So the question this bold and perhaps presumptuous headline likely brings up is . . . to whom.
The only business that matters to whom.
The first answer I suppose most business owners and entrepreneurs might suggest is to their customers.
Yes indeed, this is a fine answer, an important answer, a worthy goal, but it might not be enough.
I believe that our businesses function much like an ecosystem and as such if any element is out of alignment the entire ecosystem suffers. Often this shows up as a general feeling of stuckness, loss of focus, lack of direction, a plateau in sales, or client and staff turnover.
Feeling any of the above these days?
Sometimes it comes about from a singular shocking event (can’t think of any of those right now) and sometimes it creeps in over time due to a general lack of focus on the things that really matter.
The root issue is hard to pin down, but the symptoms abound.
In 1995 Yellowstone National Park was in distress. The rivers and foliage were dying. The park’s ecosystem was terribly out of balance.
That was the year grey wolves were reintroduced to the park. Once prevalent throughout the lower 48 states wolves were all but eradicated by predator control programs so elk and deer unnaturally flourished causing overgrazing and subsequent erosion to river banks.
Now I know a lot of people aren’t fond of wolves, but that’s not the point. The reintroduction of and focus on this significant species actually allowed the foliage, valleys, and stream to flourish, which then also gave new life to many other species. (If you are interested in this story, check out American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee )
In other words, the balance was restored naturally.
Our businesses too have a balance, an ecosystem, made up of many components; customers, partners, suppliers, communities, team members, investors, and owners
It is my contention that businesses get out balance, become stuck, when they fail to address the needs of all of these various stakeholders.
A business can survive and perhaps even thrive with enough happy customers, but eventually, the path of growth will stall if that’s the only focus.
Here’s the question you must pin to the wall in your office – What problem are they trying to solve.
This, of course, is a potent question when it comes to understanding your customers and making a case for why your business is uniquely suited to solve your prospect’s problems.
But, what about everyone else involved in your business? What problem do you solve for your employees, yourself, your suppliers, your partners, and yes, your customers, and perhaps their entire ecosystem? (Ecologists refer to overlapping ecosystems as ecotones.)
Have you ever considered this idea?
I know, at first, it might seem like a bit of an overwhelming notion, but what if you got some clarity around this idea and applied it to your business? What if everyone in your organization started thinking this way, addressing this question?
What would that mean? What would that change? How would you think differently about your objectives? How would you innovate? What would you measure?
See, by simply asking the question, your mind must seek an answer.
What problem do we solve, what problems could we, should we, focus on solving?
What’s the promise of our business to everyone who is a part of it?
This is how you unlock balance. This is how you become the only business that matters . . . to whom? To the entire ecosystem of your business.
This is hard work by the way, but it might just be worth it.