In planning my work for 2010, I asked myself similar questions. For New Marketing Labs, we’ve built the business to help larger companies use social media and other online marketing methods to build awareness, improve channels, and deliver more connected business relationships. In my other company (not yet launched), we’re going to empower passionate business, one human at a time through adult education. In thinking about what I’m going to do for [chrisbrogan.com], the soul of this site is where I have to reconsider what I’ve been offering and push forward for what I can do to be helpful in 2010.
Does Your Business Have a Soul?
Does your business seek to be helpful? Do you wake up thinking, “How can I do something that will improve the experience of others?” Will people say they’re better off with your business around than not?
Business doesn’t have to have a soul. It truly doesn’t. But should you want to be passionate about what you do, either as an employee or as the owner, you might consider this question more closely. The purpose of any business, at some level, is revenue. If not, then it’s not really a business. It’s a pursuit, a hobby, a passion, a charity, or something other than a business. But seeking revenue doesn’t preclude having a soul, so let’s banish that thought.
But if you are seeking to work passionately, and you’re seeking to build a business that will sustain you (and/or others), a soul helps. And by soul, because maybe I’ve not been clear, let’s say that a soul is “the moral and intentional guidance and ‘life’ of your company.”
(I bet I just lost a few of you left-brainers.)
What Does Your Business Soul Need to Consider?
In Trust Agents, Julien and I worked to explain that there’s a new way to conduct one’s self on the web. At the end of the book, we revealed that it didn’t really apply only to the web. Our point was simple: we think that the way people do business could stand to evolve into something more human and relationship-based. We feel that this has been lost a bit over the years, and that part of what’s contributed to the economic problems of the western world at least is that companies started seeing people as numbers only.
Putting your intentions and morals and good people skills back into the way you do business, we feel, might be part of a cure. That’s why we talked about the importance of being a human artist, someone who understands the so-called “soft skills.” Treating people like you want to empower them to succeed instead of wanting them simply to buy is a path towards sustained business. Working out how your business fits into an ecosystem and understanding what else your customers are dealing with helps with this as well.
Putting Your Soul To Work
If nothing else, your business soul is a set of questions. Ask yourself whether you would want your mother or spouse to be marketed to the way you are marketing. Ask whether the products you sell are something you’d give to your family. Ask whether there are better/easier/more helpful ways of doing what you’re doing. Ask whether you’re approaching your business relationships in a balanced way, or if you’re just sitting there champing at the bit to sell (people can tell the difference). Ask what kind of price your products and services are worth? Determine whether you’re giving real value or if you’re just selling.
The answers to these questions should help guide you. They can form the core of your vision of your business’s soul. Again, I’m not thinking that every business seeks to have a soul. I’m thinking that you, should you want to be passionate about your work, might think about the soul of your business.
The core of my success over these last years has come from this: be helpful. I got to that by thinking of how a sustainable business can be run with a human warmth. My personal rewards for this kind of thinking are great, and not just in monetary ways. Remember, the reason behind writing Trust Agents was because Julien and I discovered that there are more currencies out there than money and time, and the biggest one we found untapped was trust.
So, does your business have or want a soul? Where do you go with this? And what are your answers to the questions posed above?
It’s the perfect time to have that in mind, and it will drive success, if executed with passion.
Photo credit dbking