Business, Entrepreneurship

The Why Behind It All


When you come in contact with good business, you know it.  You can feel it in the way you are treated.  You can see it in the way things are carefully created and organized.  You can experience it in the quality of product or service you are given when making a purchase.  It’s not hard to think of a few examples when reading those sentences.  For me, Chick-Fil-A stands out among most fast food restaurants and it’s fairly easy to identify the characteristics that make it better.  However, what is much harder to grasp or pinpoint, is the “why” and “how”.

Why do they care so much to give me this kind of service and experience?

How did they come up with the vision of this business and implement it into what it is today?

I could keep going but asking these kinds of questions would eventually get you to a point of greater understanding of the drivers behind a business. The answers to those questions would ultimately lead to a fuller appreciation of the energy, money, and sacrifices made to create each individual experience.

When you come in contact with good business, it has a lasting effect on you.  That effect doesn’t just stop with the consumer.  Think about all of the people that interact with that business or organization.  Businesses can change the outlook of communities and lives simply by the day-to-day operations of providing goods and services.  It can breathe life into individuals by giving them the opportunity to showcase their gifts and abilities.  It can create a ripple effect within a community by making life easier or better for those who surround it.

In a world caught up in Fast Company headlines and billion-dollar valuations, it’s easy to lose sight of the impact entrepreneurs can have outside of financial success.  We read books and listen to podcasts about the unicorn success stories that end with someone having more money than they could ever know what to do with. Hear those stories enough, and you’ll start to think the “why” behind any great business is to make money.

The truth is, the “why” of any great business is never just about making money.  Phil Knight gets at the heart of this when reflecting upon building Nike in his book Shoe Dog:


“It seems wrong to call it “business”.  It seems wrong to throw in all of those hectic days and sleepless nights, all those magnificent triumphs and desperate struggles, under that bland, generic banner: business.  What we were doing felt like so much more.  Each new day brought fifty new problems, fifty tough decisions that needed to be made, right now, and we were always acutely aware that one rash move, one wrong decision could be the end.  The margin for error was forever getting narrower, while the stakes were forever creeping higher-and none of us wavered in the belief that stakes didn’t mean money.  For some, I realize business is the all-out pursuit of profits, period, full stop, but for us business was no more about making money than being human is about making blood.  Yes, the human body needs blood.  It needs to manufacture red and white cells and platelets and redistribute them evenly, smoothly, to all the right places, on time, or else.  But that day-to-day business of the human body isn’t our mission as human beings.  It’s the basic process that enables our higher aims, and life always strives to transcend the basic processes of living-and at some point, in the late 1970’s, I did, too.  

I redefined winning, expanded it beyond my original definition of not losing, of merely staying alive.  That was no longer enough to sustain me, or my company.  We wanted, as all great businesses do, to create, to contribute, and we dared to say so aloud.  When you make something, when you improve something, when you deliver something, when you add some new thing or service to the lives of strangers, making them happier, or healthier, or safer, or better and when you do it all crisply, efficiently, smartly, the way everything should be done but so seldom is-you’re participating more fully in the whole grand human drama.  

More than simply alive, you’re helping others to live more fully, and if that’s business, all right, call me a businessman.”


“More than simply alive, you’re helping others to live more fully, and if that’s business, all right, call me a businessman.”- Phil Knight


 

 

In hopes of capturing and celebrating what Phil Knight describes as his entrepreneurial journey, I decided to start The Current.  Without using too many water metaphors, a current, in any body of water, is essential to movement that brings about change and life to its’ surroundings.  Entrepreneurs are no different.

On this blog, I’ll be featuring and interviewing different entrepreneurs who are actively creating something out of nothing.  This is a platform for exposing and celebrating who they are, the work they are doing, and the why behind it all.

Stay tuned for more posts coming in the near future.

Ocean

 

 

 

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