I had a business epiphany about a year ago. I was consulting on a particularly challenging assignment, working on changing the culture within a major construction company. This business had the best of the best in its workforce, was spending oodles of money on marketing and consultants (like me), and had the capability to deliver great product.
Yet their culture was dismal.
People didn’t want to be there and this negativity was pervading into the client delivery space. This business was teetering on a knife edge even though it had been in operation for over a decade. This particular project led me to question what it was that business really needed for sustainable success. After months of research, the answer came to me in a variety of ways (but that’s another blog).
The real secret to success in business is not what we’ve been taught or told. It’s not hard work. It’s not innovation or knowledge. It’s not even persistence. You can’t see it. You can’t buy it. It’s unique to each business owner who puts up the shingle, prints the business cards and starts their own venture.
When I talk of spirit in the business context, people usually react in a few different ways. Some shake their head and think I’ve been living in Byron Bay too long, others think I’m talking about religion, and some just stare at me blankly. Spirit in a business is that intangible something that drove you to start your business in the first place. It’s the entrepreneurial spirit within, the burning desire that led you to quit your job or take out that business loan and give your venture a whirl. It’s what gives your business life, energy and power.
Without spirit you can’t succeed in business.
Sure, you can make a good go of it, but to survive and really thrive in business today you need more than a great kit bag of skills and know-how, more than good management skills, and more than plain hard work and perseverance. You need to have connection with the ‘why’ you’re in business – that’s the essence of spirit in business. You didn’t start up just to make money. You wanted to make a difference in some way, somehow, to someone. You are connecting yourself to another person through your service or product. You are building a business out of purpose and contribution, rather than from a focus on sales and profits.
Of course you need hard work, skills, the right people and all the other key components we already know make up a successful business. Just know that spirit is the starting place and the driving force that will see you really succeed as an entrepreneur.
Times are changing and I’m encouraged to see more leaders focusing on purpose, contribution and alignment in their business rather than profit alone. They actively build the spirit in their business and reap the rewards. Isn’t it time to challenge your traditional business thinking and embrace the spirit in your business?