Being good is good business

Being good is good business, this what my high school business economics teacher kept drumming into our minds, all the time. In my adult life I’m coming to understand why that is and what it means in practice.

Everyone,is trying to get something for something. That is how life is, there a few exceptions but the point to note is, reciprocity is part if the game.

In business, one provides their services or products for a price. Being good means doing your business with a spirit of integrity, being good means providing work of a high quality and going out of your way to for clients because that’s the good thing to do.

I raise this because many a time, I have encountered small businesses that are very bottom line focused. They are only interested in the money and could not be bothered with the person they are doing business with.

I was involved in planning a conference, we needed the services of a photographer, we needed delegate tags to be printed with our logo on it, and we also needed speaker gifts. In the spirit of empowering previously disadvantaged business owners, we approached them to provide the required work for us.

The company commissioned to supply the speaker gifts, on the Friday afternoon before the event,told us they can’t find gifts and therefore can’t help anymore. I then approached a small company owned by what can be considered to be a previously advantaged individual, this girl was phenomenal! By 4pm on Friday I had speaker gifts, she jumped over hoops for me and didn’t even speak money until I brought it up. I could tell she did bigger business with far more monied organisations than ours. She however, did a splendid job anyway and made sure that if there was ever a chance to do business again, that we kept her top of mind.

On the morning of the conference, at 7am to be exact, we found out that the photographer was no longer coming. He did not get paid a percentage of his fee in advance so he decided to go elsewhere (a wedding where he obviously could earn more) without communicating this with us. It was 2 hours before the conference that we found this out and we had a crisis on our hands.

Once again, I called the “speaker gifts” girl, she was on it and volunteered to help by calling around on a few of her contacts in order for them to do a last minute favour for us.

What I took away from this was to NEVER EAT ALONE, this is the title of Keith Ferazzi’s book. In the foreword of his book on relationships he says;

“Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.”

Successful businesses are businesses that last long, they outlive their owners. I believe that they make their patrons feel safe. Going into business with someone solely with the intention of making as much money out of them as possible is exploitation, nobody likes to be used. And yes, you will manage to get something out of that person the first time, however at the expense of future business.

Like the lady who provided the speaker gifts, I believe that business is not the picking of a fruit but the planting of a seed. After all, people do business with people they like. If I am treated well, shown respect and can see that my business is valued, there is no way that I will go elsewhere.

The really wealthy and successful businessmen and women know that their net worth is determined by their networks. They have artfully mastered the art of relying on their relationships. The client and the supplier are such relationships. Build a great business that is good to those it has relations with and they (the profits) will come.

Building a sustainable (good) business is about your anchor clients, the repeat business. These guys pay your bills. Walk-ins and once-offs are essential too, they provide an opportunity to convert them into repeat business. Measure the rate at which you turn a once-off client into repeat business. That’s where the gold lies.

In summary;
1. Being good is good business
2. Build it and they will come
3. Rely on the power of relationships- never eat alone
4. Build it before you need it

So next time you get business stop to show appreciation, have integrity – do what you say you will do, after all, your name at stake!


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