerships and the quality of those relationships is the secret ingredient that determines your relevance in the marketplace.
One partnership that is often overlooked is the relationship of your business and charitable giving. Legendary speaker Zig Zigler has said, "You can get everything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want." Winston Churchill said, "You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give."
Small businesses are confronted with the challenge of getting their message out among the huge volume of information and advertising. Customers are so inundated with messages in every conceivable medium that they have become used to a constant barrage of advertising "noise."
In this economic environment, a small business has to do something extraordinary to get customers' attention. A method that many have found to be extremely successful is the practice of being a good corporate citizen, of volunteering and giving back. A business derives a multitude of benefits from participating in the community.
One result many entrepreneurs don't expect is that they improve the balance in their personal life. How does giving back add balance to your life? First of all, it breaks the cycle of work that many ambitious business owners fall into. They find reasons to keep working, and they slowly become buried in their work, unaware that they are sacrificing their personal lives in their pursuit of success.
Volunteering and helping others gets entrepreneurs away from the business. It provides a new outlook, one in which they fill a different role. When they assume a new role, they often take the opportunity to reassess how they fill other roles such as mother, father, husband, wife, family member.
How do you decide in what way to give back? Look around. Is there something that's important to you? Is there a societal problem that's been bothering you? Do you, or a family member, suffer from a particular disease or condition? You can find an organization that addresses this very personal part of your life and volunteer to help them. And, if nobody is already doing it, consider starting your own campaign.
Another consideration is what you are in a position to do. Your business provides a valuable service; see how you can use that advantage to help out. It might be as simple as providing coupons for your services for an organization to raffle or give away. You may be able to get your employees to volunteer for activities where more people are needed.
There are, of course, economic benefits to your business for volunteering. You become more visible, in a way that leaves a positive impression on your customers. Some companies pay thousands, if not millions, of dollars trying to create an image of their business that you could get for free simply by volunteering.
The true magic of partnering with an organization is that it provides the avenue for you to make a HUGE difference in the world around you. Working with like-minded people with similar goals multiplies the results of your efforts exponentially. A team of organized, committed individuals who work toward a common goal is powerful. Organizations that are formed for a particular purpose provide a means for caring individuals to work together to multiply their results in ways that none of them could do alone. The whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.
Regardless of the cause that you care to join and support, remember that being a true partner involves more than simply "doing your time." You are developing relationships that can be meaningful to other people as well as to yourself. Those relationships should be precious to you, and you should care for them accordingly.
Giving back to society is a concept that has been wrapped in philosophy and moral teachings for a long time. Only in recent years has it become a standardized part of how business should be done. Volunteering and giving don't lend themselves to a formula that you learn in business school, but they can become a part of your business education if you let them.
The new rule for business is not earning gold; it's conducting your business by following the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.