Make no mistake. Money is crucial in business and anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t on the level. It keeps the lights on and the wheels turning. When you make a loss, it’s something to be mourned and learned from. However, that doesn’t mean that making and keeping money should always be priority number one for the business. Business is all about hard choices. And sometimes, those hard choices are going to require a sacrifice. But before you choose money-over-all every time, remember there are a few things that are a lot worse to lose.
It’s not entirely unrelated. We all know the reality of ‘time is money’. The better you use your time, the more productive you get and the more money you make. However, being resourceful with your time has a lot more to offer than just a greater return on investment. It helps you evolve the methods of the business which allow the team to get the job done with less busywork, helping to keep them more involved in their role. It also takes more work directly off your plate. That, in turn, allows you to focus on working within the business and more on working on it. After all, someone needs to be able to take the time to run things from a bird’s eye perspective.
When you first start a business, the goals tend to be pretty simple. You want to make a certain amount of sales and prove that the business model works as well as its supposed to. However, if you keep the business going as usual once those goals have been hit, you lose momentum. Sometimes, you need to expand goals to include brand awareness or to measure not just new customers but how well you retain them. You need to scale your goals as you scale the business. Otherwise, results that were once a net positive prove no longer enough to sustain the business in the next chapter of its future. Adaptive goal setting is crucial to any business that wants not just short-term profit but long-term success. This also means sacrificing money to invest in the parts of the business that helps you meet those long-term goals.
It’s perhaps the most classic of business dilemmas and a conflict we see examples of, time and time again. You have the opportunity to make a change to the business or service model that increases the amount of money you make but scales down the promise you could once fulfill to the audience. No step the business take should actively sabotage the trust you’ve built amongst the consumers. Similarly, that trust should not be left to degrade because of inaccurate, out-of-date, or malicious online content. Online reputation management can make sure that you are dealing with the negative noise as well as you deal with the positive. Of course, there are times when a business has to hold its hands up and admit fault as well. You have to pick your battles and know when a show of commitment to improvement can be a lot more help than standing your ground.
Trust doesn’t just come from the market, either. It comes from your team. A smart business owner doesn’t rely too heavily on any individual employees. Making the business more systems-based than employee-based means that you can cope with absences a lot better. But failing to care about retaining employees and creating a positive work environment has much deeper effects than causing people to quit. It creates an environment where few people will truly be in-line with the business’s goals and self-interest is practiced above all else.
It’s a struggle every business owner will face. If you don’t love the business you run and the world it inhabits, it becomes harder and harder over time to keep it up. You have to be invested in what you do, in the industry around it, and that shared point of interest with your consumers. Without genuine love from the owner and the team, businesses lose sight, loyalty, trust, and a lot more. That’s why the most important question you should ask before launching any start-up is to ask yourself if you can see yourself being as enthusiastic about it in five years’ time. It will save you a lot of strife down the line.
Money can always be made back, so long as you’re not too far gone. A great work culture, integrity, trust, the time spent in the last year. These are losses that can’t be recouped. Always keep that in mind.