Beyond the Bottom Line: Defining Business Success CEO Insights 06-19-2023 By Jim Steinlage President & Chief Executive Officer Defining business success? When I first started the company, the highest priorities were revenue, repeat business, and profitability. More recently that definition has expanded considerably to include exceptional customer satisfaction, workforce growth, name reputation, innovation, and adaptability. Now with newer generations in the marketplace, social and environmental impact has also taken on an increased role. Balancing Profitability and Purpose Regardless of specific organizational objectives, businesses typically strive to create value, generate revenue, and ensure continued growth. They know the importance of financial stability, operational efficiency, and competitiveness in their respective markets, and they acknowledge the significance of building strong relationships with customers, team members, and stakeholders. Many of us also make it a priority to uphold ethical standards, create predictability and stability, promote team members’ wellbeing, contribute positively to society, and help maintain a healthy environment. All of these characteristics factor in what it takes to build sustainable success and foster long-term team members and customer relationships. 5 Characteristics of Successful Businesses 1. Customer-Centric Approach Prioritizing, understanding, and meeting the needs of your customers builds long-term relationships by delivering value, exceeding expectations, and fostering customer-trusted loyalty. Offering quality solutions and excellent services as well as exceptional experiences that align with customer values are also important. When you build a customer-centric business, you tend to have happier team members, as the approach gives team members a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Empowering your team members to make independent decisions in customer interactions will foster a sense of responsibility, achievement, and trust. This creates an environment where satisfied team members go above and beyond, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and revenue growth. 2. Commitment to Ethical, Economic, Charitable Practices Corporate ethical, economic, and charitable responsibility are a normal expectation for all types of companies today. What we once thought of as a normal way of doing business is now considered to be a strategic advantage that contributes to your company’s image. A commitment to ethical and economic practices helps company success by: Fostering trust Attracting top talent Mitigating risks Enhancing customer loyalty Building sustainable team member and customer relationships. Creating an environment of charitable giving of both time and treasure will impact customers, team members, and communities as it will create a much healthier and positive company culture. It is in giving that we receive. 3. Team Members’ Wellbeing and Engagement Investing in team members’ development, helping, and encouraging them to find the greatness that is divinely instilled in each of them should be a priority. Challenging and inspiring them to enhance their talent while encouraging work-life integration are more likely to deliver exceptional customer experiences that will also lead to an enhanced bottom line. Today’s customers are becoming more conscious of the social and environmental impacts of their purchasing decisions. Some are looking to buy from those who contribute positively to society and act responsibly, including with treatment of their workforce. As a business leader a winning formula I have used is focusing on happy and healthy team members and being a positive influence in supporting their families lives. Team members who feel valued within the organization are more engaged, take initiative, and seek opportunities for growth. By creating an attractive work environment, you are on the way to gaining a reputation as a top place to work, attracting, and retaining top talent that delivers significant returns. Creating an environment where predictability and stability, and where values are never compromised are great pillars of business success. 4. Emphasis on Transparency, Accountability, and Communication Open dialogue, actively seeking feedback, and promptly addressing mistakes is a way to help your business build trust, maintain strong relationships, and be recognized as honest and authentic. Social media and digital communication amplify the positive and negative comments from companies’ customers. As a business choosing transparency and accountability over secrecy and avoidance, your company will be better prepared to ease reputational damage and revenue dips when something goes sideways. Every company must be prepared for those sideways moments as none of us are immune. Proactively taking ownership and responsibility and addressing issues maintains trust, strengthens customer and team member relationships, and positions the company for long-term success. 5. Focus on Continuous Improvement and Keeping the Right Priorities Continuously evaluating and improving all operational areas, including HR, sales and marketing, customer satisfaction, and supply chains, driving innovation of products and delivering quality services and practices will always create a great future. Valuing feedback and adapting business strategies to stay relevant and deliver value are also important. In the changing technology industry our business is in, you must commit to exploring new possibilities as a source of competitive advantage, growth, and profits to survive. Keeping priorities of faith, family, and then business, in that order, is most important. Remembering to stay humble and focus on giving and serving others in your business as greed and ego will destroy successful companies of all sizes even though they may look good on the outside. Business Success Begins and Ends with People As you read about shared traits of successful businesses, it’s easy to see that the common factor is people and priorities. Although technology can automate processes and enable efficiencies, your people and your values are the driving force behind your company’s success. Humans are, for the foreseeable future, the primary source of innovation, creativity, and critical thinking in the workplace. They are the ones who: Build relationships with customers, understand their needs, and deliver personalized experiences. Collaborate, inspire, and lead teams toward shared goals. Adapt, learn, and grow, ensuring your business remains agile and resilient in the face of challenges. From leading with a servant’s heart to creating a family-like work environment, today’s leaders must prioritize workforce wellbeing, growth, and fulfillment. By embracing a leadership style based on understanding, support, collaboration, and “always doing the right thing,” businesses can foster a sense of belonging and purpose. This enhanced workforce satisfaction and engagement will create a positive organizational culture, and ultimately defines what true “business success” looks like.