Beyond the Money: What Does it Mean to Run a Business Well?

Success in business can be measured in many ways, but it generally comes back to one thing: profits. If it doesn’t make you money, it’s a bad idea.  We see this thinking play out over and over again in business decision-making, from large corporates to small startups.

And I understand why. We all have to make money to survive. But what would it look like to have a business that also took the wider implications of our overall impact into consideration? Are we even aware of our business’ unintended impacts (both positive and negative)? Are there decisions that hurt our profits in the short term that would actually make us stronger, more sustainable and, yes, even more profitable in the long term?

How are we affecting the environment? Are we taking care of our employees? Are we promoting an emotionally healthy work environment? And, especially leaders, are we taking care of ourselves so that we can also take care of others?

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Of course, we also have to make a profit. If our business doesn’t survive, we won’t have any impact at all. There will definitely be periods of business where we have to be more pragmatic than others. But we shouldn’t get used to making the “easy” decision to go for the short-term win. I think we need to be willing to sacrifice short-term, selfish gains for long-term, broader change. Although it is certainly not simple, I am convinced that making decisions based on holistic growth and benefit, rather than individualistic financial growth will be better for businesses in the long run.

This transition in the way we run our businesses will start with (1) being purposeful and thoughtful about the decisions we make and (2) moving away from a paradigm of scarcity to a paradigm of abundance. I’ll be talking about these two ideas in my next two blogs!

Read more about setting up your business with a holistic perspective here (East Africa) and here (America).