Enlightened Leadership Blog | Craft a Kinder Business Model | January 2022
Sometimes we are inspired by real life situations that confirm for us how we want to be.
Networking presents many opportunities to learn, listen, connect. We may receive unsolicited advice that is super. Other times, “advice” is a projection of some else’s beliefs that don’t fit with our perspective, desires, or business model. And that’s ok. Either way, we can learn something.
Recently, I had a meeting during which the person shared the “best” business advice they received many years ago. I listened to the prompt, thinking the “best” wisdom this person offered to share eagerly would be top shelf. Instead, what got communicated to me was along the lines of do not do work for free, ever. I acknowledged the statement with a polite nod, knowing in that moment that no further action or words would be spent on my part. Interestingly, this individual was looking for referrals from me.
This experience led me to think about kindness. Nice has a mixed image. Some folks, like the person mentioned, view nice as weak, passive, naïve, etc. Let them think that. On the contrary, nice leaders walk with confidence, nice leaders see the big picture clearly, nice leaders find satisfaction in caring for others, nice leaders make others feel good. All in all, kind leaders have nice skills that others lack.
If we are comfortable with who we are at the core, it’s easier to stay on a track that feels right, to act in a way that reflects what is important to us. A priority to us may be irrelevant or less important to others. This is the beauty of independent thinking and choice.
When we start our own business, we pave our own way. We choose who, what, when, and how. As founders, we can grow a successful business that feels good. Some of us have kindness in our hearts and the know how to take our mindset and develop a better business model.
Develop Kind, In a Business Model
Business results can be kinder and profitable simultaneously. While there is no one size fits all approach, there is untapped potential to do more.
First, let’s look at simple kindness elements in small business:
- Welcome warmly – Customers/client/co-workers deserve to feel welcomed. Negative impressions are detrimental to any business. Anyone in direct communication with customers must be friendly.
- Sell to the customer what’s best for the customer – Does your team project a sense of caring about the customers? For example, is the sales team pushing folks to sign up for services or buy products that aren’t the best options? More customers can see through this than we think. What happens? The customers may start buying elsewhere.
- Talk to your clientele – Ask your customers what would make them happier doing business with you. Simple surveys can be valuable information gathering tools. Be open to explore findings knowing that everyone is worth a listen.
- Express gratitude – Show appreciation to your customers with a thank you gift, engage with connections on social media by planning a giveaway, etc.
- Understand the competition – Small business isn’t about winning vs losing. This is about surveying the relevant landscape to see what is and isn’t already being done. There could be opportunities to collaborate down the road. Today’s competition can be tomorrow’s ally or successful business venture.
Now, let’s look at how to develop a kinder business model which will vary depending on industry, business owner, and market needs.
- Think about ways to give back that make sense for your business – For professional service businesses, this could be pro bono work in various forms; personal care companies could donate products; restaurants could donate food to a charity they support, retail could donate products for a variety of causes, etc.
- Volunteer for an organization that means something to you – Involve others from your company, using the opportunity to spend time as a team outside of your normal work environment.
- Promote a nonprofit with a mission that speaks to you – organize a donation collection, speak at a conference/webinar, sponsor an event, contribute to a silent auction, support the cause on your business social media account.
- Establish a time limit that works for you – How many hours per month, or year, are you willing to dedicate to helping others without monetary compensation?
- Set boundaries – pro bono services do not mean providing continuous, unlimited “free” services to companies and individuals who can afford to pay you. Some will try to take advantage. Adjust as necessary.
Any entrepreneurs with “nice skills” who created their own business, has the limitless power to craft a kinder version of their own business. Create kind, your way.
by Jennifer L. Musser